I shared before how I got into coaching. My realization that if I had better coaching during my youth, I would’ve had a better athletic career as well as my realization that coaching was something I admired, enjoyed, and believed I could be good at.
But why not just stay a strength coach or a track coach or simply be a personal trainer? The concept of running my own business is something that came to me in high school mostly due to my desire to not relive my childhood as an adult. The vision for a coaching business and having any idea of what it would look like came many years later.
By the end of my graduate program in 2016 I had a vision: I wanted to have a state of the art performance facility that held everything athletes needed. Weight room, track, turf field, elite coaches, dietitian access, physical therapists, and mentorship for young athletes. I wanted to be well versed & reputed in guiding athletes to have long lasting sport careers.
In the same breath of coaching athletes, I wanted to enjoy helping coaches and sharing knowledge. Having been coached up to coach, I want to be able to pay that forward. In order to do that, I have to have coaching opportunities and a structure to support it. Plus worthwhile experiences to pass on to coaches.
And I wanted to have a battle tested business that allows me to spend time coaching abroad without heavy financial burden. My international coaching experiences changed me profoundly. More on that another time.
It’s a dream in the works…
But how did that all start?
The beginning of myself having a brand started I stopped doing college track. Long story (worth telling one day) but my junior season at Slippery Rock got cut short. So I started doing my own workouts at the campus gym. I had a 4 day flow: I would lift weights heavy day 1, do a boot camp style workout day 2, run 3-6 miles day 3, and rest on day 4. Then repeat. 6am.
I did this from March of my junior year until the semester ended. I had great results in strength and endurance. Friends of mine started coming to join me. The bootcamps became relatively pretty popular for it being a low key thing I did. A few friends came for the heavy lifting and I don’t think more than just a couple people EVER joined me on the runs.
I ended up with a text chain for updates. I called it “Combat Cut”. The name I’ve told very few people why. I was interested in joining a fraternity at the time and they had a phrase “being in fighting trim” which I liked so I just picked synonyms of it. No, I didn’t get to join it.
Those 6am workouts earned me a spot teaching group fitness classes for the university which was fun. Winter of my senior year I finessed my way into teaching fitness classes at UPMC Mercy during the holiday break which was my first fitness related, paid business endeavour.
Fast forward to graduate school at the University of Texas starting in 2014. Combat Cut was the brand name for my first 2 international coaching expeditions: 1 in Belize, the 2nd in Kenya. I used it when I was the strength coach for Texas Quidditch and more.
In that time from 2013-2016 I was exposed to some wonderful training methodology in the weightroom, learned on how to coach sprinting/running technique, programming for track sprinters, as well as seeing how to blend it together for a holistic training flow. I am very thankful for those coaches.
I served under many coaches and had my mind quite stretched. All of the volunteering/interning incurred a cost from not working over those years amassed to about $40,000 since I often worked multiple part time gigs and at times just ran my bills on credit cards so I could keep it up.
Well, in summer of 2016 I moved back to Pittsburgh, and I had amassed a lot of coaching experience. And I knew one thing was for sure about how I wanted to coach:
Combine my experience and knowledge from track and field with strength and conditioning to make a unique experience for athletes. See, what I saw in the field was that many performance coaches, those not merely “personal trainers” were often divided:
Speed and agility coaches with limited weight room knowledge probably curl in the squat rack
Weight lifting specialists who believe it’s a capital offense to run more than 40 yards.
And well, personal trainers were just people who wanted you to do burpees or body build and drink waist thinning teas or lot’s of protein.
As I matured, it really was that there were certain coaches/trainers that were very dogmatic about their beliefs. I generally always get irritated when people are that way. I’ve met some amazing coaches who identify as either of the 3. But I had quite an ego at 24.
My desire became to create a unique training offering for athletes focused on high level speed development, strength training that helped improve joint strength and injury resiliency, and doing it for athletes who weren’t gym rats. I believe strongly in “minimum effective dose.”
Do what’s needed to improve performance and no more.
Now I had taken on a social work job that was offered to me as a former foster youth who beat the odds. As an Educational Liaison I was like a mobile guidance counselor for 14-21 year old foster youth. It was a meaningful, heartbreaking, and enlightening role. It offered me a ton of flexibility. I drove a lot, worked remotely, and saw my supervisor only 1-2x a month. I did it for 1.5 years. I loved the closeness it brought me to the lives of those I served. It broke my heart on a number of occasions though.
Well, that winter I needed to get back to coaching. Local chain gyms offered disrespectfully low wages and the performance gyms were way in the suburbs. A woman who used to come to my fitness classes in college was dating (and now is married to) an independent personal trainer with his own brand. She connected me with a local trainer who owned a gym and was willing to sublease to me as he did for her boyfriend.
Global Human Performance was born at the beginning of 2017.
After having traveled to a number of countries beyond where I coached, I realized that an American business called “Combat” Cut International Performance may not really be the best name. So I changed it to reflect our holistic training as well as my global ambitions.
To my knowledge, no gym, and few independent coaches offered the same level of training combining extensive track and field training with strength and conditioning (not to be confused with body building training…).
All of 2017 I did GHP on the side of my social work job. But after some major overhauls in how I structured, marketed, and priced the business that August, I grew dramatically that fall.
I made….$1,156 that October! Barely half of my expenses. I thought this number was higher. Over the years I’ve said $1800 when I tell this story. In looking and my scrappily kept books, it shows as $1,156. The next 2 months brought in $4,000.
And I said, I’m going to leave my job and be full time in my business. After my $1,156 month.
I put in a 45 day notice. My boss was good with it and my last day was the December holiday party.
My financial situation became quite unhappy about that decision. But I was 25, and you know, what is there to lose at 25. I say that in jest, I’m actually shaking my head as I write this.
That January 2018 I was in GHP full time and after a very rough winter & spring, by October of 2018 I ended up moving from my 1.5 year sublease on the Southside Hilltop to Community Forge in Wilkinsburg, beginning GHP as you probably know it.
A friend of mine and I drove all around Allegheny & Westmoreland counties in a truck buying equipment off of various folks. I bought out much of my initial equipment from a gym that was closing. He happened to be an undergraduate alumni from Slippery Rock who accepted a collegiate strength coaching job.
After learning many lessons through 2018 & 2019, the coronavirus pandemic slapped me in the face. Despite the chaos, it allowed me to redesign GHP to be on track with the vision.
The year and a half from reopening from the pandemic, through 2021 and GHP is very much on track for the vision set years ago.
Thanks for reading this. In the next part, I’ll share about who we serve and why we train the way we train.