Ranfone Training System’s Special Thanksgiving Interview With Brendon Rearick
Ranfone Training Systems: Brendon, a lot of us in the industry know your background and the influence you’ve had. But for those that don’t, can you give a brief synopsis of your professional career?
BRENDON: It all began when I realized I wouldn’t be making it to the NFL. I asked myself, “what is the next best way to win myself a Super Bowl?” My answer: Coaching.
I entered college at Umass-Amherst as an Engineering student because they make good money, and it’s considered a respectable career by societies standards. Two weeks into my freshman year I decided I’d rather be happy than rich. I switched my major to exercise science and began the ten-year journey to where I am now.
During college, I did three strength & conditioning internships. After graduation, I accepted a not so ideal position at one of these gyms. It was a job. In retrospect, this was the best thing that could have ever happened to me because it taught me what NOT to do as a coach & manager of people.
A year and a half later I landed an internship at Mike Boyle Strength & Conditioning. I started out by running all the middle school & morning adult groups. As coworkers started leaving the gym, to continue their careers elsewhere, I began to take on more responsibilities, more groups, and more clients. Eventually, I was presented the opportunity to run the internship curriculum and write all the programming for the gym, which I did for my last three years. Somewhere in there, I went to massage school to improve my skills as a coach as I saw the need to get my hands on people. I viewed this as an extra “tool in the toolbox”, NOT as a way to skip physical therapy school. I still refer my clients to the proper people (medical doctors, PT’s, chiros, other trainers, etc.) if I feel that is what they need, or if I feel that I am not the best fit.
After getting my massage license, I opened my first business right inside MBSC: Movement As Medicine. Our mission statement: To spread the positive by-products of coaching and movement as far as we can. A year later I joined a second business venture: Certified Functional Strength Coach. Our mission statement: The CFSC is all about making good coaches great and great coaches even better. Our goal is for the CFSC label to be known as a distinction for great coaches. Check both links if you would like more information.
After five years at MBSC, a personal life choice required a move to California where I’ve been working for myself in the Bay Area over the past year. I’ve dubbed myself the “Traveling Trainer” when people ask what it is I do. I service one gym in the city and one in the peninsula, where I work with few general population clients, some pro triathletes, and an NFL player. I still do a couple massages every week, I have a few in-home clients, I do some business consulting, public speaking, and I travel to teach the CFSC on the West Coast. It is all still very new for me, but I am enjoying the challenge of building a network and finding my place.
“Sometimes you just need to fall and grow wings on the way down.”
RTS: Both professionally and personally, the last year has been a very tumultuous one for you, correct? Has this changed how you view your direction in either the S&C field or your long term personal aspirations?
BRENDON: It sure has! Without getting into details, I will say two things:
Number 1: It’s not a competition. What I have going on is no worse, or better, than what you or someone else is experiencing. It’s my burden, no one else’s. We all get shit in our lives. You don’t get to choose what it is that you get, but you do get to choose how you respond.
Number 2: You either win, or you learn. I would even go as far to say you always win – eventually. Learning from your experience IS a form of winning in my book. It just takes some time to realize it. I am grateful for the perspective that my experiences have given me at age 27. I feel as though I’ve become a living cliche, and I can see clearly now cliches exist for a reason! Aye aye aye.
As for how it’s changed my perspective on health & fitness – the biggest shift I’ve made is my personal definition of “health”. Health to me is no longer how strong you are, how well you eat, what you look like in the mirror, or living a life free of medications, disability, and disease.
Health is – “living optimally given your circumstances, genetics, environment and financial state.” (Thank you, Dr. Alison Chen, for your influence)
As for long term aspirations, I no longer think in terms of five-year plans, two-year plans, or even one-year plans. I have goals and visions, but even then so many things change week to week that I don’t plan further than the month ahead, and even then I don’t always know what I’m doing today or the next second. That has been a huge shift for me. Dropping my calendar felt as if the boulder that was crushing my skull for a long time had been removed. Maybe I’ve taken it a bit to the extreme, but it’s what needed to happen for me to heal.
RTS: The holiday season is quickly approaching, a time reserved for family, celebration, and appreciating all that we have in life. You’ve been very forthright about your personal trials and reflections as of late, any thoughts you’d like to share about them that might benefit the rest of us?
1. “Calories don’t count on holidays. Memories, family, and friends do.” – Jim Ferris
2. Two quick nutrition tips I like the day after holidays:
– Do your best to avoid taking home leftovers or freeze half of them so you won’t be tempted to eat them every day for the next week.
– Fast the day after. This can help you “reset” so to speak. You mostly likely won’t be hungry the next morning, or afternoon, so save your next meal for dinner or even the next day. Drink water instead.
3. I’m stealing this directly from my fundraising page: “Tell someone you love them. As soon as you close out of this window I would like you to call, text, or email someone and tell them you love them. If you have someone in your life you’ve meant to reconcile with, or you want to tell someone how you feel about them, do it today. Life’s too damn short to hold grudges and fear rejection. Say “I love you.” If they say it back, what an amazing feeling. If they don’t, that’s their business, you’ve done and said what’s true for you. Smile for your courage. I used to believe I was too “cool”, “macho” and “strong” to say how I felt. I’ve learned vulnerability is a wonderful gift.
“The greatest weakness of most humans is their hesitancy to tell others how much they love them while they’re alive” – Orlando A. Battista
RTS: Many people in the S&C community have reached out with offers to help in any way they can, from fundraising events to simply donating to your Collect Moments Not Things Campaign. Was this something you expected?
BRENDON: I was expecting family, friends, and colleagues to initially share and donate what they could when I first released the news through my “Collect Moments Not Things” fundraiser. What I was not expecting was the outreach I got from people with similar stories and their willingness to share those stories with ME. Vulnerability begets vulnerability. Putting my pride aside, admitting I needed help, and using my predicament to inspire others was something I was initially was very uncomfortable with, but I knew I had to do for myself and others. Usually, I would have suppressed everything to seem strong and to avoid the pain and conversations that go along with being sick. I had done that once before with another stressful life event, and all it led to was depression and many therapy sessions. Looking back now, it may even have caused my Aplastic Anemia. Who knows. So when it came time to share, I decided to bare it all.
I also did not foresee all the coaches and business owners in the S&C community going out of their way to organize fundraisers. Not to mention all the hard work they’ve put into make them successful. Most importantly, these events got people exercising, helped spread awareness about Aplastic Anemia, and spurred people to donate blood and join the bone marrow registry. The last fundraising event of the year will be in Connecticut @ Ranfone Training Systems with Coach Dan John. Every $ will be donated to my fundraiser. Not only do your get to learn from Dan for an entire day, but you also get to drink beers with him and the crew afterward, where we all know the REAL learning happens.
I am so grateful to the strength & conditioning community for their compassion & kindness. We are an industry that already gives so much of ourselves to see others succeed in whatever endeavor it is they’re training for… and for many them to go out of their way to give to me, makes me a very lucky guy. Much love to everyone who’s contributed in some way shape or form.
Thanks for reading,