Written by our Trainer & Fitness Instructor Dimitri Melnyk

It’s not every day that you are given an opportunity to make a change. Just like many of us we need motivation to change. I had an amazing childhood growing up in Hawaii. I played outside, swam in the ocean, played sports (paintball, football, skin diving, surfing) I was active. Right? You think looking in the mirror not recognizing who you are and stepping on a scale and seeing a 4 as the first number might inspire you to do something, but it didn’t. My inspiration came in three forms: divorce, the loss of my house and a business. All within a years’ time. And with no desire to be alone with my thoughts, I found myself using the gym membership that I had been paying for months and never used.

I started spending 5 to 6 days a week there for hours at a time.  So of course I became a regular and who else works out that much? Power Lifters and Bodybuilders. So I learned and lifted and lost my initial 60-pounds! It felt amazing! I got stronger and was finally headed in the right direction, or so I thought. A few months down the line I started to plateau. I know now this is the commonly known novice effect. Drastic change with a fitness program from a sedentary lifestyle will induce change. But with no rhyme or reason at to what I was doing, I stopped seeing progress. I was still working just as hard but I wasn’t getting anywhere. So I figured it was time that I got help from someone a little more knowledgeable than the guys I lived with 5 days a week. I got a trainer and then began the onslaught of a new world in fitness, strength and agility.

I had an amazing trainer, who is still a dear friend. We have been through a lot with each other. Mostly a lot of me yelling at her, calling her names and saying she was trying to kill me. But she also helped usher in a huge transition period for me. She taught me about nutrition and clean eating and even got me to run some races. Well after 15 races I still DO NOT like running but I got some really cool shirts.  If I had to take something from that experience it was training for a purpose kept me active, it wasn’t just going to the gym. It was my lifestyle that needed to change for it to be successful.

After parting ways with my trainer I maintained my own workout regimen and life found a way, as it does, to interfere with my new lifestyle. I slowly slipped back into my old ways and habits. I had started gaining weight and stopped working out completely because of work. Well after I let work and other obstacles sink their dirty claws into me, they dragged me to the hospital with two swollen legs, difficulty breathing and a blood pressure of 260 over 150. The doctors looked at me and told me, “we’re keeping you for 3 days for observation… we are concerned about congestive heart failure.” I lost it and came completely unglued in the emergency room. Just could not believe after everything that I’ve gone through, the suffering and turmoil. I had still ended up at the bottom of the barrel. I was at an all-time low. My cardiologists recommended a career change and complimented me on my weight loss and new lifestyle. He laid out the facts for me and stated that if I had not done the exercise and weight loss that I had, I would have suffered a heart attack or a stroke from the blood pressure caused by stress. I will always remember the short Japanese man that gave me a high-five and said, “keep up the good work and share your story with everyone… you might save a life”.

LIFE…. that word suddenly took on a whole new meaning for me, my career had taken me on a downward spiral that ultimately could have cost me everything.

So taking in the advice of my cardiologist I took a vacation, the first in four years. Visiting family and friends I tried to screw on my head straight and figure out what I would do next. My decision was that I needed to change everything about me. I needed to give up everything that defined me as a person and take a chance at a new life. So a garage sale ensued. I sold or donated 80% of my possessions, bought a one-way ticket to Washington and was gone.  That one-way ticket made it real. I was leaving my home, everything I knew and everyone that I knew, all of it. I was leaving it behind to make a new life.  It was time for me to be selfish for a change and so I took that step Across the threshold onto the Alaska Airlines flight bound for an unknown world.  After landing in Seattle Tacoma International Airport, I collected my baggage, took a step outside and was stunned. A sudden realization that the temperature was 32 degrees outside! When departing from Honolulu the temperature was 84 degrees. Totally not ok, not one bit.

The only way to complete my transition into the active lifestyle that I solely desired, I would have to work in that environment.  Immerse myself in a place where I have to train, learn and grow in order to gain experience. I had thought about this constantly during my weight-loss. That I would one day want to become a trainer so that I could help people do the same thing I did. Help motivate them to find out what they are really capable of. What they can actually achieve when you believe not only in yourself, but in your dreams.

So I went looking for my first “foot in the door” opportunity to start. My first Fitness job was at the YMCA. I shared my story and offered my willingness to learn, my motivation to help other people meet their fitness goals. It was my fresh start it was finally happening. After everything I went through, working for the YMCA was a great new beginning. I met and worked with some amazing people. I started gaining certifications and experience doing things that I did not know I was capable of doing. First example was teaching group exercise.

Now if you told me that I would be a successful group exercise instructor five years ago, I would have laughed in your face and told you April Fools. But now if you step into one of my classes, you can expect to have a great time and get in a good workout. Apparently my years in project management gave me skills that are quite useful in a group setting.

Now when I set my mind to something I don’t just want to wing it, I want to make sure it’s done correctly. I will research, study and learn as much as I can to put out a great product. One of the valuable life lessons that my father taught me as a young man was that anything I do should be done with quality. I can still hear him telling me as a kid, “if you’re going to do something do it right the first time.”

So I would design workouts with a purpose and classes with progression so that people who attended would get something out of it, not just some random class. With that mindset I completely shocked people who attended my classes and left such an impression that my name started to float around the locker rooms. Suddenly I was identified as a “great instructor, if you want a great workout, you go to his class.”

Then fast forward to present time. I have now been in the fitness industry as a paid job for approximately three years. I have successfully aided in the transformation of numerous individuals. I have worked with people ranging from the ages of 14 all the way up to a 101 years old. I hold 10 different certifications and I pride myself on the ever-evolving method to my madness.

3 years ago this fall will be the anniversary of my gift. My second chance to do something with my life. The chance not only to make my life better but ultimately help others through similar Journeys that are much like my own. I could look you directly in the face and honestly tell you without a shadow of a doubt that……

I love my job.