"All misfortune is but a stepping stone to fortune.” - Henry David Thoreau
This edition of “Coach’s Corner” is a bit different from the usual articles about strength secrets, programming hacks or movement skill mastery. Instead I’d like to share a chapter in a developing story; one with a still uncertain ending. This is the beginning of the tale of how our training studio was almost destroyed by a hot water pipe fiasco last Sunday night, but in-person training operations were able to resume with our amazing members as soon this Wednesday morning! But then… when I think about it, this still is an article about one of my favorite topics; “strength." But it’s not just strength of the body - in this case it's also strength of community, spirit and character.
On Saturday, June 17th, the Breakthrough coaching team had just finished up our 13th straight day of training, culminating in a fantastic fundraising Kettlebell Swing Workshop for the Alzheimer’s Association. Muscles were fatigued but spirits were high as we had made many new friends at the workshop and had also just returned from a beautiful Sunday hike in the Angeles National Forest with our amazing Adventure Team on the previous weekend. Needless to say, we were all looking forward to a relaxing, restorative Father’s Day on Sunday, June 18th! Alas, the forces or mayhem had other plans and we were soon reminded of the Kikuyu proverb, “there is no mischance you are guaranteed against.”
At around 8am, Sunday, June 18th, we received an emergency call from our landlord, who informed us that water seemed to be pouring down from our unit into the parking garage below. Not knowing what to expect, but not wanting to arrive unprepared, we grabbed a few towels and raced over to the gym. As we approached from the parking lot and noticed water streaming from our neighbor’s front door, we began to suspect that a few towels wasn’t going to cut it. When we saw our entire storefront steamed up, we thought we were probably going to need some help. As we stepped into a sauna-like interior and stood in ankle deep warm water, staring dismayed at bubbling paint, collapsed ceiling tiles and rust-covered kettlebells, we knew our training studio was facing one of its biggest challenges yet.
Apparently, a plumbing mishap in the unit above us, a beauty school, had caused hot water to flow unchecked for several hours overnight; flooding down through our ceiling and walls, pooling on the floors and flowing into our neighbors units on either side. Our diligent friends next door at My Gym had already acquired a shop vac and pump and were hard at work to mitigate the damage. We immediately joined in the effort to save what could be saved and were soon aided by our strategically-minded friends from the offices of Hummus Republic, our neighbors on the other side, who were already working on securing more professional help.
Recognizing that even more helpful hands were needed, but that with only one small exit from our space and a need to be tactical in order to safely remove equipment. we reached out to a select few (forgiving!) family members and staunch gym-goers with pickup trucks. The word spread quickly, and the outpouring of support soon exceeded the flow from the mischievous hot water pipe by far! We tried not to ruin too many Father’s Days, or risk engaging those with injuries who might not as easily recover from the day’s exertions, but still the offers of help kept coming in. By Sunday night, thanks to the tireless toil of friends and family, the damaged areas of the gym were entirely cleared of rigging and gear. Teaming up with Hummus Republic, a professional remediation company was engaged and already working with us to fast track the recovery effort, having setup dehumidifiers, industrial strength fans and formulated a plan of attack for the following day.
"A true friend is distinguished in the crisis of hazard and necessity; when the gallantry of his aid may show the worth of his soul and the loyalty of his heart.” - Quintus Ennius
On Monday, June 19th, the show of strength in our community continued. With every new offer of help or supportive act we received, the coaching staff cried grateful tears (when no-one was looking). Our fit-family fed us, raised our spirits, removed rust from kettlebells, cleaned and sanitized equipment, but most importantly began to piece together plans to resume training.
The thing is… As a fitness business, we take very seriously the role we play as part of a health and wellness strategy for our members. We believe that movement is medicine - not just for the body, but for the mind and soul as well. We believe that we have a responsibility to provide a safe and supportive environment wherein our members can practice how to move and feel better, and connect with each other. How to recreate this environment while our original safe space was going through major surgery was the big question.
Once again, it was the power of community that answered. Our neighbor businesses were already conspiring on an idea to get us operating again! Just across the parking lot from our beleaguered gym is a private language enrichment academy called Leap Dragon. Our industrious neighbor at Hummus Republic had noticed that the kind owners of Leap Dragon actually had a small children's' dance studio as part of their school. Moving fast, we had an impromptu business owner meet-up that miraculously ended with us being able to rent the dance studio immediately!
Work continued at a breakneck pace, and by Tuesday evening our coaching staff had setup shop in a new temporary training studio (complete with a great sound system and fun disco lighting!) All of our dear members' programs had been adapted to the new environment and we were even ready to host the second part of our Longest Day Alzheimer’s charity event, on schedule, starting at 6am on Wednesday morning, June 21st. Somehow, a community of physically, mentally and spiritually strong people had overcome a potential disaster by working together.
As we close out this week, not yet 7 days from the "great Breakthrough flood of 2023," we are so grateful to be back to doing our thing. This represents perhaps the most valuable form of strength that one might possess, and one that we’re committed to developing; strength of character. All I can say now, from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of our whole team, is “Thank you!” All of you.
As the progress on restoring our training space continues, we will keep everyone posted. We are determined to make this next chapter our best yet!
"Great things in business are never done by one person; they're done by a team of people.” Steve Jobs