I remember the morning as if it was yesterday. I laid out my uniform perfectly pressed along the faded dark brown carpet of my bedroom floor. Top to bottom, I neatly lined every inch of the uniform down to the cleats as if awaiting some military soccer inspection from my grandfather. Unable to sleep, I stared at the ceiling of my room laced with glow-in-the-dark stars thinking about the game.
What would it be like?
How would I play?
What would I do with the ball when it was my chance? I closed my eyes.
Slowly blinking, 26 years later I found myself asking the stars the same questions. As I laid in the middle of nowhere and thousands of miles from any Major League Soccer team, I started to replay my story and retracing my steps. I reflected on how I ended up in this situation as most MLS teammates were ramping up for a hopeful long post-season run. However I realized I had run far enough and it was time to face the disappointment and move forward.
Not all professional athletes are fortunate enough to plan their exit. As premature as my unofficial exit seemed, I was reminded by former teammate and best friend, Corey Ashe, that there was something greater waiting for me that I couldn't quite see yet. I found myself lost and unmotivated as I was not training for a championship or a starting spot, but I knew I needed to stay fit. Therefore I started looking for workouts that didn't remind me of soccer. I tried anything and everything from rowing, swimming, yoga, pilates, bootcamps, CrossFit, boxing, MMA, and spin, but no matter how far I looked, I couldn't find the same soccer-fit body I once knew. I was underwhelmed by the workouts, instructors, music, and spaces. Perhaps, though, I was the wrong critic as I had been spoiled with the most beautiful facilities and top trainers in the world however I had developed high standards that I couldn’t come to lower.
I was fed up with it all therefore I began training on my own again. Shortly thereafter I was approached about training aspiring Houston Dynamo players which I gladly accepted. During these sessions, I noticed these players’ families were also very fitness-focused so I got a wild idea to incorporate these bystanders into the last part of the workout. It wasn't accepted at the start but soon it became a popular ordeal. There was something special about this that I couldn’t quite put my finger on yet.
Simultaneously I was approached to play in pick-up soccer games around town with friends with corporate jobs which I politely declined but offered to train the team instead. After one of my training sessions, we all huddled up and I asked for some feedback. What was said to me next kicked Sphere into play...
Regardless of the broken parachute MLS left me with after almost 9 years of service, I knew I wasn't getting any help from anyone and vowed to help my teammates and friends when they finished kicking balls however I could. Even with all the post-career planning and preparation, I now understood it was very arduous for any professional athlete to immediately replace the fire and passion that helped them ascend to the highest level with something else meaningful.
I missed the competition and being in the hunt for a championship.
I missed the ball and the daily grind.
And most notably, I missed the locker room. I missed my friends, the daily interaction over the music before training, and the post-session banter.
I started to reflect on this new playing field I was not accustomed to and realized group fitness classes were extremely popular and growing thanks to the (use-to-be) small company called SoulCycle. I found a lot of people were interested in boutique fitness concepts because they didn't know what to do when it came to working out and they wanted to be inspired. Particularly, the biggest thing I noticed was that people were looking for a community to be apart of. This was when I finally put together all the aspects of soccer and how applicable it was for group fitness.
And this is how Sphere got its first kick.
Introducing Sphere, the first soccer-inspired fitness concept that meets the needs for every player. Fitness enthusiasts don't need to be professional cyclists to take spin classes or be master yogis to power flow, therefore, likewise, our customers don’t need to be professional soccer players to come kick it. Sphere is designed to be an individually-focused but team-inspired workout. I've created four classes to cover all aspects of what it takes to be a complete player using only the ball to reach every players goal. I've opened up the locker room not only for my teammates but to my friends and community! I look forward to kicking it with you all.
- Chewy aka Michael Chabala