Awesome company. Awesome city. Awesome people. Awesome day. ‘Nuff said.
My morning started with a rebel workout at Millennium Park in downtown Chicago.
Our workout this morning was led by Josh, who I later learned has one hell of an inspirational story of his own. In his youth he was bullied for being overweight and, instead of giving up, he decided to fight against it by eating healthy, getting fit, and dedicating his life to coaching others to overcome the same challenges he once faced. Josh was awesome. He was so full of energy and so motivating that it was hard not to enjoy working out with him and the other rebels. Truly an awesome team.
I grabbed breakfast on my way back to the hotel and ate it between showering and drying my hair: oatmeal, fruit, and some sort of biscotti that came in my to-go bag.
Back at the Anytime Fitness Conference, the day’s activities kicked off with their version of “Ted Talks” or quick 15-minute sessions from a truly inspiring group of individuals.
First up, Kelly Olexa represented FitFluential nation with a quick speech on social media. Her down-and-dirty speech got one very important point across – social media is a tool you should use to start a conversation with your audience, not try to sell them through it. Yes. Yes. Yes. I think a lot of businesses are so focused on traditional advertising with a sell, sell, sell approach, that they forget the value of growing an organic relationship with fans or simply just letting them know you’re there to listen.
Next was Simon Keith, who had a heart transplant when he was just 21 years old, but that didn’t stop him from being the number one pick in the professional indoor soccer draft three years later. He had a very powerful message that reminded us all to live in the moments and not take anything for granted. Live life to your fullest potential, it’s too short otherwise.
I was really looking forward to Drew Manning’s speech. I’ve been following his Fit2Fat2Fit journey since the becoming and it was great to finally meet him in person.
If you’re unfamiliar with his story, Drew was a personal trainer (at Anytime Fitness!) when he decided – in order to help understand his clients’ struggles with losing weight – he was going to purposely gain significant amount weight and then lose it.
What I found the most interesting about his speech was how he gained the 75+lbs in 6 months. It wasn’t by gorging on fast food on a daily basis, it was by simply eating a traditional American convenience-food diet:
- Breakfast: bowl of sugary cereal + milk
- Snack: energy drink + granola bar
- Lunch: two sandwiches on white bread with full mayo
- Snack: zingers + soda
- Dinner: white pasta with sauce
- Dessert: bowl of sugary cereal + milk
Seems pretty normal, right? On top of that diet, he became a couch potato for 6 months.
When it came time to lose the weight, he lost 19 lbs the first month with healthy eating alone – he didn’t start back at working out until month two. It took him 6 months to gain the weight and 6 months to lose it. Amazing.
He actually wrote a book about the entire experience, I plan on downloading it as soon as I get home.
As a special bonus during the morning’s talks, Anytime Fitness presented a handful of “2 Inspire” awards. The awards are presented to individuals who inspire their community to get out there and get moving.
After the talks wrapped up, our group headed out for some deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s
Because you can’t go to Chicago without getting some deep dish pizza, right?
Some local beer flava. Goose Island represent!
I started with the spinach salad.
And split a large sausage deep dish with the table.
Loved the sausage. And the cheese. One slice was more than enough to fill my craving. Yum. Yum. And yum.
After lunch, Annie and I did a little exploring.
And cupcake eating.
Tonight’s dinner was the formal event of the weekend. Don’t we all look purrr-ty?
The main event.
The annual Running Man Awards were presented to the best Anytime Fitness owner, best Anytime Fitness manager, and four member success stories. Talk about inspiring! I needed a kleenex for the member success stories, those were the ones that really tugged at my heart.
The first went to an incredible women who was born with no arms or legs. When she turned 40 she decided to make fitness a priority and joined her local Anytime Fitness gym. There she met a trainer who was willing to work with her disability, and together they created a challenging routine that built her strength and aided in a twelve pound weight loss.\. Incredible.
The second was awarded to a very dedicated husband who agreed to join the gym after his wife’s doctor encouraged a lifestyle change when she was diagnosed with cancer. Over the next year he lost 100 lbs, while his wife lost 40. What I really took from heart in his video was the line “this[working-out] isn’t tough, this is easy. sitting in a cancer radiation waiting room, that’s the tough part. nothing beats that.”
The third went to a woman who lost 100 lbs with the help of her local Anytime Fitness and the final went to Josh, who I mentioned above.
The entire ceremony was very moving. The passion the club owners, managers, personal trainers, and members have for Anytime Fitness and their mission of health is incredible and inspiring. They truly live and bleed purple for Anytime Fitness and it’s refreshing see so many of their employees (and franchise owners) have so much love for their community. They work hard, they play hard, and they inspire.
The theme this weekend was “Earned. Not given.” I like that because it’s true.
If you want to be fit, you have to fight for it.
If you want to succeed in business, you have to work hard, kick butt, and take names.
If you want to be happy, you have to BE happy.
Thank you, Anytime Fitness, for an incredible weekend. I was proud to call myself an honorary member of the Anytime Fitness team.