Valuable Lessons From The Battle Between Athletes and Fitness Freaks

A while back, the Crossover President and I were looking for the next move for the company, so we booked a trip to walk around one of the biggest fitness trade shows in the world.

The convention hall was packed with all sorts of tools to make things hurt, a whole lot of skin and spandex, plus I got to see a treadmill class where they danced on the moving belt instead of running (I’m still not sure if that was serious or not.)

It all felt weird to me.  Like if aliens suddenly showed up, there would be a lot of explaining to do…

“We invented this machine to make your arm muscles hurt the most, and this one helps your body expend a ton of energy while staying in place and watching TV.”


In my opinion, what would bolster the fitness industry the most, is a greater emphasis on human performance.  And rather than showing up to get sore and sweaty, shifting the trajectory to being an athlete.

For the athlete, it’s not just about getting fit but developing a body for performance. Therefore, training sessions for the athlete aren’t just a dose of movement, it’s a necessary stimulus to make the body better. 

This mindset is far more motivating and a healthier attitude than body image or chasing a weight goal.

Additionally, exercise is no longer the independent variable with the athlete mindset, but it also emphasizes things like nutrition, sleep, stress management, and recovery to support improved performance.

The Problem with Athletes

Just last year, as I rolled through my 36th year of life, I had to stop and say, “What the hell am I doing?”

Now, I hate to admit that I’ve done some silly things in the name of being an “athlete.”  Namely, during rec league soccer or when challenged by a seven-year-old, but my biggest realization was that I was sacrificing things that didn’t support my greatest goals.

Being an awesome dad and husband, growing in my career, and being able to jump out of bed and tackle life without nagging aches, is more important to me than winning a weekend 5k or the city sports league, or squeaking out a few more reps than my workout buddy.  

This mindset may sound lame, but I get into many conversations every day with people who are physically and mentally destroying themselves to scratch that competitive itch with no real reward other than an ego boost.  

While I still want to push myself to meet some performance goals and climb that leaderboard, it won’t be at the expense of what’s truly important to me now.

What Defines Us

To wrap it up, it all comes down to goal setting.

If you’re hitting the gym to get sweaty and be skinny, or even because you know it’s the healthy thing to do, try to find a performance goal and move toward it. There is no better feeling than the glory of challenging your body to do something difficult and succeeding.

On the flip side, if you’re making yourself miserable, consider the cost. It may be time to re-evaluate what’s truly most important and see if your actions are helping you get there.

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