It was the spring of 2013. I had just finished my second year of college. You'd think I was at a high point in my life, where I'm getting involved within a university, making friends, and learning more about myself each day. Well that's wrong. I couldn't have been further away from that. I was in what I consider the darkest point of my life. My baseball career looked as though it was ending, I lost my scholarship at the school I loved, and felt a heavy sense of identity crisis.
All throughout my childhood, I grew up around baseball. I was watching it all the time, playing as often as I could, and learning the baseball culture as much as possible. Then I reached high school, and realized I was actually pretty freaking good. I sucked at every other sport. I didn't have the drive for them, either. Basketball, no. Football, no. Track, heck no. So I invested everything I had into baseball. It became my identity. I was Adam the baseball player, and that's all I knew. After receiving a scholarship to play in college, I left my home town to pursue my dream of being a professional baseball player. As year one went by, my attitude was horrible. I got a scholarship to play at a division 1 program. Why would I need to put in anymore work? It was time to kick my feet up.
Freshman year was over. No appearances on the mound; I was a redshirt with nothing to show for myself. That redshirt was actually the only thing keeping me afloat. As sophomore year approached, I felt good, I felt like I was in the right mindset. I had been working hard all summer, and wasn't going to ride the pine any longer. Nothing was breaking my determination.
Fall Ball started, and I was looking and feeling good. I had command of all my pitches, and had good outings during inner-squad. As fall came to an end and snow began to hit the ground, we moved our practices inside the dome.
It was crowded, there were teammates all around me and baseballs flying everywhere I looked. As I reared back to start playing catch with my teammate, something went wrong. I follow through and throw the ball, but it goes 10 feet left of my target. Way off. I think to myself, "that's strange." My arm goes back to throw another one. The same feeling happens. Something is off. I don't miss my target as bad this time, but I still miss. Next thing I know, every single time I went to my release point, something wasn't clicking mechanically and mentally. I feel like I've forgotten how to throw a baseball.
Each one of my throws was going every which way. My teammates were staring at me and coaches were yelling, trying to figure out what the heck was wrong with me. I somehow make it through the practice, and get straight to my computer to investigate what the heck was happening. After a few hours of research, I find out it's the yips.
This "thing" sticks with me throughout the rest of the season. I can hardly throw a baseball until I'm put in a position where I have to zing it over to my partner. In other words, it doesn't affect me during long toss or pitching, which was ok for the time being. With a little more time, it began to severely affect my release point and the way I'm throwing my pitches on the mound. My velocity goes down by at least 10mph, and I'm failing to execute more than %50 of my pitches.
I couldn't take it anymore. It was the most frustrating feeling going from a solid sought-after pitcher, to feeling like I didn't know how to throw a ball 20 feet. I had to fix the problem, so my family and I hired a sports psychologist from California to try to fix the issue. We had Skype and phone calls multiple times per week to get to the bottom of the problem.
Within weeks, I couldn't believe it, I was beginning to play catch again without too much thought or hesitation. My confidence with the ball in my hand was coming back and it felt amazing.
Soon after, I have one period of self-doubt, and every improvement I made was stripped away from me in an instant. It was worse than the first time. I couldn't even pitch. Next thing I know, I sat my coaches' office at the end of the season.
My scholarship was stripped, and they didn't have room for me, because I was a product that wasn't producing in a business. I had to be removed. And I understood that. They are business operators at the division 1 level. If they have employees (players) that don't produce, they must get rid of them. I walked out the door and began to zone out. I knew what they were going to say before I even walked through those doors. I knew I was done before it actually happened. There were no surprises in that meeting whatsoever, but yet I was in the most depressed state I have ever been in.
I called my dad, the person I would always go to with baseball issues. I talked him through as much as I possibly could without completely sobbing my eyes out. He makes it clear to me that I was his son regardless. I was Adam. Not ONLY Adam the baseball player. As I begin to pull myself together, I hang up the phone only feeling a little bit better. The worst part about it is I have to get through a few more weeks of workouts with my teammates before I leave.
Between the phone call I had with my dad, as well as a crazy spiritual experience I had in the weight room one day (I may talk about this more in the future), I knew it was time to come home, and let that dream go...
That point in my life was rock bottom. That whole second year of college was my rock bottom. EVERY SINGLE DAY was completely miserable. But I had to somehow let that go and leave it behind me when I came home. As I began to settle into Fort Collins, I forced myself to think about what the heck I was going to do with my life other than finish school. I couldn't even come close to thinking about anything related to baseball because it was just too painful. Not only did I miss baseball, but I yearned to compete and push myself. I missed the feeling of being in a high pressure situation and coming out on top. I was DYING to better myself in some way.
To get my mind off of things, my dad started inviting me to the gym with him. My family grew up going to the gym every day of the week, so this was a regular invite that I had. The more I went with him, the more questions I asked about his past as a bodybuilder. I became extremely intrigued. I wanted to go with him every day and throw some weights around, and I don't know if I did that to numb my pain from baseball, or if I was truly interested in exploring another aspect of life - my health.
As it turns out, I was doing both. Not only was I beginning to feel less pain from the lack of baseball in my life, but I also began to be completely consumed with learning more about fitness. From asking my dad about his bodybuilding career to reading articles and watching videos about some of the greats at the time, I became obsessed. As my love for fitness grew, I was fascinated with the changes my body was making. I think it is the coolest thing ever is that we can use the gym and the kitchen as chisels to form the body we desire. That's absolutely astonishing to me.
Soon after my time in the gym lengthened, I became that kid that wouldn't shut up about fitness. I was talking to all of my friends about it, and shared my story with those who asked what I was up to. I absolutely loved talking about my journey.
As I began to be less self-absorbed with my mirror checks, I saw that there were personal trainers around the club constantly. One of which I've known since I was a just a child. I thought to myself, "He looks like he's having fun. He gets to talk to people about fitness all day long. I'm very extraverted, and I love fitness. Wait a minute, why can't I do what he's doing?!" Not only did I feel a sense of happiness in that, I felt a sense of service as well. Fitness was therapy for me and changed my life significantly. I had to give back somehow. Next thing I know, I'm talking to my friend about personal training.
After that conversation and many more, I learned a lot about the ins and outs of personal training and the fitness industry. I scheduled a day and time to take a test to get certified, and I put my nose in those books. I studied my butt off for quite some time. Interestingly enough, I learned a lot more than I thought from just working out and feeling how my body operates mechanically. After I became certified, I set up a meeting the next day with the fitness supervisor at the club. I was barely 20 years old when I went into his office. I had confidence in my ability, and drive that wasn't seen in many 20 year-old kids. Apparently he saw that, too. I was hired at the location I grew up in, and started signing up clients as fast as I could. Every single day, I woke up ecstatic to live. I looked forward to training every single client, which was easy to say because I only had a few clients at first. Less than I can count on one hand. It was probably three or four. I was completely relationally invested in my clients and loved it. I was able to share my love of fitness with them as well as network and hear their stories and experiences in life. After I began to feel really confident in the service I was providing, I began to think more on branding myself as a fitness professional. I had to grow my clientele somehow, so my hustle was turned to full throttle and I began to market and get the word out that I was "the guy" to go to.
My clientele exploded. I was killing it at one point and had a 60% growth in only a few months. As I was beginning to juggle all of the changes with a busier schedule, I saw that my time programming and creating my best service was slightly going down. That bothered me a lot. It drove me freaking crazy. I never wanted to be at a point where my drive to grow a business was taking quality away from my clients' experiences. Another thing that bothered me was saying "no" to people. I didn't want to be at a point in my career where I had to say "no" to someone who is trying to better their well-being. Once I realized that, I left the big box gym immediately, and started my own business.
I started Poehlmann Fitness and online training to change more lives while providing high-quality, valuable content at the same time. I know that fitness changed my life inside and out, and I know it can do the same for so many people in the world and I am dying to be a part of that every single day. My brand and business model allow me to do that. Now my heart is happy because I have the ability to say "yes" to those who are asking for guidance in their fitness journey.
The other day at one of my classes, a girl asked me what gets me up out of bed every single day. Without hesitation, I said "people." I absolutely love people. I genuinely care and love hearing stories, sharing experiences, networking, and listening. And if I can help someone improve their health in the process, even better.
Life throws us down on the pavement hard. Real hard. But guess what. The weights will ALWAYS be there waiting for us. They won't leave. They are a constant that helps you decide who you want to be.
I'll be honest, this was painful to write. But I want the world to hear my story in hope that someone will find fitness the same way I did. From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for reading.
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