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Meet Sam Pankey

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sam Pankey.

Sam, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
In college, I studied creative writing and journalism and fully intended to become a writer or a journalist, or maybe a teacher. However, my athletic career never stopped. I played basketball in college (for ECU), and post-college, I found myself on a competitive slow pitch softball team, and then a local rugby team, eventually landing a spot on the USA Women’s National Rugby Team. Out of necessity, I began to learn the fundamentals of strength training, so that I could train myself effectively. I started with Arnold’s, The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding, and Bigger Faster Stronger (the first edition), and then dove headlong into anything I could get my hands on and sought advice from all of my old S&C coaches. I started training my teammates and leading team conditioning sessions, and I finally decided that I would get certified and pursue this thing I’d become passionate about. I worked at a few gyms (and still work at a studio), and then about a year ago, I decided I’d venture out and look for my clients, hoping to build my own business and have recently ventured into online coaching, with the hope of helping a lot more people adopt healthy habits.

About a year ago, I also picked up a paintbrush and started slinging paint again. I was a budding artist in high school (my mother taught me to draw and paint before I’d started school), winning a few blue ribbons in local art shows, but put down the paints in college. Art is something that speaks to my soul, and about six months ago, I decided that others may like my art as well, and I opened an Etsy Shop. I’ve sold one painting in the shop and a few others to friends and family. I also cut glass and make candles (the wicks and all), I’ve made a few miles, and I’m now making my own frames for some of my paintings.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
In recent years, the road has been smooth—slow, but smooth—but that hasn’t always been the case. In fact, I don’t even think I was on a road a few years ago—just clawing through the jungles of my own issues. I’ve been an alcoholic for a good deal of my adult life. About four years ago I quit (for the 4th or 5th time), and this time, it stuck. It stuck because I discovered that my issues weren’t the result of circumstance or a substance. My issues were the product of my unconscious mind. You see, each and every one of us constructs our own reality. If we live as victims of circumstance, we will never have control, and we will often cede our control to a substance, or a person, or a habit, or our possessions. This time around, I WANTED the change, and so I learned the nature of change—that to change, you have to become something different (sounds simple, eh). Change is different. But that is hard, hard, hard, because to become something different, we have to become something we don’t know, and that is uncomfortable. Folks often bow out under the pressure of discomfort, or they believe it to be a sign that the change is not meant to be.

However, if you understand that change is difficult and you can be conscious of your own mind, you can consciously engineer your own life and walk through the pain of healing and the fear of difference. And what I’m saying is often difficult to understand, which is another hindrance to real change, but I see it every day in the gym. You see, to lose weight or gain muscle, you have to physically become a different person, and that is uncomfortable—ask anyone starting a fitness journey (literally anyone). However, the more you move past the discomfort of something different, and the more consistent you are at doing it, the more change you will see—or the more gains you’ll see (if we’re talking gym-speak).

Please tell us about your business.
Sam Pankey Training is my health and wellness business. Currently, it’s only me, with some help here and there from my wonderful partner, Nina Hopkins. Originally, I intended the business to be fitness-oriented. It is still centered around fitness, but now I have additional services, like nutrition plans and mindfulness coaching. Right now, mindfulness coaching is also centered around making healthy changes. I want to teach people how to make meaningful changes and to see how the changes they make to their physical bodies can also be made to their emotional blueprints, mindset, and other aspects of their lives.

My art business reflects the beauty I see in the world. My intention isn’t to paint or create art that is a copy of the world; instead, I often paint what the thing/scene/person makes me feel. And I hope that others feel some sort of beauty from it as well.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
I had a great childhood, and have many memories I cherish. Some of my favorites are memories from all of my road trips with my mom. My mom would chauffeur me around to AAU tournaments, Blue Chip and Five Star Ball camps, and anything I got invited to. We road tripped to the North East often, Ohio, Florida, etc. And every Sunday night (and some Wednesdays), she drove me to practice, which was an hour and 15mins away. My memories of fishing with my dad are very special to me. My folks separated when I was three (too young to know what separation was), and I often went fishing with my dad when I was a kid, and even now. We always made it into a competition, and most of the time, he wins.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Mariana Monasi

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