In addition to our regular articles about fitness, I love posting personal anecdotes from actual clients. Here is one that just came to me from Eric Peterson, a client of Jason Smith Fitness since 2010. If you have an interesting fitness story to tell, send it my way at email@example.com.
My name is Eric Peterson. I met Jason Smith through a referral of a friend of mine. This friend of mine was always a string bean and I was surprised to see my friend transform into a much stronger but lean physique over the course of 3-4 years. In October of 2010 I was facing a bit of a mid-life crisis as a 26 year old business owner who was tired of always feeling… well, tired. Weak. Fat and sluggish. My friend recommended I go in for a free consultation with Jason.
After a detailed discussion, Jason outlined what the next 90 days for me would look like. Frankly, back then it was pretty intimidating— and that was not due to Jason. It was due to where I came from. I was born with a unique syndrome called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. This impacted my joints greatly, and as such I had little to no physical activity since, well, ever. No PE. I was excused from it in high school. No real activities or sports. When I would eat right, growing up, I would weigh between 120 and 130 pounds. When I would not care about what I was eating I would be closer to 200 pounds. 50 pounds of fat on a skeleton with no muscle. So when I spoke to Jason, essentially my concern was “Will weight training hurt me? And how do I lose this weight without going insane? I’ve never done this.” Jason outlined a meal plan for me. And that very night, enthused, I had my last meal of Taco Bell and explained to my wife that I was going to embark on a 90 day quest for change. No take backs. No quitting. I did that 90 days.
In 100 days I went from 189 pounds to 139 pounds. I went from 30% body fat to 8%. It was absolutely invigorating. Never terrifying. Within 2 weeks I started to feel different, and by the end of my second month with Jason Smith I felt real positive change. It hurt less to walk. I felt faster. More confident. But that’s not even the most exhilarating thing about that transformation.
The big thing was that I learned how to work out. I learned how to do body movements I simply could not do at the beginning. If you asked me to do a push up, my form would have been laughable. No longer. If you asked me to do a bicep curl at the beginning, it was hilarious. I had to use all of my body weight simply to get even a 5 pound weight up because I had absolutely no muscle supporting that movement. My wrists had nothing to protect them. My shoulders had nothing. In 90 days I may not have been able to curl as much as a guy who had been working out his whole life, but I had good form with the weight that made sense for me and I could grow from there.
That was the big realization. Even with my unique syndrome, the RIGHT way to work out taught me how to build protection around my joints and stability without risk of injury. It’s hard to really state that with enough excitement. My whole life I thought physical activity was out of the question— too much risk of injury. In reality building muscles to protect my joints was the much smarter strategy.
And that was just the start.
I worked out solidly with Jason Smith for 3 years. I got lean. I spent years building muscle. Jason helped me stay focused and invigorated about this lifestyle. I told him many times, “This is like a sort of church for me.”
In 2013 I went through a lot of sudden work issues. Something I had never dealt with before: failure in my entrepreneurial exploits. It got the better of me because it was my first real occurrence of facing such a thing. I gradually stopped taking the gym so seriously, in the midst of a pretty staggering depression.
In 2015 I came back. Through all of my struggles during that period away from what I consider the most important ingredient to a positive lifestyle, I kept thinking, “Man, I just miss that focus. That ability to face life head on and still persevere towards adaptation and change.” Earlier that year I had a child come into this world, and that broke me out of my work funk and started me on the path of rebuilding my entrepreneurial pursuits. And I can say that my child, my work, my attitude really taught me how to fail and then get back up again, but a very large ingredient (perhaps the most important) was this continual impression in the back of my mind: “Eric, not every day at the gym is perfect. What do you do when you fail at the gym? You go back to the gym next time and do better.” And Jason taught me that. I shudder to think if my time with Jason in my twenties had NOT happened— and if I had not learned that lesson by the time these real obstacles in my life had shown up.
In 2016 Jason’s gym held a body fat losing contest. I won, considerably. It was a return to form, due to the impact that Jason had on my mind during my twenties. And over the last year we’ve been working on a protocol for strength building and I’ve raised by max benchpress from 150 to 230 in under six months. I’m happy to say that solidly into my thirties I’ve learned more about my body, how it works, and how to enact change than I ever thought I was capable of.
It’s really pretty crazy to look back on everything. When I think of what I actually thought I was capable of when I first met Jason, and then I think of what actual facts I know about my body now, and what my true limitations are, it is absolutely mind-blowing.
I love this gym. It’s a major part of my life and something I look forward to throughout the week. It impacts the drive I have with my family, my work, and the way my mind works. My time in Jason Smith’s gym has completely changed my time outside of Jason Smith’s gym for the better.