If you are reading this, it’s quite possible that you have no idea who John McEnroe or Jimmy Connors are.
If you fall into that category you probably aren’t American, are under 40 or not a tennis fan.
Before players like Serena had their own clothing line, every male player was over 6’5” and had a 160mph serve and a very small handful of European players dominated the game, Connors and McEnroe were household names. American tennis greats whose heyday spanned the late 1970’s through the 1980’s winning a combined fifteen Grand Slam titles (7 for Mac, 8 for Jimmy, which, if you know McEnroe at all, probably irks the shit out of him).
Jimmy and John were more rivals than sworn enemies. Two very charismatic and gregarious guys who ruled the sport when there weren’t a lot of broadcast options and social media distractions. There relationship always seemed like revolve around healthy competition rather than a WWE-style smackdown.
The thing that always captivated me about both McEnroe and Connors – aside from the fact that they were world-class athletes – is how each of them seemed to approach the mental and motivational side of the game.
McEnroe, known for his outbursts towards the referees and judges (his “You can’t be serious!” meltdown is still one of the most famous of all time), seemed to have an internal dialogue running throughout the entire match. You could see him muttering to himself and, while not having an absolute contempt for the crowd, almost viewed them as a necessary inconvenience. As if he just had himself to play off of he’d be totally fine.
Connors was the polar opposite. He would completely feed off the crowd. It almost seemed like a spiritual experience to him. That the 20,000 people in the crowd were on his side of the net, helping him chase down balls and swing through his back hand.
This was perfectly displayed in an incredible US Open run in 1991 where a nearly 40 year old Connors battled deep into the tournament through multiple five set, 4 hour plus long matches. This clip perfectly illustrates how Connors draws off the will of the crowd (warning: if you are prone to getting emotional when watching sports movies this clip will give you goosebumps).
This type of dichotomy can also very clearly be seen on the training floor. Some people are headphones in their ears, hoody pulled over their heads, look no one in the eye, gym-goers who could just as easily be training alone in their garage rather than on a crowded gym floor.
Others need the energy of training partners, coaches and any other adoring fans. People who want to suffer and struggle along side of others (or at least have that struggle be witnessed) in order to be able to pull the most out of themselves.
Clearly our gym caters to that second person. The Jimmy Connors-type who wants to be part of a community of likeminded individuals all working towards improving and getting there together. And that’s great! We think of our training community as the secret sauce to our entire business. Having great programs and expert coaches and hype music is all wonderful and important. But if all that came with the absence of the group dynamic it would most definitely feel like something major was missing.
So we all agree, the group energy is the key.
But even with that said, it’s definitely worth working on your inner McEnroe. Because some days you might train alone or not feel much like interacting with the group or find yourself in a hotel room banging out 100 burpees for time just to get a workout in. And when that does happen, that ability to tap into your inner resolve becomes critical.
We are going to keep this community together forever. And we want you to be part of it for just as long. But let’s be honest here. Thing happen. Jobs change. People move. You may just go on a great trip for a month. And when those things happen, you have to have the tools to be able to make it happen on your own. It’s critical to your success.
And our mission is to make you successful.