So by now, you’ve heard of my infamous tweet that has gone viral of a McDonalds bag sitting out in the open on a Life Time Fitness employees desk for all to see. I just wanted to take a moment to explain who I am, what drives me and what motivates me. (For some background on the story, read this or this)
My name is Grant Hill and I am a fitness entrepreneur and Founder of MyBootcamp – a company that provides “bootcamp inspired personal training” to clients and a pretty great business opportunity for personal trainers. As you may have seen, the website is getting reworked for the new Partner Program which launches in February.
I came to the fitness industry through indoor cycling. I happen to also be a published music producer and percussionist, so the synergy of the music and movement in an indoor cycle class was a natural fit for me. I LOVE teaching cycle. So while I build my business I continued teaching. Just once a week at Life Time Athletic in Rockville, MD. People came in droves for my class. A typical cycle studio has 20 bikes. This studio has 60 and they are all sold out every time I teach. In fact there are usually some turned away. There have been fights in my class over bikes. People get to the gym two hours early and I’ve even been told people go in OVER NIGHT to reserve a bike with their shoes and towel (24 hour gym).
Believe me – it wasnt for the money. In fact, at only $40 per class before taxes, subtracting music costs, adding 30 minutes to create each playlist, 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after for setup/breakdown/questions, it was a significant investment of my time. But I did it for the opportunity to change those 60 lives. Just a little bit. Once a week. My teaching philosophy is to build character. You can’t transform your body without first transforming your mind. You can’t transform your mind without first having passion in your heart. Make a decision. Decide to act. See change. These are virtues that make us stronger PEOPLE not just stronger bodies. If we only exercise to have a hot body, we exercise in vain. The nice body is a by-product. So instead of silly cycling imagery that most of your class members don’t care about (95% of spinners just want a good workout and are not competitive cyclists) or deep thoughts, the message is clear, the movement is precise and I believe it changes lives on a weekly basis. I cherish this opportunity. I teach because I love teaching my cycle class. The gym just happens to host it.
Some of the discussion on this controversy stems from my Twitter profile that I am a “Hater of gyms.” - “Some people have said well if you hate gyms, why do you work at one? Hypocrite!” Guilty as charged. I do hate gyms. They are ineffective and the business model is broken. They feast on failure and confusion. While gym memberships sky rocket each year, even in a down economy, gyms still find a way to close at a rate second highest only to restaurants. Right now, the globo gyms and conventional wisdom touting nutritionist are losing the battle and there is no end in sight. So if we really want to reverse the epidemic of Western diseases caused by the industrial food chain and if we really want to understand how to reach optimal health and well being in an environment that is congruent with our evolutionary upbringing, someone has to step up and challenge the system and I’d be happy to accept that role.
Life Time Fitness dubs themselves “The Healthy Way of Life Company.” If you follow me or know anything about my philosophies you know that I am not afraid to challenge or instigate. Especially when people’s lives are at stake and ESPECIALLY if you are also a health practitioner or health company. I am about driving awareness. And we do that through discussion. Life Time attempted to silence that discussion to preserve their own self-interest.
YES I hate the fact that Life Time takes advertising dollars from the likes of Red Bull and 5 Hour Energy. I can work there and not agree with their corporate practices. I do hate gyms. Why? I believe they are causing irreparable harm to millions. Just look at the state of the fitness industry. Membership increases annually because people are gaining insidious amounts of weight each year consuming poison from places as guilty as McDonalds (a little TBHQ aka Lighter Fluid with your Chicken Nuggets?) and as seemingly innocent as Quaker Oats (Grains actually come loaded with 3 different poisons actually – called anti-nutrients. Learn about it). Gym-goers know they “have to do something” but they lack direction and seek advice. So they schlep to the gym, get roped in by the sales guy, locked into a 2-year contract and hustled by a trainer. They then proceed to spend their first few workouts dilly dallying about the machines – shifting chairs and levers, eyes glazed over with a blank stare as they gaze off into a distant television while strapped in by a seatbelt to a strange machine that isolates a muscle group along a fixed track.
Gyms are an unnatural habitat filled with unnatural and ineffective machines perpetuated by negative feedback and failure. Didn’t get the weight loss results? “Just try harder – just exercise more – just eat less. You failed. Try harder next time ok?” Did the practitioner ever stop to reevaluate and question his or her training that a “clean and lean diet” filled with 60% carbs may be the problem? That maybe the client is following the recommendations but the recommendations themselves are to blame? Does the practitioner appear to be fit themselves? Does the practitioner even want to be there?
I believe that the fitness industry is broken – completely and utterly broken – this is why they have the second highest turnover rate of any industry behind restaurants. This is why statistically, 90% of gym goers stop going to gyms by the 90th day of their membership. Trainers and staff are underpaid and overworked and as a result staffs have massive turn-over. Another reason members fail – no consistency…and this is the reason why. Gyms are more interested in preserving their own self-interest than actually bringing change to people’s lives. People don’t like gyms, but they are seeking awareness. Gyms don’t like members. They make it crowded. They over sell memberships knowing people wont come. It is a model built on failure. It is clear that the industry is succeeding at failing them.
You’d be hard pressed to find someone who actually likes being at the gym. We spend all day indoors. Starting at a machine. Why would you ever want to drive to a gym to spend another hour staring at another machine? Fresh air is a foreign substance. I’ll concede that there are a few that will tolerate the gym. If you show me someone who loves going to the gym, I’ll show that they very well may be doing more harm than good. Wow, training for a marathon? I’ve done one before – but is it healthy? Is the human body really capable of such a feat without risking serious injury? Do you recall what happened to Pheidippides after he delivered his message in Athens? HE. DIED. Soon, these Cardio Hounds will also get injured – and stop going to the gym. “But I thought it was all about intensity! But I thought this was what I was supposed to do!” The “old age” is the next excuse and it is creeping up on people in their early 30′s.
To summarize and reiterate my points, I did this as a very strategic method of stimulating discussion. If i needed the money, I probably would have conceded to their censorship attempt. It is less about fast food and more about the macro failures of gyms. Life Time bit and they bit hard. If Life Time had a real interest in driving awareness or even any intelligent social media strategy they would have engaged me publicly, peppered in some humor and said something to the effect of “@granthillfit BUSTED! Everyone slips up on occasion. Hope it was a salad!” – and any PR consultant would have advised them to do so as well. It would have been over. But brand protection was Priority 1. Ruling with an iron fist was the modus operandi. Not education. Not driving awareness and engaging in dialogue. It’s about profit. Not about your health.
One follower said it best:
Everyone keeps apologizing for your news. I am here to congratulate you on getting fired! You now have more fuel, more support, and more reason to continue to follow what you know to be true. The world is full of lies and deception. It is all coming to a head, and the lines are being drawn. The corporate paradigm is to propagate a malignant chain around the neck of individuals–to confuse and control them with convenience, shady law-buying, and heartless self-servitude. They have instigated and perpetuated a biochemical war against our bodies and minds for well over half a century. Lifetime needs people to eat McDonalds foodstuff. It helps their bottom line. Well not any more. Grant, thanks for taking a courageous step towards helping to empower the individual. Your honesty and service to health and well being will be rewarded a thousand fold.
I taught one class per week at Life Time taking home less than $40 for it. I will recoup that before noon today with the next MyBootcamp client. I did it NOT for the paycheck (it was a third of my hourly rate), but for the opportunity to change 60 lives every Wednesday morning. I love teaching my class and people love what I do and I like to think I’m quite good at it. One of the biggest cycle studios in the country – over capacity every time I teach. What’s not to love about having the opportunity to impact that many lives in one short hour?
Now my reach has grown, my audience is bigger than ever and I will continue to challenge and instigate in an effort to shift paradigms, defeat status quos and lead people to a fulfilling life on a journey of optimal health and well being.