Before I get into this, I want you to know that this is not going to be a long, sappy email that concludes with me announcing a closure of the gym. That’s not happening. To the contrary, Second Wind actually has a new lease on life…literally. I’ll get to that. Indulge me first.
About a year after opening the gym, a member, Katherine Hatch, told me how she had hosted a Friendsgiving party that weekend. I recognized some of the names she mentioned.
“Wait, are those Second Wind people?” I asked.
“Did you know them before Second Wind?”
Seems like a little thing, that people would get together outside the gym. But it stuck with me all these years. This was much more than a place to work out. This really was a place where we build community. We’re connecting people and creating lasting friendships.
The years followed with barbeques, member-made t-shirts that said Second Wind Social Club, Spartan races, Ragnar Relays, CrossFit Opens, drinks at Swampoodle, then Morelands, holiday parties, burpee challenges and maybe I did a keg stand once. Combine all that with torn hands, banged shins, aching muscles, PRs and high-fives. Really, nothing creates community like shared suffering.
Second Wind is permanently woven into the fabric of my family’s life as I know it is for many of you as well. The community, not the exercise, is the lifeblood of what we do.
And if you are the lifeblood, the coaches are the heart and muscle. I probably can’t name them all and I certainly don’t have the time and space to express my gratitude to each one individually. They all taught me something: Matt, Christina, Khaleaph, TJ, Stefanie, Andre, Sam & Gjoka, Maureen – a boot camp original and the first person I asked to become a coach, Leslie, Dani and her Friday morning tutus, Colby – who never met a tshirt he didn’t want to take off and made everyone in his class a better athlete, Gayle – another boot camp original and still consistent member.
Today’s coaches are a special bunch: Liz, Holly, Brian, Richard, Josh, Janet, Trevor, Eric, Jen, Andy, Courtney and Grant. Each one of these people will always hold a special place in my heart.
Above all, I owe a tremendous debt to Morgan Pleasant. You don’t know this and she will deny it, but Morgan saved Second Wind. A few years ago, I was burnt out and frustrated and unsure I could continue. Morgan came in and not only took over much of my coaching duties, but she took it even further with nutrition coaching and personal training. Often to her own detriment, she puts the needs of her clients above her own. I am inspired by her everyday and proud to call her my life-long friend.
Where are you going with this, Steve?
Well, even your second wind will eventually fade. Mine has faded and the time has come to hand the baton to someone else.
It is with great pride and joy that I tell you that as of this afternoon, Grant Barker is the new owner of Second Wind Training.
Grant has been an integral member of the community since 2014. Several years ago, I approached him about becoming a coach because he had qualities in a coach that you cannot teach: natural empathy and goodwill towards everyone he encounters. If you were new to a class and a little nervous in the corner, it was probably Grant who came over to say hello to you. Grant is a professional hugger…and I’m only half-joking about that. You’ll have to ask him.
I have every confidence that Grant has the energy, drive and vision to not only get Second Wind back to the early days and the pre-covid times, but to take it to far better things than I could do. He’s taking a personal risk to do this because he loves Second Wind and the people.
I have promised Grant that I will help him in any way he needs for as long as he needs. It was very important to me that Second Wind stay open, especially after all the support you have shown through the pandemic. Grant will need that support as well. I didn’t want to leave without a plan for Second Wind to succeed and thrive for many years to come. (Also, I remain the landlord, so…you know.)
What’s next for the Dolges? Well, we aren’t looking for a third wind. We’re happy to catch a gentle breeze and ride it for a while. I’m older than I was yesterday and a lot older than I was when I opened the doors to the gym. During this pandemic, I worked on my golf game more than my deadlift.
Michelle and I are at a pivot point in our lives. We are almost empty-nesters. We are fortunate to be able to shift to some new ventures in the real estate field, which we are learning together. After years of Michelle working for me, I am looking forward to working for her.
I will continue to coach a few classes through October, but by the end of the month, I’ll be retired from the fitness business. After that, I’ll show up for Back Squat and Snatch day. And happy hour at Morelands. The friendships I have made will last a lifetime, so this is not goodbye.
Creating and building this community with Michelle has been our honor and joy. Looking back on all the mistakes I made, I wonder how we made it this far. If you were on the wrong end of any of them, you have my sincere apologies.
Looking ahead, 2020 won’t last forever, covid won’t last forever and I wish nothing but success and fitness for Second Wind, Grant and you personally.
This is the final email you will get from me. The next one will be from firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for a decade of fulfillment.