Happy Anniversary Brad Martin

You may have seen the pattern over the years:  I like to celebrate milestones.  Big or small, celebrating success is a psychological tool I use to stay motivated and at the same time to recognize the people around me who contribute to my successes.


My friend Rob is a health benefit consultant.  In his office is a sign that says, ‘your first wealth is your health’.  The first time I saw the sign, the cynic in me thought it was a clever marketing slogan for a consultant selling health plans.  After seeing the sign ten or twenty times I asked about the ‘slogan’ and Rob, who advises many wealthy business owners, told me that in his experience ‘his clients spend the first half of their lives sacrificing their health to build their wealth and then spend the rest of their lives spending their wealth trying to get their health back’.  It was a pretty impactful moment – I was nowhere near wealthy, but it was a wake-up call that I might be putting too much emphasis on the wrong result.  Around the same time my medical doctor told me that there was a negative correlation between muscle mass and dementia in the elderly.  When someone says ‘negative correlation’ – I listen!

Couch Potato Extraordinaire

I would not have believed you if you told me ten years ago that in the future I would be exercising three times a week – sometimes four, lifting weights heavier than my own weight and reaching the point that I ‘enjoy’ working out and don’t like to miss my scheduled time at the gym.  Yet here we are.  I would have been just as doubtful if you told me ten years ago that in the future I would be resting and eating properly – and for good reason – still not there.

In December 2010, our family went to Buffalo for the World Junior Championship which is the premier junior hockey event that attracts most of the players heading to the NHL.  The tournament has exhibition games before December 25th and then the tournament starts on Boxing Day.  We attended the 21 games held at HSBC arena plus the Bruins vs Sabres on New Year’s Day.  It was one of the best vacations our family ever had considering the boys were in prime travel hockey mode at that stage.  It probably would count as the best vacation ever except for the fact that in the final game with a 3-0 lead going into the third period, Canada panicked and collapsed giving up 5 goals to the Russians to lose the Gold and back their way into Silver.

Coming home from the tournament in early January, I realized that sitting in an arena every day for ten days and eating a steady diet of concession stand gourmet meals is not the healthiest way to live.  Of course, I came home to my regular life of sitting at my desk and eating a steady diet of Subway sandwiches which had become the ‘nutritious’ go to fast food that I leaned on.  Please ignore the coke and chips that came with every meal.

The TSN Turning Point

Shortly after arriving home from Buffalo I asked Paula if she would help me sign up for a gym membership – honestly, having not exercised since about Grade 9 other than walking the dogs and walking the golf course, it was intimidating, and she already had a membership and knew her way around.  We went to the gym (3 minutes from the house) on a Sunday and the guy on duty signing up new members was a kid named Brad.  After committing to the gym, Paula looked at me and said I should immediately sign up for personal training.  She knew that I had no idea what I was doing and would use work as an excuse to never go.  As a bonus she would go with me to ease me into it.  We asked Brad if he would train us.  I will never forget my shock when Brad said that we would have to come back during the week to speak to the manager since the manager was the one to match trainers and clients based upon goals and personality.  The hardest part of running a business is getting clients to sign up – here we were ready to sign up and Brad was not willing to take our money – wow!

We went in on Monday to talk with the manager, Richard, and I told him that my plan was to exercise once a week and that I wasn’t willing to allocate any more time – I wanted to be realistic and avoid over committing or over doing it.  Richard’s blunt response was that I shouldn’t expect much progress coming in once a week and that after 30 years of sitting in front of a computer there was a big hill ahead.  Since Paula and I both liked the kid that set up my membership the day before we asked if he would be a good trainer for our goals and Richard said ok.  Brad didn’t get a vote – he was stuck with us for 12 weeks.

Measures of Success

It’s been 10 years and Brad is still my personal trainer and the owner of LIFT gym in Windsor.  There have been lots of milestones in Brad’s life including getting engaged and married, buying a house, three kids, and working in a couple small gyms before building his own gym in the middle of a pandemic.  I wish I had accomplished half of what Brad has since we met.  For me, I lost 10 pounds in the first year and then put on 20 pounds in the next 9.  I would like to tell you the 20 pounds is pure muscle, but my waistline reports otherwise.

As much as I joke, both my muscles and my heart are stronger, and my posture is better.  I had hoped that all this fitness would translate into a better golf swing – unfortunately there isn’t much progress in that regard.  Brad has taught me more about biomechanics than any actuary really should know – but I am a poor enough student that I still need him to tell me what to do when I get to the gym.

A few years after starting down the fitness road I started to push our boys to do the same.  My theory was that you were much better off building good habits as a teenager before you ended up in the rat race with no inkling of how to prioritize health.  The recent pandemic and work-from-home has caused some of us to move much less than we used to, while for others there is a more conscious effort to take time for their physical and mental health.  Not wanting to go backwards I built a home gym in the garage. 

I am sharing these stories to thank Brad publicly for giving me his time and attention and for making a big impact in my health and my mindset.  But I am also sharing it to maybe give my readers some motivation and to give them a story to tell their kids and grandkids to get them on the right track early.  If you are here in Windsor, I highly recommend you go see Brad once Doug Ford’s lockdown is over.

As we rev our engines here at the start of 2021, hopefully more and more of us can build good habits around wellness.  Wishing everyone good health and ideally some wealth to go with it.

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