Sighing heavily from too much work and not enough time, I fumbled quickly
through the stack of applications. I was tired of the same old same ole. This guy with
that degree and fifteen years of experience. This lady with all these certifications in just
about any class. But I wasn’t impressed.
Sure, years of education, experience, and training are important but I’ve seen so
many fitness “professionals” through the years with being thirty-five years of age, which
is considered “old” in the fitness industry. I was looking for more than the usual buff bod
and “I can whip you into shape” attitude. I wanted something different but I wasn’t quite
sure what. I just knew that the things that would normally make a Health and Fitness
Director jump were just not doing it for me.
Then my eyes fell on Patty’s application. It was simple, almost blank compared
to the others. No certifications and no special skills. There wasn’t a resume or reference
letter attached. Just a simple request to work in the nursery or to clean the facility,
janitorial work for that was the only job experience listed.
Patty came to me several months ago to get some personal training. I noticed her
desire and willingness to learn. I felt her hunger and appreciation for every blessing in
life. I watched her with the other members, sharing what she learned in our sessions
together. She had more passion and motivation than my staff that were getting paid! Her
eyes lit up and her voice exuded confidence when she talked about fitness and showed
others how to set the machines. Then when it was time to go, she became quiet, closed
her gym bag, and slipped away to her real job.
“That’s it!” I shouted to myself. Good thing no one else was around or they
would have thought the ole boss was losing it again. I realized the thing I was searching
for in my new staff member was appreciation. To truly be thankful for each opportunity,
each task, each member, and each day that has been given. I was looking for someone
who didn’t take what they possessed for granted.
Patty came in for her interview. No typing skills, no computer skills, and no basic
certifications. This would be tough since our workout equipment was linked to a state-
of-the-art computer system, which allowed staff to chart members’ workouts and to send
them messages and updates. I knew the task before me would be hard but I also knew
that she was the one that I should hire.
“You’re gonna have to let her go,” was the message given to me two months
later. “She’s too slow.” I knew Patty had it in her so I begged for some more time.
Through the months, Patty got her certifications, learned how to type, and used
the computer system to take care of her members. Just like I knew she would.
Sitting at my desk one day, I noticed Patty’s shoulders moving up and down
quickly. She had her back to me and I couldn’t see her face so I assumed she was
laughing at an e-mail on her computer. When she didn’t answer me, I knew something
was wrong. I rushed to her and before I could get a word out, she nearly suffocated me
with the biggest hug I had ever received. Crocodile tears ran down her face.
“I’m typing my husband a love letter for his birthday. He’s going to be so
surprised! Thank you, oh, thank you for believing in me when no one else would!”
Between sobs, she told me her story of how she went to a small country “school” back in
the day. It was hardly considered school for they spent their days just playing and
braiding each other’s hair. No lessons. No learning.
The message, “You’re no good. No one wants you. Go back to cleaning toilets,”
was what she heard repeatedly as she was turned down job after job. So she resorted to
all she knew, her role as a cleaning lady.
Now Patty is on a new course. Her position as Fitness Coach has given her self-
esteem and confidence, a chance to use her mind again, and an opportunity to help
others. I still get cards and letters from her and I’m thankful to have played a part in
Patty’s new course for along the way someone, years ago, guided me on my new course.