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By: Chalene Johnson
I truly couldn’t be more blessed to have found a spouse who graciously stepped up to the plate, taking over 100% of the family matters and running our business in my brief absence. He mastered the art of pony tail making on a moving target, cooked the meals, chauffeured the kids, chatted with the other Moms at dance class, finished the laundry and the end of the year school reports, and all the while, being my biggest cheerleader. He kept me motivated on the days that I (literally) worked through the night and pumped me back up, when I felt a little deflated. I am richly in love with a great guy.I am also certain that we chose the right company to bring Turbo Jam® to the masses.
I have radar for people with good hearts. When I met John and Carl (the founders of Beachbody®), they immediately set off my “good peeps” alarms! These are my, “my kind”. They’re all about customer service, but they like to take chances and do “real” fitness. They’re hip, they’re cool, they’re nice, they’re funny and get this… they’re fit!!!! I can’t tell you how many unfit fitness executives I met with.
Carl, John and especially Lara Ross, have made sure my program is represented with authenticity and all the kooky-crazy-non-conventional stuff that’s “just me”, flaws and all. Let me just tell you, Beachbody® has more than earned my respect. When I explained that Turbo is all about the music, they agreed. They have put together the biggest budget for music I’ve ever heard of! Turbo Jam® is everything I hoped it would be… and so much more! They took such good care of me. There were always flowers and fresh fruit waiting in my hotel room, thoughtful calls and thank you notes from their staff, when I should have been thanking THEM! I felt so honored. Beachbody.com rocks!
Turbo enthusiasts will be proud!Aside from constantly worrying about missing moments with my kids, the second most challenging part of the project was preparing the workouts and music for the 7 workouts. Those who know me are well aware of my need to be a “control freak” when it comes to music. If I were 15, I’d write to MTV and see if I could be “MADE” into a dance club D.J. I’m a music freak. I like to add perfectly timed sound effects, just the right bass lines, and hard core, motivating re-mixing! As is typical for me, I finished all of this prep work at about 3 a.m. on the 1st day of our 3 day shoot, for the first 7 exercise videos in 3 days. I was still tinkering with the musical sound tracks in my dressing room up until about 5 minutes before they announced “We’re rollin’!” With my heart pounding and my head racing, I would sprint to the set with a CD in hand and yell, “Wait, I have a better version!”I had this great group of incredible Turbo friends behind me, my sister and best friends, like Anna-Rita, Holly and Mindy. Beachbody® created a killer set and hired the best exercise video director in the business. We were filming in an actual movie studio sound stage with real camera men, video editors, a team of make-up artists (which I desperately needed, having lost so much sleep), Kraft services and all the “Hollywood” stuff I had only dreamed of! I finished taping each workout and the director (watching remotely from an editing truck) would announce over the p.a. system, “Okay…let’s move on.” Things went great. Everyone said it was the best “cast” they’ve ever seen. They couldn’t believe we were all friends and how much fun everyone had. The various crews could be seen dancing, kicking and punching while we filmed each section.
Many commented they were blown away with how cool this workout was, how contagious the energy, and motivating the music. I should have been feeling pretty good about things at that moment. I should have been soaking in all of the compliments and kudos. But something felt wrong.As for the wealth vs. rich part, I was about to get a big fat check for something I’d gladly do for free, i.e. sharing Turbo Jam® and motivating people to move! We had just wrapped filming all the videos. Friends and long time business associates were calling to congratulate me. They all opened with, “Aren’t you excited? Don’t you feel great?”
I didn’t know how to answer. The truth was, I felt “weird”. I tried to hide the fact that I just felt “empty”. In fact, I felt shame for not feeling “elated” to have finally realized this huge goal I had been working towards for so many years. I couldn’t put my finger on it. These were perhaps the most important workouts of my life and I felt… well… I felt…. “weird”. I can’t think of a better word. I just didn’t feel like me. It was uncomfortable.
I went back to my normal teaching schedule on Tuesday of the following week. Whew… I began to feel “normal” again. It’s true. I’m not an actress and I guess that’s why it felt so “weird” after filming the videos. Where was my Turbo family? Where were my loyal front row regulars? I was missing the faces, energy and personalities that inspire me to lift them up. I never realized how much my own students, like Leili, Astrid, Claire, Ed, Zane, Scott, Tina, Camilla, etc. etc. have done to inspire me, each time I teach. It brings out the best in me when I see the beautiful face of a woman with 75 pounds to lose or a man who is sure this couldn’t be an intense workout. I do what I do for them. I need the inspiration of these people as much as they need mine. It feels like I’m flying when I’m in a room full of people sweating and smiling all at once. It must be like what a pastor feels when the congregation affirms with an infectious, “Aaaaaaamen!!” on Sunday morning. It’s like heaven on earth for this little fitness preacher. Motivating a group of people makes me feel like a rich woman.
But, they weren’t there. I was missing the tall guy in the front who makes noise all hour, the grimaces, the smiles, and struggles that so fuel me. Instead of feeding off of the amazing energy of the people I know and love, I was trying to get something back from the reflective lens of a camera. I felt like I was teaching to a faceless class.
We finished filming and I was emotionally and physically exhausted. It took about 4 days to fully recover. That week I filmed the outdoor Turbo Jam® class at Universal City Walk. There to support me was a close friend and fellow fitness professional. I shared with him my “weirdness”. As if it were so obvious anyone should be able to figure it out, he said, “That’s because you’re not an actress and last week you had to play the part of an instructor. We [fitness professionals] do what we do, NOT because of the paycheck, but because it is fulfilling to see people’s faces light up when they’re having a great time and the joy people feel when they reach a new goal, or just master a move.”
Not even 5 minutes later, I met a woman who had lost 30 pounds doing Power 90®. She explained she was happy to hear that Turbo Jam® would be coming to Beachbody® and excited to invite me into her home. We spoke for only minutes, but for me it was a connection. She told me of the message boards at Beachbody® and the many people she’d met. Her name was Andrea and she probably has no idea, but she cured me. I was out of my funk. The cloud of “weirdness” had lifted.
Andrea, or at least the person who Andrea represented, was exactly what I needed to lose that “weird” feeling. I finally had a face. That’s all I needed. I just needed a face. All I wanted was someone I could “see” when I looked into the camera and assured, “You can get through this!”
I recently finished another set of Turbo Jam® videos. What a different experience. The viewer will probably not detect a difference, but man did I feel it! This time I could look at the camera and see the many faces I see everyday on the message boards, those who work out with me on Wowy and the special people who have visited me in Southern California since finding Turbo Jam® through the infomercial. This time I could see so many faces and the experience was truly fulfilling.
I am richly blessed to do what I do. It’s no wonder that many instructors, by night, are doctors, lawyers and independently wealthy folks, by day. It’s no wonder that despite his amazing success with TaeBo®, Billy Blanks still teaches a healthy dose of “real” classes at his facility in Sherman Oaks, CA. It’s no wonder that when I ask a room full of people to raise their hands if they “love” their job, the ones that do are in professions that help others, teachers, nurses, firemen, mothers, personal trainers. To do what you love will make you rich, maybe not wealthy, but I’d rather be rich.
[Side note: I always read my mini-articles out loud to Bret when I’m done writing them. I do it because I like to see if the words sound as conversational as I intend them. Boy, this one was tough to get through. It will probably read like a normal account of my month, but for me, this one represents so much. It was a turning point. I couldn’t read two words without doing a lip quivering sob. I don’t know if writing this was therapeutic, or just that rush of emotion when you have a (insert Oprah voice here) “light bulb moment” or perhaps I’m just hormonal (sorry…too much information). All I know is that I’m so happy now; cured of my “weirdness” and rich, rich rich...richer than I thought I could feel! ]