Running a political party
Most of you know that once upon a time, I owned and managed a Family Gym for about 7 years, a gym that was me .. and me, it.
It was like running a political party with many factions/sub-groups within sub-groups in the party and I was the Leader/Prime Minister.
We had many sub-groups – policemen/women; ex-police vice – commissioners; ex-inmates; Italians; Greeks; arabs; South Americans; Pacific islanders; Irishmen; Englishmen; Americans; Canadians; French; Germans; Africans; South Africans; dads; mums; athletes; plumbers; electricians; designers; accountants; chairpersons of and senior executives of banks; lawyers; engineers; politicians; powerful businessmen; construction workers; builders; rubbish collectors; … you name it.
We had them. A great cross-section of Australian society. They all belonged to my extended family – of love 💓 (hence, 💓alentine).
And I had to ensure that each sub-group worked well with each other & most of the time they did. But it took work… a lot of work.
And I loved it.
Conflict Resolution – a skill for Life
I learned a lot.
Chief among them was – The art of negotiations and collaboration with anyone. I was a connector and connected people. I got warring groups to “get along” … that it was ok to “agree to disagree” (luckily there were few and far destructive disagreements). I learned that you can disagree with someone and not feel threatened or does not mean that you hate that person.
From biker gang Bosses and their members to retired citizens … I found myself constantly diffusing problems and potential problems.
Naturally, one of my major strengths now is: Conflict Resolution.
If I can’t provide a solution, I will definitely know someone, who knows someone… who can.
Don’t judge a book by it’s cover
Despite there being so many differences I also learned that we all have more in common then we think … if you –
“don’t judge a book by its cover “.
Very difficult indeed for many but that is what I did … and still do.
I welcomed anyone and everyone in to my gym, with a smile and a question that has stayed with me til today –
“How can I help you?”
The members that were courageous enough to walk through my doors to seek help were .. got my undivided attention. They were invited to be in my extended family if they chose to … and I treated and see them like that ‘til today, even though I don’t speak to many of them since I let the gym go.
My grandfather taught me many things, one of which is not to judge anyone based on the person’s image. And … give people a second chance. Leave the judging to God.
We had a 70:30 ‘split’ between males and females, with age ranging from 90 year old to my son at that time (between 0 and 2 and half years old). Members came from up to 20km away (& drive past 15 other gyms to get there) …and from all levels of society.
We had members from all levels of society … from one of the Top 200 wealthiest people in Australia at that time to some of the less fortunate in the neighbourhood.
This latter group made my gym operation very ‘un-business like’ because I try to do the right thing whenever I can, which is to give people access to my gym facilities even if they didn’t have any money to pay.
A partially Charity Gym
So, my gym was very much a partially Charity gym as I would help almost every person that made their way up the stairs if they made the decision to help themselves. I gave a lot of the members a platform to launch their best selves (many who could not afford to pay their gym membership or coaching. I would help them and never turn anyone away).
I could not & did not turn any person away because I just can’t (when you put yourself in their shoes ), and empathise, you automatically open your arms (even though it goes against everything you learn in your business degree about making $ )
And … expect nothing back. You just GIVE and … Give …&
Provided they genuinely wanted to and would allow me to help them, help themselves.
Basically show them “how to”
And they did.
In the years that we entered the Community Business Awards (I think we entered it 3 x) and won our ‘Health & Fitness” category in one year and was finalist in the other two years.
It was certainly a very proud moment for my wife, Cathy and I as it was voted on by the many local communities that make up the Northern Beaches. We were recognised for being the Best at what we did and were the best gym in the Northern Beaches, Sydney, Australia.
Confirmation that the community of people at large agreed with and appreciated mine and my staff’s efforts to provide a vehicle to help people, help themselves … find something they care about.
Because I cared.
I’m content I … “took a stand” back then. For 7 years I did. A stand for what I believed in … that every person, irrespective of their background or place in society, should have access to the best help they can get.
My members knew they did,. They didn’t just have any gym owner and coach to guide them, no, they had me, a 2 x World Natural Bodybuilding Champion to help them, help themselves move towards something they cared about. And I enjoyed every challenging minute of it. Even though, it costed me $$$ and thousands of hours of free gym membership and knowledge and ‘know-how’ so people could help themselves.
Simply because of the person that I am.
Giving. I gave them my knowledge and ‘know-how’ … my life and contributed to making the world a better place, by empowering one person at a time.
We received the award from the honourable Government Minister, Miss Bronwyn Bishop.
Was a lovey night.
Lovely memories … of once upon a time … and it is very lovely to say –
“I used to …. do a certain thing at one point in my life .. but I no longer do”
Cheers & ahoy!
The old Cap’n Viking Pirate … & a period of time when I used to own and manage a beautiful, one-of-a-kind’ Family Gym