They Fired Me



By Stephanie Fowler Shakee (@iamcoachfowler)

This article was originally published on Stephanie’s blog.


If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, I presume you already know about my background and all of my past issues with teenage obesity and food obsession. You can read more about it right here.

Luckily I exited that life as I went on to play college softball and forcefully discovered what monster miles were. Fat loss was a byproduct of the intense amount of exercise we did at the college softball level. For the 240LB me, those workouts were pretty damn horrifying. Looking back I can laugh at myself, because I now realize that those workouts were the catalyst to the success in my future years.

240 lbs/Senior year

240 lbs/Senior year

That weight loss journey started at age 18, and I spent the next few years lifting weights and running marathons. By the time I hit my 20’s, I was 60LBS lighter than I was in HS. Size 14/16 at 180LBS, and life never felt so good.

I got married at age 30 in the summer of 2013, and my running and exercise slowly slipped away and wedded bliss took over. I was at 200LBs in December of 2013, and I was terrified of going any higher. I decided to join a local boot camp, and from there I participated in 3 different fitness challenges that required restrictive eating menus. (Side note, I don’t agree with this regimen anymore, but that’s another blog). I was losing fat and muscles were popping. I was also asked to become a boot camp trainer, and with no hesitation I accepted the position.

I developed new friends, a new lifestyle, and my life was peachy teaching boot camp classes in the early morning all the while still teaching Algebra and coaching softball at the high school level.

I started researching nutrition on my own, and I started following some of my favorite fitness people – Neghar Fonooni, Jill Coleman, and the unapologetically strong Jen Sinkler. In February of 2015 I was searching the web and discovered that these three beauties put together an event called The Radiance Retreat, and I didn’t know anything about it, but I instantly felt that it was something that I needed to do. The event would take place at Venice Beach, CA, and I felt that I had no business spending my hard earned money to go on this trip. My wife pushed me to go. I booked the trip.

Age 25 with my college BF

Age 25 with my college BF

I was going to use it as a trip for “clarity”. I was currently working on my Master’s Degree in Education, but there was something telling me that maybe NOW I could go into the fitness industry.

Maybe NOW after my success in weight loss and in teaching groups (alongside my experience in coaching sports) that I could go that fitness route on my own. I still doubted myself.

And if I DID do that, how would I start? I already loved my current boot camp location and all of its people, so how would I dare go out on my own?

Fast forward to April 2015 directly after returning from the Radiance Retreat – I came back inspired, motivated, and filled with the biggest sense of community and sisterhood. I longed to spread that sisterhood to my own area code.

“Kresson, if I started a blog, do you think that anybody would be interested in my story?” My best friend laughed at me hysterically and rolled her eyes. “YES! YES! YES!” To her, this was naturally my next step. For me, I still doubted myself. was quickly born, and some of my first stories got some real traffic! “That Time I Ate Two Big Macs” is still my most viewed blog to date. People were relating to my story, and my words resonated with a few people. I want to help people. This was a start!

With new sisters at the Radiance Retreat

With new sisters at the Radiance Retreat

I then decided that I wanted to grow this (#EEE) community. What if I could motivate people to work out in an environment that may be a little less intimidating than walking into a gym? That’s where my Boot Camp to Brunch event was born. I could lead a workout in a local park, and then we could all go brunch together to enjoy the camaraderie with one another.

My first Boot Camp to Brunch event occurred on a Sunday so not to interfere with the fitness location where I was employed. We held the first event on Sunday, June 14th, and on Monday, June 15th I received an e-mail stating that due to a conflict in business interest, my instructor services would no longer be needed.

I was devastated. I ugly cried on many, many occasions, and I was horrified that my integrity may have been in question in regard my intentions with my new blog and event. I was growing a community. And did I say ugly cry? U-G-L-Y.

I had decided that I would just focus on teaching and coaching and have more time for my own fitness, rather than teaching others. I had just finished my Master’s Degree, and the plan was to get some basic equipment and start working toward training some clients in my home garage.

COMMUNITY. That’s what happened next. I was flooded with texts and calls and support. Community, people. They wanted to know what my next step was going to be. They were chomping at the bit.

Exactly 15 days later I applied for an LLC. She (because my LLC has a pronoun) would be called (em)POWERHOUSE. My mantra all along was to help empower people, and I wanted a power house program, so (em)POWERHOUSE came to me as I was driving one morning. It would stick. And so it began. I would soon own my own boot camp studio and offer personal training.

I had no clue as to what I was doing, how I was starting, or how to proceed. But I had support, and that above all else is what got me to where I am today.

When you surround yourself with the good, only good things will come of it. I am an entrepreneur, a female business owner, a motivator, and I wake up every single day loving where I am. Leaving the education and coaching field wasn’t easy, but I know I am where I’m supposed to be.

I have a spouse that provides me with limitless support of my dreams. I have my best friend training with me at my location, and she has been alongside me in this new endeavor for every single event. And I have the most amazing friends and family and clients. I couldn’t ask for more right now.

So what? I was fired. And at the time of my firing, it REALLY, REALLY sucked. But here’s what I’ve taken from that: I would have NEVER left my previous location on my own. Why would I leave? I had lifetime friends, and I loved my boot camp classes. I was eventually going to start training on my own out of my house garage and continue with my blog and Boot Camp to Brunch event, but getting fired was the BEST thing that ever happened to me.

It allowed me to go out on my own. It gave me the permission I needed to create my own community, build my own house of empowerment, and provide a place for the PEOPLE. That’s what I love about (em)POWERHOUSE. It’s not about me. I may “own it” and “run it” and all of that hoopla. But it’s for you guys. It’s for the #EEEtribe.

Let me also be very clear with this message – I hold absolutely no ill will of my previous employer. That place changed my life in its own right, and I’m forever thankful for that. They provide their own sense of community in their own way. I truly wish them nothing but the best in all future endeavors. As fitness professionals, we’re all in this together, right? We’re in this for the good of the people and to see that they succeed. Godspeed.

I was faced with a challenge that, at the time, seemed so controversial and devastating. I also learned that perception, unfortunately, IS reality.

Sometimes you can have the very, very best of intentions in your actions, but the perceptions for other people may be entirely different. Through that challenging time I learned that because of misperception, it’s important that we hand out a little more grace in crazy times. Getting fired from my “part-time gig” changed my entire direction in life.

I am in disbelief sometimes that I am doing what I am doing, and it’s all thanks to people like you that invest in the time, in the message, and in the idea of community.

When you find yourself at a crossroads, you may not always have an opportunity to chase a dream like I did, but there’s always a teaching moment to take away from it. Take advantage of the teaching moment. Understand it. Empower yourself. Empower others.

Engage. Empower. Elevate.

And grow from every challenging moment.