Got your attention, didn’t I? In the fitness industry, there is nothing we romanticize more than “the grind.” Hell, I’ve done it myself. It’s seductive–post a picture of yourself at the end of a workout, or in an empty gym late at night, and hashtag it #thegrind or maybe #wontbeoutworked (I’ve done both), and you will get likes, clicks, and a few comments maybe about what a badass you are.
It’s great but here’s the thing: EVERYONE can do this. Can you delay gratification while suffering through the pain of your last set or a hard workout for a few minutes? Almost all of us can do this buuut…’Grats–instant hero. Are you willing to torch your health and some relationships in service of late nights (and, let’s be honest, the adrenalin rush that comes with that grind…guilty as charged)? Welcome to the Hustle. You will never be short of acolytes so long as you attend to your social media profile with the necessary breathless dispatch. (Again, guilty as charged.)
But acolytes and clickers aren’t members and partners. It’s certainly not because I scream Fortune 500 or even 200, but being in this business I get the chance to talk to a lot of younger people who are interested in a career in fitness, and almost all of them are ready to work their fingers to the nub. Laziness is a vastly, vastly overstated trait in the younger generation. They’re ready, and in many ways they’re ready to kick our asses out of the driver’s seat. Good. They should be.
The thing is, it’s not about the grind. It hasn’t been for a very long time, if we’re being truthful.
It’s about the embrace. You may be willing to work eighteen hour days, but are you willing to say “thank you” to every person who tells you good job? Are you willing to look someone in the eye, even when you’re tired, even when you’re sick, even when you’re in a bad mood or HANGRY (Jesus take the wheel and make that word go away), and ask them how they’re doing and…here’s the kicker…wait around and actually LISTEN to them when they answer? Are you willing to take the chance on making every person you come into contact with feel like you might possibly care very deeply about them when it’s all said and done?
Are you willing to embrace others and allow them to know you and embrace you back?
That’s the actual grind, and I can tell you it takes a hell of a lot more genuine energy and heart than it does to sit in front of a computer until your eyes squeeze shut with sleep. It’s a hell of a lot more challenging and, going with this guilty as charged theme, I fail just as often as I succeed here. Probably more often most days.
But I know what’s at stake. Someday, technology is going to do the lion’s share of our assessments and generate the lion’s share of our workouts. Our phones and basements will be our gyms and our coaches. (If you doubt me, google “Sam Waterston SNL Robots”) And someday, for that matter, it’ll be much easier for you to hook into inexpensive recovery protocols and downsize the time you spend training if that’s what you want. (I won’t link to that stuff, but it’s out there. Five, ten minute workouts. It’s there.)
And when the smoke clears, the hustle will be like a single footprint hugging the shore, and we’d better be able to embrace the people who are left standing there after the wave takes everything else out to sea.
It’s about the embrace.