"Want to Look Great Naked?"

Mike Coval
January 5, 2021

This past Sunday I went to the little track right behind the CCRB to run sprints.  When I was walking back to my car, I saw the pillar in the picture above.

That pillar has great meaning to me.  

Back in the spring of 2010 I was determined, but struggling.

I had graduated from college in December of 2009 and I knew what I wanted to do with my life.  I wanted to open a "gym".

My family and loved ones told me to get a 9-5.  I ignored them.  Afterall, it was going to cut into my time of reading books and viewing content that was going to help me become a better trainer as well as the random times that I might get to train someone.

I was offered a Graduate Assistant position with the Strength & Conditioning program at my alma matter, but declined.  I could have had my Master's degree in Exercise Physiology paid for, but it's not what I wanted.

I worked part-time lawn & landscape instead and trained people for free in Garden City, Manchester, and wherever else I could train people.  On a good week I made $150 cash and lived in my Aunt & Uncle's basement.  Not to mention that I had $80+k in student loan debt and had Sallie Mae calling me weekly to collect money that I didn't have.

During that time, I was trying my best to "market" myself.  I was just dipping my feet in the water with learning how to market myself and read an article of a guy who was successful in our industry at the time and he mentioned how one of his advertising campaigns he used "Want to Look Great Naked?" as his tagline to sell people into his program.

Being extremely naïve, yet determined I thought "that's brilliant!  Who doesn't want to look better naked?!"  And off I went.  I went to the Saline Library, made and printed off about 50 fliers with that same tagline on it with some sub-text to let people know that this was for personal training services with a tag to rip off with my name & cell phone number.

To no surprise, I received a whopping zero phone calls about the flyer.  In all honesty, I thought there was a better chance that I get a call from the University of Michigan saying "don't ever post anything on our campus again" than I get a call from an interested lead.

I posted those fliers on the pillar in the photo at beginning of this post.

Walking by the pillar on Sunday was a great reminder of the journey that I took to get here today.

Memories of the struggle.   Continually moving forward while constantly facing adversity is not easy.

Memories of what it is like to be poor and in a large amount of debt.  For a year and a half I slept on a floor, slept out of my car, slept on strangers couch, couches of friends and the majority of my meals consisted of chocolate milk, eggs, peanut butter, and bread because that is what I could afford. 

Memories of what it is like to be alone in the pursuit of your dreams.  Granted, I've got a lot of supporters now who I am very grateful for, but in the beginning people thought I was delusional and I can't say that I blame them.  

There's a lot more to my story, but that's what I will share for now.  

The struggle and everything that came with it was all worth it and I'm grateful for it.  It gave me something that you can't buy; perspective.  And with perspective came a ton of gratuity for everything that came after that.  The former is something we're gaining as we live through this pandemic and the latter something that amplifies as a result of going through this experience.

Stay safe and be well,


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Mike Coval

Coval Fitness is a Personal Training Studio and Gym in Ann Arbor, Michigan

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