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A special kind of blindness.

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson.

I was once the proud owner and manager of a gym for about 7 years. It was the first gym I ever stepped foot in when I was in my late teens. I used to stand at the doorway as I left the gym, turn around to look at the owner (then) and say –

“One day I’m going to own this gym or something like this Tony!”

Imagine that, a young teenage boy still completing High School audaciously believing and saying out loud that he would own “this’ gym or something like it … one day? But I knew that I loved it and I didn’t know how then, but I knew that I desired it strongly. I had many dreams … this was one of the many. It lay dormant for a number of years.

He would say – ‘yep, but not this one … I’m not ready yet.”

Fifteen years later, I receive a call from him … saying “Remember me … remember what you said when you still in High School … well, I’m ready now, would you like to buy this gym?”

I said .. .”What took you so long?”

The rest is history.

I ran it like a family. A gym like no other. My little young family was intricately connected with hundreds of other families, making it one large huge extended family in this phase of our lives. I loved all the hundreds of relationships I had with the members along with the wider community. We won the Best Small Business Award for the Northern Beaches in one year and was a Finalist for many years.

I knew instantly that I wasn’t in the business of running gyms … no, I was in the business of managing relationships and I just happened to sell health, vitality and life-enhancing products and services. People would say “what?!” including my wife who would, after a few months, realise the truth in my statement.

Friends that workout together … stay together?
Some of the family of gym members that called my gym ….. our gym .. their gym.
Lovely people in a lovely phase of life.

Stories … ahh … this is one of the things I miss – listening to the hundreds of individuals’ stories over the years. Was fascinating and I feel very blessed that I was able to listen to and help the members write chapters of their life stories. I also feel very blessed to experience life through other peoples’ experiences.

Our gym was a place of social interaction where everyone knew one another’s names and we were always happy they came to the gym. Our gym was a ‘home away from home‘ for all the family of members. Just the way I envisioned it to be, the way gyms used to be.

I loved it. I lived and breathed it. I never took leave for 7 years because I loved what I did in serving the community the gym was in and all that came from afar (some driving past up to 15 gyms before they got to my gym). I helped serve people increased awareness, through increasing their knowledge of possibilities that would take them from where they were to where they would want to be. Using programs tailored specifically for each individual that was based on the framework that took me to 2 x World Championships and place in the Top 5 of both.

This blog is about one particular member. Her name was Margaret. She was an amazing woman.

The Family of Male Friends that bonded and developed great friendships in my gym … our gym.

She had been frequenting the gym 3 times per week for about 8 years. Rain, hail, dust storm, heat-wave. You name it. No extreme weather pattern stopped her from walking the 2km walk from her home to the gym. And Back. She does so with so much enthusiasm. I don’t think I have ever heard her whinge in the time I knew her.

Ever.

What’s special about her is that she is accompanied by her friend – Desarae. You see wherever Margaret goes, her friend is by her side. Her friend knew each corner of the gym now and each machine. Her friend never utters a word but observes her very intently. Her friend watches and observes Margaret’s every move and never lets her out of her sight. Her friend even knows the order in which Margaret has to move from one machine to the other when she is executing one of her daily ‘work-outs’ specially tailored to her goals and needs.

Her friend listens to everything Margaret says but also most of what she does not say. A possible definition of a very good friend. But Desarae has not lifted one piece of weights equipment. You know why? Well, you see, Margaret’s friend is a guide dog and Margaret is blind.

Now, I know we read and see a lot of things and people that can be classed as “Inspiring” almost every day of our lives. You see and hear many grand, over-the-top stories that people class as inspirational. Well and good.

With Margaret and her guide dog. She was such a lovely human being. Never said never.
I trained her daughter (who was also partially blind) to represent Australia at the Paralympics.
She was one tough school girl with a lot of GRIT. Just like her mum.

However, each individual’s idea of what is or who is “inspiring” could differ and vary quite greatly. It’s all a matter of perspective. What someone may find inspirational may not be to another. If anyone asks me what or who I would consider inspiring, apart from my beautiful wife, Margaret would be another that would readily come to mind.

I’ve mentioned it countless times since I have known Margaret that everyone – men, women and boys and girls – everyone, could ‘take a page out of her book’.

Why?

Well, in a world; where there is a dwindling of personal responsibility and accountability; where reasons are only too readily replaced with excuses; where mediocrity is celebrated; where instant gratification dwarfs delayed satisfaction and patience … We have a no nonsense and unassuming, visually-impaired lady “working” on herself. Without fan-fare. Just going about what is part of her ‘daily-routine’.

She is physically blind, not emotionally or spiritually.

It seems like she has turned this apparent weakness into a strength. I see the strength in this woman every time I see her. Not only when she lifts weights and goes through her workouts but the strength in the way she walks, talks and laughs. In the way she relates to the other members of the gym. It’s in her air of quiet confidence as she goes about her business.

Some of the members that came and enjoyed being part of my big ‘extended family’

Although she is blind in one sense, she seemingly has a special kind of blindness for a lot of the ‘other’ things in life that tends to affect us. Those of us who are fortunate enough to see.

So, I leave you with one thought: try to block out some of the clutter of life and don’t let anything or anyone prevent you from carrying out certain daily habits if they contribute to you being a better person – physically, spiritually, emotionally or intellectually.

When you find reasons to give in, think of Margaret. Work on developing your special kind of blindness. There is a champion in every single one of us, including YOU. Believe it so. Never stop dreaming, dreams do come true and dreamers change the world. Listen to your intuition. The combination of these two important ways of thinking ….  is the beginning of taking the “I-M” out of “IMpossible”

All the very best!

 

Until next time,

Yours in muscles & iron,

 

The Old Captain Viking Pirate Fiji-Island born Muscle Monk

Some of the older female family members showing ‘how it’s done!”
Branka and Karen were two ladies that had very positive outlooks on life and did everything they could to maintain the discipline and privilege of staying strong, healthy and wise.
It was a way of life for them … and all the family of gym members.

Gym Extended Family Members enjoying a day of Lawn Bowls.
We had some great lawn bowls events over the 7 years.

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