Wimp Nation: Do you embrace your fitness challenges or run from them?

I teach spin classes four days a week at BullFitness, a personal training and group fitness/spin studio in downtown St. Pete. The following is mostly made up of people who like hardcore fitness. There is no hand-holding or coddling here – people come to BullFitness to get their asses kicked.

Last week, I walked into the spin studio to teach my 6pm class and it was full of new faces. I love having new people in my classes, but I always feel a little bit nervous because my classes are intense. I push my students to the edge, force them to obliterate their comfort zones, and smash any limitations they thought they had for themselves. I play loud music. I yell. I say crazy shit sometimes – I do whatever I need to do get them to push beyond their limits. With that said, my following knows how tough my classes are, and they all probably have a touch of sadist in them…which is perfect because I can be downright maniacal. ;)

So you get it – I’m a psychopath on the spin bike and these poor, hapless souls had no idea whose lair they had stepped into. They were struggling immediately, but I didn’t back off. The beauty of spin is that participants can make it as tough or as easy as they want.  Halfway through the class, I played a short recovery song, and one of the newbies started to get off her bike before realizing there was still a half hour left.

Everyone survived, but nobody has returned (at least to my class), and that got me thinking…

Was I too hard? Should I have taken it easy? What about people who aren’t as crazy about fitness as I am? But after some contemplation, I am standing behind my decision. Yes I could have gone easier, but would that have really made a difference? The problem here wasn’t the level of toughness of the class, it was the lack of tenacity, grit, and determination of the participants. What’s disappointing is that they represent the majority of folks in our society.

(prepare for a soapbox harangue…)

We’ve gone soft. We’re a nation of wimps. We crumble under pressure, we cry when things get tough, and we give up when it hurts. How am I connecting this to a spin class? Well, I see it all the time – people can’t handle being pushed and give up. Not just in spin classes, but fitness in general. In dieting. In work. In anything.

It’s way easier to give up than to persevere through discomfort. Most people would rather quit.


I hate that word. The thought of giving up on something makes me queasy. I can’t stand the idea of being beat by something… anything, for that matter. Sure, I have tough moments. You better believe there have been times in my life when I wanted to curl up in a ball and surrender because I was tired of fighting.  But, I didn’t.

So where does that come from? Where does grit originate? What makes one person resilient and another the victim of circumstances? Further, can grit and resilience be learned?

To me, toughness comes from experience. It’s something that develops when someone chooses to be strong when shit hits the fan. It IS ABSOLUTELY a quality that can be learned because grit is the product of attitude – and attitude is a choice. Is it easy to keep a good attitude when things get tough? No…definitely not. But it’s possible. It’s a conscious decision. And that’s where this all really starts. It’s a choice that you have the power over. How will you react? When something hurts, do you wave the white flag or get out the gloves?

I ask because I think this is SO important in life, and determination and grit seem to be increasingly rare. How much tenacity do you have? Are you resilient… or do you buckle under pressure? Do you embrace challenges, or do you run from them?

Let me tell you something — your answers to those questions say a lot about who you really are.