Why I Write About Business and Personal Finance on a Fitness and Food Blog: My Backstory
Growing up as an only child with an entrepreneurial parent, I was destined for career indecisiveness from the start. Other than basketball, I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. After high school, I did what was expected and went to college. It was a long and expensive road, but I made it out alive. And that’s where my story begins.
I finished college with three things far too many graduates are familiar with:
- An unmarketable degree (and a push from the university to go to graduate school to further the unmarketable-ness of this degree)
- Student loans (around $20,000)
- No clue what to do with my life after college
As you can imagine, there aren’t many jobs for nutritionists who haven’t completed their unpaid internship to become a Registered Dietitian. Like many other students, the closer I got to finished my degree, the more I realized being an RD wasn’t for me. I had changed majors too many times to count – business, computer science, pre-physical therapy, etc. – and decided to bite down and simply graduate with something.
Besides, a passion for fitness, not clinical nutrition, is what led me to pursue a degree in nutrition in the first place. So I did what seemed most reasonable and took a part-time job as a personal trainer. This was a tough move considering I certainly didn’t need a degree to do the job, and my family was silently sweating bullets over my future. There’s an undeniable stigma surrounding personal trainers, and rightfully so in some cases. Looking back, this was one of the best decisions of my life. I’ve had a lot of luck on my side but without this move, I’m certain I wouldn’t be where I am today.
In a move that seemed like the right thing to do as a college graduate, I took a job in management at an Anytime Fitness. And this is where things got interesting. Due to a long commute and a fitness industry schedule (12-hour days), I was stuck in an office with a lot of extra time on my hands. I’ve always been a voracious reader and in college, I lived on websites about exercise science and training. As my knowledge base grew, the desire to share my knowledge and contribute to the conversation grew as well. So I decided to start writing.
So I decided to start writing. After spending a week or two trying to determine the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org, this site was born. I didn’t have any plans for the blog other than it being a creative outlet or passion project but over time, I gradually improved my writing ability. Eventually, I was writing for larger websites and magazines as a freelancer. Look at me, ma, a paid writer. Writing as an extremely difficult skill to be great at. There’s a large gap between a great and okay writer, but there’s a HUGE gap between an okay writer and the vast majority of people. That’s a story for another day.
While I continued to develop my skills as a writer, I stumbled onto an opportunity to partner with a fitness site to deliver online coaching. They had a massive user base and email list, so it was a hit from the start. Well, kind of. My first online coaching group was a dud, but I persisted and had successful groups from that point forward. I would build the program, sales page, and they would blast it to their user base. And voila, six months later I found myself with 75-100 clients from all across the globe and zero systems in place. This was my first business failure and a well-timed serving of humble pie. I use failure liberally seeing as I was still open for business and maintaining a full client load, but I was miserable doing it and knew the quality wasn’t up to par.
Luckily, I kept a job with the company who owned the first Anytime Fitness I worked for as a trainer close to home. The owners and regional management took notice of my side hustle and a lot of the skills/expertise I’d developed bled over to my work as a trainer for them. This led to an opportunity to join the upper-management team and work directly with the owners and all twelve Anytime Fitness locations. I jumped on the opportunity to learn and pick up skills I knew I lacked, as evidenced by my business. Luck was on my side again.
I learned more about business in the first year than I’d learned in 100 business books.
I gained exposure to skills like financials, sales, management, staffing, customer service, public relations, lead generation in every way imaginable, performance metrics, compensation structuring… I could keep going. It was all the things they don’t teach you in school, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the experience. In addition to the added experience, this position created schedule stability and a bit more free time. Where before I had been working like a madman to service all of my clients, now I could occasionally turn things off.
With my new found free time, I dove back into learning. Though this time, it wasn’t in the fitness realm. Despite its inevitable death, my business was very successful, financially speaking. That meant I had a lot of cash on hand and no idea what to do with it other than pay down student loans (which I stopped doing – here’s why). I began reading personal finance blogs and that spiraled into books like The Intelligent Investor, Rich Dad Poor Dad, Think and Grow Rich, One up on Wall Street, I Will Teach You to Be Rich, among others. And my love for investing and personal finance was born.
While I’ve always been conservative with money and have managed it well, this took my frugality to new heights. Every dollar saved was a dollar that I could invest and watch grow. I began reading more on financial independence and early retirement, something I’d never thought possible before. I read stories of people earning modest salaries saving enough to retire in their 30s and found that extremely motivating. Over time, I realized that it wasn’t retirement that I found appealing, but freedom. Freedom to work on the things I want to work on, like this blog, without worry over deadlines or finances.
So I took a look at the money I’d saved, did a few calculations, and quit my job that I loved with people I loved even more. I didn’t have much of a plan, but I’ve always had confidence in myself and my ability to make things happen. Without change, there will be no change, and I was getting too comfortable building someone else’s business. I needed to pursue the things that I wanted to work on and the freedom I desired.
And here we are, coming full circle. Now you know my story and the foundation masonfit.com stands upon. I hope you enjoy reading about my continued journey and the ups and downs of running a blog and online business. — Mason