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Inspiring Conversations with Sawyer Shea

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sawyer Shea.

Hi Sawyer, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I’ve been an athlete my whole life. I started playing soccer from the age of four and continued to play and grow my skills at Division II for Humboldt State University in northern California nestled in the redwoods. This is where I majored in Kinesiology with a minor in nutrition and psychology.

I swore up and down I always wanted to work with athletes, and being an athlete myself, I felt like this would be my sweet spot. It wasn’t until I did an internship working at a local gym where I fell in love working with the general population. It was beyond rewarding work in knowing I was truly impacting not only their day but their lives. Los Angeles called me back home with another internship at Results Fitness which had been voted ‘one of the top ten gyms in the nation’ by Men and Women’s Health at the time. In an internship class of 11, I was the only one brought on as a coach. I then stayed at Results Fitness for 7-years learning everything I could from some of the best coaches around and perfecting my craft. In 2020 the Covid-19 crisis struck the world; and the fitness industry, like so many others, was hit hard. We introduced virtual classes and training and did our best to show up for our members. A year into that change, I realized it was time to say goodbye to a gym I loved so much for so many years and forge my own path. In 2021, Sawyer Shea Training was born. I was able to create a well-educated, purpose-driven, safe-space for fitness on my terms.

My personal journey with health and fitness is complicated, one that has taught me so much, not only in how to succeed in life but how to overcome challenges. After college soccer, I found a new sport in obstacle course racing (OCR), or what most know it by: “Spartan Race”. I started to casually race in these events until I got serious back in 2017, competed for the first time, and got 1st place. I continued to race and grow with the help of my new coach. We raced A LOT and trained HARD!!! We only got better and better seeing the top at many podiums. In 2017 and 2018, I competed at the Spartan Race World Championship. Hoping to podium in the 2018 race, I received my first “did not finish” (DNF) due to hypothermia at mile 5. Adding to the challenge, in early 2019, I tore my shoulder doing obstacle testing for television which effectively ended my ability to race in the near future. Shoulder surgery in August 2019 radically shifted my body and perspective. Through injury, I learned patience, self-care, self-trust, and more grit than all my years of athleticism combined. “Rehab”. If you know, you know. I also had my eyes opened to my disordered eating. Competing like a pro-athlete left me with some obsessive and inappropriate food habits. I’ve worked hard to move to a place of self-love, affirmation, and the kind of relationship with my body that produces long-lasting enjoyment and true contentment. And it turns out — I can be strong, powerful, and highly competitive — all while appreciating and caring for my body.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I am not sure if any entrepreneur has ever said, “It’s been a smooth road.” Let’s be real, it makes for a much better story when we have to work for it. I left my secure job of seven years to start something brand new with little background on how to do it. I started learning from peers and taking online courses so I could build out what I dreamed for Sawyer Shea Training. Some of my biggest struggles revolve around the business side of things. There is so much I still don’t know, from best tax practices to marketing to LLC or S-corp. This is an area I believe so many new entrepreneurs need guidance on. Beyond the ins-and-outs of now being a business owner, I think imposter syndrome is a huge enemy for entrepreneurs of all levels. Imposter syndrome is loosely defined as believing you are a fraud and doubting your own abilities and successes. The one thing that brought me to where I am today is my years of experience, my drive to constantly improve, my knowledge, and my passion for improving others. So, to let something like imposter syndrome be the one thing that makes me doubt myself is absolutely Ludacris!

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
My business is Sawyer Shea Training. I offer online personal training where I write programs for people via the Bridge app, which is a super inclusive platform that has everything to easily guide you through an individualized program, from coaches’ notes, exercise videos, and capabilities to record videos for coach feedback. I also offer bi-weekly coaching calls to focus in on exercise form, nutrition habits, or accountability. I specialize in functional training for all ages, sexes, and body types. I love Bill Bowerman’s quote, “If you have a body, you’re an athlete.” I believe that fitness is for everyone and no matter what limitations you have, you should be able to move your body pain-free.

But honestly, it is so much more than that: it’s a safe space for those who are looking for guidance in the gym, whether they’re brand new to training, a seasoned veteran, or an ex-collegiate athlete. It is a place to ask questions and learn not just how to do something but why you’re doing it. My brand has been shaped by the lessons I have learned in sport and coaching. I help people create solid foundations and then build upon them, whether that’s in strength training, nutrition, or lifestyle habits. We also focus on learning to love and appreciate their bodies meeting them with gratitude for everything they do for us.

The crisis has affected us all in different ways. How has it affected you and any important lessons or epiphanies you can share with us?
The Covid-19 Crisis was the breeding ground for this idea that I could start my own business and chase this dream. Prior to Covid, I don’t think I would have ever taken this leap to change the world and people’s lives all on my own. As challenging and tragic as the pandemic was for so many, it changed the direction of my life. It taught me the power of slowing down and enjoying each day instead of rushing through them to get to a spot where you could finally slow down. It showed me the importance of doing things and making time for the moments that truly bring me happiness. It taught me the power of what a long walk outside can do for body and mind. I believe it showed many of us how important it is to move our bodies and find movement that we all can enjoy.

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