GYM STORIES: From Member to Mentor

Personal trainer and YouFit team member Stephen Sheehan gives us an open and honest look at his inspiring, touching fitness journey.

YouFit saved my life. 

I was at my lowest point physically, mentally, and emotionally. Coming out of a long-term relationship that had its highs and lows, I had achieved a new PR in something I wasn’t proud of: my weight. 

At 285 pounds, I no longer looked (or felt) like the same person who poured everything into being in prime rugby playing shape over the last decade. After maintaining a consistent workout routine for years, I had gone months without training. 

As for my diet? 

It consisted of everything you know you’re not supposed to have–and then some. Late-night fast food runs and routine GoPuff deliveries, combined with dozens of pints of ice cream and far too many slices of pizza, led to a size-42 waist, a sizable amount of self-doubt, and a shrinking sense of self-worth. 

Luckily for me, I found a safe haven where I could channel my struggles into something positive. And as fate would have it, the place where I felt I truly belonged ended up being across from the McDonald’s I frequented so many times, especially during the first year of the pandemic. 

Instead of taking a right to order a few McDoubles, I took a left into the YouFit Sunrise plaza–and I never looked back. 

Although I had been a member before, it felt like stepping into a new world. I instantly felt welcomed and encouraged by Paul (Assistant General Manager at YouFit Gym Sunriseassistant general manager), which certainly gave me a little confidence heading into my first workout. Plus, friendly front desk associates like Rob and Justin made the gym feel like a home away from home. 

Of course, once I got about 10 minutes into my first session, I knew YouFit wouldn’t exactly provide that same warm, cozy feeling of home. 

But that’s exactly what I needed. 

What began with a three-exercise circuit where I could barely hold a plank without shaking uncontrollably (or sweating profusely) gradually grew into lengthier, more challenging versions of HIIT (high intensity interval training). While the first month or so often had me questioning whether I would ever lose my bulging gut, I refused to let sore muscles, my work schedule, or any other excuse stand in the way of me and the front door of YouFit. 

Consistency, along with a persistent positive mindset, set the stage for so many life-changing moments. By showing up every day, I formed bonds with other members–some of whom were already in fantastic shape and others who shared my desire to shed several inches off our waistlines. I met new friends, including my workout partner, Tony, enjoyed many interesting conversations between sets, and received a ton of motivating fist-bumps, handshakes, and smiles from staff and fellow YouFit members. 

Naturally, as the number on the scale dropped, my self-confidence increased. 

As my body underwent noticeable physical changes, my mood improved. 

As my routine became ingrained, my self-discipline grew stronger. 

About six months into my journey to becoming the best version of myself, Paul brought up an interesting topic as he handed me the foam roller for my daily dose of torture/active recovery.

“You should be a personal trainer here,” he told me bluntly. 

While I had worked as a PT at another gym before, I hadn’t even considered that my progress had suddenly put me in a position where I could help inspire and instruct others on how to get healthy and achieve their own fitness goals. 

Ultimately, it didn’t take much convincing from Paul to sign up for the required courses. Just as I told him, I returned with the certification and paperwork ready to go, completed the application process, and soon found myself transitioning from YouFit member to YouFit Personal Trainer. 

Needless to say, I can’t thank Paul and General Managerour GM Corey enough for igniting a fire inside of me that continues to burn stronger every day. 

Since I joined the team in August 2022, I have been privileged to assist dedicated clients and members of my community with becoming healthier. Along the way, I’ve been able to gain a deeper appreciation for what every employee at our location contributes to make YouFit Sunrise such a special place. 

That’s exactly why I continue to work out at the same place I work. 

The positive energy is contagious in the best way possible. To see my clients diligently working out on their own as I knock out a set of squats motivates me to stay accountable. To see other members who work with our other trainers celebrate their own successes makes me look forward to designing the next stage of my clients’ programs. 

Ultimately, if you told me a year ago that I’d be in the best shape of my life at 31 (I’ve gone from 285 to 225 in 10 months), I would have called you crazy. 
But as I’ve learned in 2022: You can achieve anything you want if you put your mind to it. 

It’s you vs. you. 

Winner takes all. 

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