My name is Rachel Cosgrove and I’m addicted to competition. I love to compete. I can’t help myself. I always have something lined up to train for and compete in. There’s nothing better than setting a goal, training for something specific, challenging yourself, and earning a medal or a trophy.
I have competition ADD because I rarely compete in the same sport more than once in a row, but every year I compete in something, usually a powerlifting meet, a half marathon, maybe a mud run, and usually at least one triathlon. I’ve done an Ironman, a number of half Ironman’s, a few fitness competitions, showing off my one-arm pushups and splits, qualifying for nationals when I was on TV competing, and have even competed in a road cycling race (that was fun!). This past year I looked up stand-up paddleboard races after getting hooked on our vacation. In fact, on vacation I set the goal to paddleboard around the entire island we were staying on (it was a small island). Every day I’d get on the paddleboard and go a little further, then out to another little island and back, and then by the fifth day I went for it and paddled around the whole island, accomplishing my goal…on vacation! I can’t stop setting competitive goals that test me to grow mentally and physically.
I got hooked on competition growing up. I competed in dance starting at a pretty young age, and my dance partner and I were very competitive, taking it very seriously. We would practice our routines over and over and over. We’d even get keys to go to the dance studio on the weekend, when it was closed, to get more practice in. We can both still vividly remember the time we lost to the hula dancers – “The Hula Dancers!!!” We became national dance champions multiple times and earned a ton of trophies & medals.
Recently I dug out all of my dance trophies, which were right next to all of my Dad’s Strongman trophies and my Grandma’s bowling trophies. Hmmm…maybe this runs in the family? I remember watching my Dad compete in Strongman, winning the strongest man in our town! This was after he had raced motorcycles regularly, winning trophies in a number of races. My Grandma took her bowling very seriously and loves bragging about her bowling accomplishments. She is most proud of her really funky trophy that is a frost colored bowling ball with a rose displayed inside the bowling ball for everyone to see. Just this past year I watched my Mom train for her first big event, a half marathon. She crossed the finish line, earning her medal, and is now signed up for three more this year. I guess I’m not the only one… I remember having a conversation with my sister who has always been a competitive horseback rider about how she was feeling out of shape, literally sitting on the couch while talking to me, and wanted to do something, maybe a 5K. I talked her into doing her first triathlon and she ended up doing five triathlons, a marathon, and eight half marathons since, and is also signed up for three more half marathons this year.
Once you’ve bitten by the competitive bug, at least in my family, it seems you crave more. I see this with clients too. As they get into better and better shape they want something to challenge them, something else to train for, other than fat loss. We have a really active, competitive group of clients. Many of them were athletes in the past and had the competitive athlete waiting to come out again. Throughout the year we have a powerlifting team, a mud run team, a half marathon team, and a figure/bikini team. In addition we have our New Year, New You challenge where we pit teams against each other to see who can transform their body the most…our clients get really into it.
Just coming off of a powerlifting meet where I earned a silver medal and set a few PRs, I immediately started to think about my next goals, my next competitions. I’m taking this week off to let my body regenerate and keep myself from burning out, which is only making me more anxious to start training for something else. I’m signed up for a few half marathons already, but I really want to get my deadlift PR that I missed at this competition, and I know I can compete in the 148lb weight class if I tighten up my diet and get focused this year…Maybe I should do the figure competition with our figure team?
What am I doing???
Why can’t I just BE and not immediately set a new goal, sign up for a new competition, find another race, and start working on my plan to accomplish more?
I started to think about this. Why are people who compete so hooked on competition? Most people who compete compete in multiple sports or have competed throughout their lives in something.
Why is this?
I came up with a few reasons why I compete and realized this competitiveness definitely crossed over into my business and has contributed to my success.
Here’s how -
- Competition has taught me how to stay focused on a goal no matter what obstacles come up. Every competition you sign up for, as you start training for it, there is usually something that happens that can derail you or become an excuse. This can even happen during competition – get a flat tire during a triathlon, you’re on your own. Change your tire and get back on the road!
It’s during these times, when you hit an obstacle or roadblock that you find out what you are really capable of. When you’re ready to give up and you don’t. In fact, these are the times when I love what I do as a coach, because I know if I can keep a client focused and pull them through this obstacle, or this valley, then reaching their goal, their peak, is going to mean so much more.
This parallels life and business. Opening and running a business is not easy. It starts off exciting, just like signing up for your next race or competition. Then the training starts and you hit a few rough patches, money is tight, you’re working long hours…Everyone has obstacles come up on their journey. Expect them. The key is to decide now how you will respond to them – will you let them break you? Or will you persevere?
Throughout our business we have had some trying times. I look back and think, “How the heck did we make it?” The first year we had no money when we opened, and our apartment was broken in to, our only computer, which was a laptop was stolen. It contained all of our programs, business plans, marketing, and everything on it for our business. Shortly thereafter, Alwyn was diagnosed with cancer for the first time, only to go into remission for a short time and then relapse. Unexpected obstacles like these could break you, and we could have easily given up and shut our doors at any point. I believe that because we are both mentally strong and have a competitive mindset (Alwyn’s a world champion Tae Kwon Do fighter) we are able to handle whatever life throws at us. Our business and us have stayed the path and grown consistently, year after year, to offer even more to our members and our team, staying focused on the finish line of continuing to change the way fitness is done no matter what circumstances unfold.
- Competition has taught me you don’t always win. Yes the hula dancers beat us! And this past weekend I got silver, not gold. This is exactly what drives me to compete again, figure out a better strategy, work on my technique, and try harder!
Not everything works in business either. Sometimes you try a new marketing strategy or a new delivery system or a new hiring process and it could fail, and then it’s back to the drawing board. Each time you fail you are getting closer to the answer you are looking for. If you never try you won’t know and you won’t start the process of landing on what does work. To save you from making some of the mistakes in your business that we have already made, make sure to pick up our book, “55 Fitness Business Strategies For Success,” which should be called “The 55 Mistakes We Made That We Don’t Want You To Make!”
- Competition keeps me from being lazy. Having something to train for keeps me motivated, inspired and pushing myself to improve, whether it’s to get stronger, run faster, get leaner, or more fit. Without a competition or a deadline to focus on it’s easy to get lazy.
This is also the same in business. It’s really good to have some competition because it keeps you on your toes, looking for ways to offer more, become more, and be the best there is. If you are the only choice and have no competition what’s going to motivate you to learn and improve in your business and bring your “A” game? When we opened 14 years ago there was one other small gym in our area, but the rest were big box gyms. We never thought of the big box gyms as our competition because many of our clients were members of both. The small gym closed down soon after we opened. A few years later another small gym opened and within a few years closed its doors too. Then one of our trainers decided to leave and open a studio of her own a few blocks away from us, it didn’t even last a year.
Over the 14 years we have been in business we have seen a number of gyms come and go. In fact, at this point, including all of the big box gyms, we are now the longest standing gym in our town. We have been here longer than anyone! Having competition gives people something to compare us to and realize we are the best. It also pushes us to continue to lead and puts our entire team, right where we thrive, in a competitive environment to continue to change the way fitness is done!
Competition is healthy and brings out the best in people and businesses, building resiliency. Without it you will not reach your potential physically or mentally. I’ll never stop competing, and have a few bucket list goals including the Hawaii Ironman one day, even if I have to wait until I’m 70 or 80 to qualify. In the meantime, what should I train for next?