Costume Change

Bruce Coltin
Published on: 27th December 2013

I spent two and a half decades wearing a certain suit. For nearly all of that time, I was quite confident that it fit me to a tee. So, what do you do? That is the question that you get from strangers that either begins a conversation or changes the subject. I am in the trade show business usually triggered the latter, since most strangers had no idea what that meant nor did they care to find out.

When a stranger would express an interest in what I did and why I did it, I likened the job of running trade shows and events to being in the carnival business. You go to different cities. You take a big empty space and you fill it with attractions and booths. People sell. People perform. People buy. Then it closes and you take the trade show or the carnival to the next town.

It did fit me to a tee. Some shows were great because they drew big crowds. Some were dreadful because they drew tiny crowds. Most were simply middle of the road but I almost always believed that I would eventually find the key that would make them great.
Over the years I worked with quite a few others who entered the business after I did. Most of them did not enjoy it, and they left. But I was somehow suited for it - the highs and lows and all those in-betweens. It often seemed (falsely) that customers either loved us or hated us. You had to find ways to make that balance work in your favor, which I somehow was able to do.

When you have a perfect fit that lasts for almost two and a half decades, you probably do not consider that there might be an expiration date. But, for me, there was.

Now, the suit that I wore for two and a half decades hangs in my closet. I wear a t-shirt and workout pants. I became a personal and group trainer, and kettlebell instructor. My favorite clients are optimistic men and women in their 50s, 60s, and 70s who are hopeful that they can get strong in spite of their injuries, surgeries, and health problems.

One client, in his 60s, has Parkinson's disease, forcing him to deal with unnerving tremors that begin in his left hand and work their way up his arm. The tremors quiet down when his hand grips an object. When he completes a vigorous routine with his hands gripping the handle of a heavy kettlebell, he is tired, relaxed, and happy with the feeling that he is getting stronger, in spite of the beast which inhabits his body.

Observing such results has helped me grow comfortable in my new suit.
On a scale of 1-10, how inspiring did you find this article?