Why I have committed to writing a fitness blog.

Dear Friends,

 Those of you who know me well, understand that regular physical activity, and striving to maintain a nutritious diet, are the foundation of my lifestyle.  What many of you do not know is, why.

John Schaffer
John Schaffer

My grandfather (paternal) and I never knew each other. He died of a heart attack one winter morning while shoveling snow off his driveway. He was fifty (50) years old. Today, I am the father of two children, who also never met their grandfather, as my father died of a heart attack at age fifty-one (51). I have countless memories of the moments and days following my father’s death, but most vividly remember the common ‘theme’ of conversations I had with those who knew him. The dialogue commonly mentioned how he, like his father, had died prematurely of heart disease, and how I, now had to be aware of this for my own preservation.

At the time I had no education regarding obesity, heart disease, risk factors or co-morbidities associated with cardiovascular disease. What I could not do however, was accept that just because they had died in this manner, that I would be destined to as well. I remember the moment when my father’s remains were lowered into the ground and covered with dirt. I remember standing between my mother and my sister and holding them as they and the others around us sobbed and wept. And I remember that I decided at that moment that I would do everything possible to ensure that heart disease and premature death would not be my legacy.

In the years following that experience I took up regular exercise in an effort to fulfill the promise I had made to myself. While I had experimented with jogging, cycling, yoga and others my preferred modality of exercise was resistance training. It is important to me that you understand that this was in no way an easy task or something that came naturally. I had no idea what I was doing, was often advised by others who had no idea what they were doing, and experienced dozens of setbacks and injuries that came with poor training technique and ignorance. I was nervous, uncomfortable, intimidated and felt out of place at the gym. The only thing I had in the beginning was my dedication to the lifestyle.

Over time I learned new things and sought out more information. I began reading everything I could about training techniques and nutrition. Often the question asked led me to many more questions than answers. As I aged into my thirties and then closer to my forties I found that family members, friends, co-workers and sometimes clients (I sold real estate…poorly) would always want to talk to me about fitness and associated me as a source of fitness information. While the attention was flattering, I felt insufficient. The information I would share was based solely on my own trials and personal experience, not necessarily on sound scientific research or data. Additionally, although these peers saw me as knowledgeable and experienced,  I knew there was far more that I did not understand.

Although it had been my dream to someday operate my own real estate brokerage and development firm, it became more and more clear that people did not associate me with that identity. People saw me as a ‘fit guy’. Once I had accepted this in my life my personality became much happier and more balanced. I realized that my quest to rewrite the legacy of my family and be an example to those who came after me did not have to be for my family alone, but could be an example for everyone. That is when I decided to research how I could become a lifelong student of exercise science and a credible source of information to those who sought answers. I ultimately applied to, and was fortunate to be admitted to, Teachers College at Columbia University where I earned a Master’s degree in Applied Exercise Physiology.

I have dedicated myself to lifelong learning of the effects of exercise on human physiology. I do this not solely for my own benefit, but to be a reliable source of valuable information, to all those who wish to steer their lifestyle in a healthier direction. I am a working husband and father and ordinary person, probably very similar to you. I am not a former collegiate or pro athlete (although I look it, hehe). 

If you have a desire to adopt a lifestyle of fitness and healthy living, and would like to avoid many of the pitfalls and setbacks that I experienced in the outset of my journey, then I invite you to read and follow my blog. Your comments, questions, ideas, and support are welcome as they both challenge and enable me to pursue my lifelong quest to be a student of exercise science.

Thank you for reading my story.

JohnM. Schaffer

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