I recently set a goal for myself: an hour of yoga everyday. It sounds achievable enough, but with work, child-rearing, and millions of other demands on my time (okay, maybe only thousands. Hundreds? Dozens? I don’t know, but it all seems like too much), I’ve failed miserably. I always seem to find some convincing excuse not to do it.
Then I heard about Augie Nieto. Of course, Nieto is a big name in this industry, well known as the chairman of the board of Octane Fitness and the founder of the fitness equipment company Life Fitness — and as a man who, eight years ago, at the age of 47, was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Lou Gehrig’s is a devastating illness. Causing damage to motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord, it shrinks muscles and renders them weak, gradually leading to total, or near total, paralysis. About half of people with the illness die within three years of being diagnosed; 20 percent die within five years. It’s worth noting, though, that Stephen Hawking, the most prominent sufferer of the disease, has lived with it for fifty years.
It looks like Nieto is following in Hawking’s footsteps. He set a goal to last for a long time. And not only to last, but also to help find a cure for Lou Gehrig’s disease — and to keep himself as fit as possible. Thus, even though he uses a wheelchair, relies on a breathing machine, and is unable to speak, Nieto regularly works out. (This in addition to making appearances at events like the IHRSA International Convention and Trade Show, where a benefit event drew 700 people and raised money for Augie’s Quest, the nonprofit research foundation Nieto founded with the Muscular Dystrophy Association.)
How does he work out? Last year, he began training on a custom-made Life Fitness leg press machine. Now, every other day, he performs three sets of 20 reps at 120 pounds on the machine. He also uses a custom xRide bike from Octane Fitness. With it, a motor moves leg and arm pedals to get him started, but he eventually overpowers the motor and pushes the pedals himself. (At the IHRSA convention, he did so in front of a large crowd at Octane’s exhibit booth — for twenty minutes!)
Did I mention that Nieto’s foundation has raised $37 million dollars for research into cures for Lou Gehrig’s disease? And that, since his diagnosis, he’s written two books? Suffice it to say that Nieto is an inspiration, and not only for those of us who are lucky enough to have relatively good health and yet still find excuses not to do yoga everyday, or not to meet other goals we might set for ourselves. He is a man whose determination to achieve his goals never ceases, and who therefore, simply put, achieves them.
So what are your goals, personally or for your gym or fitness facility? What are your excuses for not achieving them? I’ll leave you ponder the answers to those questions while I go unroll my yoga mat….