My Fitness Journey – A Never Ending Story


People often ask me how I got into personal training.

It’s a pretty straightforward story and it begins when I was just a child.

It’s been a bumpy road for sure, but it shows that anyone, regardless of where their journey begins, can become interested in fitness.

I was always very athletic and active growing up.  

I remember playing basketball, baseball, and soccer year round. Like so many other kids, sports were my first love.   

If I was not on the field or court, I was in the street playing pick-up soccer games or catch with my dad. I think his love of sports was a big influence on what got me first involved in them. Between the constant activities with the neighborhood kids, practicing with my father, and going to summer camps to develop my skills, I became a good athlete as a kid.

But as I got older, sports got harder. As I got into middle school, I noticed that the other kids were growing at a much faster rate than myself. So basketball and baseball began to take a backseat. Basketball gets much harder when you’re not as tall as your opposition. And baseball is impossible without enough power or strength to match your rivals.

Size Matters

At least in soccer I could still hang, thanks to my technical skills. It also didn’t hurt that I was the most passionate and focused on it. At least that was the case up until I got to high school.

By then, there was a whole new crop of freshman boys from the other middle school in town. As we all met up for soccer tryouts, I was one of the three smallest kids in the freshman class standing in line ready to meet the coaches.

Soccer tryouts were interesting because our school did not have a freshman team. That meant I was now trying out with all the upperclassmen. They looked like they were 15 years older than me–not two.

Despite that, I did make the junior varsity team that year. However, at the time, I had no idea that that would be the last time I played on an actual sports team–ever.

I still looked like a sixth grader by the time my sophomore year rolled around. I realized that no matter how good  my technical skills were, I was outmatched. The other boys were just too big, strong, and fast.

With Failure Comes Wisdom and Self-Discovery

Things changed, quickly. Sports were no longer in my life. I used the next couple of years trying to truly find myself.

Hearing about my experience, my uncle suggested I start working out with him.

My uncle could relate. He had similar experiences as me as a youngster. He too was smaller. He understood my plight and frustration.

So he showed me the fundamentals of lifting weights. He had some basic equipment in his basement and he showed me the basics.

I was hooked. I started going over his house about four times per week before dinner to work out. My body was definitely not used to it. I still remember those mornings waking up after a hard workout and feeling like I couldn’t move due to how much my body was trying to adapt to this new regiment.  

I remember during my senior year of high school when people began to notice the fruits of my labor. Further, the stars aligned, and I began going through a growth spurt.

Don’t Quit, Hard Work Pays Off

Seeing positive results, there was no way I was going to give up this new routine. So I didn’t.

After high school I continued this lifestyle. I haven’t stopped. 

Sure, there have been obstacles throughout the years. But working out was always the solution–not the problem. A devotion to physical fitness helped me not only physically but mentally as well.  

I was no longer the small kid trying to fit in. I now had the self confidence to become the leader I always wanted to be.

That was enough for me to continue on this path of health and fitness regardless what life throws at you.

Rather quickly, I realized that, much like my uncle, I too had a passion to help others.

I received all my certifications necessary to become a personal trainer. I have a job that I love. I help others reach their fitness goals. I can honestly say that helping others achieve physical fitness is more rewarding than when I started reaching my own fitness goals.

It’s Never Too Late

Now that you have heard my fitness story and how it began, I can tell you that it is never too late. That’s the good news.  

Your health and fitness story may just be beginning. Maybe it has just been on hold for a while. But this book is not closed.  

The new year is upon us and people are naturally thinking about their own health and fitness. Sadly, over 80 percent of all New Year’s fitness-related resolutions don’t make it past February.  

Obesity and illness are at an all-time highs. How come so many of those people do not continue the journey of health and fitness?  Maybe they were set up to fail?  Maybe they did not have the outside accountability, motivation, and encouragement that they needed.

Here is a quick tip to at least get started on the right path to success.

Accountability is Key

Do not just “join a gym” in hopes to achieve these new goals–especially if that has not worked for you before.  You need to stay accountable and “join a program.”  

A program could be anything from working one-on-one with a personal trainer or some kind of group training classes, preferably ones that have a coach leading the way.  

The key is to have something or someone that will help keep you accountable and motivated.  This will at least give you the tools you need to incorporate those positive lifestyle changes you are looking for. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

In my next column, I will give some tips on how to keep those fitness resolutions going strong.

Garrett Sawaia
Garrett Sawaia is a professional personal trainer and fitness instructor. He trains and coaches at Boston Sports Club in Providence as well as True Performance Training/Training For Warriors in Medway, Massachusetts. Garrett holds a variety of professional certications, including ACSM-CPT; CFSC ; CPPS ; NASM-FNS; TFW. He can be reached at