Stand By Me

Stand By Me is one of my favorite movies of all time.

It’s got everything I love. Great dialogue. Real connection between the characters. More than a touch of heartbreak. And an incredible final line that ties the whole thing together.

I saw it in the theater as a teenager and there is really no better recipe for loving something for the rest of your life than having a rich memory of first experiencing it during your formative years.

I’ve rewatched Stand By Me at least 100 times and, while there are a ton of scenes worthy of being deemed my favorite, I have settled on the pie eating contest as being my top.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the movie (and I’m hoping this is very few of you if you are cultured enough to be a subscriber of this blog), Gordy – one of the main characters – aspires to be a writer. Gordy and his friends hear that there is a dead body out in the woods a couple of towns away and decide they want to venture out to find it.

This requires them to camp out overnight and, in order to kill time, the kids all ask Gordy to tell them about one of the stories he’s written.

Gordy tells them this story of a local pie eating contest and really does a great job of painting the scene, creating intrigue and utilizing a technique that no teenage boy can resist – gross-out humor. I can’t do the scene justice here. You’ll just have to go watch it on your own.

Now, you can imagine that a bunch of teenage boys hanging out together without parental supervision for a couple of days would lead to a bunch of teasing, shit talking and generally taking the piss out of each other – which is completely what happens during the movie.

But what I love about the pie eating contest scene isn’t the actual telling of the story. It’s what happens directly after.

Because what you expect is that the kid’s will give Gordy shit about his story. But they do the exact opposite. They encourage him . They tell him how funny the story was. How well he told it. They tell him he’s going to be a great writer one day.

This is emphasized even more directly in a conversation between Gordy and his best friend Chris (in an unbelievable performance by River Phoenix). It’s exactly the type of reassurance you would want from your best friend.

“It’s like God gave you something, man, all those stories you can make up,” Chris tells Gordy.

“And He said, “This is what we got for ya, kid. Try not to lose it”. Kids lose everything unless there’s someone there to look out for them. And if your parents are too fucked up to do it, then maybe I should.”

Truly cuts right to the core.

It reminds me of another one of my favorite scenes in the movie School of Rock (now I am sure you have seen that one). During the final performance, Tomika, the once shy girl who was afraid to even ask to be a singer, belts out a monster vocal solo in front of the packed audience. This includes her grades-are-all-that-matter parents who, surprisingly, are beaming with pride. It’s the look only a parent can have when they realize that their child is excelling at something they are truly passionate about.

This type of support – whether from your peers or mentors or parents – is incalculable in it’s impact and contribution to your success.

There are many things that we feel we improved upon from our days as one-on-one personal trainers, but I think we would argue that the largest leap forward was in creating a community of training partners that are there to support you and a team of coaches that are available to encourage and mentor you.

Yes, we nerd out about the programs and the equipment. Yes, Kyle will spend half an afternoon making sure a shelf is perfectly level so it looks great when you walk in the door. We’ll spend time creating new merchandise you want to wear, stock the fridge with drinks that will help you train and hydrate and recover and partner with meal and supplement companies that will accelerate you reaching your goals.

But the true magic – the real secret sauce – is the community and support that we have surrounding each of our members.

And, at the risk of sounding overly corny, when I am standing quietly in the front of the gym and observing this type of social support and camaraderie happening organically out on the training floor, I can’t help but feel a little like Tomika’s parents at that concert. It’s one of the best parts of the job.

If you are in a gym where this doesn’t exist, I highly, highly recommend you seek it out. It will change your perception of training forever moving forward.

You learn at the end of the movie that Gordy (who is really an avatar for Stephen King, the writer of the story the movie is based upon) does become a successful writer. And the movie actually ends with him reminiscing about how much those kids and that support – support he just couldn’t find from his school or his family – really shaped who he became.

“I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve,” Gordy narrates as the last line of the movie. “Jesus, who does?”

Maybe you feel the same way. But we’re here to support you. We’re here to change that.