Why “Following Your Passion” Is Misleading

“All you have to do is follow your passion and you’ll find happiness.”


You’ve probably heard me say this and others who are happy in their lives doing what they’re doing. If you’re annoyed every time you hear this shit, it’s for good reason.




I’m not here to discourage you, but rather give you a much more informative approach as to HOW to follow your passion based on my experience.


Like most millennials, I grew up not knowing for sure what I wanted to be. Sure I had dreams. We all did. One might argue that growing up killed our dreams of becoming something cool like a secret agent or play sports professionally or be a unicorn. Words like “unsafe”, “unsustainable”, and “un-realistic” killed those dreams. I mean if you look at those words they start with “un” as if people try to “un”encourage you to think that way. Well if your passion is to be a unicorn, you be the best damn unicorn you can be damn it.



Sometimes we have to do what we need in order to survive.My first ever job was freshman year at ISU as the burger guy at Manchester/Hewitt Halls in Summer of ‘06. Everyone wants a life they can be comfortable with. The economy wasn’t all that great. Having money is better than no money. No argument there. But man It was a hot summer. I took 5-10 minute breaks when it wasn’t as busy standing in the freezer. One distinct memory I had was when there was a national cheerleading camp and all these little girls came in.

One girl in particular couldn’t of been more than 8 years old asking for a “cheeseburger with no cheese please….I have to lose weight.” It was funny because she asked for a cheeseburger without cheese instead of a…umm…hamburger, but I was also a little discussed with that whole situation because someone told her she needed to lose weight. This might of subconsciously sparked the idea that I should be a personal trainer and empower women to become stronger and not hate their bodies…but who knows.


It wasn’t until sophomore year in college that I knew I didn’t know what I wanted to do let alone become as I’m almost half way through college. It was pointed out to me that the rec center was hiring for personal trainers. I never in my life wanted to be a personal trainer, but it made sense at the time. I LOVED working out. I was an athlete and I wanted to get bigger and stronger. I figured being a personal trainer allowed me to workout all the time and get paid for it. Basically, following the path of “Do what you Love. Profit.” Right?! Well, turns out this is the first step in how to “Following Your Passion”:




I didn’t start as a trainer. When I applied for the position, the seniors hadn’t graduated yet and so spots weren’t open at the time. So, I decided to work at the rec center as a rec assistant. That meant keeping the gym looking nice, washing towels, making smoothies, checking in people at the front desk. Then, I quickly got promoted to CSR (customer service rep) making sales and filing papers.




Not long after that I got one of the open personal trainer spots. Almost at the same time I also became a fitness instructor. Unbeknownst to me I also became ISU’s first fitness instructor (which I’m very proud of). The more time I spent working all these different positions, the more I fell in love with what I was doing. After I graduated, I stayed in the fitness biz and moved onto training/teaching at a commercial gym. About a year or so after being there I thought I might apply to be the head trainer there. As it turns out, my experience with running a fitness facility, knowing point of sale and customer service got me the job in late ‘09. 2 years in and I’m already the head trainer of a gym with a staff of 8 and a member base of over 20,000. So all this experience laid the groundwork for my success early on. I learn best in the field and realizing that was key (Note: Understand which learning process works best for you). Which leads to the next point when getting advice from folks about how to make your passion work for you….

No.2 Ask About The Process….not HOW

Things were pretty easy. I thought I had this  on lock…until 3 years later I lost my job. I had found my passion and I couldn’t let it go, so I applied to other gyms in the area, but it was taking too long. I only had 2 weeks or so until my last check came through until I was going to be broke AND jobless. It was the lowest point I had ever been in my entire life. Which leads me to point number 3 of why just “Follow Your Passion” is terrible advice:

No.3- Most people don’t know or remember how hard it was.


I’ll never forget how that felt. It was the drive I needed to push forward and grind harder (and smarter) everyday. Starting your own training business without any business knowledge as far as pricing or business structure goes is extremely difficult. Almost scary. Too scary for most. It’s no wonder the statistics show that at least 80% of all trainers fail within 3-5 years for a number of reasons: certifications were too expensive, wasn’t good enough to make ends meet, getting up too early. Though, if it is truly your passion, you’ll find a way to make it work.


It was obvious the only way to survive in this industry is to follow two golden rules: 1) Become really fucking good at what you do, and 2) Make sure everyone knows about it.



No.4- It Takes Hard Work



When you have your own business or “following your passion” you have to put in the work. Having passion is the minimal requirement. You have to sacrifice the very things that will make you better in the long run: The amount of sleep you have will decrease, but not at the expense of quality. The amount of time spent with friends and family will take a hit, but always make time for them because you’ll need the support to keep you going. Remember, you’re doing this because you love it, but don’t let it consume you.



No.5- Putting The Energies in The Right Places


The downfall of following your passion is that it takes so much of your energy. All of the coaches here at CFBN/AF work full time as coaches. We’re here as early as 5am to as late as 8:30pm 6 days a week putting energy into coaching, programming, making your meals and of course you have to get your own workout in. Then you have your personal life with a family, dogs, and of course ME TIME!! Navigating all that has it’s own energy expenditure that most aren’t really ready for. So you’ll have to set boundaries and cut yourself off so you can have time, energy and a life to look forward to at the end of the day.

But if there’s one thing that most passionate people don’t talk about, it’s having the ability to reflect.


No.6- Reflect


I’m only 9 years into the fitness biz. I’m a deep thinker. Reflecting is something I do often, but for some it’s a skill and needs to be practiced. Journaling, having conversation, meditating or blogging, are great ways to reflect on what you’ve learned. If you can do that everyday, that’d be even better. And If you’re getting better on a daily basis, you’re doing something right.


Some say “keep going and never look back”, but that’s because they’re looking back at the wrong things. The past is a trail that leaves clues to where you’ve been and could help remind you of the path you’re on. So make sure what you reflect on is with good intentions.


So, following your passion as you now understand it to be from my point of view, isn’t as cut and dry others may lead you to believe. To sum it up:


1) Find a passion first and foremost and find a way to make a living from it. For me, I eventually found my passion but it took a while for it to work for me. There is a strategy to make it work. Make a plan. See what that looks like. You’ll get knocked off course somewhere down the line, but the goal is to always keep the goal as the goal.

2) Ask about the process, not how. The key to learning is about asking the right questions. Learning the fundamentals about business in my case; maintain quality of equipment, learning about writing programs, customer service, technical experience, etc. are just some of the processes needed to make my business work for me in the long run.


3) Most people don’t know or remember how hard it was. Understand that following your passion is a road less traveled. It’s about making something your own and not being given by someone else. It will be hard at times, but those hard times are what’s going to make you better. Mistakes are obstacles that can be made into opportunities. It’s a big risk and there are going to be setbacks. If you haven’t experienced setbacks early on, image how difficult it’s going to be later. Take them as they come and move forward.


4) It takes hard work. What I mean by hard work is putting in the time. A lot of time. To get really good at what you do also means sacrificing things like energy, money, sleep, even relationships to make your passion work for you.


5) Putting the energies in the right places. Being passionate about something is a phenomenal feeling and can subsequently suck the life out of you if you’re not careful. You’ll have to be wise about where your energy goes and how much. Like currency, these things need to be traded wisely to get the “most bang for your buck”. Having priorities and setting boundaries is going to help you from running your head into the wall.

6) Reflect. I can’t stress enough how important reflecting is. Evaluating what you’ve learned along the way about the process is what’s going to keep you from making the same mistakes over and over. Sometimes reflecting can even help point out to you that perhaps what you’re doing may not end up being what you’re passionate about. Writing, talking, and meditating about it every day is a great way to keep you in check and moving forward.

Now you’re ready to “FOLLOW YOUR PASSION.” Work hard. Enjoy the journey. Be great.

Trainer Thought of The Day: Rant

So, this  “trainer thought of the day” post was going to go straight to FB but one thought became many and decided to make this go on my web-page….because it’s a bit of a rant.


So, I’ll get right to it.


But first, I want to thank all my clients and everyone who has referred people to my business this past month or so. My schedule is filling up quite nicely. I’ve never been happier to give up some of my naptime. HAHA


Seriously though, if you know me you know that I take anywhere from 1-3 naps a day. I know for most of you it may seem like gloating, but you have to understand when you have anywhere from 3-8 hours of downtime, you’re gonna nap.


If you work/have worked with me before, you know by now that I don’t work with just anybody that asks for my training services. I’ve recognized that with my schedule filling up, my time becomes more and more valuable…and so should the quality of my clientele.


Recently, I had a conversation with someone that wanted to get started strength training….BUT they “didn’t want to look like a man….”. If you’re reading this, you know how annoyed I was with this statement. 90%+ of my clients are women. You can imagine the amount of shared concern most of them had before having me train with them. It’s not the person that I’m annoyed with.


It’s the perception that women (and men) have about what it means to be strong. So…I’m going to write this to those who believe in this mindset and in the best format possible: Bullet Points.




  1. There are enough women in the world who lift weights and you’re likely friends with one or know a woman who lifts weights. I need you to look at them or find a recent photo of them right now and ask yourself: Does she look like a man? Most likely the answer will be a resounding NO. That alone should debunk the idiotic ideology you chose to believe in.

  2. If you’re a woman who believes in this mindset, I don’t think you’re doing the image of women any favors. This is an uninformed belief. A belief commonly held by those who are scared of the things they don’t understand. What-I-Really-Do-Women-Who-Lift-Weights
  3. You want to get a nice ass…a “toned (insert body part here)”? You lift appreciable weights. That means relatively heavy. End of story.

  4. If you lift weights and decide that you have “man shoulders/back/arms/legs/etc” please be sure to stand next to an actual man to see if that is true. If that is the case, I know a handful of dudes that could be doing what you’re doing right now because if you look more manly than they do, then I need you to reach out to them and hook them up. The state of man is in jeopardy. We need you to show us the way because you clearly have this “looking like a man” thing figured out.

  5. Focusing on more of what you don’t want rather than what you do want keeps you from getting actual results simply because your outlook is negative. Positive mindset? Positive results. Amazing how that works.

  6. You are a “basic bitch”. I know. Calling a woman a bitch of any kind is a sin. I get it-it’s like calling a black person the N word if you’re not black; it’s totally different if it’s anyone else. Anyways, If you don’t know what a basic bitch is, it’s sumed up as “someone who does what everyone else is doing and isn’t their own person at all.” If you’re okay with being a basic bitch, that’s totally okay (there are also “basic bros” for the …bros). That being said….

  7. If you’re a woman and you lift, to me you’re not basic….you’re a “bad ass bitch” (AKA Bad Bitch): “Now a bad bitch is a woman who handles her business without making it seem like business….“Having the mindset that you can do anything and everything you want to in this world even if everyone tells you no you can’t do it and you say YES I CAN, WATCH ME. Having a bad bitch mentality is now considered a positive trait. Girls with a (BBM) Bad Bitch Mentality are a powerhouse and a force to be reckoned with. If you have a bad bitch mentality, you have the mentality that you will get to the top, you will succeed and you will win the game of life. Girls with a Bad Bitch Mentality go farther, stronger, harder and always come out on top because they NEVER stop. They NEVER give up and that is why they succeed….” Damn that was beautiful!! These are the kind of women I work with. Just look at my professional page on FB. You’ll see what I mean.MjAxMy03NmJhNWY5NmQyMDg2OWJj
  8. Finally…it’s not your fault for thinking this way. Everything you’ve ever known has been taught by someone of authority or someone you respect. It is hard to admit sometimes that everything you’ve learned is utter bullshit. It is hard to question it. With what we know today to be physically and scientifically unfounded about women and lifting weights becoming “men”, it shouldn’t be hard to shut that shit down. Though, we seriously underestimate our own psychology and how reinforcement for decades of the wrong thing can dictate what we choose to believe. I can’t tell you what to believe, BUT make sure whatever you believe in gives you confidence,, happiness, and positive self-image, and appreciate other people’s hard work.


Okay. I’m done. Have a nice day!!


Strength in Iron,




Testimonial No.8: David Frahm

When did you start training with Donovan?

March 17, 2015

What led you to “Train With Donovan” and why?

I have a few friends who had been doing group training with him for a number of months, and just watching their transitions over the course of those months made me think “I should do this. I owe it to myself.” I was never in it to lose weight. I knew that probably wouldn’t be the best goal for me. Instead I simply wanted to get in better shape, and be more fit and in tune with my body. I knew that as I did that, I’d burn the fat, even if the weight didn’t disappear. Over time, I haven’t actually lost a lot of weight in pounds but, my pants waist has shrunk somewhere between two and four inches and my shirts feel significantly more loose, especially around the belly. I’ve definitely lost fat and put on muscle.


What were some of the things you’ve sacrificed to make your training a priority? Why is your training important to you?

The biggest sacrifice is time. I’m pretty busy, between being an active member in one community, a leader in another, and maintaining my relationships with friends and loved ones. I used to go to karaoke once a week; on one of the days that I train now; and I rarely have the energy to make it out after our workouts. Still, I wouldn’t trade my training back for it. It’s important to me because of how it makes me feel. I’ve wrestled with a lot of body negativity issues. I’m a big guy. I will never not be. But I can choose whether it’s just me being the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, or if I can actually build some strength and muscle. Training with Donovan leaves me feeling empowered, even if a bit sore. It’s also amazing at fighting off my depression, and the stresses of the day. Nothing feels quite as cathartic as the physical exertion on days where work is just a little too stressful.


Have you worked with a trainer before? If so, how does your current experience with Donovan differ from past experiences? If not, what are some of the positive experiences you’ve had so far?

Donovan was my first trainer, and he’s been phenomenal to work with. He’s always encouraging, which is great on the good days, and even better on the bad. He encourages not just lifting the weights, but also building a positive attitude, and treating your body right. Whenever it’s a “bad day” in the gym, he always asks “How’d you sleep? What have you been eating?” and encourages you to be more mindful in your choices. This, plus seeing the gains from week to week and month to month have always left me feeling more empowered. I feel like whenever he sees me doing things a little to easy, he encourages moving up the weight, and when he sees that I’m struggling on a day, taking some off. It’s not always about hitting the number, it’s about building a strong and consistent habit of doing the work, so that when you need to take a breather, you’ll come back in just as good.


How do you feel now compared to when you first started training with Donovan?

I feel significantly stronger, more flexible, and empowered physically and mentally. One of my more amusing litmus tests from when I started training was being able to lift my girlfriend. When I first started with Donovan, I couldn’t really pick her up without struggling. I could do it, and hold her for a bit, but she always felt insecure with it. Now I can just pick her up and walk away with her, and it usually leaves both of us laughing. When I talk about being empowered, one of the metrics of success that I have with Donovan is to make my bad days today be where my good days were yesterday. It’s incredible to actually see it and have the numbers. Just a couple of weeks ago, I had a day where I was feeling about 80%, tops. I slept like crap, ate like crap, and struggling with depression were all leading to me having a bad day. Still I was pounding out some floor presses, and I was working with a weight that was below where I had done it last time. Donovan saw how I was working, and actually encouraged me to do better than my last time. I listened to his advice, and was still able to push myself through it at the higher weight. He saw that, even on a bad day, I could do more than I thought I could, and encouraged me to push myself I still remember, less than a year ago, when I first deadlifted over 100 lbs. I felt so strong and so proud, because I wasn’t sure I could do it. Now, that weight is less than where I start my warm-ups, and I’m less than a year in. I’m still feeling strong and proud, I just work with bigger numbers now.

workout-before-after (1)


Would you recommend training with Donovan to others, and why?

Absolutely, and I have. He’s good at paying attention to you, your needs, and your body. If something isn’t working right, he’ll find a way to change it. If you’re incapable of doing something, he’ll find a way to work around it. One of the people in my group can’t really lift weights over her head, so he has her do something else to work those muscles. Another can’t handle rapid up and down motions, things like jump squats, and so Donovan gives him an alternate thing. He finds what works for you, and always has tips on how to make it better.


What do you look forward to in the future with your training?

Making my bad days tomorrow be where my good days are today, and to make my good days tomorrow above and beyond that.


-David Frahm 3/1/16