Since 1992, fitness trainer Dominic "Dom" Novak has put hundreds of clients through his four-week boot camp at his Peak Physique gym on Holly Hill Lane. And, like many of his clients, he found himself in excellent physical shape.
But something was missing.
With his gym humming successfully, his wife as part of his team and two happy, healthy young daughters, Novak, 48, was on a roll -- but the stress and anxiety were building up. "It's what happens to many people in my age bracket when you're married and have kids. Your life starts accelerating," Novak says. "We live in the times when it's all about 24/7. We all suffer from some level of fear, worry, stress and anxiety as I did my whole life."
Novak was poised, he says, to go the way of others he knows. "I was going to go on medication or go to someone for my stress," he says. Instead, however, he put himself through his own sort of boot camp -- a self-revelatory exercise that has changed his life. It was 178 weeks ago when he made a spiritual connection.
"I heard something my dad had said to me early on in my life," Novak says. "He'd grown up in an orphanage with religion and going to church. He said to me, `Son, God will always be there for you.' I turned to those words at the height of my stress, and I asked for God's help. I put myself in prayer the next day," Novak says. "I learned how to do diaphragmatic breathing. I learned how to meditate and to relax the stress. I read scripture, and then I began to declare who I would become."
There were three things he wanted to achieve, he says: "A personal relationship with God; to strengthen my character so I could withstand any obstacle that came my way and I wanted balance in my life." He wanted to be "a great dad, husband, trainer, motivator, author and mentor. "I wanted to try to be excellent in all aspects of life," he says.
He also wanted to share his experience, so he started writing.
"In 178 weeks, I wrote about how to combat stress and worry," he says.
The result of that writing is two new books from Novak, "H.E.A.L." (Author House, $23.99), which stands for Heal, Empower, Achieve and Learn, Live and Leave a Legacy" and "Empower30: The power is in you!" (which will be published in January).
"These books, have given me the opportunity to explore being a father and a good husband, " says Novak. "I have more balance in my life and much more focus. Before that, I couldn't get out of my own way. I've learned how important quiet time and prayer is on a daily basis. I'm stronger than I've ever been in my life. I'm a different person."
The book is targeted to 30- to 50-year-olds, to challenge readers to have an introspective view of their lives and how they can improve upon them.
He describes the four-week program detailed in his books as a continuum, "of repent, renew, reinvigorate, rejoice, strength, courage, calmness, peace." "To go through that continuum, you have to go through the steps to peace," he says. He adds, "I think people would sacrifice a little less money to have peace in their life, and I have found it."
The first book, "H.E.A.L.," he describes as autobiographical. "It's about learning about myself, what my weaknesses were and coming up with solutions to those weaknesses with prayer and meditations and self-declarations as catalysts to the solutions. I state how I am so people can identify with me," he says.
"H.E.A.L. helps us develop a tremendous de-stressing technique with diaphragm breathing to allow us to not let stress permeate our being (and keeps us youthful in appearance as we age); it allows us to develop our inner character to withstand any obstacles that come our way and develops our faith in God and our belief in our self."
"Empower30," he says, is "all about understanding the powers in us."
"We have the power in us to live the life we want to live." He describes "Empower30" as a boot camp. "It's a practical step-by-step application with daily discipline to strengthen the mind, body and spirit."
Novak begins his boot camp primer with counsel on nutrition; he professes "frequency of meals and low volume of food," with an accent on protein. "Your body gets energy from protein," he says.
Novak is aware of the misconceptions people have about getting fit. "People want a start and finish to fitness," he says. "But whenever you do that, it's going to be incomplete. Fitness is about the ongoing discipline you provide and what you'll get out of it. Creating that discipline and sustaining it is a continuum."
Dominic Novak will speak about his book "H.E.A.L." at Greenwich Library on Dec. 11 from 7 to 8 p.m., and on Dec. 15 at the Fairway Market in Stamford from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, visit www.peakphysique.biz, call 203-625-9595 or email DN565@aol.com.