The Life Saving Business

To my surprise, as I headed home from the gym on a recent Sunday afternoon I spotted a beautiful brand-new Maserati heading my way.

And to my even greater surprise, the driver waved at me as he passed by.

It was Russel, my neighbor from down the street.

“Holy shit, man. Is this your new car?!?” I asked him, somewhat incredulously.

“Yes, yes it is,” he said before adding “sadly, I’ve had a really successful year.”

Russ and I are neighbors but I wouldn’t really categorize us as friends. We have kids that are about the same age. And while they splash around in the pool in what used to be typical Summer days, he and I would sit on the edge and bullshit for a while about the usual guy stuff – old Mustangs, the Knicks, the ineptitude with which our complex was being run.

And of course, we got to talking about what we did for a living. Me as a small business owner running fitness facilities and he as a surgical oncologist at Sloan-Kettering, quite possibly the premier cancer hospital in the United States.

“You and I are in the same business, Dan,” he once said to me. “The life saving business”.

“The only difference is, once they get to me, they are out of options. They will do and spend whatever it takes.”

This observation is so chilling and insightful that it’s worth further discussion.

It’s not surprising for people to be short-sighted. To think that disease and disability and illness are in the distant future and nothing they have to worry about as a 20 or 30 or 40 year old.

And even with the preponderance of evidence that strength and cardiovascular training and proper nutrition are the controllable keys to a longer, less diseased life, so many people will not partake.

I’d love to say it’s the time or effort or knowledge that holds them back, but it’s actually something much, much worse.

They don’t want to invest in themselves.

And this is the thinking that has Russ driving around in a brand new GrandTurismo and the rest of us saddled with an expensive and broken healthcare system.

Surely, this is an oversimplification of a massive problem but allow me to say this as clearly as possible, once you have food to eat, shelter and clothes for your kids, there is no better investment than that of your health and fitness.

And before someone brings up the “I know someone who went to the gym and ran 35 miles a week and died of a heart attack at 50” exception to the rule, I will counter with this – people get hit by cars while walking on the sidewalk sometimes, that doesn’t mean you should start walking in the middle of the road.

That’s it. I wish I had something else to say to expound this further, but this is all I’ve got. I’m making it my mission to convince people to invest in their fitness and themselves.

And if the gyms fill up – hell, if I have 30 gyms that fill up – my goal will never be to buy a Maserati. Nope. My goal is to make sure that Russel won’t be able to buy one.

Nothing would make me happier than seeing that fucker drive around in some old jalopy.

Honestly, given what he’s seen, I don’t think anything would make him happier either.