Even if you fall on your face, you're still moving forward.

- Victor Kiam

Owning and operating an "Elite" gym can be a bipolar experience. It can make you want to pull your hair out (the secret reason most warehouse gym owners keep a shaved dome) or flail madly into a Surge-induced rage with challenges that would reduce a lesser man to tears. However, the dividends can also be incredible—yielding natural highs that are nearly unparalleled.

I’m happy to share all of the dirt as we move down this path—all of the mistakes we’ve made along the way (and there have been a lot of mistakes), as well as the extremely good stuff. But before I get too granular (we’ll save the nitty-gritty for future articles), I’d like to share a few light-hearted examples along with a significant triumph.

The Cosmically Comical

We’re standing in the front of the gym. It’s a beautifully warm night, and the overhead doors are open to ventilate the pit. My trainer and I are getting ready to have the athletes begin their dynamic warmup when one of our regulars bounds in and immediately begins jabbering.

"They're burning Beast Shirts," the athlete says.

"Huh?" I grunt.

"The guys from X Gym (name changed to protect the innocent). They're burning Beast T-shirts outside, behind their gym."

"Are you out of your mind?"

"It's true. Some of our football players know about it," the athlete splutters while waiving his hands for emphasis. "Once a month they have a ceremony and burn 'em."

"Well, see if you can get them to burn the shirts more frequently. We could use the sales."

The Sad State of the Union

Beast placed an ad in an expensive local flyer—one of those we deliver to three thousand households in your county and our advertisers typically receive a tremendous response. Well, our “tremendous” response was one call and one drop-in trainee...we’ll call him Lord Fauntleroy.

Fauntleroy was tremendously out of shape, borderline obese, and angry at the world for having the body he did. He was also extremely flamboyant, a constant complainer, and incredibly lazy. We initially hammered him with a detailed discussion of programming: compound movements, strength training for increased lean body mass, increased caloric consumption with improved body composition, proprioceptive awareness and neural enhancement, valuable skills you can take with you and apply to further fitness programs or your own gym routines, etc.

“Can I get steroids from you guys?” Fauntleroy asked within the first five minutes.

“No,” we responded vehemently. “We don’t condone the use of anabolics.”

After the first session, he complained that we weren’t fulfilling our duties as trainers because we weren’t providing him with a nutritional program and other supplemental material to help with his body transformation. Sure enough, Lord Fauntleroy lasted three sessions and disappeared. He didn’t want to squat, bench, or deadlift. The guy wouldn’t do pushups because they were too hard. He was, in fact, our first lost customer. And sadly, at the time, we lamented his departure. Although clearly, with the benefit of hindsight, he was never meant for Beast.

The Reason Behind the Sacrifice

I've discovered that most of the incredibly fulfilling things I've done have involved no true monetary compensation.

I was attending the 2012 Capital for Kids Main Event Fundraiser in Dallas, Texas, when the following message flashed across my phone. It was a text from one of our athletes. The athlete refers to Chris Bogannam, Beast's Training’s Performance Enhancement Specialist, and me.

Training at Beast made me the person I am today and I wanted to let you and Chris know that I really appreciate the work you did with me and the value of the time you’ve given to me. I know your time comes at a premium because of home and work obligations, but the fact that you’ve taken time out of your schedule to consistently answer my questions and provide me with solid advice has really made a difference.

I just want to make sure I told you that you and Chris changed my life for the better. You taught me how to push myself to my limit and how to work to improve myself. Today that effort is paying off. I am competing with the top wrestlers in the state and doing extremely well. My goal is to be the state champion in my weight class next year.

I know we will eventually go our separate ways, but I would have been remiss had I not shared the impact you’ve had on my life. When I’m older I hope to own a gym of my own—I couldn’t have asked for better examples of how to work toward my goals.

Thank you,


That message made my evening. It still puts a smile on my face these many months later. We made a difference.

Ladies and gentlemen of the Iron Game, thank you for listening and stay well until next time.