How a D3 National Champion in the High Jump Ran Off The Pre-Med Track To Build His Own Training Business

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Almost every Tufts athlete approaches their experience understanding that the NFL or NBA are not likely destinations for them. While there are some exceptions, the vast majority of D3 athletes are focused on various professional fields; some may try to stay in the sports field, but most will explore other arenas to transition to. And while most don’t stay in sports, is that reason not to keep that door open?

Recent grad, Stefan Duvivier ‘18, would argue no. Originally from Florida, Stefan - a two sport athlete at Tufts, moved to New York after college to coach Track for Columbia as well as Tufts (remotely) while training multiple clients in the Northeast. Before leaving Tufts he asked himself some tough questions about where his passion really was. Once he found the answer, he knew staying in sports would energize him more than his original pre-med plans. In this interview he talks about chasing personal growth above all else and what its like leaving stability top pursue his dreams.

You were originally pre-med. Why did you decide against going that route?

To be completely honest, I was originally interested in pre-med because of the money. Growing up, I learned to value financial stability and knew that if I became a doctor, I would be in a great position to pay off my student loans and eventually earn a good living for myself. I soon realized that my interest in money was not enough to become a source of passion. My interest lied in sports and my original major in biology planted the seeds for interest in optimizing physical movement. I caught myself talking to my schools athletic trainers and discussing aspects of the human body that I was absolutely fascinated with. It wasn’t long before I realized the flaws of traditional training. After conducting my own research it became clear that mastering the fundamental movement patterns are key to moving optimally. By being honest with myself about what I was passionate about, I was able to create a better understanding of what I wanted to do with my future.

How do you decide on what would be your top priority?

During my time at Tufts, it was really difficult to decide what was most important to my life. The more I focused on studying, the less I spent time with my friends. The more time I spent working in the gym, the less time I had to explore extra-curricular activities. Around junior or senior year, I realized that your priorities are defined by your values. You have to figure out what you value the most in your life and your top priority becomes pretty clear. For me, working on personal growth rather than just doing mundane work is my top priority. I believe that you have to prioritize personal growth over everything, or you just got stagnate.  

Why did you decide to move to NYC after Tufts?

NYC is the mecca is everything. There is a concentration of opportunity and as a person interested in entrepreneurship I wanted to be in a place where I would have the best chance to succeed. There are so many people here to network with. My current gym is just filled with successful people and I feel like it wouldn't happen in just any state. Last month, I got invited to a casual basketball game and ran into a lawyer who didn’t really know anyone playing either. We naturally gravitated toward each other and he later invited him to the office. He connected me to a list of a bunch of trainers that are his clients and even offered to have me lead a healthy networking event where one trainer leads a workout and everyone hangs out after. If I prioritized family and friends higher, I would've been in Florida back at home. But right now, I am most focused on personal growth and putting myself in the best position to succeed. 

Tell us about your business. What is the vision for your company? 

I have three main goals when it comes to my mode of training:

  1. eliminate pain and prevent it from occurring in the future

  2. improve performance, whether in the weightroom, sport, or occupation

  3. increase longevity and well being

One big problem is that most coaches use outdated training methods and fail to account for the fact that each athlete is at a different place in terms of the way they move. I take an individualized approach with my athletes and clients to ensure that they are training in the most efficient way possible

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What’s the biggest reason you think people don’t see the results they want from their training?

Poor execution. You can have the best programming in the world, tailored to you in every aspect, but if you fail to perform all the correct movements, it won’t do you any good and will even be detrimental to your progress. Relearning and perfecting the fundamental movement patterns will accelerate your gains like crazy, no matter your goals.

How you are using your experience as a student-athlete to drive success for your business?

I’m not sure I would be as driven as I am today if it wasn’t for my history as a student-athlete. In track, you learn how to become more self-motivated, since you basically have to compete for yourself. You can make an argument for track being a team sport, but at the end of the day, you have to motivate yourself because in every event it is all on you. Collegiate sports also taught me a lot about the importance of following your interests. People forget that you can monetize anything, so why not follow your interests and make money doing something you love. We are lucky enough to have social media and the internet to make it easy for us to reach out to a large market of people, it is on you to grind and make a living for yourself in a way that you can be proud of 

Being less than a year out of school, describe what it takes to be young and build a business.

It’s definitely a challenge. The biggest difficulty is managing my time between growing my business of training clients in-person/online, coaching for two teams, training for my own personal goals of making the Canadian National Team, and having a social life outside of work. This has been one of the most difficult challenges in my life since my time as a student-athlete at Tufts. I quickly learned that I had to figure out the balance for myself because none of my friends or family could figure it out for me. The balance has been hard to achieve but I find solace in determining what is important in my life and prioritizing my time to focus on what is important. It is all about prioritizing.

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You mentioned prioritizing growth earlier. What are you working on to focus on your own personal growth?

Carrying a ‘next-move’ mentality while remembering to live in the present and enjoy myself. This is a really difficult dynamic since the more you focus on your ‘next-move’ the easier it is to lose track of the present and actually celebrating the small victories. I have been so preoccupied with putting myself in the best position to succeed going forward that it takes a lot of effort to let loose and enjoy the present. When I do take the time to unwind, it helps me feel energized and sets me up to be more productive. It is dangerously easy to just get burned-out when you set your own schedule. I’m sure that many student-athletes forget how much a small break can benefit our health. At the end of the day, we put our mind and body under constant stress. I think it is only fair to give ourselves a break in order to recover. 

Three words that describe your life after college:

‘Mindset Is Key’. If you think about any goal athletically, academically, or professionally, the necessary changes you would have to make in order to achieve those goals all originate from a positive mindset change. Your mindset drives your actions. A big part of my mindset is to never be content and to always crave a better life for myself. When I look back on my failures and successes as a student-athlete at Tufts, I remember the mindset I had in those moments. I have never been able to perform to my complete potential while doubting myself. If you have the mindset that you are going to achieve your goals then that is one less obstacle in your way.

What advice would you give to yourself this time last year?

Really focus on the things that matter. There are so many things in college that are only going to exist in college. Those nights in the pub are fun, but do you really have to go to every single one? If I spent more time thinking about the things that matter, I could better define what I want to do in my future. This might be common sense but, you only have a fixed amount of brain energy. If you use it on things that don't matter, then there is less energy to be used on the things that matter. Most importantly, you need to be invested in everything you choose to devote time to or else you are not going to enjoy your life. When we like the stuff we do, we do it better. The work you do in a 9-5 is not going to be for yourself and won’t be as rewarding. Work will be much more rewarding when you are doing things that you genuinely care about.

How can people find out more about your work or connect with you?

For anyone interested in contacting, you can find me on instagram @airduvi or at my website: stefanduvivier.com.