Getting Off The Island

I reference the movie “Castaway” on this blog a lot.

Maybe it’s because I’m an introverted Tom Hanks mega-fan who fantasizes about being alone on a quiet island surrounded by palm trees for the better part of 5 years.

(I actually don’t fantasize about that at all. I have no wilderness skills and would probably be remarkably lonely after 3 days and dead in two weeks).

But enough about me.

I think the reason I keep going back to Castaway is because it is just a great allegory for the struggles of training and of life. Of how the choices you have made – and some that seem thrust upon you – lead you into and out of trouble. Of how you sometimes just need to figure shit out. Of how remarkably resilient you can actually be.

Today’s Castaway lesson comes from a part of the movie that no one remembers or probably cares about. It’s not the plane crash or when Chuck first figures out how to make fire or the great island escape. It’s not about Wilson or Helen Hunt or his impacted tooth.

It’s a small scene that comes after Chuck gets rescued and is put up in a hotel by FedEx before his “welcome back” reception. Chuck’s closest friends and colleagues gather in his room and, as they all leave, one friend, Stan, stays behind. Chuck gets really philosophical about why he felt he needed to stay alive on the island and what his purpose has become. It’s really an amazing performance by Hanks.

At one point Chuck acknowledges that while he was stranded, Stan’s wife passed away from cancer. And then he says, “I’m sorry I wasn’t here for you when Mary died.”

Holy shit.

This guy has just been stranded on an island for half a decade. He survived a plane crash. Floated aimlessly on a raft in the middle of the ocean for God knows how long. Learned that the love of his life remarried and had a child. Had to watch is inanimate best friend float away.

And he has the compassion and empathy to apologize to his friend for not being available to help him while he’s grieving.

In our gyms we have great programming, everyone’s favorite music is pumping, we offer the best pre-workout and we make sure the place is thoroughly cleaned daily. We are in incredible locations, have the best equipment, even our logo is cool.

That stuff is pretty great but it’s also mostly meaningless. It’s the support and love and accountability that we all get from each other that actually drives the experience. That forces the change. That allows us to be who we want to be and feel how we want to feel.

There is nothing more powerful and possibly important in your life than surrounding yourself with a support system.

Kyle and I had a wonderful talk the other day about what our goals were for the business now that so much has changed in the fitness landscape and in the world this past year. We came to the same conclusions we’ve always come to.

Change the fitness industry by eliminating all the bullshit. Help as many people as we can.

We’re a business and businesses need to make money. But if you really can’t pay and you really need help, we’ll find a way to help you. Those are our values. That’s how much it means to us.

If we ended up being half as empathetic as Chuck was, speaking from his heart in the dark of that hotel room, then we’ll know we’ve done the right things.