THE CRUCIBLE


I’ve had many different types of people step into my facility over the years, some added value while others accelerated aggravation. But in order to accelerate, sufficient momentum is needed first. In this case the origins of that momentum started with a few and quickly spread to the many. Today without hesitation, gyms will readily have their doors open for exactly that; the masses. This is the norm and apparently, I missed the memo. Yet when you allow the masses to come in, it in fact creates a mass; an abnormal growth of cells that can initially seem benign but can potentially become malignant. It was running rapid in the gym, a dangerous cocktail of un-enthusiasm, reluctance and complacency. Rather than succumb to the poison I decided to quarantine and haven’t looked back. Our approach is of a different sort. We prioritize our people and place the value on what is earned rather than what is given. At our facility we earn more than just a monthly membership, we earn each other’s trust and respect; we all earn our place…

This was an issue that had reared its ugly head numerous times before, many solutions were suggested, tested, and implemented but ultimately my efforts came up short. As it progressively got more aggressive so did my responses. The final response has left me with something that would to be known as the “Crucible.” It’s defined as a situation of severe trial, in which different elements interact, leading to the creation of something new. There has been a great deal of confusion regarding this in terms of how its conducted as well as its purpose and I am more than happy to clear the air that most have been voluntarily choking on.

The reasons for introducing this into the gym was to facilitate a specific type of environment and experience for the client while filtering out those who have demonstrated a lack of seriousness, initiative and commitment. For the ones that are willing, prospect clients will be invited to go through a 1 to 3-month probationary period that is used for preparation. This is used to assist the new trainee to develop a skill that they were not able to perform prior to coming into the gym. It is completely individualized and corresponds to the client’s current condition and skill aptitude. The day of the crucible which is unknown to the trainee is conducted amongst their peers. It entails the completion of task utilizing the skill you have developed over the preparation period, with some type of constraint put in place such as time, reps, rounds, etc. If you happen to pass, then you have earned your place in the gym. By failing you are no longer eligible to continue the training at our facility and your dues for that month will be returned to you. There are no retakes, do-overs or second chances. Some have categorized this as harsh, cruel and malicious…My response is a simple question; How bad did they actually want this? The follow up is even easier but harder for people to admit. That they weren’t completely committed, they didn’t conduct themselves properly and were reluctant to come to terms with the consequences. For me, the distinction here couldn’t be clearer. We don’t place the value in the membership, but rather in the actual process that you had to go through in order to earn your place in the gym. That to come into a place that you are utterly unfamiliar with while having no idea of what you’re fully capable of. Then to repeatedly do things that are completely outside of your comfort zone day after day. You then begin to go through the process of mastering those things while learning valuable lessons along the way that are transferable to other situations outside of the gym. And then finally, to take what you have learned and being able to perform it with proficiency under extreme pressure with no certainty or guaranteed success waiting for you on the other side. You then come out on the other side successful with a new-found sense of confidence and capability. It’s one of the most important lessons you could possibly take from this because we firmly believe that if you keep doing only what you can do, you’ll always remain who you are.

This has been as much as a learning experience for me as it will be for our new prospect members as well as the ones who have already gone through this process. I am coming from a place of experience that has taught me what the long terms ramifications are from lowering expectations and standards. My integrity as a trainer will not be compromised so I can cater to the masses as I’m more interested in providing what helps rather than what sells. That the people and what they’ll be able to do with what we give them supersede profit. We are more concerned about the mindset rather than the actual skill set and are seeking people who are looking to take this seriously with a desire to make a significant change in their lives. For the people that train here we want them to add value to the group, so they can create discussion and challenge what we think we may already know. We want those who give more than they take and who are like minded, not liabilities. There is one characteristic in the gym that stands with an undying defiance; that there are remarkable people in this gym that have EARNED and DESERVE my attention. I will not allow those who don’t take this seriously distract me and my staff from that. Sometimes the only means to learn about ourselves requires the appropriate setting and sometimes the best settings are the most uncomfortable ones. I leave you with this quote that flawlessly explains the objective of the crucible and if after reading it deters you from coming into the gym, well…then it has served its purpose. “Throw your soldiers into positions whence there is no escape, and they will prefer death to flight. If they will face death, there is nothing they may not achieve.”


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Photo and Video by Andrew Minarik Photography

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