Birdman (or professionalism, the lack thereof)

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Disclaimer: Names have been withheld and Company names have been altered to protect privacy.

The health and fitness industry can be an exciting and rewarding industry to work in.

Health and Fitness is constantly evolving and expanding, industry standard accreditations such as The Register For Exercise Professionals in the UK and The National Strength And Conditioning Association Of America are increasing standards of sports science throughout the world.

Certainly since I left college and started working in my first gym over 15 years ago the knowledge, skill sets and commitment to development has increased insurmountably.

And of course, though fledgling Coaches and Personal Trainers hope to build successful businesses and make money, the very best ones, the ones that last, know that helping people achieve their goals is its own reward. And what a great reward it is when clients have worked tirelessly with you reach their target weight in time for that wedding or beach holiday.

Fitness Professionals can change lives and it’s a great time to be part of this burgeoning industry. However…………

The last six months have been pressing to say the least, for not only myself but also my fiancé who has been extremely supportive throughout.

At the beginning of this year I took part in a Skype interview for a job that would certainly have been a step up for my career, to add to my excitement, the role would also require a move to Kuala Lumpur,Malaysia.

The role of my job would have been to essentially train the trainers; travel from gym to gym within the company, ‘Malaysia Fitness’ and provide instruction and guidance on everything from the basics of exercise; instruction/technique, the latest training innovations I.e. suspension training (quite often and more famously ‘TRX’) through to how to communicate with clients and grow their client base.

By the end of what was a long but extremely positive interview I went away feeling emboldened by what had been proposed.

Around a month later a solid offer was made by the company, overall a very reasonable package that would provide a solid foundation for myself and my fiancé to start a new life in Malaysia.

We discussed at length and in detail over a number of days the pros and cons of leaving the UK to start afresh and it’s worth saying that my fiancé, a biomedical scientist of over 12 years for the NHS would have been giving up a great deal for the benefit of my own career.

The decision was not taken lightly, though ultimately we decided I should take the job and make the move.

The promised contract did not come and the company fell into silence.

I have recently learned of a new phenomenon, ‘Ghosting’. Essentially when a man or woman wishes to end a relationship without all of the unnecessary Inconvenience of facing their partner and telling them it’s over, they simply disappear off the radar. That is to say, seemingly without reason they break all contact, in person, email, social media, as if they disappeared into thin air.

Were ‘Malaysia Fitness’ Ghosting me?

Some two weeks passed and in the interim I had on two occasions politely inquired to the company’s HR and ‘Talent Management Executive’ as to when I would see the promised contract.

As you would probably guess, there was now a little apprehension on mine and my fiancé’s part. We had decided to make a life changing commitment; ‘Malaysia Fitness’s’ feeling clearly was no longer mutual…

Approximately three weeks had passed before I managed to break the company’s veil of silence by emailing the man whom I originally interviewed with and who would be my direct boss if I had ever started with ‘Malaysia Fitness’, the company’s Fitness Development Manager.

He was surprised by the HR department’s apparent intransigence and as far as he was concerned I was still hired for the job. He promised to promptly attempt to resolve the issue.

Another week passed….then a twist in the tale….

The Fitness Development Manager mailed me to arrange another Skype meeting, this meeting lasted for only maybe 20 minutes.

“The company has received a ‘bad report’ about you”

It transpired over the course of our brief conversation that Malaysia Fitness’s Vice President no less, who had served as a Club Manager for ‘Fitness Middle East’ In Dubai around the same time I also worked there, was none too happy about his new company appointing me and decided to block my employment.

I was now caught up in a company with split Agendas. On one hand I had the support of the Fitness Development Manager; on the other I had the contempt of the Vice President.

I like to think at least, I choose my words carefully and I don’t use the word ‘contempt’ lightly.

However this was no longer a professional issue, it was clearly personal.

Flashback……

Some three years earlier I had worked as a personal trainer for ‘Fitness Middle East’ in Dubai and my tenure there did not always run smoothly.

Though on the whole, I had built a sizeable client base of which I was both personally and professionally connected to, there were, on my part a few instances of unprofessional conduct.

These included lateness on company induction days and open disagreements with my then line manager.

I will add to this simply; over the course of the last two and a half years I have explained, accounted for and most importantly, apologised for any mistakes I made during my time in Dubai.

Only good will exists between Fitness Middle East and myself and i have received support and references from every level of management there.

Since my time in Dubai, my professional and personal life has changed irrevocably.

To quote disgraced Anchorman Brian Williams “I hold myself to a different standard now and I expect others to do the same”. The difference between myself and Brian is however, I’m sincere.

Snap back to 2015… I gave the Fitness Development Manager a full account of my time at Fitness Middle East. I was now in a position of compromise; i had only been told that their Vice President had given me a bad report so I decided to effectively second guess the company and give them what I presumed they already knew (the truth that is).

What is crucial to note at this point is that; my account and references were met with satisfaction by ‘Malaysia Fitness’.

But of course as I mentioned, this was personal.

Myself and my accuser, the now Vice President of ‘Malaysia Fitness’ had only ever met on one occasion. We were attending the birthday party of a mutual friend and to this day, almost three years on, I cannot understand why he would use his elevated professional status to so vehemently prevent my own career going forward.

Certainly, after my own research and attempt to understand, there is no one else who feels this way.

I had now thrown myself on my own sword. I had lived in Japan during 2007/08 and I think a little of their magnificent history and culture had rubbed off on me.

I had effectively accepted responsibility for everything that had happened anywhere in the world during the last three years (remember when your cat was run over last year? It was me…sorry..) I had prostrated myself in a somewhat desperate display of self-flagellating guilt but crucially, in the interest of keeping it professional, I left out my only ever encounter with their Vice President.

In my dealings with ‘Malaysia Fitness’ I have not once made mention of my accuser’s name, and have seen my Job offered and excruciatingly, rescinded, twice.

This fiasco, which has lasted nearly 6 months and essentially put our lives on hiatus and under great stress was abruptly and ignominiously brought to a finish only two weeks ago.

I endured a two hour long Skype re-interview with the company’s ‘talent management executive’ which was quite bizarrely conducted over messages (apparently he did not have either a Mic or camera available) which honestly, is a little hard to believe.

I will stress that this is merely my supposition however; I have reason to believe Malaysia Fitness wanted a written transcript of my final communication with the company.

It had been mentioned to me earlier by someone inside Malaysia Fitness that they had been worried about issues relating to my own privacy. These issues being particularly pertinent when their Vice President is dragging my name and reputation through the mud.

I mentioned the very modern phenomenon of ‘ghosting’ earlier and perhaps the most troubling aspect for those that have been ‘ghosted’ is that often they never get the closure they need and deserve.

I greatly regret not starting a new life and adventure in Malaysia, and I may never fully know why we missed out.

To Summarise:
I have not, during this whole time, contacted my accuser, the Vice President of Malaysia Fitness, though he has strangely viewed me a number of times on Linkedin.
I had made mistakes in Dubai.
I have learned from them and had moved on with my life and career.
I gave Malaysia Fitness an honest account of my time in Dubai.
3 years is a long time to hold a grudge.
I am not sure to this day why there is ill feeling in the first instance.
Personal and Professional lines had been blurred.
If the ‘Malaysia Fitness’ Fitness Development Team manager ever reads this, thank you for your unwavering support throughout.
Malaysia Fitness’s pan-handling of the situation turned into a painful fiasco for myself and my fiancé.
We will move on, go forward together stronger and put Malaysia Fitness firmly where they deserve to be, in the past.

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