Thoughts of a special friend, Jeff Littman

While out training this AM, I couldn’t help to see the movie in my mind of all the ways Jeff touched my life.

14 years ago I walked into his club in Grafton. I was just a horse back rider, burned out of competition and struggling to find myself. As I walked in the doors I saw Jeff. Huge smile, tight spandex skin suit, and neon yellow shoes. Yes, I had a moment of second thoughts, but I took the chance. I told Jeff I was lost. Burned out of horses, struggling to maintain my health, and unsure of what direction I wanted to go. He smiled and said, “no worries”. I joined as a member, Jeff was my trainer, and before long I was on a spin bike taking one of his classes. Every time I worked with Jeff, I felt like someone special. He was patient, motivating, had a way of making me feel important. Weeks later I started to work for Jeff. He taught me what being a personal trainer was all about; making people feel important. Jeff became my coach, I became his student. He guided my every step and I listened and absorbed his knowledge. Jeff’s smile was contagious even when I was working so hard and/or so frustrated I couldn’t speak. He would just smile and that smile gave me the strength and determination to get the job done.

Soon I was teaching the spin classes he once taught. Helping members better their health and motivating them in the same way Jeff motivated and inspired me. Jeff would frequently tell me, ” stay with it, you are good at this”. I worked for Jeff for close to 6 years. Jeff introduced me to what I am today, a personal trainer but on top of that.. I strive to be the person he was to me; a motivator, an inspiration, and someone with compassion beyond words.

As time progressed Jeff introduced me to endurance training (cycling). Jeff built my first bike and was possibly just as excited about it as I was. It was red and white 😉 Jeff encouraged every mile that I covered, he would work with me weekly on strength, and answered every question I asked.

Jeff’s AM phone calls at the club’s each morning made my day. Hearing his voice and encouragement for a successful day reminded me of his determination and dedication to his lifestyle. No person worked with more determination.

In 2000 when I was hit by a car cycling, Jeff was there to visit. I will never forget him telling me, standing next to the hospital bed, “you gotta get back on the bike”. Jeff never let adversity dictate his dreams. He taught me perseverance! A lesson I have used and helped others utilize because of what Jeff taught me.

A short time ago, Jeff said to me. I have never been in a happier place. Jeff’s beautiful wife, Kelly, made Jeff’s life complete. There was a new sparkle in his eyes and I will never forget the bike race when I was introduced to Kelly. Jeff appeared to be floating on the cloud of happiness. Kelly enriched Jeff’s life with her love for him and her family shared with him. Kelly’s love for Jeff and Jeff’s love for Kelly was really special to witness having known Jeff for 14 years.

Because of Jeff, I found what I was created to do; motivate, inspire, educate, and help others enhance their health and fitness. All that starting at a place called Wisconsin Health and Fitness Center during a time in life where I was a lost individual but found by a special person.

Jeff now rides his bike with skin suit and bright yellow shoes, and the “Jeff smile” that was always there to greet and inspire! Jeff is now in the hands of the Lord, forever safe riding his bike. Love you Jeff!

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4 thoughts on “Thoughts of a special friend, Jeff Littman

  1. Cristin,
    Thank you for sharing your story of Jeff. I only knew him in passing but it’s memories like yours (and those of countless others) that convince me to put aside my current fear and get out there again. Also, thank you for highlighting his influence as a trainer. I’m a fellow spin instructor and your story reminds me to appreciate every time and make a true connection with those who care to show up week after week.
    My sincere condolences on your loss of a true friend,
    Tom

  2. Cristin,
    Your story is much like mine, although I didn’t become a trainer, but the way Jeff greeted me and encouraged me day in and out was the same. I lost over 80 pounds with encourangement and I was happy he trained you to help train me! He was the safest biker on the road I knew, so I was shocked when I was reading news of home of his passing. I live in Columbus Ohio now but I still to this day remember Jeff’s style (yes those yellow shoes!) and I’m thankful of how he and others played a role in getting me healthy and fit. He will be missed by those he touched and those who remain can hopefully remember and continue in our passions like Jeff did. I’m so sorry for all who morn those and pray for you. Susan

  3. Cristin,
    Just talked to your Mom tonight and learned of the loss of your long time friend and mentor. What a sad story and a tough couple of days for you…and they will be in the weeks and months ahead.
    Your blog is remarkable and it’s always good to put ones thoughts on paper. You have been given much by connecting with a guy such as inspiring as Jeff, so the best is yet to come in passing on his legacy and inspiration to others. Look how he inpired you, Cristin… I do believe life is about relationships and connections and few people receive such an amazing gift as you have had with Jeff. He would want you to pass it on. I believe that’s the purpose.
    Take care of yourself, cherish the friendship you’ve had and I hope we get to see you over the Christmastime holiday.

    A prayer for your peace in all of this.
    Love, Jan and DJ too.

  4. Although I didn’t ever really know Jeff, I remember him well. I too strolled into Wisconsin Health and Fitness in Grafton feeling a bit lost. That was in 1998. My membership there got me started on this lifelong journey of fitness. When Jeff opened a club in Bay View, I started going there as my life moved from the northshore to the city. Today, I teach Spinning classes at what is now Bay View Fitness. So even though I didn’t know Jeff personally, he certainly had an impact on my life. And I’m so sorry for your loss.

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