We all know it when we see it. We all feel it from time to time, whether you just got a promotion, crushed a workout, or maybe you’re just walking down the street on a beautiful day. We often want - and many of us need - more of it. For some it comes naturally, while others have to work for it, but the reality is that it is attainable for each and every one of us: we’re talking about swagger.
Swagger is a word that has bumped around pop culture and millennial slang for years. REV loves this word; in fact, we strive to foster this notion in our clients, staff, and instructors. In all of us, there is an untapped confidence and source of empowerment that often shines through a 45 minute sweat sesh. But, the true task lies in how to take this same confidence and implement it in our daily lives. REV instructor Sam Sank knows very well how to do just that. Having gone through various transitions and taken many risks in her life, Sam demonstrates the ability to move from day to day with constant swag. Her mindset as she views common aspects of life is one from which we can all learn.
Sam played D1 lacrosse in college. Her days were packed with practice, studying, lifting, games, and travel, all of which left a small, but important space for a social life. This balancing act required the skills she would encompass as a D1 athlete - time management, hard work, discipline, and focus. “While it felt difficult at the time, it got me very prepared for the real world,” Sam said.
Her first “real world” transition was graduate school at the University of Miami. Fresh out of undergrad, everything was new - the scene, friends, schedules - and Sam felt like a freshman all over again. She had to figure out how to live a post-college athlete life and create her own schedule to stay healthy and fit. Though this was new and challenging, Sam had already developed the skills to make the change and adapt to a new lifestyle. She first found a new support system that could relate to her and then adjusted to new habits that would keep her life balanced and healthy. Transitions are scary and uncomfortable, but Sam found confidence in the skills she had already established from one part of her life. She knew they would carry over.
From high school and beyond, athletics and fitness were always a huge part of Sam’s life. After she graduated from undergrad, Sam began to challenge herself outside of organized sports. She quickly realized the mental importance in fitness. “Whether it’s on the Division I platform, or just stealing 30 minutes to myself in the gym, I find peace of mind in pushing myself and working hard. It helps to bring me back to my center.” This self-awareness was paired with the same acceptance that some days would feel better than others. She admits that there are days when it takes everything you have to get yourself to the gym or to a class, but Sam knows exactly how she will feel after she does: better. “You may have to slug it into the gym, but doing something vs. nothing always feels good,” she said.
Choosing to do something over nothing as the potential to help uncover passions you may have never known you had. Playing college lacrosse, Sam viewed running like a job - drills, tests, form, practice, games… it was tough for her to really find enjoyment in it with the extra pressure and the simple notion that she had to do it. After she graduated, however, Sam slowly realized a new found appreciation for running. “I realized I could run for fun… I could adjust the playlist on my iPod, grab some headphones, get outside, check out the scenery, and run to release whatever type of stress I was feeling.” With a new perspective on an aspect of life Sam used to dread, she soon fell in love with the sport.
Sam’s love of running began pushing her to challenge herself within the sport. She started out running 5Ks and testing the limits of distance. She then pushed herself to do longer runs, relays, half-marathons, eventually leading up to full marathons. Being self-aware of her body and mind, Sam developed the confidence to push herself in an area she had never before explored. And - like any transition - the skills she developed to push her own limits carried over into an eventual spin instructor career.
Sam took her first spin class in New York City and immediately fell in love with it. From the instructor’s energy, to the class camaraderie, to the music, she was hooked. When REV opened in Baltimore, Sam joined immediately.
Eventually, like pushing the limits in her running, Sam knew she wanted to be on the podium. With no former teaching background, she says it was more about finding her own style and confidence than necessarily having the experience. “In any new challenge, it’s easy to be timid at first because you don’t know what to expect from the experience,” Sam said. By upholding the same self-confidence, self-belief, and swagger she always had throughout her life, she took on the challenge with her shoulders back and her head high. “The most important thing anyone can do is find that self-belief and authenticity - that swagger - I always talk about in class.”
Sam admits that leading spin classes is not always easy. Allowing yourself to be present and vulnerable in from of a room of 45 people several times a week can be daunting some days, even if you have been doing it for years. Becoming an instructor forced Sam to realize that, though you may want them to, not everyone is going to like your class or your style of teaching. Becoming okay with this reality is the first step to confidently accepting who you are - in the spin room and in life. “It’s this confidence that you build in that room that you can continue to take with you throughout your day, and tap back into it when you need,” Sam said.
In a world with so many external factors alluding to what we should be like, look like, or act like, it is easy to become hesitant simply with yourself. But Sam notes that these images and stories are far from accurate depictions of reality. Confidence - swag - does not come from looking a certain way, having a certain job, or being friends with certain people. Instead, it comes from knowing yourself, your goals, your drive, and your presence of mind and body. “We are all unique individuals for a reason – we are not made to be the same, nor are we constantly in the same stages of our lives. You have to believe and put it out in the ethos that nobody can do it better or same as you.”
Though Sam Sank spews swag, she too has her days when the negative thoughts seep in. In times like this, she will take a step back and do something for herself to show herself self-love. When it comes to down to it, self-love is the root of all swag. Most importantly, it is impossible to love others without first finding your own self-love. So on the days that seem impossible, think about Sam’s advice: “Go out and embrace who you are, because you are a powerful force. Let your shit shine!”