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A Heartfelt Message to all Past, Present and Future Stratum Fitness / CrossFit Society Members

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As I write this, we are days away from the five year anniversary of our gym’s existence.  I’ve just finished looking through old photos and find myself rather nostalgic and overflowing with gratitude for the journey we’ve been on.  While our five year anniversary party is meant to be an opportunity for our community to gather and celebrate I find myself desiring an outlet to share what this journey has meant to me and show this gratitude.  I will take this opportunity to do just that.

When we opened the gym in July of 2012 I was less than one month removed from College and knew nothing of the journey we were in for.  I had struggled for a long-time to find meaning in the academic process and was torn when challenged with the question “what are you going to do after college?”  

During my final quarter at UC Davis I took a course about writing in a professional environment.  The class was challenged with an assignment to write about the challenges one is likely to face in a chosen career.  After turning in a paper on running a CrossFit facility I vividly remember receiving my first-drafts’ notes and in red ink it stated, “it sounds like you don’t really know what running a CrossFit gym is all about.”  With the wind knocked out of my sails my final draft was crafted around the challenges highway patrol officers face, despite possessing little interest for the subject.  It turns out my professor was absolutely right.  While I felt confident that I would be capable of creating an effective class from a training perspective I was woefully unprepared for the many other facets of running a gym that are of equal importance.  In looking back this may have been a pivotal time in my life as I could have pursued stability but instead followed my instincts to pursue making a career out of my passion for fitness.  Fortunately for me, I didn’t know what I didn’t know, a mistake I’m intending not to repeat but was a great advantage in this case.

My contribution to the gym’s startup costs came from the money I’d saved working part-time through school and being frugal.  Modest as it may have been, this was our dream and in my eyes at the time we were in want of nothing.  Nonetheless, relative to our “competitor” gyms I’m sure it was easier for potential customers to invest and trust in a training facility in which the gyms’ startup costs were in the hundreds of thousands rather than our startup costs which were much less.  I think that everyone who was a part of our facility in those early years sensed our enthusiasm and desire for our collective success and I am extremely grateful for every one of those folks that placed their trust in us.

At this point, rather than sharing the chronological narrative of our story I am going to share some of the lessons I’ve learned on our journey.

Lessons I’ve learned

In Training-

-Your body is life’s only vehicle.

-Training is about learning about and creating the best relationship with your own body.

-Training does not occur in a vacuum.

-Everything is a training variable.

-I am responsible for my current physical state

-You must train the person not the biological organism.

-Training is a great analogy for life.

-More fitness does not necessarily equate to more happiness but there is a prerequisite amount of fitness required for happiness for almost everyone.

-Why you’re doing something is as important as what you’re doing.

-Training numbers always tell the truth, but not necessarily the whole truth.
-Big goals require big action.

-Failing to reach your goal is different from failing.

-Human connection, trust, and laughter are among the most important contributors to health and wellness.

In Business-

-Our business is more than the training that we provide.

-It is not enough to be good and passionate about the service we provide.  A business owner must be good and passionate about all aspects of the business.

-There are endless opportunities to improve.

-Among the endless opportunities to improve lie a lot of distractions from what is most important to your business.

-Our service is not for everyone and in trying to serve everyone you can fail to serve anyone.

-Culture comes in large part from the top-down.

-I am an ambassador to our brand.  My priorities, discipline, and attitude towards the world reflect more than me.

-Creating expectations at the beginning of a relationship is vital to the health and longevity of the relationship.

-If someone declines an offer to work together then I have failed as a communicator.

-Where people spend their money is an indication of their priorities.

In Life-

-There is no greater teacher than struggle

-Learn from everyone, everyone has a perspective

-Challenge your own opinions and world-view regularly.

-Reflection and introspection is necessary for conscious growth.

-Actions speak louder than words.

-Self-awareness is trained.

-Everything in life has cycles.

-Time, not money is the most valuable resource.

I’m indebted to the world for having the opportunity to fail, to find my own path, to connect with people, to find a way to support my community, to understand what it means to feel responsible to others, to pursue goals that are larger than myself, to laugh and dance as much as I do, to contribute to shaping people’s’ attitudes towards fitness and themselves.

This endeavor has provided me with purpose and a zest for life.  I have struggled and been challenged in ways I was wildly unprepared for and am so grateful for these challenges as they have been major catalysts for the development of a world-view and my own adult dichotomy.  This business is quite literally based upon the premise that challenge and struggle is necessary for growth and today I feel more prepared for the inevitable struggles that lie ahead than ever before.

As for the future of Stratum.  I intend for us to touch the world on a larger scale.  Immediately that may mean serving more members and continuing to work to improve our service but we have no intention of stopping there.  We want to instill the larger message that taking care of your body is an ongoing process that can play a role in every person’s life.  Part of taking care of your body involves challenge and the other part involves being attentive and empathetic to its needs.  

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this journey and contributed so much to my life.  I look forward to updating everyone on the lessons I’ll have learned from another five years of struggle.