A Wake-up Call That Inspired a Transformation
How did I get here? That’s the question we all ask. In a “blink of an eye” we go from that young vibrant person ready for the world to a “less than healthy, less than skinny, not quite fit, taking a few minor prescription medications that everyone takes” person. We find ourselves looking in the mirror at a person we don’t even recognize.
What do I know about this? I’m Herman Schirg and I’m right with you. I charged through school, graduated college, got my commission in the USAF and was ready to take on the world…then, in a blink of an eye…retired after 22 years, not recognizing who I was looking at in the mirror. What happened to me?
I found myself with a wonderful family and a beautiful life but declining health. Military life is tough on the body. I had numbness down my leg, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), reduced neck mobility and lower back problems from flying fighter aircraft, a sleep disorder, an enlarged prostate, increased anxiety, and pain in almost all of my joints.
I felt like a rusted tin man getting out of bed every morning.
Then, a real wakeup call. Even though I knew I wasn’t in great shape I refused to admit it. In my mind, I was still a young, fit, energetic person. So, I decided to do what any young energetic person would do…run my first mudrun obstacle course race (since leaving the military, anyway). If I could make it through the race then maybe I was in better shape than I thought…right? Things were fine until I tried to cross some monkey bars and was engulfed in pain! Midway across the obstacle, I tore my right chest muscle. I hung there by one arm, not knowing what I did…or what was to come.
What was to come was surgery to reconnect my chest muscle to my arm. My arm was then strapped to my side, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 6 weeks, followed by a long 6 months of painful rehab. Of course it was my right arm that was strapped to my side…and I’m right-handed. Try doing everything with your opposite hand and needing help to do basic everyday tasks.
I felt helpless!
I made up my mind right there that I never want to feel so helpless again. But if I didn’t change what I was doing, I could end up like that…permanently!
I didn’t want to lose everything due to declining health. I don’t accept the fact that “it’s just part of aging and that it just sucks to get old”. I want to be able to see my children graduate college, get married, have children of their own and be a vital part of their lives. So, what do I do?
There’s a TON if information out there…some good…some not so good. I got frustrated with contradictions. “This food will give you superpowers” and then the next day “This food will cause cancer and kill you”…what??? I’m not a doctor but I have turned my desire to find out the truth and become smart on what I need to do to get healthy. Then, I knew I should take what I’ve learned and use it to help others. The best way to do this was to become an ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer, so I did. Now my goal is to help everyone I can to live longer, happier, productive lives…and to never feel helpless!
Why did you become a certified personal fitness trainer?
I wanted to get certified for personal knowledge, credibility and confidence. Everyone always came to me for fitness advice…how to workout, exercise execution, etc. I never had a problem giving my “opinion” on fitness but never felt confident to give “advice” until I got certified.
How has fitness impacted your life/career?
I’ve always been the “fitness fanatic”. I remember using chalk to draw workout stations in the back alley to prepare for our physical fitness competitions in 5th grade (we became the district champions).
During Air Force flight school we had physical training sessions built into our schedules. We had so much to study and always felt like we didn’t have time for working out. But it was here that I realized it was purposely placed to help relieve the stressors of flight school. This is why it’s so important to make time for fitness. It was a definite requirement to be fit for the physical demands of flying fighter aircraft…in combat, you needed to be fit or someone could die.
Now fitness has become an integral part of who I am. It gives me confidence in my job, ability to be active with my children, a way to reduce the stress of life, and allows for a life without personal limitations.
Why did you choose the ISSA?
I wanted a well-respected certification that I could complete at my own pace and online. Working full-time and raising a family leaves little time to complete advanced education or certifications. The ISSA model was a perfect fit for me since it filled all those requirements.
How did Karen Mullarkey motivate you and how do you motivate others?
It’s very easy to look at amazing people who are energetic, fit, successful, and think they have it easy or a “blessed life” with everything given to them. You think that if they had the challenges and difficulties that I have my life they wouldn’t be a model or successful competitor. Basically, that thought gives you a way out, an excuse…but then you read their stories, I read her story. When I started going through my divorce I was crushed, lost my motivation, wasn’t sure of what direction to take my life. When I read Karen’s transformation story it stood out how Karen pushed through the diversity of her divorce (right as I was going through mine) to come out stronger and better. Maybe this could be my opportunity to be motivated and use it to motivate others. I want to be able to help other people like she helped me. If people see you overcoming a challenge they feel they can too. It’s helpful to teach something, but it’s powerful to teach something through your own personal experiences.
What advice would you give to encourage someone to become an ISSA certified fitness trainer?
The most important investment you can make is in yourself. We spend so much money furthering our education to get a job and make a living but invest so little in educating ourselves on health and fitness. What’s the purpose of having a lot of money if you don’t have the health and physical ability to enjoy it? Even if you’re never going to be a personal trainer, the information in the CFT program should be mandatory education for everyone, maybe in every high school. Imagine the decrease in medical costs if everyone had the knowledge we get in the CFT program…even if they only put it to use for themselves.
How do you plan to use your ISSA certification?
I currently just use it to create my own workouts, give advice to family and friends or just pass some tips to anyone who asks a question. I’ve used it to help me overcome obstacles…repairing my body after leaving the military, rebuilding myself after surgery, and providing confidence and direction after my divorce. I feel we’ve entered a huge health crisis in our country. In the near future, I would like to create an online presence with simple products and programs to reach as many people as possible. It has turned into a responsibility to help all those people that lost their personal “owner’s manual” and give them a simple path to health.