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If you’re a wrestling fan, you might recognize Michael Hutter, also known by his wrestling name, Ethan Carter III, or EC3. He’s a two-time heavyweight champion wrestler, formerly of Impact Federation, who recently reached an exciting milestone in his career: signing with WWE for a second time. Samantha Shorkey is a vegan fitness personality, World Naturals Bikini Pro and author of Jacked on the Beanstalk: Plant-based Fuel for Vegan Athletes. She also hosts a podcast of the same name with her sister, Sarah.

The story of how these two strangers crossed paths shows how working hard to follow your passion can create the perfect conditions for romance. Here’s how they did it:

Step 1: Find your first love and pursue it with unwavering determination

Samantha Shorkey wasn’t always a “vegan meathead”. In fact, she fell into the fitness world after a toxic relationship ended and left her looking for ways to cope with stress and heartache. “I bought myself a whole weight bench and dumbbell set off of Craigslist and every time I got upset, I would bawl my eyes and hammer the weights in my tiny bachelor apartment as hard and heavy as I could.”

Working out made her feel good and helped her get out of her rut. Soon, she found herself entering fitness competitions, which was not where one would typically find a vegan. It turned out that she was pretty good at it and won several competitions, even when competing as the only vegan against all meat eaters. Sam eventually became the first-ever vegan world naturals bikini pro, then completed her personal training certification so she could train other vegans. One of her clients entered Bodybuilding.com’s $200,000 12-Week Transformation Challenge in 2015 and won, beating out 345,000 people worldwide. “After that happened, I knew that I had truly found my calling.”

Michael’s path was a little different. He had always been a big wrestling fan as a kid and his dreams of becoming a pro wrestler one day never left him, “as most obscure childhood fascinations should.” He was determined to make his dreams reality and pushed through the failures, injuries, setbacks and constant inner questioning of his life decisions. He persevered, took risks, and thrived on the constant challenge to make himself better so he could achieve his childhood goals, which he did, and then some.

 

Step 2: Follow your passion wherever it takes you

Finding and following your passion in life can take you to exciting places, connect you with people on complementary paths, and improve your chances of finding your equal… not necessarily someone who ‘completes’ you but someone who understands you.

For Sam and Michael, that place was a gym in Ottawa called Anytime Fitness, where Sam was training a client, and Michael was having a quick workout before attending to his wrestling commitments in town.

“This is going to sound so cheesy but I know it was fate when I saw him that day. I was meeting my regular 9:30am client, and the second I walked into the gym, I didn’t notice anyone or anything but the perfectly sculpted, sexy beast of a man who literally looked like he’d been made in a “Ken Doll” factory walking on the treadmill.”

Michael had never intended to be at that gym in the first place. “The hotel gym was closed and my friend brought me to the wrong gym on top of that. Then an attractive, intriguing woman walked by me and paid me no mind as she yelled at her client to do jump squats. It was happenstance defined.” He was so taken by the mysterious stranger he saw at the gym that he even spoke about her in a wrestling interview before the two had a chance to officially meet. Watch it below at 1:32:

After Michael had left the gym, Sam immediately looked up the mystery hunk on the member check-in system and discovered he was a famous wrestler from Florida. Then she remembered that a vegan wrestler friend mentioned that she was coming to Ottawa for work. Sam texted her friend and asked if she knew Michael.

“I’m in the car with him right now,” her friend responded.

“Well you tell him I’m the trainer at the gym he was just at and I think he’s the hottest man on Earth,” Sam texted back. Michael added her on Instagram and the rest is history.

 

Step 3: Don’t forget about the power of setting intentions in all areas of your life

Visualizing what you want out of life is a powerful way to set intentions and follow those intentions wholeheartedly. You can set intentions about how you want to feel, what you want to accomplish professionally, and the people you want in your life.

Sam recently discovered that she had been visualizing her goals since she was a child. Her mom found an old drawing Sam had done when she was just 7 years old. It depicted herself next to a very large man with rippling muscles. Perhaps she had always known that pumping iron was in her future, just like Michael knew from a young age that he wanted to be a famous wrestler.

“When I look at this drawing I did at such a young age, I’m reminded of how I was meant to be exactly who I am.”

The practice of setting intentions stayed with Sam and may have had a hand in her crossing paths with Michael. “Probably for one year before I met Michael, I started reciting daily intentions as part of my morning meditation practice. Part of that was asking myself how I wanted to feel that day and how I was going to get there. Often, one of my intentions would be developing relationships with people who I’m emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically compatible with.”

Step 5: Keep your eyes on the prize

Butterflies and cute dates can be so exciting that focusing on other areas of your life can become difficult—at least in the beginning. But when you meet someone who is on a similar path, it’s easier to keep your sights firmly fixed on your goals because you can support one another in pursuing them. Perhaps this is why the sparks were so intense between Sam and Michael.

Their first date happened over coffee at Whole Foods. “I had about 30 minutes to spare and the conversation was so engrossing I stayed an hour longer,” Michael remembers. That night Sam got a text from Michael: “Hey, I realize you might be sick of me for one day, but I’m almost done this wrestling show and was wondering if you wanted to grab a late dinner with me?”

“Our second date that day was even better than the first because we chatted at a diner for almost three hours,” Sam recalls. “The manager recognized Michael and gave us $20 off our bill! I dropped him off at his hotel, he kissed me and it was butterflies and tingles all over.” Sam and Michael spent every free moment together for the rest of the time he was in town. Two weeks later, she flew down to Florida and he greeted her at the airport with a rose tied to a little American flag.

“It was just so easy and comfortable with him right from the start. We’re both pursuing these crazy niche lives that are so different yet so similar… We’re both doing our thing in our own crazy subcultures and we can relate to each other completely and support each other in pursuing our own missions and purpose.”

Step 6: Always stay true to you

Finding a partner who is as passionate about something as you are can be a huge turn on it itself, but it’s important to always be true to yourself, no matter what happens in your relationship.

“I remember saying to him in that diner on our first date that I don’t NEED him or any man in my life. But do I WANT him? Absolutely. But regardless of what he’s doing with his life and career, I’m going to continue building my own brand. And thankfully he is just as supportive and respectful of my somewhat “extremist” lifestyle as I am of his. Unlike many guys, he wasn’t turned off by the fact that I was vegan. In fact, he really dug how passionate I am… And I support and respect anyone who is fearless enough to turn their passion into a paycheque. As Les Brown says, ‘Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.’”

Michael sums up how they came into each other’s lives the best: “Long form answer: there would be prophetic words about fate, paradoxes, equations of a scientific nature, overblown hyperbole, quizzical examinations of the space time continuum, and the butterfly effect to explain it. Short answer: “I like to workout.”

 

Did pursuing your passion in life lead you to make connections with special people? Share your story in the comments! 

About the author: Jessica Grajczyk knew she wanted to be a writer from the moment she picked up a crayon. She loves to write about subcultures and finds inspiration in people who are as passionate about anything as she is about writing… and pickles. Follow her on Twitter.

Photos courtesy of Samantha Shorkey.

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