Years before I opened Tucson Strength I was sitting in free business coaching session offered by a community program for inspiring entrepreneurs. I wasn’t planning on opening a gym, but had big aspirations in buying a laundromat. I was in my early 20’s, I wanted to own a business and saw an opportunity (glad it didn’t work out). I don’t remember the exact conversation, but I remember the coach stopping me mid sentence. It was something like, “stop, this idea won’t work….. I am hearing all of these big ideas, fancy offerings, awesome service, and low cost”. He followed up with “Inexpensive, high quality, awesome service, you really can only have 2 of these. If you are going to have high quality and awesome service you are going to have to charge for it.”
I never really thought of that business coaching session until I was training for my 70.3 Ironman this year. I was commiserating with my friend Brian about how the endurance training was taking over my life, but how mushed I loved it. I was putting in 15 hours per week training, I was trying to spend time at home with my family, grow my business, and my dad was sick so I was trying to balance all of it, on top of everything else in life. He then said the same exact thing to me the business coach said years before. He used the same analogy about service, quality and price, but then said, “The same is with life, pick 2 things, the 3rd is going to take the back seat or suffer.
My mind hurt for the past few months with this conundrum. Much of my stress was the fact that I was trying to focus and be awesome at everything. I knew my training had to take a huge priority. I was committed to the race and wasn’t going to give up all the hard work I put in, and I only 7 weeks left till my race. My family is my world, so being home at night with my wife and daughter was important. As it was my time with them was sometimes limited with training and work. My biggest frustration was my business. I couldn’t figure out why things weren’t as awesome as I wanted them to be. We were putting in work, but things were just not turning out as I projected. I knew why but, I kept banging my head and was frustrated. The truth was I was not really awesome at anything, I was becoming pretty mediocre at everything and it sucks to be pushing so hard to be mediocre. After my race I knew 2 things had to be my main focus, but I wanted to believe I was different, that I could continue to push through all obstacles. Post race I kept training for races and decided to add powerlifting back in because….. why not add more shit to my life.
One night I was in some deep thought and finally admitted I wasn’t Superman. I made the decision to pull out of all my races and competitions, and it felt right. Though the focus of going after those goals was awesome and fulfilling, it was also taking energy and focus from my business. I missed the excitement of grinding at work and seeing results. Work life had become stagnant and uninspiring and it was messing with me and my emotions. Athletics are important to me, but so is my entrepreneurial spirit. If I wanted to thrive I knew what needed to happen. The training grind, though I loved it was taking away from my career and it was time to refocus. The only way I could do both of those is if I pushed my family time aside and that isn’t an option.
Does this mean that I stopped training? Hell no. I still train multiple days per week, but for shorter periods of time rather than 2-4 hours of training per session. Since training has been part of my life for decades it doesn’t take as much capacity especially with the focus being active and healthy not to perform.
WHY AM I TELLING YOU ALL OF THIS?
I can’t count the number of people I sign up for training and get so frustrated that they suck at it and can’t commit. They are frustrated and get down on themselves for failing at it over and over again. They value training and fitness and know that it will bring great benefits to them, but they can’t seem to figure it out, and it comes from a place of frustration.
My suggestions to people that are going through this frustration is not WHAT we can add to their training program to make it better or consistent, but rather what can be TAKEN AWAY from their life to free up the capacity needed to train. We can only handle so much stress at any given moment and though it is good for us, training is still a stress.
Working 70 hours per week and balancing other things in life, then trying to add fitness is going to be a shit show for many people if they are looking for consistency and results. Very rarely does anyone need to work 70 hours per week for extended periods of time, if it is an absolute must then there are other things that must give before an effective training plan can be put into place.
Having kids, and taking them to 20 different activities a week, while juggling a job, then deciding to volunteer as team parent or coach isn’t an optimal baseline to then add the stresses of losing weight or fitness. You can’t do everything. Though giving to your family is crucial, aging horribly as a martyr isn’t helping anyone. Ditching a few of the other responsibilities is going to be necessary to actually value health and fitness.
There are tons of other scenarios that can be consuming too much energy that take up 2 of the 3 things that will take away from being able to focus fitness and health. Many times they can be things we want to avoid addressing. Crappy/toxic relationships, stressful work environments, social media addiction, pornography(yeah this), the list can go on, but doing a personal inventory of all activities and responsibilities is sometimes the most important part of the process before adding more to life.