My Gym Owner Parachutes into Geist
It’s a story I wasn’t expecting, but sitting at Mama Bear’s with Joe Trainor, Jr. (My Gym, Fishers) across from me, it unfolded . . .
Imagine flying in the dark in the belly of an airplane knowing full well that what lies beneath you are individuals waiting in the rugged terrain who know you are coming and who have taken an oath to kill you. Imagine the feeling of jumping out of that plane into that blackness with an 80-pound rucksack attached to a parachute harness strapped to your body. The hot wind takes your breath away as the hard ground quickly comes up to meet you. You land. Hard, off balance. Your body is slammed into the cement-like packed sand and your shoulder takes the severe blunt of the fall. Pain, unbelievable pain tears through your whole body. You struggle to disengage yourself from what seems like miles of string and equipment all entangled around you. You’re sweating profusely and the thirst for just a drop of water rages in your mouth.
A voice in your head kicks in telling you to calm down. Breathe, use your strength to roll over. Access the situation, figure your odds. Lying there, looking up into the sky as you drift deeper into the shock of injury, your eyes focus on stick figures attached to what looks like open umbrellas with strings attached to their narrow bodies. They’re floating down in a kind of slow motion, visible now within the light of the moon, peeking in and out between the midnight clouds . . . It’s an odd, but beautiful sight, and if death would lie down beside you in the next few moments, so be it. The one thought that fills your mind as you drift away is: I am a Ranger, and whatever it takes to survive, I’ll do. No matter what.
When you learn what Rangers are all about, it’s not hard to imagine that against all odds, you would survive this night and this difficult injury, and in a matter of months, volunteer to do it all over again. Imagine that! This is a true story. It’s just part of the amazing journey that fills the resume pages of one Joseph Edward Trainor, Jr.
He comes from an impressive family. He was born in Fairfax, Virginia and moved to Pittsburgh when he was eight years old. His father, Joseph Trainor, Sr., was deputy director of the United States Secret Service. He served in this position for 28 years before retiring to become the co-founder/vice president of U.S. Wind Force, LLC.
His sister, Jessica, attends Boston College and is studying opera as a music major. She has already performed at the Vatican for the Pope. His stepbrother, Jeremiah Henderson, serves with the United States Special Forces, 7th Division group out of Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.
In his junior year of high school (1998), Joe had made up his mind to join the Army. He wanted to be a Ranger. This was one of many goals. He ended up in Special Operations as a U.S. Army Ranger stationed with “C” Company, 3rd Ranger Battalion at Ft. Benning, Georgia. I asked Joe why becoming a Ranger was so important to him.
“My father is my idol. I so admired everything about him. I wanted to push myself to be strong, to stand for the same principles in life that he presented to his family every step of the way as we were growing up. I felt if I could make it through the rugged training and sacrifice it takes to become an Army Ranger, I would be prepared for anything,” he answered shyly. “I also felt it might help me figure out what I wanted to do with my life.”
When a 60 percent disability ended his career in the Army in 2002 from his two tours in Afghanistan, Joe reached out to another Ranger buddy living in Peru, Indiana.
“He told me he was going to go to college at Indiana University in a town called Bloomington in southern Indiana. I told him I didn’t think I could pass the entrance requirements because my grades weren’t what they should have been in high school. He told me to get in my car and talk my way in,” he states with a broad smile, blue eyes twinkling with the memory of what his buddy had said.
He packed his bags and drove straight to the dean’s office from Georgia. “Life sometimes gives you help with a little bit of luck. When I stood at the gatekeeper’s desk and asked to see the dean, she asked if I had an appointment. I didn’t. She said no. That didn’t stop me. I asked to see the assistant dean; she again said no, but just then, a man walked up beside me and it was the assistant dean. He said he had a few moments. I gave it my all. I asked for a chance to prove that I had what it took to be a student, a good student. I knew my high school records wouldn’t reflect that, but that my time spent in the Army as a Ranger would. All I wanted was a second chance.”
The assistant dean gave Joe that chance. Two months later, he was a freshman at Indiana University. His major was that of a Fitness Specialist. In his senior year, Joe felt the need to take a leave from school to form an Internet company called Success After Service. It was designed to help other veterans locate important information needed to travel the huge maze of Army red tape for benefits. It was a great idea, but not all great ideas end up successful in play. Some people may not want to share their failures, but Joe isn’t one of those people.
“I failed miserably with this venture, but it was a solid learning experience, which followed along the guidelines of an old saying, ‘I would rather try and fail than never try at all,’” he adds with a bit of first-hand experience present on his face. “When this went down, I had spent most of my savings. I ended up getting a job in Indianapolis at the zoo as a night watchman. I was spent and felt as if I had fallen down from everything I wanted to accomplish in life. During a shift break, I once again looked up at the dark sky and realized that falling down doesn’t mean you can’t get up again,” he adds.
A hail storm that hit in downtown Indianapolis put him up on his feet once again. He got a new job with a company that specialized in storm restoration, and learned everything he could from the bottom up. When Hurricane Katrina hit, Joe formed a new company specializing in commercial and residential real estate restoration, and headed out to do what he could to help restore the city. The company flourished, and when he least expected it, another business opportunity landed in his lap which led to the purchase of My Gym Children’s Fitness Center on February 9, 2009 with good friend, Kendall Robinson.
“It was a dream come true for me because of my own interest in physical fitness and my love of kids and family. Sometimes a person’s destiny takes a lot of twists and turns. Every time I look up at the sky now, I think that I’ve landed on my feet and how lucky I am to have all that I have . . .”
There’s more to this story, but for now, I consider myself lucky to have shared a cup of coffee and listened to a story told by a 28-year-old man who has experienced so much in such a short time. All I asked of Joe was to promise me to never again leap out of a perfectly good airplane.