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About a year ago, I had been operating my own fitness and yoga studio for only a few months and I was beginning to realize how much I was in over my head.

It wasn’t the volume of work that was overwhelming but rather the type of work I found myself bound to day after day.  I found myself drug down with tasks such as janitor, maintenance, marketing, finance officer, and sales.  Honestly, I didn’t enter the fitness industry to perform any of those tasks and they became an energy drain for me every day.

As business owners, we ideally want to be energized by our top priorities.  As it turns out, I wasn’t energized at all.  In fact, I was drained and the business reflected that lack of energy in membership and revenue.  My own workouts began to suffer and I was looking for an outlet, a hobby, or a new passion.  Often, I would look around the studio to find I was alone on what should have been the most exciting journey of my career.  That’s when I walked into the Colorado Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu West location looking for a change in my life.

I started with their boxing classes Mondays and Wednesdays and invited friends and clients to join me to relieve stress and get a butt-kicking workout!  I was having fun again during my workouts and I had met some amazing new people during the classes.  Including the owners who welcomed all new members with acceptance at where they were at in their journey.

And that’s when I made the decision to try Jiu-Jitsu for the first time.  I made the decision to get far outside my comfort zone, overcome childhood bullying, and confront lifelong claustrophobia. I was intimidated, to say the least, but the instructors made me feel welcome and really brought their expertise down to my level in the fundamental classes twice per week.  Those two classes were HARD.   They were especially hard because my hip flexors are always notoriously tight and the classes early on practicing chokes were rough!  Let’s just say sleeping on those nights was uncomfortable.

But I stayed consistent, battled my own limiting beliefs and attended 2-3 classes per week.  Over the next three months, things became clearer to me in the sport of Jiu-Jitsu.  I learned the difference between Jiu-Jitsu for self-defense, competition, and survival.  The major difference here was the mindset.  My mindset began to change from that of a fixed nature, where at 36, I’ll never be good at this sport.  All the way forward to a growth mindset, in which I CAN do anything I set as a goal to accomplish.

I dove in head first into the community and the sport of Jiu-Jitsu, upping my attendance to 4-5 days of training per week, even combining fundamental classes with advanced classes on Monday and Wednesday evenings.  I realized my strength training needed to change as well to help prepare me better for the grueling mat time.  Combining yoga, strength training, and jiu-jitsu has led me to be in the best shape of my life.  In the year that I have been consistently attending classes, I have trimmed off 8 pounds and sit at 163.4# for a competition coming up in November.  I haven’t weighed less than 165 pounds since 1998!  Additionally,  my hip flexibility has improved and rarely gives me any trouble because of the yoga routine that so compliments Jiu-Jitsu.

After all the progress I have made on the mat and in training for a new sport as I turn 37, I began to feel the other benefits of my newfound passion.  I realized that the sport had done wonders for my confidence, my energy level, and even my business grew!

I recall walking down Larimer Street in the evening with my Lab, Chloe.  In this neighborhood, you can find all types of people and on this night I happened to be faced with an aggressive stranger.  He was walking toward me and at about 15 feet away, began “barking” unintelligible words and angled his path right at me.  What I would have done a year before was angle away and place my dog between him and me.  Not now though.  I made my way toward him, squared up, and he quickly went silent and kept walking straight.  I knew I was armed with tools of self-defense to stand up to a bully, thanks to Jiu-Jitsu.  I now completely support my 15-year old daughter attending as many classes as she can to help her in the same way.

On top of the body composition changes and self-confidence, I knew I had to eat better to fuel my increased intensity level of activity!  I started to eat more than ever before in my life and still saw the 8-pound weight loss!  I am honestly eating up to 3300 calories per day just to maintain 163 pounds.  How is it even possible to keep up a training regimen like that at 37 years old?!

For more details, click here to see the first step in a nutrition program with Fit Life Champions.

How was my business impacted by my new passion?  That’s just it, I had found the passion again for my own training program!  I reminded a friend today, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.”- adapted from Eleanor Brown.  Meaning, take care of yourself first and you will be able to better serve others.  I was walking the walk, talking the talk.  Of all the things I preach to my clients, consistency was the number one goal I had for myself in 2016-17.  I needed to look inward to grow outward, and Jiu-Jitsu taught me humility time and time again so that I could better serve my clients, family, and friends.

Thank you Jiu-Jitsu.

Cheer on our team at the upcoming tournaments in Denver by swinging by our shared workspace, or by clicking these two websites

Colorado Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu West– Call for a free week trial

Fit Life Champions– Follow these instructions for a Complimentary Consultation

For more of Dave’s history using exercise (weightlifting and Jiu-Jitsu) as medicine, click below now!

Top 10 Reasons Exercise Helps Fight Depression and Anxiety