Around 12 months ago I had the pleasure of meeting a woman, named Marita.
In her mid-late 20’s, Marita is a 1- 1 personal training client of my good friend, Erros, who also decided to come along to one of our at the time, newly created bootcamps that Erros and I created, Backyard Strong.
As part of our marketing strategy (throwing $hit at a wall and seeing what would stick), we offered free classes for all of January 2015. Which on the surface looked great. By the third week, with $0 spent on advertising and a few social posts/sharings, we had 22 people at one of our classes. Marita was one of these.
Then, the next week, we started charging. $20 per class. Which in traditional terms of bootcamps, was more of a ‘premium’ price point. We had collected names and numbers on a sheet (because hey paper database’s never fail and simplicity works), so in the lead up to the class I texted everyone and let them know this week’s class would be $20 and we were looking forward to seeing everyone bring their best.
Erros and I rocked up, started getting the equipment out into the car park where we ran the classes and anticipated we would at least get 12-16 people. I mean they really loved it and all spoke about how great it was!
9:40 – All Equipment Set up. Now just wait for the people to arrive.
9:45 – No-one arrived just yet…all good we’re sure they will come.
9:50 – No-one yet…Maybe they’re just leaving it to the last minute?
9:55 – Still no-one, worry stage starting to kick in.
9:58 – Finally 3 people arrive. Chris M, Chris K, and….Marita.
This was our seventh class…and this was her seventh attendance. She hadn’t missed a class yet.
Although it was disappointing to go from 22 legends (what we called our participants) to 3, we were still appreciative that these 3 were the ones who came.
So off we went. With a ratio of 2:3 (trainers:clients) we gave these guys the bootcamp they had come (and paid) for. It was a terrific session, and Marita smashed it. Which as I would find out over the next 12 months, is how she carries herself in life.
Moving forward, over the next 6 months, we conducted classes each Saturday and Sunday at 10am, before moving to just a Sunday class around August 2015 due to scheduling and class consolidation.
Over that time, Marita had maybe missed 3-4 classes…in total. And on those occasions where she was going to miss a class, she let Erros or I know that she wouldn’t be able to make it. Respect.
Being a Backyard Strong ‘legend’ is one thing…but Marita had more qualities. Over the time, she would become a friend more than someone who attended a 1 hour fitness session each week.
Funny side story, in the second week of Backyard Strong we were doing prowler pushes. If you don’t know what a prowler is, it’s a sled looking device used for evil but extremely powerful purposes (read: gets you super fit, super quick). You basically push this sled along the ground with two handles and add weight plates where necessary. Given the surface we were using (uneven concrete), the sled made A LOT of noise and was difficult to push…even without weight attached.
To be honest, after a couple of classes, maybe I was enjoying being the ‘Leader’ (the name chosen for Backyard Strong instructors) a little too much. I wouldn’t say I was bossy, but let’s just say I enjoyed seeing people push themselves and having control over that. I was about to learn this was not how to achieve optimal results/treat people.
Marita on this occasion was pumping out some sled pushes. What I didn’t realise is she had very sensitive ears. As I mentioned, the sled on the concrete made a very loud, obtrusive noise. So she was constantly stopping during that part of the circuit. I was wondering…”Why is this girl stopping? It’s only 45 seconds of exercise.” I attempted to push her along, but she didn’t respond. I thought just dishing out more cliche sayings such as “come on”, “work harder”, “push more” etc was the way to get better results. Wrong.
After the class, she explained to me that she has very sensitive ears and that the noise made it nearly impossible to continue. So while I thought she was giving up on herself, she was literally trying her best but the noise was too loud. This single interaction taught me a lot about people and influence. I thought just because I was the ‘Leader’ I would speak and they would do. What I like to refer to as ‘implied influence’. Bzzzz (*game show failure noise*). It doesn’t work this way.
Sure there are some clients who love this approach. But Marita was not one of them.
The key to being a good teacher, is learning and adapting to the individual learning styles of different people and delivering the material in a way that individuals understand. Not just the method that worked for you.
This is something many of our school systems seem to forget…although I haven’t been in a traditional classroom for 10+ years, I know the “I tell, – You listen” lecture method is the most popular, and ineffective methods of transferring knowledge. But that’s a story for another day!
But back to our story. After our Backyard Strong classes, some of the legends, would come and grab a coffee and food down at our local cafe, Green Refectory with Erros & I.
It became sort of a ritual that we all planned into our Sunday. Our community was growing. It wasn’t until this stage that I started to get to know Marita better and understand who she was.
We became friends on Facebook (that means we were officially friends now, right?) where she would often comment on my inspirational quote and check-in at the gym status. She would also share some of the positive content I would put up, and always say hello to me while in the gym.
You know those people who brighten up your day when you see them? Marita was one of those for me. 3-4 nights a week, there she would be, busting her ass on the elliptical, or pumping weights with Erros and his team. I really enjoyed our 5-10 minute gym floor chats at the end of the day.
She also knew I loved books. So one day, she presented me with a book she had picked up at a local book store. Those are the interactions which help our world become a nicer place. She didn’t have to buy me a book….after all, I should’ve bought her a book…she was the one always supporting our business and coming along to our classes.
But that’s just the person she is. Giving, Kind, Generous and Nice.
The thing is, this is just my own interaction with Marita. Her work in the health care sector also requires helping others, plus she also volunteers for a ‘Big Sister’ style program which sees her mentor and facilitate activity programs for disadvantaged young girls. What a beautiful soul. I am really proud to call her a friend, and look forward to continuing in the future.
The world needs more Marita’s.
Thanks for reading.
P.S as a last story, (for now, I know there will be a ton more), she was THE first to buy a be nice. t-shirt.
A great support, and a great friend.
So the question I put forth to you is, Who is your Marita?