By Cavino Johnson Athletic Xtreme
Some of you that follow my Facebook page know that I, recently, went on a beach vacation with my family. As always, one of the first things I do in planning my vacation, is find the best gym in the area so that I don’t miss a training session. Once we got to our hotel, I got everyone settled in and then turned them lose on the beach for their fun. As for me, I triple scooped my Supersize into my shaker, pulled up the gym’s directions on GPS, and rode out to train.
When I got into the gym, amped and looking forward to some delts training, I noticed the gym was filled with bodybuilding trophies (and quite a few of the recipients were there training as well). Personally, I thought it was cool. There’s nothing more motivating to me than seeing other competitors, training. It’s like throwing wood on the fire that’s already an inferno. The equipment was “rustic”, the atmosphere was dank, they had 100 pound plates, and the ceiling fan was, actually, a refurbished airplane propeller!
I was obviously the outsider in this place. I could tell by the side eyed glances and the covered mouth conversations. I like that. A lot. Then, the coolest thing happened. A young kid, maybe 17 or 18 years old, maybe younger, approached me. Now, I’m used to that. It happens all the time. Random people asking me cliche questions like “How much do you bench?” or “How long did it take you to get that big?” or “Can I still eat fast food every day if I want to lose weight?”. But, no this time. This kid, recognizing me from social media association, which in itself was very shocking, asked me one of the most refreshing and honest questions– “Is it worth it? All the work and the training to get to your size… is it all worth it?”
I was caught off-guard. No one has ever posed this question to me. Not like this. Random gym, 6+ hours away from home in a totally different state, on a random day, from a random person. A “fan”. I spent the next 20 minutes speaking with this kid, I’ll call him “Sam”, because that’s his actual name. Sam and I sat on a couple stools at the front desk of this gym, and I proceeded to give him a brief rundown of how I started and why.
I told him about my younger years… those same years of my life that he was in in his life. I told him about the recklessness. I told him about the times leading up to the diagnosed throat cancer to the announcemnet that it was gone. He listened closely, hardly blinking. I told him about my first days in the gym and how lifting saved my life. I told him about how lifting gave me discipline, and how lifting helped me understand, not just in the training, but also in the every day life, how to set goals and achieve them. I told him how I lost so called friends because I didn’t want to do the things they were doing. Not because I thought I was better than them but because, truth be told, I was more important and my health and happiness was priority. I told him about how I spent many hours in the gym, learning and watching and training. I spent, and still spend, hours researching and studying all available means of training and nutrition. I told him about the relationship I had formed with the iron, and how it has lasted longer than any other relationship I have had, thus far.
He spoke. Soft spoken, but the words he said were wise beyond his years. He said, “Begin to love what you do early in life… this way, what you do will love you back.” I stared a few moments. Maybe because I was confused at the statement. Or maybe because he said it. Then it dawned on me that it made sense. At least to us, it did. We shared a quick smile. Then he asked again, “So, it’s worth it?” I answered, as plainly as I could– “Yes. At any time you do absolutely anything that improves the person that you are, pursue it and embrace it. Be a collector of honor, of respect, of optomistic actions. If you want to make your outside beautiful, begin on the inside. You can come into this gym 7 days a week and build the most incredible physique any one has ever seen, but if what you hold and share on the inside is tainted, it will be all for nothing. This goes for anything worth working hard for. If you are not willing to work, do not complain about the distance your journey goes.”
We exchanged email addresses. Shook hands. He left and I killed my delts training, high on the conversation I was honored to have. This is what it’s all about. Not just in the gym, but with people you see or meet anywhere, anytime. You never really know the impact you have on people, whether positive or negative. We tend to do everything through computer and cell phone screens, neglecting the force that taking the time for actual human interaction. Even sitting here, typing this, I wonder how much more effective this story would have been had I had you all in a room, speaking to and with you. What would you had done had this young kid approached you in the gym? Would you shun him or teach and be taught? What have you done to be great on the inside? Am I boring you?
This is a challenge. Take the time to pay it forward. Each one, teach one. Anytime, anywhere.