Continuing our Brockmann/Gaffney Week (or two days, anyway), today’s guest is MELANIE BROCKMANN GAFFNEY, sister of Jason Gaffney, daughter of Ed and Suzanne. Her topic is one of my all-time favorite things: BOOKS!
If you’re reading this, you’re probably into books.
You write them. Or you read them. Or you write about reading them.
I can relate. I, too, am a book-lover. I’ve also had the amazing opportunity to co-write two YA novels with my mom (who happens to be New York Times Bestselling author Suzanne Brockmann). Yeah. She rocks.
That being said, I do have a second job. I’m also a personal trainer.
Many argue that my two professions are complete polar opposites. But I can say that, while my author “hat” looks quite different than my trainer “hat”, the two job descriptions are the same in certain respects. As an example, I am required to effectively devise an outline for my training clients. I get paid the big bucks (or … er … the big-ish bucks) to successfully construct a pre-planned and effective sequence of workouts that will result in a happy end result. Similarly, when I write, I outline the plot lines of my stories so that I am aware of what needs to happen at the beginning, the middle, and the end. I like to think that I’m pretty good at carving out scenes … and carving out muscles.
Of course, my two worlds have intersected at times. The protagonist of my first novel Night Sky (aptly named Skylar) is able to run sub-5 minutes miles. (For all you non-runners out there, that’s really freaking fast.) Despite being such a brilliant, shining anomaly, Skylar doubts herself constantly. She’s plagued by self-doubt and insecurities. And it takes her a long time to recognize that her differences are what make her amazing. I live vicariously through my characters — unabashedly and often. It’s pretty thrilling to conjure up a collection of bad ass young men and women who are capable of extraordinary mental and physical feats. (There’s a reason why Skylar and her guru Dana are both identified as G-Ts … short for Greater-Thans.) I love being able to escape into a world of my own creation … a world where anything is possible. All I need to do is type those possibilities onto the page.
When I meet a new training client, I experience an emotion similar to when I begin a writing project. I’m thrilled to start a journey that I know will turn out both uniquely epic and deliciously authentic. But, as eager as I am to charge forward, it takes a certain discipline to step back and analyze the situation. I’ve learned the hard way, as a writer, that if I barrel through chapter one without a proper outline, I’ll inevitably lose steam by chapter two. I need to know where I’m taking the story. I need to know my characters, inside and out, before I’m able to channel their voices convincingly, and to mold them in truly three-dimensional ways. The same thing can be said for training! When I sit down and discuss fitness goals with a client who wants to lose thirty pounds, my first instinct is to drag her outside for sprint drills. But it’s my responsibility to take notes first. Does my client have joint issues? Heart disease? Oh. And, PS, is she scared shitless? I need to know all of this and more before I’m able to charge forward. Because anybody can write a Chapter One … or create a single workout. It’s the long-term plan before the short-term goal. And, since thinking so far into the future can be overwhelming for many, I take my information and formulate the plan — without my clients … or my characters … ever needing to know what happens next. All they need to do is show up. I’ll take care of the rest.
Of course, it’s not always smooth sailing. I’ve had moments of frustration … moments in which I’m not sure how to help a client of mine. I’ve also had moments of frustration in the world of writing. A conflict exists, and I’m paralyzed by the knowledge that, in order for my character to be believable, he needs to do something devastating so that the book can move forward. In both instances, I want to throw my hands up in the air and tell both client and character to solve it themselves. But it’s my job to problem-solve … and I’m not particularly good at quitting.
Life is all about overcoming. I keep this in my mind when I feel as though the challenges feel insurmountable. And I try my best to remind my training clients about this as well. After all, when it comes right down to it, they’re the ones putting in the foot work. I’m just telling them what to do. The crazy thing, though, is that the best training days often happen when the workout is perceived as intensely difficult or particularly demanding. There is such a positive outcome from having acknowledged the mountain, recognizing how gah damn high it is, and deciding to climb that thing anyway.
For me, a book often symbolizes the same climb. I have never yearned to write a story without some profound conflict — and resultant triumph. Even when a character falls flat on her face, there are powerful lessons to be learned. The journey is never linear. And thank goodness for that! No one wants to read about smooth sailing! The path of least resistance is a pretty boring one in the world of fiction. Readers want something way juicier than that!
I could go on and on about both of my jobs … After all, I’m intensely passionate about words and workouts…two worlds that, for me, collide often. But I know that, just like me, you’re busy with your own lives. I do hope, however, that this short message brings renewed enthusiasm to whatever it is that propels you forward. Read! Write! Run! Move your mind and move your body! And, whatever mountain you’re climbing, make sure you have an outline to get you to the top! Love, Mel
Melanie Brockmann Gaffney has been a personal trainer for eight years. Motivated to get back into shape after the birth of her now eight-year old son, Melanie realized the invaluable gift of health and, hoping to share this with others, quickly obtained a nationally accredited AFAA certification before beginning her fitness career.
An avid runner, Melanie has completed 6 half marathons and is now training for a full marathon at the beginning of this October. She also participated in a WBFF fitness competition in the spring of 2015. Melanie has worked with a variety of clients, from ages 7 to 93. Her training experience includes prenatal women, injured and post-rehab individuals, people looking to lose ten pounds … and people looking to lose one hundred pounds, recovered eating disordered individuals, elite athletes who are training for a specific event, and “mere mortals” who are training for life.
Melanie believes sincerely in honoring the unique needs, limitations, and goals of every client and devising an exercise and nutrition plan that will directly address those specific needs. She is available to train either on location or in-home, and trains either one-on-one or in small groups.
In addition to her day job as a personal trainer, Melanie has collaborated with her mother, SUZANNE BROCKMANN, on a series of YA books including NIGHT SKY, WILD SKY and DANGEROUS DESTINY, a prequel to NIGHT SKY. Melanie also stars in the upcoming film, RUSSIAN DOLL.
They could be hunting you.
Hunted. Kidnapped. Bled. Someone is snatching girls and draining them for a secret that’s in their blood. A hormone that makes them stronger, faster, smarter. A hormone that the makers of a new drug called Destiny will murder to get their hands on. These girls could be anyone. They could be anywhere.
They could be you.
When Skylar discovers she’s a Greater-Than, a girl with terrifying power, her life will never be the same. The only way to stay alive is to join the fight against Destiny and become the ultimate weapon.
- Handsome Hansel – Motivate Motivate Motivate
- Character Motivation Part Two—Discerning Motivation, Actions, Goals with Heather Webb
- Complacency – A Path Authors Should Never Tread with Handsome Hansel
- Ozone and Squelching Shoes: What Unexpected Thunderstorms Can Teach About Protecting the Work – Jan O’Hara
- If at First, You Don’t Succeed…by Anna Sugden