Success can be measured in many ways. For some the score is kept in dollars or points. For others, happiness and hugs fit the bill. When you are running a business, the only score that matters is positive income; if you want to stay in business. Other success isn’t so easily measured.
When I decided to open my own business I wanted to do something that would do no harm, make a difference in people’s lives, and be something I really enjoyed for the next 20 years. Sport specific training was an emerging market and I wanted to ride the wave. I had a fresh MBA, a new wife and enough inexperience to dive right in. I have learned that no amount of determination or “book learning” will ensure success. But we did do some things right. I had a partner who had been training celebrities for over 20 years, I hired staff that had high character and we had a good location. From the onset I knew that to create a loyal customer base we had to build relationships first. My trainers were well educated and credentialed but above all, they really enjoyed what we were doing and connected with their clients. I would come to find out how important this was when we had to close our main location and concentrate all of our classes out of a smaller location. Nearly all of our clients made the transition. Ask your wife or girlfriend how far they would travel to visit their hairstylist and you will get an idea of how strong this customer bond can be.
The second thing we vowed to do was, “Do the right thing.” If we felt that a youth athlete was already overtraining and they came to us for more, we would recommend a more effective training schedule. Even if that meant turning them away in the end. As a father with young kids, my number one concern was to never injure a member because we were over jealous in training. That doesn’t mean we didn’t have some of the toughest workouts around. We were responsible trainers who parents trusted their kids to.
Lastly, we saw our roles as educators. Today parents are bombarded with numerous gimmicks, fad exercise routines and exaggerated claims. Most of these are ineffective and some are harmful. We went out of our way to teach parents what was important for each sport and at what age it was appropriate. We challenged them to research our success and to question their current coaches and trainers.
I know that we have changed the lives of some of our members. Some have lost significant pounds, we have rehabbed others back from serious injuries, and some of our professional athletes won gold medals in Beijing. My goal for young athletes is always to get them on a team in high school. In those four years they will form the friendships that will last a lifetime. On a team the will learn to lead and be led. They will learn that there are no substitutes for hard work. They will share in victory and lick their wounds in defeat. So, as less than .01% of high school athletes will go on to earn any money as a professional athlete, nearly all will become adults, parents and business people. The lessons they learned through sports will endure.
“The Realist Runner”