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Check Out Derek Lodge’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Derek Lodge.

Hi Derek, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I’m an LA transplant from a small town next to Oakland, CA….or “across the water from San Francisco” if I want to sound fancy. Long story short…Immediately after high school, I attended CSUN with aspirations of becoming an American Sign Language interpreter. I was accepted into CSUN’s 2-year Interpreter Education Program (one of the concentrations within their Deaf Studies major), then halfway through had a change of heart with how I envisioned my post-grad. life.

I made the tough decision to step out of the program after one year, still received my B.A. in Deaf Studies (just a different concentration), and simultaneously completed a personal training program, becoming a N.A.S.M. Certified Personal Trainer. It took me five years to obtain my B.A. plus I became a Certified Personal Trainer. Woot Woot! It has been just about one full year since finishing both programs. I now work in the Health & Wellness industry. I have learned many new skills and techniques since stepping into my new career field now providing 1-on-1 assisted stretching, recovery services, as well as personalized strength training services. I currently work part-time for a recovery company, part-time self-employed, and am a budding entrepreneur. One of my long-term goals is to provide recovery services, strength training, access, and information to underrepresented communities; especially for Deaf / Hard of Hearing individuals, POC, and all communities who generally receive the short end of the stick.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
With regard to my current journey, it definitely has not been the smoothest, but that’s part of growing older…right? Other than the Covid “ruining” essentially all of 2020, having negligent property management at my current apartment, and needing to re-examine my income streams, I am more than blessed! I recently got approved for a new space (moving in mid-January), have been working on new projects, and I now have a completely different mindset for my future. I know 2021 will be a year of plentiful opportunities! I would say one of my biggest struggles is unlearning all of the bad habits I picked up while growing up. Perhaps not the most awful habits, rather tendencies that will not give me the life I envision for myself. I am teaching myself about entrepreneurship, financial literacy, investing, and much more in terms of self-employment and operating a business. My parents have traditional 9-5’s and did little to prepare me for any other type of life. I am currently relearning and developing new habits that better align with the life I am manifesting for myself. I know my parents love me, and I do not blame them. They provided me and my older siblings with everything they did not have, the way they knew best. It is now my turn to give them a life where they may reclaim their time, not have to trade their time for money, and an opportunity where we can grow together.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
Outside of the personal training and recovery services I provide, I would consider myself an athlete. A self-taught hand balancer and pole-sport aficionado. My love for handstands began when I was very young. I would practice handstands against my bathroom door, off the corners of my bed, the arms of couches, and basically any piece of furniture I could prop my feet up onto…except the dinner table, hahaha! It wasn’t until I completed my personal training program when I learned about body mechanics, muscle functions, and human movement that my handstands evolved. I can now do some pretty cool things on my hands, and even wrote my first ebook “Bone-Stacking 101” where I breakdown handstand fundamentals and more! Around the same time that I attended my personal training program, I started getting into pole as well! I was scrolling through IG and had seen this Black boy named Miles, aka YungPoleMaster, doing moves on pole. I thought to myself “that looks lit AF,” booked a private, loved it, and immediately ordered my first pole! I was truly inspired seeing another Black boy pole (representation matters), quickly became obsessed, and the rest is history!

I have since been able to combine my knowledge of recovery and strength/mobility training, applying it to my own hand balance and pole practice. This is one of my not-so-secrets that has kept me injury free and consistently transforming myself. When I see a skill or combo, I breakdown the movements in my mind, see what areas of my body need to be stronger and or bendier, then train those specific areas. I truly love pushing my body to the next level, seeing what I am capable of, as well as teaching others how to achieve the same for their body. Pole has taught me so much about my body, and I know I have so much to still learn. If you are not familiar, there are many different styles of “pole-ing”, everyone poles their own way, which is one of the beautiful aspects of this practice. I love pole-sport, training power combos, and dynamic skills on static pole, however, my current goal is to improve my dancing and rhythm. Dancing and anything related to artistic expression was not really encouraged during my younger years, the opposite in fact. I am now learning how to express myself through movement, doing my best not to regress, and just enjoying the process 🙂 I have also been able to work with and meet many amazing athletes, dancers, and individuals in the community all because of Pole! I am so blessed and fortunate to live in Los Angeles, where THE Best of THE BEST come to live, work, and hone their craft. It is truly motivating and the energy here pushes me to continuously Level Up!

If we knew you growing up, how would we have described you?
During my middle school and high school years, I was a soft-spoken in-the-closet gay boy with the desire of leaving the small town I grew up in as soon as I got the chance. I consider my upbringing to be a very sheltered one, I essentially lived in a bubble doing the same routine day after day. I was just trying to fit in and not be outed (even though everyone most likely already knew and or did not care. I always say, “If you cannot accept it yourself, how can you tell anyone else?” I was very much repressing my true self. I played team sports from late elementary school continuing through all of high school (baseball, football, and volleyball), which kept me busy during after school hours and most weekends. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I stopped all club sports because I was not receiving any athletic scholarships for the college I wanted to attend. I then switched my time and energy to getting accepted into the college that offered my major.

It had been engrained into my brain that after high school, one is supposed to immediately leave off to a 4-year college. That is what many of my classmates did, as well as my eldest Brother. I made it my mission to make it to Los Angeles because at the time, I had been following many YouTubers who just so happened to live in the LA area. YouTube was my escape from the illusion of a life I was living in my hometown. It just so happened that my Dream College, CSUN, is apart of LA county, which is more than close enough for me. Looking back now, I realize how naive I was. Back then, I was eager to get out of the town I had lived in for my entire 17 1/2 years of life. I do not regret anything and do not wish I had stayed in my hometown. I am actually extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to attend college away from home. At first, I may have been a little culture-shocked, to say the least, but I am happy with my choices, which has gotten me to where I am now.

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Image Credits

Pole Photos by Kendrick Clevor – @capturemeken Edited by Myself.

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