WORDS BY ERICA NEWTON, MYFIRSTGYM CO-FOUNDER
Before our cofounder Dan was an uber successful athlete competing in one of the most gruelling races in the world, the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii, he was a father. He is and always will be a champion, not just in swimming, cycling and running really, really, really long distances, but as an ambassador for encouraging children to have fun while moving. Competing in the Kona Ironman last month was about challenging himself, but it went much further than this: the World Championships says volumes about his commitment to Inspiring Movement in our three kids and in children across Australia.
As a role model for our children and the entire MFG family, Dan wanted to show what was possible with hard work and consistency. But let’s face it, swimming 3.9 kilometres, cycling 180km and then running an entire marathon (42.2km) all in one day doesn’t sound like everyone’s cup of tea. So please indulge me while I give a different example of why consistency, resilience and determination are key to running your own race, and winning it.
It was after dinner and the witching hour had really started to hit its peak. I had asked our seven-year-old son to carry two plates from outside where we had eaten back into the kitchen. Unsurprisingly, he had a mini-meltdown. Chores are boring, bed was calling and he would lose sight of us for about two seconds on the walk into the house. I could feel myself starting to wind up too, when Dan leaned across the table and gently put his hand on Benji’s arm. He spoke low and soft.
“We clean up every night, buddy. Take one at a time if you like, but it’ll be done quicker if you take them both.”
Benji looked unconvinced.
“C’mon. You’re brave and strong, I know you can do it.”
He did it. Whingeing a little and throwing his head from side to side, but it was that last bit of encouragement that pulled him up out of his seat.
It’s hard to compare getting a seven-year-old to clean up and a gruelling endurance race (or is it?), but after watching MFG’s co-founder Dan compete in the most gruelling race on the planet last month, the lessons around resilience, consistency and internal motivation have been many. Running MFG, mentoring 14 franchisees, doing all the dad duties and adulting is a pretty full-on workload, but stacking an extra 20 hours per week on top of that to train for the Ironman takes a special amount of grit and determination. Competing on race day was hard, but it would have been a lot harder without the months of consistent preparation.
You can read our interview with Dan about what it’s like to train and compete in an Ironman (including why you only pee twice in nine hours!) here.
This is where encouraging our kids to be ‘brave and strong’ in all things is so important. It’s easy to do anything when we’re feeling good, but real growth happens when we need to pull on our reserves and get the ‘thing’ done, even when we don’t feel like it. Running your own race can be done at any pace, but being consistent is the only way to win.
For Dan, winning was the privilege of being asked to compete in the Kona Ironman. For Benji, winning is getting a pat on the back or a hug from us for just about anything he’s completed. And for MyFirstGym, winning is smiling faces, kids enjoying being physical and developing a love for movement and fitness. Of course, actually winning is pretty darn cool too, and we’ve been celebrating at MFG for all those reasons after we were awarded not one, but FIVE What’s On For Kids Awards last month. We also had the TODAY Show visit our first Victorian club in Thomastown: I think the kids there enjoyed beating the weatherman, Tim Davies more than seeing themselves on television!!
As our locations grow in number and we continue to Inspire Movement in kids across the country, I know that being consistent, in running our own race with MyFirstGym is starting to bring big results. And when we’ve got Dan at the helm, someone who’s willing to take on a challenge like the Kona Ironman just to Inspire Movement in kids across the MyFirstGym network, and does it all with a huge grin on his face, then I know we cannot lose.