All posts for the month October, 2014

Danielle, Staten Island Half Marathon

Danielle, Staten Island Half Marathon

Today’s Lesson of the Day comes from a Classmate who has a story about passion, dedication, and the ability to realize that when one door closes, a road opens. A road that is 26.2 miles long!

Dear (My) High School Soccer Coach,

How have you been? It has been about 10 years now since we last spoke on the high school soccer field after classes let out. I was the girl with the black soccer shorts, pink cleats, curly hair in a bun, about 110 pounds and 5 ft. 3 inches in the summer of 2005. Ring a bell? What if I tell you my name? Nope that probably won’t work either.

The reason being is that to you, I was just another grammar school soccer star that had a dream to make the high school team but you see that’s what makes this story so special. You and me we never saw eye to eye — I thought I was good enough to play in high school and you thought the exact opposite. How do I know? You never gave me the chance to show you, because I didn’t make the team.

I remember waiting by the phone after the tryouts for your call. The call never came. Maybe I wasn’t the star I thought I was and maybe I just wasn’t good enough. The one phrase in my whole life that I would never settle for, but after 10 years and no phone call, I am writing to say you were right.

I cried for days. My parents felt terrible, but I remember my dad looking at me and saying, “You have to put yourself back out there and join another sport. You have the athletic ability, find something to stay fit and then give tryouts a go next year.” What could I do? Soccer was the only sport I had ever known and loved. I saw a flyer up for the cross-country team but running was the one thing I hated most about soccer. Running was our punishment, not our pleasure.

I decided to give it a try. I went to my first day of practice in those same black soccer shorts. I ran for 10 minutes and I felt like I was on top of the world. Runners high? Maybe, but then again maybe I was too young to understand what any kind of high really was.

That day I laced up my first pair of not even real running shoes. It was probably the day that set the rest of my life in motion. I fell in love with the sport, the girls, the sweat, the tears, the pain; it became a part of me. I was average I wasn’t the star but that was okay because I was a part of something. It was so much more than I ever could have imagined.

I ran cross-country, indoor and outdoor track all four years of high school. This gave me some of my best friends to this day and some of the best years of my life. Coach, I never went back to your soccer tryouts during my sophomore year, instead I circled the track in my fancy new running sneakers and I watched you coach your girls on the field, and knew that was then and this is now.Displaying Image.jpg

I went on to college, and although I decided to not run at a Division I level to focus on my studies, I trained myself for my first half marathon soon followed by my first NYC Marathon. The girl who used to score goals and walk back to center field, completed all 26.2 miles of the NYC Marathon and sometimes I still don’t even believe it. It happened and it was one of the biggest accomplishments in my life to date. Completing the marathon lead me to writing my college thesis on “The Empowerment of Women through Distance Running” which lead me to my marketing position at New York Road Runners, the biggest running organization in the world, who organize the NYC Marathon, helping to inspire and empower people through running everyday, truly a dream job.

This afternoon, I went running on my old high school trails, and I came to realize that most of my success is owed to you, Coach. We often go through life thanking the people who believe in us. We thank the people who give us countless opportunities, but we rarely stop and thank the people who never gave us a shot.

When you really think about it the people that didn’t believe in you are the whole reason you are where you are today. A decade later, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, for not thinking I was good enough to play on your team. You were right, I had so much more to offer the world than scoring just one goal.


A very happy runner girl

Danielle, New York

Growing up I was the kid in class who saved his homework passes for the end of the school year. Year after year I would earn these passes and save them for when it got warm out or for a special time, but year after year the passes went to waste. Simply because no assignment was worth “wasting” a pass on. I would just save them for the next time. I never learned my lesson until it was too late. Now I have homework passes that I have saved my whole life. 

You see most of us can learn from the homework pass because much like myself, I waited and waited for the perfect opportunity. I held on to my golden tickets just eager to cash them in at the right time. The right time never came. The perfect opportunity doesn’t knock either. We live life like this. We wait and wait and wait. We put off things till tomorrow. We make excuses or hold off on making a change. We say it is not the right time or we are too busy. Sorry to break the news but as busy as you are today, life will only get more complicated and tomorrow will have a to do list that is longer. If we look at life, not by years or months, but by weeks we will get a better understanding as to why it will never be a perfect time.

Monday comes and we complain  about Monday. The start of the week. Friday rolls around and we embrace the weekend. Sunday hits and we say we cant believe it is the end of the weekend. REPEAT. A week is gone, it turns into a month and into a year. We have weekly routines.

We have obligations and responsibilities to do on a daily basis, but when will you cash in that homework pass? When will you make a small change for yourself? When will you give yourself something different? No matter what the change is in your life, you have to make it. The opportunity is everyday. Quit making excuses. Quit saying tomorrow. Quit saving the homework pass because eventually the assignments will run out. Eventually the days will pass and you’ll be looking back reflecting and say to yourself. What was I waiting for? Just remember, when it is all said & done, you can’t say “I have a pass that gives me extra time.”
Today is the perfect day to ___________________. Go out and do it!

-Professor Stern

When you are an entrepreneur, you will knock on a lot of doors. Get comfortable to the sound of the door bell. You will make a lot of cold calls. Get comfortable talking to voice mails. You will send A LOT of e-mails and messages. Get comfortable getting ignored. See a pattern? You will get comfortable dealing with all of these things, but one thing you cannot get comfortable about is your progress. Don’t get comfortable about where you are in life. Don’t get comfortable about your vision or your goals. Comfort will lead you to make excuses. Comfort will lead you to lose sight in your WHY. Your WHY is why you started this project.

The most successful people in any industry are not always the smartest, strongest, fastest or richest, but they are the hungriest. They get ignored time and time again, but they never stop knocking, calling or messaging. They know that there is someone out there who will take a chance on them. They never sell themselves short.

We are all entrepreneurs. You are an individual brand. Your smile is your business card. Your story is your resume. Your passion is your mission statement. Never lose sight of your WHY. For college students today, you might graduate & embark on a career that might not be what you expected. You might be struggling to land a solid career. You might even be struggling to find your WHY.

Today’s Lesson is simple. Some succeed because they are destined to, but most succeed because they are determined to. Spruce up that business card. Write out that resume. Look deep inside your heart and find your mission statement. Whatever you do, no matter how many times you get ignored or rejected, NEVER SELL YOURSELF SHORT.

There is someone out there who thinks you are worth every penny!


-Professor Stern

It was August 16th, 2014 around 10:00am and we were halfway done with the bottle of vodka, but this was not your average Saturday. It was wedding day at my house, but the conversation wasn’t about the ceremony. It was about’s “Back to the Grind” 6-week transformation challenge. I knew I wanted to be a part of this, so when my cousin Frank turned to me and said, “I Do,” (no, he wasn’t the groom to be) I just figured it was the Grey Goose talking.

The party ended & Summer was coming to a close. Frank insisted we take the challenge. This 26-year old was motivated to get the body he always wanted. The plan was simple -wake up, kick ass, eat right, repeat. Now with him working a full time job & my daily schedule being hectic and irregular, we had the issue of finding a common time routine. Some days were at 5:30am while others were at 9:30pm. That clock didn’t matter. The calendar did. 42 days to get in the best possible shape!

Frank is not obese. He is not fat by any means. He is your average sized guy. Just under 6 foot & weighs 176 pounds. He suffers from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome which resulted in years of knee operations. So first and foremost, we crossed “cardio” off the todo list.

Day 1. It was a beautiful Sunday morning. Frank rode his bike over for his first mission. 20 tire smashes, 10 medicine ball push ups, :30 combat rope… Results? Throwing Up!

I’ll be honest, after throwing up just from about 5-minutes of a workout, I thought this was over and we would give up. Frank didn’t give up. He showed up the next day and the next and now we are here today, day (1)

To say Frank motivated me would be an understatement. He helped me realize why I got into this industry. He reminded me that every workout I teach, no matter how tired, sore or unmotivated I am, that I have to give my students my best effort. That’s all I ever asked of Frank. I didn’t care that he threw up. I didn’t care that he couldn’t do a single pull up. I cared that he kept showing up. I cared that he asked questions, pitched ideas, never made excuses, and most all of – gave it his best effort every time.

As the contest wraps up and we wait for the decision, I hope his story and transformation gets the credit he deserves. His commitment and honest work ethic is a testament to what fitness really is about. It is not about a cleanse or a miracle product. It is not about a specific diet or pill. It is about hard work and the desire to change. While this contest has come to an end, Frank’s transformation story has just begun. He proved to me that you can make changes in 42 days, but more importantly… imagine what can happen on day 43.
Just Keep Going!

-Professor Stern

Flipping tires has become an increasingly popular exercise. This functional fitness move is great for the whole body, but this isn’t about to Goodyear tire on the floor. This is about the tire that is deep inside you. The tire that is weighing you down. The tire that seems so heavy that you can’t seem to move it. An obstacle in your path that you can’t seem to flip. A challenge that you can’t seem to overcome.

Today’s Lesson is about your own tire. It is about finding the strength to get past it. To put the tire in the rear view. If there is something in your life that is holding you back. Something in your life that is weighing you down or stopping you from achieving your goals, today is the day you face that tire. You might not move the whole thing today, but you will start. You NYNJ_August2014-109get your hands underneath, bend the knees, take a deep breath, and mentally prepare yourself for the challenge. The HARDEST part is starting. The struggle to get that tire off the ground. Once the momentum starts to shift and your arms are burning, legs are shaking, sweat is dripping and heart is pounding, you push right through the pain.

We all face daily obstacle in our life. These obstacle do not define us. We have not failed because the obstacle is there, we fail because we let the obstacle stay there. We fail because we lose the confidence and hope to flip it, to get past it, to move forward. Find your tire. Find your motivation. No matter how big or heavy that tire is, you my friend are STRONGER!


-Professor Stern

You get out what you put in. A simple mentality that can apply to almost anything. SO when it comes to college, and we put in on average 4 years of life and tens of thousands of dollars, how come we don’t get out what we really need??

I have spoken to thousands of students, past and present. No matter where they went to school or what their major was, there seemed to be one common complaint. College does not prepare you for the real life issues. Sure there are classes that touch on topics, but what really is a 401-k? What are property taxes? How do you even file your taxes? What is a deductible when it comes to insurance? How about out of network or in-network? What about a mortgage? Did you leave college confidently knowing about tax, title, and due at signing for your new car? How about shopping around for a credit card – which one is the best one for you? I won’t even mention the daily tasks like washing clothes, cooking, or cleaning. To think, “I have a bachelors degree that cost me $100,000, but I know hardly anything about those above topics.” is scary!

The point I am making is not to bash the education system, but I just want to raise a point. Maybe two semesters spent learning about western civilization or an entire semester on Beowulf could be left in the High School curriculum. Maybe a semester on theater, calculus, and one semester of a world language should really be reconsidered. There should be more of an emphasis on basic living. College was established to give us a higher education and prepare us for the real world. So why do all of these students, past and present, feel under-prepared?

I can say that EVERY college student has once experienced a class where they purchased a textbook, but never opened it. I used to blame the professor for wasting my money, but now I blame myself for wasting my money and my time. I should have opened that textbook and learned the material myself. I should have studied it and asked questions, but studying the course material is far different than not being educated about the real world. That textbook would have made me more of an expert about that particular class, but it would have not taught me about the heating or cooling in a new house, about 0% apr, or simply how EXPENSIVE being an adult really is.


-Professor Stern