Gym Mentality

New Year, new you: 5 ways to successfully adopt the gym mentality for business 

Manfred Abraham

It’s that time of year when people and business are setting goals with the best of intentions. Whether it’s a fitness plan or the launch of a new product, the pattern is often the same – January’s ambition quickly dissipates and leaves a lingering sense of failure. Yet I’ve worked with enough gym brands to understand the secret to their success – and I’ve implemented the same in my own life too. So how do you adopt the gym mentality for business? It’s all about creating a space where you can dare to challenge yourself without fear. Redefining what ‘no pain, no gain’ means is the starting point.  If we can accept (and enjoy) challenges, failure, discipline and pain as positive parts of a fitness programme, why can’t we do the same in business? Allowing your workforce to overcome the fear of failing is the goal – and this is what the sports industry does seamlessly. Here are my top five takeaways.

  1. Have a roadmap in place. Set achievable milestones. Redefine success.

Many people join the gym in January with the misconception that exercising equates to suffering. Just as many give up within the month because they don’t see immediate results, or it’s too hard. Whereas taking a strategic approach and creating a roadmap lets you establish achievable milestones. You can take it step by step and celebrate the wins on the way, no matter how small – like losing a few kilos or adding them to your bench-press.

Redefining your understanding of success and pain in this way becomes motivation in and of itself. If you remove expectation of hardship and fear of failure, you can stay the course. With this commitment comes adaptability.

  1. Track your progress. Analyse it and report on it so you can adapt to change.

When you track performance against milestones, you begin to see results, so you’re more likely to sustain your efforts. Especially if you’ve tried something difficult and achieved a degree of success, which can be more satisfying than achieving 100% success at something you know you’re good at. There’s no learning in that – no growth, and a growth mindset is key in every endeavour.

Mentality for business

Standing still is not an option on your fitness journey – but standing still in business is less so. Aligning a growth mindset with the ability to adapt permits the continuous evolution that supports business growth. Just as you tweak your gym regime to ensure results, so you can adjust your business strategy, product or service to ensure business growth. 

  1. Use positive, enabling language. Talk up the solution, not the problem.

Watch your language along the way, like Snap Fitness. Redefining a ‘no pain, no gain’ mindset might require reconsidering your comms approach. The gym group saw a 16 percent growth in memberships across Europe and 17 percent in Australia when they stopped saying “no pain, no gain” and encouraged customers to harness “the power of positivity”.

The way you talk as a business leader can enable people to step out of their comfort zone. This cultivates a more supportive environment, which leads to greater productivity as people will take on bigger challenges, knowing someone has their back. Just as you’d want someone spotting you when lifting heavier weights, so you can assess what business support you to improve your chances of a positive outcome.

  1. Create a safe space to fall.

Would you attempt a heavier weight without someone to spot you? If I asked you the same within a business context, what would give you the confidence to try something you’ve never tried before? Fear of failure often gets in the way of us challenging ourselves.

When I finally did my first handstand at age 44, it had less to do with physical strength and more to do with self-confidence gained through learning to fall without fear. Whereas an enjoyment-first mindset removes the expectation of a fixed outcome and shifts the focus to discovery. Key to this is knowing you’re in a supportive environment, with the right spotters in place. How many leaders are creating this safe space for their teams?

  1. Find the right support to help you achieve what might not be possible alone.

Right now, every fitness provider and personal trainer is claiming they can get you the New Year results you want. While going it alone can be daunting, it can be equally hard to find someone who truly understands your needs. My suggestion? Try to adopt the gym mentality for business. Change the way you think about pain, find the right partner and focus on your gains.