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A Once in A Lifetime Experience

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“One World, One Dream.”

That was the slogan of the 2008 Olympics. As I anticipated these games, as I have every time they come up, that slogan would have new meaning for me. As a trainer and athlete, I always desired to one day go to the Olympics. As a martial artist and historic enthusiast, I always dreamed of one day visiting China. I never thought I would get paid to go to the games with the U.S. Olympic Team, much less visit the grand historical sites of China.

In 2008, that dream would come true. It all began when 24 Hour Fitness, the company in which I am a Master trainer, would expand their sponsorship of the U.S. Olympic Team by building a facility in China where the athletes could train. That brought upon the need to have qualified trainers and staff to run the facility and assist the Olympic coaches as they trained the athletes for their events. Each trainer would have their travel and accommodations provided to work at the High Performance Training Center for two week shifts during the course of the Olympics.

The selection process would involve recruiting the top trainers of the company through a screening process of qualifications, certifications, experience, and client testimonials. Of the 4,000 trainers in the company, only 125 applications would be accepted. And of those, only the top 16 trainers in the company would have the opportunity to join the U.S. Team and assist in their goal of bringing home some medals.

Needless to say, I was one of those selected. The training process would begin for us as we became residents at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. For three days, we would be trained on various skills needed for our duties in China including etiquette, customs, language, and our various athletic duties to the team’s strength coaches. Public relations training was also included for the many television, radio, and print media interviews that we would be conducting.

Arriving in Beijing together in uniform was quite the experience as we got the same “star” treatment as the athletes in the immense airport that was decorated with various Olympic themed items. We then checked into our residency at the Beijing Normal University, which would be our home for the next two weeks. The University would also house many of the other athletes, strength coaches, and the athletes’ cafeteria in which we shared meals with the team.

The High Performance Training Center (HPTC) was a state-of-theart facility built for the U.S. team at BNU and included a full weight room, fencing runways, boxing and wrestling areas, and training pool. While working the HPTC, we had the opportunities to work with athletes such as volleyball player Kerri Walsh, wrestler Henry Cejudo, and track star Allison Felix. We were also the training center for the Dream Team and yes, got to meet Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Jason Kidd, and Carmelo Anthony.

As trainers, we had the opportunity to secure some event tickets from the strength coaches. I personally got watch weightlifting, boxing, wrestling, and women’s basketball. I did get to attend a track event at the Beijing National Stadium (Bird’s Nest) and got watch Brian Clay get his decathalon gold medal and hear the national anthem in the Olympic stadium.

While not on shift, we were able to take in the many historical sites in Beijing such as the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, The Summer Palace, Tian’anmen Square and the Great Wall. While not as historical, we did have to expand our Beijing experience to include real Peking duck at the DaDong restaurant, shop at the Silk Market, and experiment some exotic tastes at the famous Night Market.

From the people to the culture, my experience in China was amazing and will never be forgotten. The people in Beijing were delighted to have us and enjoyed a wonderful exchange of what we discovered a quite similar cultures. This trip will always be concrete evidence to me that you can achieve anything and you never know where your perseverance will take you. Through accomplishment and desire, the world can be brought together as it was for the athletes of the Olympics games in 2008, the spectators who watched together from around the world, and a Filipino trainer from Denver, Colo.

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