5 Reasons Every Gym Owner And Personal Trainer Should Compete In A Marathon

With the Bali Marathon 10KM Race this coming Sunday, this blog I think is perfectly timed to be reposted. The first time, was after I had completed the London Marathon…

So sport, physical activity and competitiveness is what got you in the gym game, right? Workout after workout. Weight stacked on weight. Those quick muscle gains led you to experience a broad range of emotions that you hadn’t felt before. Euphoria. Satisfaction. Confidence. Vindication. Superiority. Even, dare I say, happy

The more your body took the shape you imagined, the more you craved!

There is no question that sports in whatever way, shape or form can be powerfully evocative.

At the same time, if you were not aware, sports also gave you courage and inspiration that you are actually really good at something — hence why you probably started your personal training business: “If I can get into shape, I can teach those that can’t…”

Stay with me, the lessons are coming.

So, you enter the fitness industry ready to take on the world.

But, like with any sport where there is a thrill of victory, there is also the crushing agony of defeat. Same happens in life.

I write this first because if you were anything like me (addicted to self punishment, adrenaline, or anything else that distracted from the pain, loneliness, and the feeling of I’m not good enough that I held deep inside), you turn to the gym.

Those in-the-know know gym becomes a form of therapy. Usually when…

Our clients aren’t listening to us

Other trainers’ results are superior (both for themselves and their clients)

You’re stuck in a relationship

You didn’t know that helping people would be so much more about business, marketing and selling and other sh*t you didn’t know you needed to know…

Fear of the unknown

Fear of failure

Fear of ridicule

Fear about whatever…

Where do you go? Where does anybody go. Back to familiar ground. Escaping almost.

You hope those initial good feelings come back. And they do, but never as much as before. It’s exactly like a drug addict, where one dose was enough, but then never was again. Always the need for a bigger hit.

“When you first start training you found power to become a trainer. What have you achieved since?”

Enter the 5 reasons every gym owner and personal trainer should compete in a marathon.

I spoke about this briefly before, but during my most intense years of self development there were a few major things that I knew I had to get to work on:

  • My tolerance level to take on more risk,
  • My tolerance level with discomfort
  • My tolerance level with uncertainty, criticism, and pressure, pressure, pressure

So on Friday, the 26th of January, 2015, I decided to commit to the Virgin London Marathon. In April of the same year. Yep. That gave me only 17 weeks to prepare for what was to become a life changing journey.

Upon announcing this to my friends, clients and other personal trainers (including our very own coaches), there was a flood of positive support, and it even gave some of our clients courage and confidence to set ambitious goals themselves. Even more surprising was the number of personal trainers who thought I was crazy and would shout trash like “Ain’t you gonna lose all ya muscle?” and “Isn’t it unhealthy for you? You’ll gain weight! You’ll lose your body!”

I get it. I was the same a few years back. If anyone would have asked me my opinion about them running a marathon, I would have replied even sharper. And with some French.

Originally, I thought that their issues were with what I was doing as choice of exercise, but I’ve since come to the conclusion that they were just as trapped as me inside the four walls of the gym.

They’ve grown accustomed to an environment that offers safety, security and familiarity — all of which keeps them in the same place, but unfortunately stagnate.

(I wrote about other ways to stimulate the mind and break free from stagnation in my article Six Steps To Become Wealthy As A Personal Trainer)

For every reason a trainer told me not do the London Marathon, I can think of hundreds of personal and professional reasons why gym owners and/or personal trainers should compete in a Marathon Race.

To respect your time, I’ve narrowed it down to five:

1. Comfort Zone

You need a new challenge. If past experiences are proof, as you were transforming into your body, you gained courage to become a personal trainer.

As stated in the book, Mastery by Robert Greene, you essentially submitted to rigorous apprenticeship, absorbed knowledge, built a body faster and better than anyone else, which established patterns of excellence, which unlocked a passion within and then you became a master (i.e., a personal trainer).

Throughout this journey it gave you courage. Courage to do something and the courage to be something more.

Now with me, I knew 17 weeks wasn’t long enough to train to run 5 miles, let alone 26. The last time I really ran was in my last football match, about 10 years back.  

I knew that by putting it out there, I had to do it. It’s why I then did everything in my power to set things up so I couldn’t back out. I ran for a charity. I did things that were for a bigger cause than myself, which would make the shame of failure or cowardice too steep to bear.

It was hunch that by enduring this discomfort, by my feet blistering over 26 miles, the thrill of overcoming a challenge would bleed across into other areas of my life and make other situations seem a whole lot easier.

Lesson: Make a decision. Be more decisive.


2. Mental Toughness Conditioning

My mind was weak.

When anything in life presented itself to be a challenge (or confrontational or tiring) outside of my natural talents and skills, I was always quick to use excuses and blame other people (or things).

I knew I couldn’t do the same when I was in training. It was me against me. No one else.

Yes, there were more times than I’d like to admit where I wanted to stop running. In some cases, I did. Gave up. Walked back home. Even got a taxi at one point.

But deep down I knew I had to keep persevering. If I was ever going to cross the finish line, I HAD to put the WORK in.

This race is brutal. It swallows the weak up for breakfast.

Cliche but true: if you don’t prepare to plan, plan to fail.

With all the (purposely) built pressure surrounding me, I couldn’t let them down and (more importantly) I couldn’t let myself down, which we are all guilty of doing when we don’t have anyone to be accountable to. There is natural human tendance which runs through us all, where though we are less likely to let other people down, when it comes to ourselves it is so much easier.

I suffered more setbacks from training for this event than anything else. It taught me a level of perseverance never encountered in the euphoric early days of bodybuilding.

Lesson: Training is like life and business. There will be ups and down, peaks and troughs stay focus on the end goal.


3. Empathy

This might seem an odd one, but do bare with me.

It’s probably been a long time since you stepped into the gym for the very first time. I have no doubt that you have forgot what it feels like to really begin.

Now, you’ll remember.

This experience offers you an opportunity to re-ignite empathy towards your clients. Empathy is having the ability to step inside your client’s mind and their life and feel exactly what they are feeling. Literally.

When clients are expected to do everything alone, it’s usually an indication that the trainer’s coaching ability (and empathy) is hella poor. Intense, crazy competition like a marathon forces them to level up their game by forcing them to experience exactly what their neglected clients feel.

Remember how it felt the first time you set foot in a gym? That fear of judgment. Will I fit in.  Am I fit enough. Will I be the fattest one there (or skinniest and weakest). How many mirrors. Will I have to look into a mirror and face the truth. Will the exercise be too hard. Will anyone acknowledge me for who I am….

When you can truly appreciate your client’s feelings, understand them, you will not only help them lose unwanted weight, but you will leave a lasting impression which stays with them for life. Ever had a client not be able to describe in words what you did for them? This is that moment.

Lesson: When you help yourself, you gain perspective and wisdom beyond your years of any academic studying can do.

4. Execution

I got used to lifting PB’s in a gym, but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy every moment that I did. I just needed something different.

It started back when I played football: the feeling when I completed an assist, scored the winning goal, picked up awards or played in stadiums that most aspiring footballers only dream about.

Then I found something else. Weights!

Now, I need that same feeling, but bigger. There is alway higher and higher levels.

Finishing the marathon crossing line was an amazing feeling. The feelings are what I described earlier when we first hit the gym. 

It gave me new found confidence, courage and pride. More importantly, renewed TRUST in myself. I achieved what I said I would do! And I didn’t let that charity down. Spared myself the shame and guilt of not stepping up.

And everyone reaped the benefits, but none more so than me.

Lesson: You become what you think about and do most in life. What was once difficult will become easy. 


5. Focus

Focus to me really means to be present.

What do you want to achieve in life that you haven’t done already? Can you honestly say that you think about this one thing day and night, 24/7? Is every action that you decide to do taking you towards this goal or away from it?

Even if you answered that with an rousing “Yes, Joe!” I know it’s not true (and so do you, I bet).  

Your mind is thinking about something (and only you know what that is) but I can assure you it isn’t one thing you’d like.

You are unaware of this, of course. I was.

It’s a distraction.

It’s taking up whatever limited willpower, focus and energy you have.

It’s probably the main reason why you don’t have what you want.

Now here’s the kicker: before we attempt to go after the new level (which takes a new level of thinking and doing), we have to practice and exercise something simple and do so consistently, like — yep — training for a marathon.

When you run, you barely can think about anything else.

If you run 4-6 times a week, over time you’ll condition yourself to become more focused.

Block out distraction that might be necessarily in your way. Become mindful!

To summarise, we both know that physically this will test you so I don’t have to talk about that too much. In fact, I haven’t even mentioned it, but what you’ll find is new mindset. One which will help you and help your clients.

You owe this to yourself.

Running could very well be the newest, best metaphor for life!

Have you ran before? Completed a race like the London Marathon or even done a 10KM run like I’m doing this Sunday in the Bali Marathon?

Trainers or gym owners, do you have the courage to make a commitment today? What’s the race which you will compete in within the next year?


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