A moment with my father...
If learning about me affects your decision to change your life for the better and act on your health, then I'm happy to share.

I am the youngest of seven children, now six, but I'll get back to that. Because my parents had me at such a late age, I was an unhealthy child from the start. Undersized, underweight, ulcers, arthritis, scoliosis, acid reflux, irritable bowels, deviated septum, migraines, anxiety, allergies, and the list goes on...

Forget about my parents playing with me outside, throwing the ball, teaching me sports; that was out of the question. It was the other way around, I had to help them because of their advanced age. I had to do everything on my own, and when we moved to the US, that also meant handling everything for my parents who didn't speak English. Tough for a second grader.

I was bullied like many children and so I got into the martial arts. Then in school, I began to wrestle.. only after of course being cleared by my doctors.

The reason I loved to wrestle and train martial arts was because they weren't a team sport. It was one on one and it was physical. Being physical was something I was never good at but that didn't matter.

What did matter was that my life, my destiny, was in my actual hands and not in the hands of genetics, the doctors, or any bullies.

If I didn't do well, I couldn't blame anyone else except my own mind and body.

I was weak, I was slow, but no one could question my heart and desire. No matter how much success or material things you have in life, there is a reason inspirational books or movies like Rocky or Miracle attract us. It's a reason why a successful business person will admire an athlete, a survivor, or hero even though he or she has everything. Because though that business person has proven a lot of things, they still have not proven their heart and desire, its still a question mark for them... maybe that's why some of them become adventurers.

I want to share that feeling with my clients... that I know I can't be broken. The other person just doesn't know it yet.

Even though I was training in fitness and martial arts consistently, I had a corporate job for years dealing with numbers and data. I was very well paid. Then one day I got up from my desk and realized that this wasn't the life for me. I wasn't helping people and I wasn't happy. Sure I had money and I went out and bought things. For some reason that day though, I came to a life changing decision: I could have a life of entertainment, or I could find liberation in life. I wanted liberation.

I didn't know how. I just needed more answers. I quit Dec 31.

So I got in my car, packed some clothes, and traveled around the country for months and months with no destination or goal. I did however train at some of the best athletic facilities in the country. Then after a while, some of them asked me to train and teach students. When I felt too homesick, I came back to LA.

That trip was not the biggest thing that defined me as a trainer, but it did help me deal with what eventually made me the coach I am now.

Not long after being back home, one of my sisters got diagnosed with cancer. She passed away quickly. I felt so powerless and though I thought I knew a lot, I realized I was very uninformed, but so were most people, including doctors. I did however realize that gaining that sense of control over my mind during that trip helped me comfort my family. I was now the youngest of six. I had to redefine my role in the family and try to hold them together.

Next my father who was in his late 80s got diagnosed with cancer. This time I was more prepared and came up with a plan and got my whole family involved. It wasn't about looking for a magic cure, it was about trying to sustain him for as long as possible, give him a quality of life, and keep the rest of the family mentally viable. The dead person doesn't deal with the aftermath of death, it's the rest of us who has to.

Eventually my father passed away...

These tragedies are what truly define me as a coach. Whatever you've got, whatever you've been through, not taking care of your physical and mental health will only make things worse.

All my decisions are split into two choices:

  • Bad to neutral
  • Neutral to good

Meaning if I do something, at the very worst, it will do nothing, at the very best it will do something great. Or the other side, it will most likely be bad, at the very best nothing will happen.

Just because nothing is a possible outcome of either choice doesn't mean it's the same choice. Especially when you're acting on your health...

I'm not like other fitness people. I didn't grow up loving fitness or sports, I don't have a fitness fetish. Fitness is the tool I use to help people get shit done and live to the best of their abilities. It's what I use to program myself to be the most effective person I can be.

I've been fortunate enough to train with some of the best athletes in the world over the years. Professional fighters, champions, Olympians, top strength and conditioning coaches, specialists in yoga, sports therapy, sports psychology, and beyond.

This gave me the road map to differentiate myself from other trainers who just look good, self taught themselves how to work out, then got a basic certification. My training and education is at the level of training world class athletes, but my niche is using that background to train the average person.

When I came back to LA and began personal training, I saw a huge gap between how the best train and how the rest of us train. I saw a need and decided to train regular people, instead of athletes. Why should only our athletes get in such good shape when the rest of the population was suffering? Why were all the information that our athletes have not trickling down to the regular person? It was elitist in my opinion. They say the rich keep getting richer, well the best in the world keep getting better and the rest of us were getting sicker and fatter. The fattest country has the best athletes, that's a huge health gap.

I love an underdog story. It's why I root for my clients to beat the odds.

Through my own health problems, the psychology I learned through sports and martial arts, and what I've learned through personal tragedy is that:

  • No limitations can define your heart and desire.
  • That an indomitable; mind and spirit should be a part of any fitness goal.
  • That to be truly superhuman, it's not about how good you look, or how strong you can get. It's about resilience. There's plenty of people who look good and can lift heavy things. How many people can say they never get hurt or sick? Let's be superhuman then.

I won't lie or try to sell you or give you some marketing hype about how I am now some Adonis because I'm not and I don't want to be. I actually don't agree with trainers who take a compulsive amount of muscle pictures of themselves. I find it just makes the narcissistic and selfish aspect of our culture even worse. It condones and validates it. It also shames anyone who's not like them. In marketing, sex appeal often trumps substance.

I haven't solved all my own health problems. In fact I've given myself more injuries from years of sparring, fighting, and adventuring. But I know a lot about the human body and mind, what it can do, and things you can do for it.

I still have pain but I manage it; I move, I make it work, and no one can question my heart and desire. It's a game of degrees and you make yourself better as much as you can whenever you can any way that you can. I don't aim for a perfect life, just a better one.

I am reminded of a quote by Mark Twain:

This has been the motto of my life.

Sam Yang from an early age has been obsessed with connecting the dots between martial arts and efficiency, health, mindset, business, science, and habits to improve optimal well-being. For more info, join his newsletter. You can also connect to All Out Effort on Facebook and Twitter.

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