“In life and in fitness …”
I start more sentences that way than I care to admit, probably as a result of the four years I spent figuring out how to quit my job, build the team that writes aSweatLife.com and force my way into becoming a subject matter expert on the burgeoning studio fitness scene.
I’ve found - in my research, in building my business, in the classes that I teach - that the way a person handles the stress inflicted on her body in a particularly tough training session, is parallel to how she’ll perform in other intense situations.
And in that sweat you leave on the floor at the gym, there are some pretty big lessons that you can take into business.
Work to failure
In the gym, you get your biggest gains from failing. You work until your body quits and it’s in that moment of perceived weakness that you get stronger. Your body rebuilds and next time you try, it’s capable of more. It’s easy to try to avoid those moments – to avoid failure by only playing in territory that’s familiar and a little less risky.
In business, moments of failure, but more importantly how you deal with that failure, are the times you get stronger and break past your limits.
Set goals and achieve them
There’s that moment three seconds from the end of a set when a trainer starts to count down, shouting “Three, two, one …”
The second she says the word, “three,” half of the class stops what they’re doing because the end is a couple of seconds away. I’d argue that those last three seconds are the most important. There’s a grit in finishing what you started.
Even if it’s just for your own benefit, make it a habit to complete the things you start –unless those things detract from your overall goal.
There’s a difference between choices and chances
Once in a while you get lucky and you make a free throw after a three-year hiatus from the basketball court. That’s chance. When fortune favors you, be ready to pounce.
The rest of the time, realize that it’s up to you to choose the right path, the hard path, the path that will make you stronger. The choices that you make determine what kind of life, what kind of success and what kind of business relationships you’ll have. Lean more heavily on choice than chance.
The everything-hurts-and-I’m-dying feeling isn’t forever
There comes a point in a tough workout at which you think to yourself, “This is terrible and I can’t go on.” But you can and you do. Maybe you have to shake your legs out a little bit (which, by the way, does absolutely nothing) or take a sip of water, but you get back in the game and you finish what you started.
The thing known as the trough of sorrow in a startup is very real, but there are also tough projects, budget shortfalls and other stressful business events that feel like they’re going to last forever. Hang onto why you started and be resilient enough to make it through those times.
Everything is better with friends
There’s a reason why group fitness has exploded in popularity over the past four years. Human beings crave connection and community. Even if you talk to no one in your hour-long workout, the energy of the group around you is going to push you to try harder without even realizing it.
When I started aSweatLife.com, I wanted to share the group fitness classes that I loved, but it ended up being a lonely pursuit. I was spending hours working by myself, talking to readers I’d never met.
When I finally accepted help, built a team, nurtured partnerships and started to actively pursue real-life community, things got exponentially more fun.
In life and in fitness, it’s not going to be easy, but if you’ve made the right choices and surround yourself with the right team, you’ll end up solving the kind of problems that make you jump out of bed each morning.
Dr. Victoria Bateman, an esteemed economist best known for her nude protests for gender equality, uses her body as a form of art that serves to challenge the stigma around women's bodies and women's rights, in the world of economics. In March 2018, Bateman attended the annual conference of the Royal Economic Society in Brighton stark naked with the word "respect" written across her chest and stomach. Unbashful in delivering her message, Bateman was determined to start a conversation.