I own a boutique gym in Montecito. But that's not who I am or why I do what I do.
During my 3rd and 4th years in college, while enrolled in a 5 year honors Electrical Engineering Program, I worked on a computer engineering design team at IBM in New York. At the time, I was only 20 years old, and most of my engineering teammates were married with children, in their forties - of the age and the place that I am now. I spent 2 semesters at IBM, over the course of two years. Unlike most internships, I was actually paid very well, because I was hired and treated by IBM as an employee, not a student. They also provided me with a very good job offer waiting for me when I completed the Honors Program. I was strategically aligned in society's path and thriving. Straight A's, a legitimate salary, and even the first model of a portable CD player mounted to the dashboard of my new car. I was playing the game. And doing well.
Yet here I am, 25 years later. An engineer, I am not. What happened?
I became close to several of the guys on my IBM team. We went out to lunch as a group every single day. Calzones. Stromboli. Meatball Subs! We ate and we talked. And what I walked away with, in addition to the 10 extra pounds, was a message that altered the course of my life.
"Get out now. Once you build your lifestyle around this job, with a wife, children, the cars, the toys, and the home, you'll be trapped. And then you'll be doing what we do. Living for the weekends. And the coffee breaks too."
Whether or not they actually said this to me, I don't fully recall. But as I lived and breathed the IBM life along side them, that was the message I heard. And that was what changed my path, as their voices echoed inside my head.
I made a commitment to myself to treat each day like it was a weekend. To do something each and every day that was fun, fulfilling and important to me. To create a lifestyle and a job around my passion. To not do anything for the sole purpose of making money. I decided then, at age 20, that I would make sure that each day felt like a Saturday or a Sunday, in some way. And that I would not simply follow the path that everyone else was taking because it's what I was taught or told to do. Even if I was good at it. Even if it paid well. Even if it was safe.
So here I am, two and a half decades later. An engineer turned gym owner. Yet that is not who I am or why I do what I do. I am here to help others do what I am doing. Why I practice. Why I train. To find a way of making each and every day feel like a weekend. To have the energy to focus on whatever is most important to us - our goals, values, relationships and commitments. That's what weekends are all about. Doing the things we love to do. Spending time with those who matter most. Serving our communities. Playing with our children. Sports. Nature. That is why I own a gym. That is why I do what I do.
I’d like to share with you my acronym for living a balanced, energetic and high performance life. SMARTER. Each letter is the first letter of a word for a component that I incorporate into my life, each and every day.
The same approach I take when it comes to my workouts, or “Gym Time” as I like to call it, I apply to each component I integrate into my life. My Gym Time is about more than the workouts themselves. It’s about improving my performance in all the games I play in my life - husband, father, coach, community member, business owner and athlete. And in the same way, each component is not simply about the component itself. It’s about maintaining balance, and conditioning myself for maximal performance, day-to-day, and especially in crunch time! When the pressure is on. When the heat is turned up. When the clock speeds up. That’s when my practice and my training are most important. That’s when my performance reflects the quality of my training and my practice.
S-Social connections within a meaningful community that provides a sense of belonging, support and purpose.
M- Movement for the body and brain; Daily exercises for our mental and physical muscles.
A - Awareness Based Practices to calm the body, mellow the mind, open our hearts, and connect us with our passion, purpose and joy.
R - Rest & Recovery: A daily rhythm of sleep, rest and recovery to replenish and restore our energy.
T - Treat ourselves with compassion, and others with empathy, kindness and gratitude.
E - Eat and Environment - Eat whole, natural foods, to stabilize our blood sugar levels, while balancing taste & pleasure with nutritional value. Minimize toxins and poisons in our environment; our air, food, water and products we use.
R - Refocus our energy and attention toward what is most important to us - our values, goals, commitments and relationships.
Over the next few weeks, I will explain each component in more detail and share ideas on how to incorporate each into your day to day life.