I was recently asked to recall my favorite Fort memory for an Instagram post.
Honestly, when you spend so much time in one place the memories become so stacked and thick that it becomes hard to separate them. So I gave the generic, yet honest, answer that there were many memories and that the cumulative experiences that have led to the community we’ve been able to build are what always come to mind when I reminisce about the first five plus years of The Fort.
Reflecting on it now, I could have come up with a better answer.
There was the time that Kyle went absolutely apeshit on our landlord when he required a mock up and an approval process for us to simply write “The Fort” on our front door (something the landlord actually requested that we do). Or the first weightlifting meet all the coaches trained for and competed in. Or when things were really tough in the early days I vividly remember telling Kyle at the end of another really long day that these were actually the best of times. That we would look back on these moments with more pride and warmth when things ultimately turn around.
And of course there are the thousands of training sessions, PRs and THAWs that I’ve witnessed and struggled through myself with our training staff and clients who have all become friends.
But none of those are my favorite Fort memory.
Nope. It’s the one day in mid-May when a long time client of mine came in crying.
She’d been going through a tough time and the fact that Mother’s Day had come and gone and her kids had gotten her as much as a card was really hitting her hard.
She started her session with her training partners and Coach Alec and when she was all done we talked about how the workout helped her feel a little better and chit-chatted about where she was headed to next. I got engrossed enough in the conversation that I didn’t even realize that Alec had sprinted out the door after the session.
It wasn’t until the client was putting on her sweatshirt and about to head out the door that I heard Alec burst back in the door, out of breath holding a Mother’s Day card in his outstretched right hand.
I’m no expert like Seth Godin or Gary Vaynerchuck. My philosophy about building a great culture simply comes down to two things: do your best to lead by example and hire great people.
On the surface we get hired to help people get stronger or lose weight or win at competition or help them reach a goal. But what we actually aim to do is help them build confidence, give them the tools to succeed, help them see the possibilities and pick them up when they are down.
Cursing out a landlord and competing at meets and seeing someone finally get a sub-7 minute 2k row are awesome. But it’s nothing compared to seeing a bearded, breathless meathead run through the door with $1.99 worth of pure heart in his hands.
Now that’s a great memory.