I’m very sad as I write this but I felt the need to share this with you, because he would have wanted me to. My greatest business mentor, friend and hero of mine Claude Dagenais just passed away. He was the person that made me start Free Form Fitness. I say “made” because that’s pretty much what he did. When I was 19 years old I started training Claude.
When I first started training him, his demeanor reminded me of Donald Trump. He was a wealthy home builder, tough as nails and understood business and how to get things done. He was a strong character and “hard headed” about his morals and ethics. But under all that toughness was one of the most caring people I had met. A gentle giant for the people he felt deserved it.
Claude would ask me what my dreams were and what my next step was to get there. When I told him I would like to open a gym one day, he asked me for a specific date because he said “nothing ever gets done if there’s no deadline to it.”
While my job was to hold him accountable of his exercise and nutrition he couldn’t help but help a young guy accomplish his dreams. He taught me that if you want something you need to go for it. Forget the rules of life and just do it. He explained to me that following what everyone else is doing isn’t going to get me where I want to be. His wisdom has carried on with me ever since.
When I finally opened Free Form, he was the first one to join up and support me and Chelsea even though my club was about 30 minutes away and very inconvenient for him to get to. Eventually he stopped and we lost touch a little bit. But I always knew that we didn’t need to see each other often to still be friends, Claude was a friend for life the type of guy that I knew would always be there for me no matter what. I even had an interview in the Ottawa business journal where I thanked Claude for having such an impact on me. When I called him to tell him to pick up a paper he said no and forced me to get to the point and after I read what it said, he said “that’s nice” and that was it, like he had done it one hundred percent in the benefit of helping me. He was the real deal.
But there was a flaw in all this business drive, about a year ago he called me and asked to go for lunch. When we talked I could sense there was something wrong. My great friend and mentor was starting to feel the effects of stress and for him to meet with me over it, I knew it had to be really bad. I tried to tell him that he needed to relax have fun and that health should now be his priority not his business.
I tried calling him one time after that to follow up but he told me he was too busy to meet up. A have not talk to him since and now I hear the news that he died of a heart attack at age 48. If Claude could talk right now, I’m sure he would analyze the situation and pass on this lesson to me too;
Business and money is great as long as you can take care of your health.
I’m going to miss you buddy!