I bought a “Joy” decal for the gym a few years ago at Christmas time. I haven’t had the heart to take it down, but then again I haven’t had the reason. Joy is the goal. It took me sixteen hours to find this out again:
4 PM Friday: Volunteered to run conditioning for 30 minutes for the varsity girls’ lacrosse team in Littleton. I know the coach (he comes to the gym and is a decent man in the best sense of the word), and I know a bunch of the players. I will do this every Monday for the duration of the season–this is my way of giving back to the community and to people I admire and support. (“Small town gym owner” generally means your greatest currency is time and experience, so that’s what I can offer.)
Three or four of the girls on the team have babysat for us; several of their parents have trained with us. I am training friends and kids I want to succeed. The reward is palpable: every single kid walks over to me at the end of the session and says thank you. I am rooting for them all. They receive me as someone with best intentions. How often does that happen dealing with adults? Not enough. This is joy. How could it not be? Littleton: crush Bromfield!!!
6 PM Friday: Take my wife and boys to dinner at a local restaurant for her 40th birthday. The wings at Tavern on the Square (in the Square?) are awesome. I recognize 4 or 5 members of the waitstaff–they are kids I’ve worked with (yes I call mostly everyone ‘kids’–it is a vestige from my grandmother who always called me ‘kid’ even into my 30s). I am happy to see them in their jobs. Some nod, some ignore me (as it should be). We had a great meal in a small town and then we went home and enjoyed time together. The email was off. The phone was off. Friday nights are mine.
7 AM Saturday: I drive in to open up the gym and one of our members is already fussing at the side of the building trying to fix something that looks broken. This is the kind of people we serve: they get that this is their place as much as it is ours, and they look for ways to do their best.
Over the course of 2 hours, I count 25-26 people coming in to get their work done. I give one of our longest-term members and supporters (thank you Deb!) some recovery work and then I drink my coffee and let the people do what they do best. We have people who are making up workouts they’ve missed, we have people doing their own coach’s programming, we have people helping each other, we have 3 of our coaches in working hard, and we have folks we haven’t seen in a while bringing in doughnuts and talking. I mean, if I could bottle this feeling and this energy I would make five gajillion dollars. Joy. I think of the people who aren’t here like Lynne and Stephen and Paul and they are just as responsible for this environment and community as the attendants are. This is something we have all built together. Could I summarize what this feels like and what this means to me? Yeah, one word: Joy. And a sentence: This is my WHY. I would get up at 4 AM every day of the week if this is how it would always be.
9:15 AM: Do a free consultation with someone who’s just moved into town. He has done triathalons, has a young family, and tries to eat Paleo as best he can. Here is what I say to him: “You need to be here.” It is as simple as that. And then this: “You will give as much as you receive.” The joy of knowing you are welcoming someone into the tribe that deserves to be here and will make our place better…damn, that is palpable.
Thank you all. Who knew that wanting to lift weights and be nice to people would make it all the way here–JOY!