posted on March 8, 2023
The world recently lost a very good friend and mentor of mine, Dr. Allan Shook. He put up a hard fight these past few years and he unfortunately lost his tough battle last week. Since he’s been gone, I’ve taken some time to reflect on how important his mentorship was to me, and how important it is to have people like him in all our lives whether it’s inside the gym or outside. Dr. Shook and his influence played a big part of why I am where I’m at today. He helped to guide me through the journey of realizing where I was in life vs. where I wanted to be. Dr. Shook was a big part of my life and one of my greatest mentors, but I am also lucky to have several other mentors and friends right here at UF that I would like to give credit to:
When I first started here as a part time front desk employee back in 2020, I had little to no knowledge on the gym business world and I wasn’t much of an avid lifter. So, I was very fortunate to work somewhere that I would get to lift with a variety of experienced individuals and learn about how to run a gym from selling memberships to coaching classes clients, and teams.
Before I started here, I honestly had no idea who Todd, CJ, or Curtis were. (Well CJ came and spoke to the Exercise Science Club I was in at Slippery Rock University, so I knew of him, but didn’t know the current CJ that we all know and love (most of the time)). I ended up just sending a random email to Curtis one day asking for a job or to shadow him, and he had asked me to come in for an interview. Since then, the three of them have become some of my biggest mentors and good friends along the way.
Curtis – Throughout my time spent with Curtis, he has helped to shape me into a better trainer and a better person. He always answers any client or exercise questions that I may have, as well as giving me a hand with my own training. Curtis took the time out of his own busy client schedule to help me prepare for my very first Powerlifting meet back in September. He would help me to program and execute my workouts effectively so that I could have a successful meet. He’s a positive role model and mentor for me and for a lot of people.
CJ – I’m not sure where to begin with CJ. I always joke about how he’s the older brother that I never wanted (even though I always did want an older brother). CJ is the reason I was able to become comfortable with coaching group classes. I used to take CJ’s Powerful classes, and after a while of shadowing and learning from both him and Curtis, he offered me a coaching spot of my own. Without him throwing me into the fire and then starting to coach on my own, I would have never been comfortable with leading classes. He was able to help me develop those leadership skills and overcome my shyness.
And finally, Todd – I think we officially became friends when he tossed a beer at me at 9am one day, and I chugged it. Back when I first started at UF, he allowed me to coach some of his classes as well as shadow him to gain some other coaching skills. I knew Todd was well respected and well known in the strength and conditioning world, so I knew I could learn a lot from him while at UF. Todd has what seems like an endless network of people within the field and outside of the field as well. I think it’s mostly because he starts up a conversation with anyone within earshot of him whether he knows them personally or not, but also because he’s great at what he does. Since I’ve been at UF, he has challenged me to be better every day, and is always eager to throw out some knowledge.
I never realized how much of an impact these three would make on my life when I first met them. I am very fortunate to have found a place like UF and I think it’s important for us all to find people who we look up to and can help us grow daily. Whether it’s within your career, or within life in general.