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Suffer Greatly

“To those human beings who are of any concern to me I wish suffering, desolation, sickness, ill-treatment, indignities—I wish that they should not remain unfamiliar with profound self-contempt, the torture of self-mistrust, the wretchedness of the vanquished: I have no pity for them, because I wish them the only thing that can prove today whether one is worth anything or not—that one endures.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche


In January of 2021, just one year after I had my grand opening, I suffered a major blow to the fitness business. After fighting through a global pandemic, 3 team members quit. 2 of those team members played a significant role in my day-to-day operations. My team of 4 coaches became a team of 1, my friend, Anthony, who had a full-time job as a teacher. Anthony only coached 3 days a week in the evening. I did not include myself on coaching team. At the time, I did not want to coach. I did not consider myself a good coach and wanted to spend my time growing the business and creating a great culture with the studio. In the blink of an eye, that was about to change.


Coaching a group fitness session required a high level and physical and mental energy. You don’t just tell people what to do. It must be fun, entertaining, fast paced, and full of energy from the Coach. Up until then, I had only coached in emergency situations when a coach was sick or unable to make it. I did it begrudgingly but, I did it. I got the job done. It was hard and took a lot out of me. I still did it.


This time, however, it was going to be different. I was going to be forced to do 80% of the coaching. There were 50 sessions through the week and Anthony would coach 9 of them. If I’m being honest, I was really scared. My head coach, before that, had amazing endurance. He didn’t complain and worked hard but even he did not coach more that 20-25 in 1 week. He was gone and I had to take over. There was one bright spot though. When the 3 coaches left, I immediately hired 2 guys, Mike and Nick. Mike was another full-time teacher and Nick was a one-on-one personal trainer. I really didn’t care to go through the entire hiring process. I was desperate and needed help. Nick would help me in the mornings and Mike would help in the evening. Both needed to be trained in group fitness the way we did it. It was going to be new to them. For now, they would help on the floor and be the 2nd coach helping while I coached the session. In between sessions, they would rearrange the equipment and sanitize while I would take a break and do what needed to be done behind the desk. In between sessions or whenever time allowed, I would train them to get on the mic and do what I do.


Mike was a God send and he learned fast. I jumped right in and was able to start running the entire session within 3 weeks. The clients loved him and his energy. Nick had a much more difficult time of it. His personality and demeanor made it very difficult for him to make the leap to being a lead coach. Still, he did provide relief for me and helped in many other ways. With Mike coaching, my coaching responsibility was reduced to 30-35. This was still an extremely heavy coaching responsibility, and this is how it would be for the next couple of months.

When I recall back, within the first 2 weeks of this very challenging time, it was a regular thought in my mind that I wasn’t going to make it. The physical and mental toll it was taking had me wanting it to be over, all over. Many times, during a coaching session, I would zone out and stare out the window into the sky wishing it was over. The amount of physical and mental energy I was expending was beyond anything I expected as an entrepreneur. Session after session, day after day, week after week I woke up at 3:10AM, to get to the studio by 4:10AM and prepare for the 5AM session. Coach 6 sessions in a row and bring as much energy to clients I could muster and still have the job of running the business and keep trying to move it forward. Then, in the afternoon, coach another 3 in a row on certain days along with 5 on Saturday mornings. It was grueling. It was the first time during my entrepreneurial journey that I contemplated quitting. But, I just kept going. My discipline of doing just took over. I kept showing up day after day.


An interesting thing happened one month into this ordeal. I stopped thinking about quitting. It was still grueling and difficult, but I noticed something. I was stronger. Mentally and physically, I was stronger. My voice was stronger. I could project better without exerting as much energy. My entire body was stronger including my abs. Coaching requires a lot of breath work because you are projecting your voice at the upper range for almost 30 mins straight. My abs were kept tight the entire 30 minutes. Also, during that time I had developed a habit of doing a quick 20 second meditation prior to session. It made all the difference in the world. Another month went by, and I was stronger still. Getting more fit and resilient with each day. By the end of the second month, there no thoughts of quitting. Doing 6 sessions in a row felt like a routine. Doing 30-40 session in week felt normal. I felt strong, almost superhuman. My endurance was at an all time high. Moreover, I was still able to get my own workout in. Working out was my own form of rest. It gave me that boost of energy to get through the day.

In the coming months, my business would more than double in size. We had explosive growth through a notoriously slow time, the Summer. It was an amazing time for the business. We had just come out of COVID restrictions, and the sky seemed to open for us. Our clients loved what we had and helped to spread the news. We were in a great place but still had our challenges ahead.


In May 2020, just 3 months into this ordeal, I had a complete mindset shift. They say adversity builds character. Looking back at all the struggle and adversity and noticing how far I came, gave me a new perspective. I stopped looking at the experience as adversity. I realized what I was going through was training. It was God’s own form of training, training you can’t get anywhere but to be forced into it. I was forced to do something I was completely unprepared for. I learned, failed, adjusted, and progressed every day. I received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the clients for the effort I was making along with a better and more fun overall experience. It was training for what was to come. I learned that what I went through could happened again and I needed to be prepared to deal with it. Over the next year I would go through periods that forced me into similar situations. This time, it was no problem because I was trained for it. My mind and body were already conditioned. When it happens, my automatic response was, “Ok. Let’s go!”


It’s January 2022 and I’m proud of how far we’ve come, evening winning the Best Of Long Island for the first time. The work is not over. It’s just beginning.


If you’re reading this and have experienced this, I applaud your persistence because I truly to understand. If you have not yet and wish to become an entrepreneur, I hope this gives you some perspective of what you will one day experience. In fact, as the quote by Friedrich Nietzsche would suggest, I hope you do experience everything I did because it will separate you from the rest. It will chisel your character and prepare you for just about anything the world throws at you.


-Kwangsoo Kim


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