Just before COVID hit in 2020, Sara Hammoudeh lost her mom unexpectedly to a heart attack.
Through her grief, Sara started asking herself some hard questions about what she wanted to do with her own life.
“My mom didn’t have the best lifestyle, and I thought about all the people I have lost in my life because of drugs and alcohol, and it spurred me on to want to help people. I had just gotten into lockdown and I was like, ‘You need to do something,’” Sara said.
An avid CrossFit athlete at the time, who worked in marketing and design, Sara decided to sign up for the OPEX CCP and become a professional coach.
Sara dove right in, committed herself 100 percent to the course, and was surprised how much she started to uncover about herself in the process.
“So much of coaching is about behavior change, and it starts with yourself first. I was going through a lot of grief at the time, so the exercise was like therapy, but I also learned about how things I was doing were impacting my life and my relationships in other ways,” she said.
“That’s one thing that the CCP really hammered in, that you have to take care of yourself first before you can look after someone else.”
One of the lessons she learned was about how her perfectionist tendencies had been holding her back. In fact, a rowing interval workout helped her come to this realization.
“In the past, let’s say I was trying to hold a 2:03 (split time). If I couldn't hold exactly 2:03 the whole time, I would have wanted to back down. But I realized, ‘It’s OK. You can’t always be perfect,’” she said. Most importantly, Sara realized this ‘be perfect or don’t do it at all’ attitude was a “pattern in my life,” she said, a pattern that had been holding her back in many ways.
Lessons like this helped Sara, not only understand herself better, but also help her understand her clients better, she explained.
“People are really different, so it's about understanding people and what works with different people. I am still very much learning, but I have (already) learned so much,” said Sara, who started working with her first clients in her garden while she was going through the CCP.
“I’m a professional coach. I’m well on my way,” Sara said.
Since taking on her first client during the CCP, Sara has consistently been growing her book of individual design and personal training clients and is about to open her own studio, the eventual plan being to turn it into an OPEX-licensed gym one day.
"I didn't quite believe it would take off as much as it did, but it has,” she said.
Two big keys to her success have been practicing what she preaches—she hired OPEX Big Dawgs coach Sam Smith seven months ago, who has been designing her program—and simply being as genuine as possible with her clients, she explained.
“I started with one client and gave the best service I possibly could and it (quickly) grew to 11 clients,” she said, adding that it took her just six months to pay off her CCP payment.
More than anything, though, Sara credits all she learned in the CCP with providing her the tools necessary to be successful in real life.
The OPEX lifestyle consults have been the perfect way to really get to know her clients so that she can cater to their individualities, she explained. Recently, for example, she started working with an English Literature major who loves to read.
“So I have been suggesting books for her to read, whereas with other people I might suggest a podcast. It's about figuring out how to best communicate and get through to different people," Sara said. “I think sometimes in the UK, people are so shocked at first that you sit down with them and talk about their lifestyle. I ask all these questions, but in the end it creates such a lovely relationship and trust between you and the client.”
And on a business side, it has provided her a “road map” to help her figure out how to acquire new clients, how to think about the customer journey, and “how to separate yourself from the market that is so saturated. It has really helped me find my niche,” she explained.
“Grief can take you in one of two ways. You can go the wrong way or you can thrive, and I think that’s what OPEX has done for me. It has been a godsend. I live and breathe everything OPEX. I’m stronger because of it, not just physically but mentally. It has absolutely massively changed my life.”
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