An Athlete, An Arena, An Audience

An Athlete, An Arena, An Audience
by Larry Indiviglia, TD2 Platinum Level Coach

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
-Theodore Roosevelt

I thought of the above quote when I responded to Brad Kahn, my TD2 Platinum Teammate and fellow TD Masterminder on his FINISHING IronMan Canada this past Sunday. Brad, the extraordinary competitor he is, shared how he crushed the Swim and Bike portions of the race, but fell short on the “marathon” run segment due to calf and hamstring cramps. It was a hot day on the course and Brad gave his all and “dared greatly” as Roosevelt so beautifully stated. I also told Brad that being an “athlete” (triathlete) competing in the “arena” (Ironman) separated him from the “audience,” (race day onlookers) OR DOES IT?

Looking a bit deeper here, (thank you Brad for inspiring me to write this short article), it is the “athlete” the “arena” and the “audience” that are explicably linked. AND HOW does this apply to us as fitness professionals?

An “ATHLETE” – many of us ( not ALL of us) were blessed by being able to participate in athletics/sports at young ages, be it individual or team, and learned the sacrifices, demands, accountability and rewards of competing on tracks, fields, courts, slopes, floors and ranges. Maybe we were the best player, perhaps the player who made every practice but rarel played , or for most, somewhere in-between. Regardless, with the WINS and LOSSES came personal growth. It was through tears and triumphs, smiles and “high-fives” and the experiencing of special moments as “athletes,” working and playing for a cause/goal/mission far greater than self. AND in the process we came to understand the value of sportsmanship, respect for our opponents and most importantly RESPECT for ourselves. As “athletes” at “heart” we chose a profession whose demands are the same as that of an athlete; yes Coach Jarod Cogswell we do “Work Like Athletes” and like Coach Brad Kahn, continue to compete, train, move and set inspiring examples for our clients, family and friends. Deep in our souls we love being athletes, and we love training ALL of our clients like the athletes they are, they strive to become, or that they once were and are rediscovering.

An “ARENA” – a high school track, a boxing ring, a volley ball court, an ice rink, a baseball diamond or a lacrosse field; maybe the “arenas” of yesterday for many of us, and for many of our clients. A Spartan race, a Mud-run, a Relay-For-Life, a Sprint TRI, a CrossFit challenge, a Century bike ride, or a 28-day Weight Loss Challenge, an Indoor cycling class, a Yoga session or training to “get up off the floor” or learning to lift a grandchild; some respective “arenas” of TODAY. “Arenas” change just as the ultimate “Arena” – the “Arena of LIFE” changes. The “athletes” we are, and the “athletes” we train choose to stay “engaged” with the “LIVING OF LIFE.” As fitness professionals, our continued challenge is to attract, engage and connect with the 80% (some statistics show) of the “hidden athletes” out there; many lost, mired in escapes and fearful of LIVING fuller LIVES, because slowly dying is easier. Let’s continue as fitness professionals to create with our businesses, studios, performance centers, coaching programs and foundations; “Arenas of Acceptance, Accomplishment and Accountability” and heck yes, ATHLETICISM. Arenas, broadly defined for ALL, who will experience the joy, the pain, the sweat, the focus and the triumphs that our “ARENAS” provide and that the “ATHLETE” in ALL of us NEED to fully LIVE.

An “AUDIENCE” – surrounding the spotlight of an Arena is an AUDIENCE. Maybe YOU were not a youth athlete, as I described above, and found yourself on the sidelines watching others compete. AND perhaps it took a few years, a traumatic event or someone to BELIEVE in YOU and INSPIRE YOU to “activate” that INNER ATHLETE. AND maybe it was after beginning to train, move, and BE AROUND positive people that YOU decided to BE an ATHLETE and “WORK LIKE AN ATHLETE” as a fitness professional. Can you imagine a major competition or athletic event without an AUDIENCE? YES, the Super Bowl has an AUDIENCE of millions, with athletes competing in the ultimate of spotlights. Conversely, and I submit no less IMPACTFUL, is the SKAGWAY Marathon in Alaska,”5% Tough and 95% Brutal” with 15 runners entered, 12 men and 3 women. NO SPECTATORS in the forest and mountains of Alaska, maybe a black bear or two. All relative, RIGHT? For every athlete there is always at least ONE PERSON in the AUDIENCE; look in the mirror, it’s YOU. Running the stadium bleachers at 5am, Swimming lap after lap along the “black line” before your gym even opens or pulling on a Concept 2 rowing machine for 10,000 meters before sunrise. The ATHLETE, the ARENA and the AUDIENCE is YOU. Sure, the exhilaration experienced when family and friends are cheering you during a competitive event is awesome, as is the INSPIRATION YOU may provide to a young person watching you FINISH an IRONMAN who says “I want to do what Brad or Debbie just did today, someday!”

In two weeks the SUMMER OLYPMICS in Rio will begin; elite ATHLETES, big ARENAS and an international AUDIENCE. Blood, sweat, tears and medals to come… and then some. Of no less importance is the ATHLETE, the ARENA and the AUDIENCE that is YOU, and the many he and shes that arrive at your gym or that check in with you to be coached on the phone who have chosen to compete, and be the ATHLETE, the ARENA and the AUDIENCE that is courageously they.
and the AUDIENCE that is courageously they.

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