Award Winning Athlete Robert B. Foster: Rising Through Resilience; Five Things You Can Do To Become More Resilient
Assess your inner circle — Are the people closest to you actually deterring you or distracting you from reaching your potential? If not reaching your goals is causing you stress, lower self esteem, and effecting your confidence then you have to make a decision to distance yourself so you can focus on you. You only live once and you deserve to be the happiest and healthiest version of yourself.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Robert B. Foster.
Robert B. Foster has impacted countless lives with his story of going from a horrific knee injury at 34 and being told he would never run or jump again, to becoming a multiple time, and current, USATF Master’s Track and Field Champion, Obstacle Course Competitor, Transplant Games 6x Gold Medalist, to now speaking to thousands of people worldwide sharing his story of triumph against the odds. Over the last 11 years, he has used his voice to speak in schools, businesses, and organizations on subjects like finding purpose, overcoming the fear of failure, the art of perseverance, and social/emotional learning in schools. Just a few years ago, Robert was laying in the hospital very unsure of his future, and since, he has created a multiple six figure business and his influence has spread around the world. We look forward to bringing his passion to your school/organization to inspire the next generation to never give up on their dreams.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?
My pleasure! I’ve been a competitive athlete since I was a kid and the thrill of competition still pushes me to this day at 45! In 2009, during a track meet, I suffered a major knee injury as my patella tendon fully ruptured sending my knee cap into my thigh!
The ER doctor took one look and told me that I would never run or jump again! 😱 My world came crashing down when I heard those words as I just started my fitness business, had infant twin boys to go along with my 3 other kids and the thought of not being able to run around with them brought tears to my eyes!
Needless to say, I ignored that never and vowed to not only get back to full strength but to be stronger than ever! And I did 🙂
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
The most interesting thing is that business started in my garage just as something fun to do. I was a restaurant manager, working long hours, and I wanted to get back to my athletic roots. I had a large garage and I am not the handy type of man so I converted it into a gym. I scoured Craigslist for deals on gym equipment, then placed an ad to get a few people to train, the universe then cleared a path for me as I was fired from my management job! 11 years and thousands of clients later…here we are!
The biggest lesson is that you just have to get started. It doesn’t have to be state of the art and perfect right out of the gate. Many gyms close because they get into too much debt in the beginning. Focus on solving the needs of your clients and as you grow you slowly upgrade.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Any gym owner will tell you that their clients are like family but our community is unlike any other. The welcoming of everyone that walks through those doors is amazing to see, the way we support each other through thick and thin, I hold my clients to the highest level of accountability to where they will reach their goals or quit, no in between, and even once a client moves on they remain part of the family.
One of the woman just recently lost her brother unexpectedly and within hours the RBF family came together with an outpouring of love and a donation to help the family. One of us hurts, we ALL hurt!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Once I lost my management job things were very gray for a while. I am a 3 time college dropout so no marketing experience, no formal business training, but I had a strong vision for the impact that I could make in the fitness industry.
My father, who passed this past November, told me once to not aim to be the highest paid employee…be the one that pays the employees. ❤️ Through every day that I sat waiting for clients to come and none came, to watching the lights be turned off, to ruining my parents’ credit, but I never took my eye off of the prize. I knew that I was on to something big.
Without the support of my parents RBF Fitness would have never happened!
Where it all came together was in 2014. I applied for a scholarship to attend Fitness Business Summit in CA. To my amazement I won the scholarship and flew out to CA. That summit changed everything for me! How I viewed my own self worth, how I viewed taking care of my clients, and to create a community that is far greater than just a place for people to work out.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience?
What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people? I constantly use the GPS theory with my clients, with my 5 kids, and when I do public speaking. In order for a GPS to work you a starting point and a destination. The directions that it gives you is an example of resilience. If a road is closed it reroutes you, if there is traffic and a faster route is available it finds it, and it does whatever is necessary to get you to your destination.
Resilience, to me, means: What are you willing to endure to reach your end goal? On any journey there will be setbacks, injuries, family tragedies, and whatever else life can throw at you. Resilience is your ability to power through it.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
Michael Jordan! That man wanted to be a champion so badly and he wanted it in Chicago! He didn’t complain about how tough his competition was…he hit the gym and made HIMSELF tougher! He didn’t run out and join super teams to get his rings, he made the players around him become who they needed to be and internally made a dynasty with 2 separate 3 peats! He is the GOAT because of his resilience!
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
Back to my knee injury where I was told that I would never run or jump again. Since then I’ve completed:
- Over 130 obstacle course races
- 5 5k races
- 1 half marathon
- 1 30 mile spartan ultra
- Undefeated in the high jump, discus, 200m dash, and long jump since returning to the track in 2016
- 6 time gold medalist in the Transplant Games of America along with a silver and bronze
- Broke the 100m (40–44 age group) in the 100m at the TGA in 2018
- Current New England Master’s Champion (indoor and outdoor) in the HJ, LJ and Discus (outdoor)
- I’m the coolest Dad on earth according to my kids for overcoming the odds 🙂
- Will be representing Team USA at the 2021 World Transplant Games in Houston
- I’m STILL writing this list (once Covid-19 goes away!)
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
When I was still toying with the idea of pursuing fitness I was going to take a job with the YMCA to get an idea of how group fitness classes and personal training sessions look in that setting. As I was getting a tour of the building, we ran into the PT director. I was introduced as someone that is looking to become a trainer and without missing a beat he told me “Don’t do it, there’s no money in it.”
Needless to say, I never started that job because I was looking for inspiration and it was definitely not provided to me that day. The few clients that I had at the time were getting great results and we were connecting on a deeper level that meant way more to me than merely making money. I went on to open a five thousand square foot facility that made over 6 figures for 6 consecutive years and running!
Others don’t decide my outcome, I decide it!
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
I am the youngest of 7 competitive siblings! I was always referred to as someone’s little brother! That drove me insane! It pushed me to endure whatever was necessary to become Robert Foster and not so and so’s little brother! I dealt with having a small frame, a late growth spurt, constantly second guessed, to finally carving out my own path and becoming Robert Foster!
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
- The Pain Assessment — This is taking a no holds barred look at where you are currently. It works for anything whether fitness, business, personal, or relationship the pain assessment is the first step in getting what you want out of life.
- Eliminate all excuses — Before you even start on your journey it’s imperative to write down everything that has held you back in the past! This way you can stay ahead of what life will throw you and plan for when it arrives. Think of Bunny Rabbit owning Papa Doc in the final battle of 8mile! Take out the excuses in the beginning and they can’t drag you down later on.
- Create clear and specific goals — Don’t just say I want to lose weight and tone up. Say I will (not want to) lose 15 pounds, gain 2 inches in my biceps/triceps, want to shrink my waist by 4 inches, run a mile in under 10 minutes, and finally get back into the clothes in my closet! The more specific/measureable the goals are, the more seriously they will be taken.
- Assess your inner circle — Are the people closest to you actually deterring you or distracting you from reaching your potential? If not reaching your goals is causing you stress, lower self esteem, and effecting your confidence then you have to make a decision to distance yourself so you can focus on you. You only live once and you deserve to be the happiest and healthiest version of yourself.
- Perseverance — The very definition of resilience! Don’t stop until you get your desired result. Period!
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I posted a photo of me jumping over a 36 inch plyo box at my gym. I added the caption: “They said he’d never run or jump again but he ignored the never” from there I started adding #ignorethenever to my FB and IG posts. I am now using this hashtag when speaking to inner city youth that have been brainwashed for generations thinking that they will never reach the heights that those in the suburban or rural areas can reach. With BLM making headlines worldwide, now is the time to inspire those teens to #ignorethenever to make Black Lives Better!
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
Michael Jordan! I’d love to sit and talk with him and soak up his will to win. I’m competitive and driven to see firsthand how he operates on HIS level would be truly amazing!
How can our readers follow you on social media? www.facebook.com/robertbfoster
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Award Winning Athlete Robert B Foster: Rising Through Resilience; Five Things You Can Do To Become was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.