2014, Part 1
A year ago tonight, Allen and I were at a New Year’s Eve party sitting by ourselves on our friends’ stairs excitedly scribbling sketches and notes onto napkins for a product idea he had had for a long time. And it was a damn good idea, let me tell you. The first few months of 2014 were consumed with research into prototyping, getting production quotes, and figuring out all the legal and tech needs of producing his design.
But despite our excitement and Allen’s dedication to the idea, something never seemed quite right. Roadblocks kept getting thrown in front of us, but having already been entrepreneurs, we expected the difficulties of bringing a brand new product to the marketplace. We pressed on, but the challenges grew so big they started to block out his idea’s bright light and cast shadows of doubt and frustration. Still, we kept moving forward until we ran smack into a wall: Bosu had released their own version of Allen’s idea, its features and design matching his to a T, just days before that New Year’s Eve party.
Allen describes the moment we came across Bosu’s product as a “kick in the nuts.” While I will never know what that feels like, I, too, would say that’s the most precise description. Within the next month, we both had expensive car issues, our cat needed surgery, and we passed our one year anniversary of being engaged without making a single wedding plan. So, the first half of 2014 wasn’t so hot for us, throwing a year’s worth of rollercoaster emotions, plans, challenges, and hard work at us in less than 6 months.
Still, I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Call it the universe opening and closing doors, destiny, God, or whatever you choose to believe in. The harder we tried to make Allen’s idea a reality, the harder the universe conspired against us, as if we were just not supposed to go down that path. So we regrouped, and I waited for other doors to open in its place.
2014, Part 2
Lucky for the universe, I’m not a patient person and have no problem helping it along, also firmly believing in the “quit slackin’ and make shit happen” principle. Confucius said that, right? While we each ran our own businesses, we kept brainstorming ways to combine our skills and make Allen’s training business mobile, eventually landing on a blog with an online training component. We still felt the sting of having to abandon his idea, but the prospect of a website that allowed us to travel and help others do so healthfully eased the pain enough to give it a shot.
We settled on the name Fit Travels and purchased fit-travels.com on May 29. I slowly built the site in my spare time and Allen sketched out workout program plans until we were ready to start writing our first posts and filming the first month of 30×30 [beta] in mid June. At that point, neither of us knew what would come of Fit Travels and if anyone would even be interested in it, but we were hopeful and excited about it none the less.
Then on July 2, before anything had been published on the site, we got an email from the editor of Wand’rly Magazine, who was so kind as to compliment our bare bones site and express an interest in helping us spread the word once we were fully up and running. Funny thing about those doors: The universe opens them just when you need them, even if you can’t step through them yet. His encouraging message helped our idea shine a little brighter, fanning a fire that had been nearly extinguished just a few months before.
We ran our first article, a welcome post, five days later. Since then, we posted 45 other articles, took our first Fit Travels road trip, flew together for the first time on another trip, and launched 30×30 [beta]. Our stats perked up a bit each week and new subscribers slowly joined the program, and though our numbers still aren’t anywhere near those of established sites, each engagement uptick inspired a little more hope and excitement. Meanwhile, both of our other businesses grew, and we finally set a wedding date for this coming spring, hired a planner, and, with a lot of help from my parents, started filling in the blanks of that personal piece of our lives. Shortly thereafter, one of Allen’s clients gifted us her frequent flyer miles to cover our flights to and from Europe for our honeymoon. I cried. Another door had opened before us.
As we explored travel health and fitness in our own lives and through our posts, we started to become more and more aware that our wellness isn’t tied just to exercise and eating well; It’s connected to the world around us, through other people, through animals and wildlife, through the environment. It’s something we’ve always known and expressed, but the glaring need for understanding of how all of the pieces fit into this macro health puzzle led to another development: turning a small blog into a big online magazine. I’ll never know where that lightbulb came from, but since it turned on, it became brighter and brighter until it was nearly blinding.
As soon as we mentioned creating Travel Well Magazine to others, open doors practically smothered us. Our engagement numbers jumped, other writers and health and fitness professionals wanted to get involved, friends and family started pitching story ideas and making fantastic connections for us, we’ve talked with a study abroad program director about creating an internship program, and we’ve been invited to teach at a fitness resort. We spent the holiday season in a wildfire of ideas, interviews, and connections that’s showing no signs of slowing down.
That’s why today, New Year’s Eve, hasn’t felt like the usual culmination of one year. To me, it feels like 2014 ended in June, those discouraging months long forgotten, and we’re already in the midst of what is sure to be the best and craziest year of our lives yet. Between tomorrow and the end of May, we’ll move out of our home and into an RV, get married, go on a three week backpacking trip around Europe, come back to the US and begin traveling full-time, all the while building and growing Travel Well. Crazy, no?
“2014 was an amazing year of realization. A vision came together, and our goal to make Travel Well Magazine has come to fruition. I can’t wait to start traveling full-time and building new relationships, both personal and business, along the way. Travel Well Magazine is growing into a real online community of travel and wellness enthusiasts and experts. Knowing I can take responsibility for that growth has been very rewarding and makes me want to continue to make it better all the time. Cheers to all our readers and, most importantly, to Alexa, my business partner and future wife who I could not do this without.”
Isn’t he just the best? He’s right: He couldn’t do it without me. And I couldn’t do it without him.
An end-of-year post wouldn’t be complete without a list, now, would it?
Most Popular Post: 10 Great Winter Beers
Allen’s Favorite Experience: Belgium Comes to Cooperstown: Beer Festival at Brewery Ommegang
Alexa’s Favorite Experience: Our stay at The Nantucket Inn & Resort
Favorite Photos: Left Behind: Waterfall Action Park in Rodanthe, NC
Best Off-the-Blog Moment: Allen’s reaction to his two best friends surprising him at the airport for his 30th birthday and subsequent surprise party 🙂
We are so thankful to everyone who has shared in our excitement, offered many words of encouragement, and helped get Fit Travels/Travel Well Magazine off the ground this year: family, friends, fellow professionals, and readers! All that has happened and all that’s to come in 2015 wouldn’t be possible without you, so thank you for coming along for the ride!