As most of you know, we lost a great man this past week. I lost a best friend. Fitness Quest 10 lost a family member. The Sawyer family lost its leader. Ken Sawyer, 51, aka “Sawman”, died in a freak, tragic accident when his motorized scooter was hit by a car making an illegal u-turn. It was 5:50 in the AM last Tuesday. He was going to work out.
And he’s never coming back. The pain and anguish I feel is deep. Real deep. And his family’s is even deeper. For those who knew Ken, life will never be the same.
I had to be in Chicago for a Perform Better Conference on Saturday. There were about 900 trainers there and the energy is always high.
And I was dreading going. I have never NOT wanted to teach one of my workshops or classes before in my entire career. And this was a first. I cried on the flight out as I worked on my eulogy on the plane. I cried in the AM before I spoke. I even choked up on stage.
I prayed before I went on stage for strength. I prayed to God as to what I should say. Say nothing? Say something? Talk about it? Don’t talk about it?
And then the answer was revealed to me. BE REAL. Tell them what is going on and just be authentic. Despite my topic being “CORE & CUFF”, this was an opportunity to share some great lessons and reminders about life and just to connect with my colleagues about “adversity.”
So I spent the first 10 minutes of my talk sharing from my heart. I shared with them my week and told them I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to get through the day. And I asked for one time, that I was going to lean on them. Whereas normally I’m the high “energy” guy, I told them I might not be that guy today.
They got it… And then some.
And while I’m not really sure how I did (I felt numb through the entire talk), I received an extended ovation at the end that once again left me in tears on stage. It was powerful and meant a lot to me.
I asked them all to attend the practical portion of the “Core & Cuff” that was after lunch where it was going to be a tribute to “Sawman.”
I have taught a lot of packed workout classes before. But this one was beyond packed. Probably about 250 people in a ballroom made for about 175 people and there wasn’t a ton of room to move. Just the way Sawman would have liked it. “Pack ‘em in and start smelling up the place.”
I started off as I traditionally do in a circle. And I talked about SAWMAN again. And I dedicated the class to him. I told them I want a lot of chest-bumping, fist-bumping, talking smack, high-fives, hugs and energy. And I got emotional.
If there was EVER a time I felt Sawman’s energy in my entire life of knowing Ken for 15 years, it was NOW. Man, like a shot, I was infused with his presence.
And it was ON.
For 75 minutes, I had one of the most out-of body experiences I have ever had. I’m not sure what we did or how we did it. But OMG. We sang Boot Camp chants about Sawman, we played with SPIRIT, we had FUN, we worked HARD, there was LOVE everywhere…and I just felt Ken. I felt him on my shoulder the whole time just talking to me.
In the “Grand Finale” huddle where I normally sing and dance, fire-everyone up, and break every one down, time just froze. I was preparing for the final breakdown and I just lost it. I knelt down, choked up, and just had emotion overtake me.
And everyone just started clapping. In one big huddle with very few dry eyes in the crowd, it got louder … and louder…and louder. It lasted what seemed like 2-3 minutes. It was “them”, not me. They were picking me up.
It was deafening. It was beautiful. I picked up my chin from looking in the ground, looked up, and SMILED for the first time all week. And boy, did that feel good.
And OMG, what a breakdown. We went nuts. We clapped some more, we sang, and we broke down on what else… “SAWMAN.”
I needed that. I needed that on Saturday so bad. It was one of those magical moments. Normally, I’m the one firing people up. Yesterday, it was 250 of my “closest trainer friends” for 75 minutes picking me up and providing one of my most memorable workout experiences EVER.
I am indebted to all of those that were in attendance yesterday. Thank you.
And thank you SAWMAN. I knew you were behind that you sneaky “bastard.”
This week’s W.O.W. (Word of the Week) is an easy one. I am creating a new word in the English dictionary. This week’s WOW is SAWMAN.
What is a SAWMAN? It’s a spirit that loves life, embraces people, laughs, smiles, only finds the bright side of life. Picks people up when they are down. Talks smack to people and somehow people like it. It’s someone who is always there for a friend at the drop of a hat when you need something. Or even when you don’t. It’s being a great person and human being and living life knowing that it’s way too short not to have FUN.
That is a SAWMAN.
We all need a SAWMAN. We can all be more like a SAWMAN.
This week will be another tough one. Ken will be buried on Wednesday, July 4th. The Fourth of July. It’s actually so appropriate. The man’s diet consisted of “only brown stuff” and as he eloquently stated, “this nutrition stuff is over-rated. You just need to follow the SAWMAN diet.” We will honor the SAWMAN DIET on the 4th.
After his service, we will have a barbeque consisting of the foods that Ken primarily ate: hamburgers, hot-dogs, and chips and salsa. We will hold off on the vegetables. We will sip on his beverage of choice, Mountain Dew.
Gosh, if he could only see us chowing down on “his” food on Wednesday. He is going to be up in heaven looking down just laughing and laughing…and probably talking some smack between games of Boot Camp Football.
Sawman’s final service will be on Thursday, July 5th. It will be yet another tough day.
With the start of one of the fitness industry’s biggest events, IDEA World on Friday, July 6th, I am going to need to muster up some more SERIOUS SAWMAN STRENGTH somehow. Not quite sure how or where that’s going to come from yet but check this out….
My first class on Friday at 8 am (“Four Top Guns”) is going to be on the deck of the USS Midway. It was already cool to begin with. But since SAWMAN was a huge military supporter and is a retired Air Force man, this couldn’t be a better immersion back into the trenches after what will prove to be a few gut-wrenching days.
And I will give everything I have … and I will probably receive so much more in return.
There you have it. Some nourishment for the SOUL. SAWMAN. Keeping it real and sharing from the heart.
This week, remember the WOW…. SAWMAN. Draw upon “SAWMAN” strength & spirit and I bet you can conquer mountains also.
Much love to you all. No need for more emails, texts, or phone calls for support. The best thing you can do is take that time and share some SAWMAN energy with someone else that needs it this week. Life is so precious and so short.
Love you guys.