Mental Fortitude

In 2011, in a video booth found in the Home Depot Center in Carson California, a young woman, in awe of the names, Labaw, Akinwale, Foucher and Voigt, proclaimed her intention of making it to the very same arena these names competed on. Still green to the sport and unable to perform double unders, or muscle ups, she convinced herself at that moment she would make it there one day. 3 months after Margaux’s video booth confessional Margaux and I crossed paths.

Reflecting back on our first meeting feels as if it just happened yesterday. She was wearing a white dress and she stood out in a country bar, her broad back and shoulders defined easily distinguishing her from the rest of the girls there. Her allure, left a impressionable presence, her smile and laugh so lively, I can still see her leaning back laughing so happy with life.  Much like a movie theatre, after the lights dim and the show starts on the large screen, you forget the presence of everyone else in that room with you, I too lost my surrounding and everyone around me that night, captivated by her presence. As nervous as I’ve ever been, a good friend of mine broke the ice and introduced us, so I  shook her hand, and instantly began my fall. Our conversation began soon after! There is a fine line between ambitious, and irrational, and she carefully traversed that as she passionately talked about her new proclaimed goal, and all of her future plans in the short time we talked, but she made me a believer that night, and I have never doubted her since.

4 years can feel like a blink of the eye when you are looking back trying to find where the time went, but when you are so eager to get to where you want to be, 4 years can seem like a lifetime. In the 4 years I have spent on this journey with Margaux, I have had the best seats in celebrating all the ups that come with all of her accomplishments. I have seen her through her first muscle up, the moment she broke through her first 100 pound snatch, her first regional performance along with all the countless of achievements I have had the pleasure of witnessing holding this seat. But what good tale comes without an antithesis and my first class seat has also been witness to the tribulations that come with this goal of hers. In these 4 years I have seen countless of  tears hit the floor, I have seen doubt invade her mind, I have felt her trembling body as fear paralyzed her, on many occasions I’ve been left only holding her tight, unsure of what to say or do at that moment, allowing only the silence of the room and time to sooth the panic. Nothing life offers is guaranteed, only in fighting for the things we so adamantly choose to achieve do we see the rewards of the process but the process itself can beat you down.

I’m asked many times, as we meet more people, how can X get to the games, X being themselves or a friend and I have always found it hard to explain. In looking back at Margaux’s experience, I have searched for the answer and while we can look at aerobic capacity, strength, planning, programming, or any other anecdotal rationale I can think of, I still have a hard time pin pointing how to pass the recipe for success to the others who want it. I have tried and have failed with other athletes, I have given them the same conversations, the same points of view, the same nutrition, the same philosophy in programming and the result was not profound, I failed them. Excluding those who were injured or limited severely by prior injuries, what I see as a constant barrier is the battle of the mind, and while I believe in my philosophy in training, the execution of that training is what leaves me scratching my head.

I was spoiled, the answer is Margaux spoiled me rotten as a coach. She was coachable since day one, not only in the gym, but also with everything else we discussed. Her goal in being one of forty, was complex and it became even more difficult this year, not only wanting to get back, but now wanting to win the whole thing. What separates her is the ability to believe in the process, to believe what we do today matters so much in May and in July. She understands that being patient is as important as working hard, she understands how to enjoy what she does despite the downs that come with such an intense goal. She understands how important accountability is and being honest in assessing it. What makes Margaux so successful, is her mental fortitude.

The first major move Margaux and I made in 2011 as Coach/Athlete was in economizing her time to train. Time is the most valuable commodity we have, but for a girl, who had just left a better paying job as a marketer to coach was probably the last person who wanted to entertain not coaching. Asking her to quit one of the two coaching jobs she had at that moment in her life, to focus on this goal of hers was not an easy decision to make, and it also wasn’t something easy to ask. Coaching at two different gyms and spending two hours in a car a day getting to those different gyms was taking time away from training, and the moment she proclaimed such a potent goal was the very moment, training took priority. To catch the names I mentioned above, you have to respect how hard they work and somehow find a way to outwork them to make any progress.

No one is saying quitting your job and focusing all your attention on your goal is the key of getting you there, because you will still have to battle the statistics, you will still have to work hard and respect those you chase to know every second, every minute, and every hour you put into this chase is only good enough if you follow it the next day with the same tenacity and diligence, but in the case of Margaux, it was a necessity. Margaux’s choice, as easy as it is to reflect on now, was to cut back on spending, she shopped and cooked all of her food, she did not go out with friends, she searched Craigs list for a room to rent leaving her apartment, in order to downgrade her budget and quit one of coaching jobs. She later moved her work schedule around to allow for a 3 day weekend to train, which later in time, became four and then five days free to train. She did everything she could to make training a priority even at such a delicate point in her life, even when money was not falling from the sky for her, even when few people believed her dream was possible, she herself made that decision to go all in!

Our decisions are direct reflections of  our character, and beliefs, and while we can easily refuse to accept accountability for those decisions, the truth is, just as protons and electrons hold the world together, the decisions we make every single day, hold our future together. Your goal if reasonable is within reach, but it does require the mental fortitude and the right decisions to accept the right path. Believe in yourself believe in your process and fight hard every day to grant success an invitation to your home. Remember how easy it is to look back and reflect and how fast 4 years will pass if you blink, so if today you find yourself frustrated, and full of doubt, take a deep breath close your eyes, focus on just one day at a time, and get to the next day, repeating the process. Margaux took a chance on me 4 years ago, she went all in on her training as well, and nothing would have changed if she never did make the the games. We would still have our memories, we would still have that night we met, she would have no regrets, the only difference is we would not have as many people to share our story with. Put your head down, put the fear away, work hard and leave no doubts.

Our mantra

  • Be Accountable to your Goal
  • Prepare and Execute every day
  • Review your work
  • Be Patient
  • Enjoy the Journey



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