Starting my own venture

We don’t know what we don’t know. We don’t know what’s truly possible to achieve in our lives, because it hasn’t happened yet. That’s the scary and exciting part of life. We take chances with every decision we make as we strive to contribute to the world around us.

Over the years, I went through many phases of knowing–and what I call unknowing–what I want to do. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a police officer, because they helped people and kept them safe. Then I wanted to be a fireman. Everyone liked firemen; they got to go down a pole and change into their uniforms when help was needed. This may have been influenced by my Voltron obsession.

In high school, as I observed my parents working in the medical field, I decided that I wanted to be a medical doctor. This was in line with my theme of helping others, yet I began to focus my efforts on learning more about the human body. This desire was influenced by the fact that my mother had recently been diagnosed with cancer. I thought that becoming a doctor would enable me to help her, and that I could be a source of hope for her or other people like her. I never got the opportunity to do so. She died at the end of my junior year.

In college, I began to take pre-med core courses. Pretty quickly, I realized that I was not yet ready to embark upon the journey of becoming a doctor. My grades were poor and I wasn’t putting forth the effort to be a competitive candidate. I spent a good two years of college aimlessly wandering. I took some courses because I needed to, but I didn’t focus as much as I could have on improving my knowledge or developing the skills that would help me succeed later in life. I wasn’t sure what I enjoyed, and what would have been a viable option as a college graduate.

When someone suggested athletic training to me, I didn’t consider it to be a career per say, so I didn’t give it a second thought. I did, however, look into strength and conditioning coaching, and began sending out resumes to every professional sports team I admired. Every message I received back essentially said, “You’ve got to get more experience.” This was a frustrating period for me as I wondered how could I gain experience if I couldn’t get a job. My expectations were obviously set very high. I mean, I expected a professional sports team to take me on as either an intern or assistant coach.

After the disappointing let downs, I moved to Colorado to study for my CSCS exam. I began working as a personal trainer. Even getting that job took some convincing, because I didn’t yet have a certification. The employment was tentative: if I didn’t pass the CSCS test, I would lose my position. Luckily, I passed. In the interim, I met a fellow Stanford alum and was introduced to the world of sub-prime home loan sales. I decided to give that a go and surprisingly, was able to survive about 6 weeks before quitting.

After a while, I missed California. I missed the friendships I made in college and yearned to return. So when a leadership position at an athletic potential analysis startup opened in Menlo Park, I was on the first flight back to interview for the job. I accepted the offer and drove back out to restart my California life. This startup lost its funding shortly thereafter and I found myself in the market for a new job.

That’s when I applied as a Fitness Manager at Equinox. I experienced another reality check when I received an offer to begin as a personal trainer. After seven years working as a Trainer, Coach, Fitness Manager, Personal Training Manager, and T4 Manager at Equinox, I was ready to take a leap. I felt that there was an aspect of the training practice that wasn’t being addressed, and I set out to uncover the secrets to it and find ways to fold it into a new training experience. I wanted to create a positive impact in my surrounding community’s training beliefs and practices.

I truly believe that we don’t know what we don’t know. The edge of our understanding can be fuzzy. When we stop learning, we stop being relevant. We stop being able to help ourselves, and as a result, we stop being able to help others. It’s crucial to take control of our own learning, to be in the driver’s seat of the incredible journey we’re on and continue to move forward. Though I started the PerformanceGaines entity in 2009, it took many years and a lot of consideration before I opened my own small training dojo, in 2014.

I was fortunate enough to have met some awesome people, namely Marc Guillet and Renee Songer, who gave me and a few colleagues the opportunity to occupy a space with them as we incubated our ideas and slowly grew from a team of three to seven. Over the next two and a half years, my team was able to experiment with various services, approaches and structures, which helped to solidify some of the practices we follow to this day. As we grew, we generated a unique interview process for potential teammates. As we determined where to move, we outgrew our space; we debated the pros and cons of location, facility size, amenities, and a whole slew of other factors.

After literally years of dreaming, countless hours of planning and decision making, and even more hours of dedication, support and sacrifice, we’ve come upon upon the precipice of a major change. Like any change, there have been challenges along the way, all of which make the accomplishment that much more special.

On Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016, we had the opportunity to walk into a space each of us helped design, a space that we’ll continue to mold and shape into something that makes each of us better people, coaches, and athletes.

My team and I are proud to call this place home. We don’t get ready to go to work each morning. We prepare to go to our dojo–the place where we go to better ourselves through the interactions we have with one another.

This is the dream and vision I have for everyone I work with. This vision relies upon each participant to do their own part to make it a reality. As a result, my team acts more like a collective – a group of like-minded movement coaches – devoted to the ideal of a training experience focused around deliberate practice rather than simply exercise. We at PerformanceGaines foster a culture of progression and creativity. Our passions help us create services that lead to powerful experiences for the client athletes every time we meet with them, positively influencing their lives today with a focus on their ability to achieve their dreams of tomorrow.

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Chris Gaines

I help people discover the impact of athleticism in their everyday life. With that clarity, they navigate misconceptions around fitness. With that focus, they pursue movement skills with intention and a larger purpose. All so they can face life's everyday challenges and grow with confidence.

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