Today we’d like to introduce you to David DiFrancesco. Below you’ll find edited excerpts of our interview with David.
Can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Where I am today is the culmination of three major events in my life. The first is witnessing a policeman die from a gunshot wound right beside me. I was nine years old at the time and from that moment, I knew I wanted my life to mean more than just me, I wanted to make a difference in the world and to make other people lives better, to be a healer.
The second major event was being bullied every day I was in school until I graduated. While I did try to fight back, I never won (I was quite small and a year younger than everyone) and I absolutely hated gym class and did everything I could to avoid it. When I went to college, I was asked to volunteer as a mentor/teacher and I actually chose to teach gym class for 1st through 8th grade. I picked that class because I wanted to use it as a way to heal the pain and anger, self-hatred and low self-esteem I had for myself. And while it helped, I didn’t heal fast enough and it reached a point leading to the third major turning point, a suicide attempt my sophomore year. Through that I discovered that it wasn’t that I really wanted to die, I just wanted all the emotional pain I was experiencing to stop. I wanted to like what I saw in the mirror. I made a decision that rather than living through the events of my past, I was going to do the things I needed to do to live the future I wanted. I embarked on a decade long process of self-growth and healing, mostly through exercise and challenging myself through many of my fears to a place where, in April of 2000 I left my corporate career determined that I would help other people to have the opportunity for healing their own pain, whether physical, mental or emotional and that they would have a challenging and safe place in which to do that.
Somehow, as only life can, all my weaknesses and fears became the very tools that healed me, and I use to heal others.
Has it been a smooth road?
I’m not sure a smooth road would’ve been quite as much fun. It’s been quite challenging, like any business or self-employed person could talk about. And while I could tick through a long list of all the things that didn’t go right, honestly, (and I’m not trying to dodge the question), where it really counts, I count myself as very lucky. I’ve always been able to put a roof over my head, have my health, and, owning my own training studio I can make the environment very much my own, it feels welcoming when I come in each morning. I have a great group of clients, some who have become very good friends. So I get to spend my day, doing what I love, with people I enjoy spending time with. Challenging at times yes, but I am also so very grateful.
What are your plans for the future?
Yes, some big changes coming up over the next year or two. First, I’m expanding my ‘global’ reach. While I’ve had the opportunity to train/consult with people from Thailand, Russia, Great Britain, S. Africa, Canada, Australia (ok, you get the idea 🙂 ) as well as across the U.S., I’m going to be putting some focus on this so that people who don’t feel they can come see me personally in Long Beach can still work with me. I’m also investigating into expanding my training studio in a new location, considering Long Beach but also looking at other locations, such as downtown L.A. (I’d looked there some years ago before choosing Long Beach). Finally, over the course of the next couple years I’m working on several personal projects. I’m getting my SCUBA cert this year and next year plan on getting my Wilderness EMT cert (basically an outdoor wilderness paramedic).
First, it will allow me to volunteer to provide medical help in our State/National Parks, but I also hope to be able to use these skills with several environmental organizations, especially those involved with saving sharks and sea turtles. Plus, I love spending time in the outdoors, it’s a great opportunity to do even more things I love. I’d also like to put together a non-profit to aid specifically in bringing physical training to those suffering from PTSD. It’s been my research that physical activity, when added to other treatments can bring significant benefits for those who have PTSD.
Let’s dig a little deeper into your story. What was the hardest time you’ve had?
From a personal side, I think the moment I had decided to commit suicide was my scariest and darkest moment. I truly felt alone, without any hope and, at the time, completely and totally miserably unhappy with myself and my life. It felt like being buried alive in a dark hole and not even caring. It wasn’t until coming on the other side of that event, when I’d realized it wasn’t that I wanted to die, it was that I didn’t want to live (yes, there’s a difference there) :), that I decided that I wanted, and needed, to make my life better. Luckily, it worked. 🙂 But boy, let me tell you, the pain, the darkness, the sadness and the anger I felt that evening in early December back in 1981 is one I will never forget.
The hardest point in my career, came in early 2000. I’d tried on four previous occasions over the previous decade to leave my corporate career and go full-time into training people. I discovered four ways it didn’t work, including a bankruptcy and losing everything I had. But I kept trying because I knew my heart demanded it. Finally in March of 2000 I’d landed a referral contract with a weight-loss group here in L.A. and while I was training clients early before I went to the office and afterwards, after just a few weeks, I was faced with opening my availability so that I could fit in more clients. To do that I had to quit my job. Now, while it was still a goal, at the time I’d failed 4 previous times to go full-time and I had no savings, no promise of additional work, and the strong possibility of failing again, so that hardest point came when I stood in a park in Santa Monica watching the ocean and the pier and considering what I would do I was so scared, I had no idea where I’d be in a month or two and I knew I could lose everything again. Everyone I knew, my very identity had been tied to working for different companies for 14 years at that point. (More if you count High School and College). What was this going to be like? Who was I? Who would I become? But I truly believed I had a calling to do this work and so, with tears streaming down my face there in the park, decided that I would turn in my notice. I would take the leap. And it’s been over 16 years since that moment. But I can still remember the fear I had at that time and not knowing what the future would hold, having to face letting go of everything I knew for a possible dream.
Do you ever just stop and think WOW – I’ve made it?
The wow moment came just a few years later, in 2004 when I got to watch a client of mine get pinned as a Navy SEAL. You see, one of my specialties is training guys for special warfare/special operation groups and while I usually didn’t get a chance to share in these moments, I did on this occasion and it was truly special for me. It was the first time I saw someone achieve a very significant goal for themselves that I had a role in helping make happen. It validated for the first time the value of my work and even the long path and work on myself the previous two decades that gave me the knowledge that I could bring that experience to someone. It was really a special day for me and definitely the moment that I could see my dreams come true.
- You have enough schedule/cost challenges to working out, I do my best to make it as convenient as possible; I offer half-hour and hour sessions, $30 and $60 respectively for true private training.
- Partnered or group training only $10 more for the hour (not per person).
- You do not need to purchase a package, or upfront, but can pay-as-you-go, weekly, monthly, whatever fits into your budget. All payment methods offered including Apple Pay, Venmo, all major credit/debit & chip cards. Check and cash, natch.
- Phone: (562) 726-3023, Cell: (714) 420-2668,
- Website: www.terrainfunctionalfitness.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org,
- If you happen to call when I’m with a client, I will let it ring through to my voice-mail (I want to be sure the client I’m with has my full time and attention), so please don’t take offense if I don’t pick up. If that should happen, know that I do want to hear from you so please feel welcome to leave me a message and know I will return your call.
Check out his work below: