Charles, thank you for being there for so many of us.
Thank you for reminding us of the importance of humility, hard work, personal fortitude, paying attention, listening, and mostly, being human.
You made me a better version of myself. You will be missed.
NOTE: This post is a bit longer than most I write. Given the subject matter, please be patient. The lessons make it a worthwhile investment of time.
Life can feel arbitrary. Reminders at every turn. This past week our world lost one hell of a man. Charles Bailey.
Hands down, Charles was the best trainer with whom I had the pleasure to work.
He trained in the gym (the old Sportsplex, Neptune Beach, Florida) at which I was a member. I had the mistaken view that he could not help (nor would want to help) me as he was a heavy-duty athlete—a major player in weight lifting.
Once I challenged my assumptions, it became clear to me that he worked with all types of people. From gym rats wanting to bench press and squat hundreds of pounds, to the morbidly obese, to folks like me who wanted to push ourselves a bit further and become better versions of ourselves.
Charles’ lessons went beyond the gym. Consider these skills that we would all do well to master.
OBSERVATION. Before I started working with him, Charles helped me. Every so often, as I was working in a corner of the gym by myself, Charles would walk by and gently say something like, “shoulders back” or “distribute your weight” or “be mindful of your form.” Never pushy. Just offering an expert eye. I remember our first training session together. Within 30 seconds he isolated two trouble areas I had—and I had not mentioned them to him. He “listened” to my body. That is, he did not come into the session attempting to impress me with some method of the month that appeared in a body building magazine. He came with eyes and ears wide open. At our first training session, he took videos of me doing exercises with correct form and posted them for me so that I would have a ready reference after the session. He helped me focus on the important stuff—and eliminate the noise.
CONSIDERATION. I arrived at the gym one day to find that the person charged with opening that morning had overslept. The doors finally opened 30 minutes late. Charles found me in the upstairs cardio room and handed me an envelope and told me he was sorry for my inconvenience. In the envelope was a gift certificate for one training session with him. He did not own the gym. He was not the reason for the late opening. He was that prideful about the gym and providing a good service to anyone in the gym—his client or not. That started our training relationship. He wasn’t “selling” me. He showed authentic consideration—one person for another.
This short video shows an example his desire to help. I shot this video with my 5:00 a.m. gym “crew” one morning. I eventually used it as a training tool for my students. Charles appears around the 1:18 mark.
CONVERSATION. Our training sessions never lagged in conversation—true dialogue. We talked about all things health related as well as politics, relationships, resources, finances, education…and the list goes on. He never ranted. We talked. We listened. We asked each other questions. We laughed; a lot. I know I learned and grew. Listen to the podcast episode below. That is conversation.
COLLABORATION. Our training sessions showed teamwork. Charles expected it. We used to shake our heads thinking about folks who pay a trainer and then say, “Do I have to work that hard today?” (Well, no sir/ma’am, you don’t. You can just remain as you are—and pay me to do nothing.) Neither of us understood that perspective. I wanted to “use him” for all I could; pick his brain; get “homework” to do; and become a better version of myself. Charles came to our home for one session. He showed me how to get the most out of my modest home gym workout area. He was a master at improvising with basic household items and to make them part of an amazing workout routine. After most of our gym sessions, before I even returned home, I would get a text from him with a link to a video or resource to help me on my health journey. That is why, when the gym closed, I followed Charles and continued to work with him. He cared.
ANTICIPATION. Before each session, I would convey my workout goals to Charles. He knew my body’s needs and limitations (see Observation, Conversation, and Collaboration above). We never did the same routine. He always mixed it up, showing me new strategies. He kept me (and I would assume all clients) in anticipation of what to expect. He did not go on autopilot. He provided the best service possible.
Charles, thank you for being there for so many of us. Thank you for reminding us of the importance of humility, hard work, personal fortitude, paying attention, listening, and mostly, being human. You made me a better version of myself.
Video recommendation for the week:
Almost two years ago, Charles sat down with me to record this podcast episode. It is quintessential Charles! Enjoy.
Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).
(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.