If you’re familiar with my blog, you’ve likely read stories of athletes thriving in less than ideal environments. I’ve posted many examples over the years. And while each story is unique, there are common links that tie these athletes together. Whether it was boxers from Ghana or wrestlers from Dakar, you’ve seen athletes who thrived despite countless disadvantages.
A few pictorial examples can be seen below. Each image links back to its original story.
As you observe the images above, you will note similarities. Exercise equipment is essentially nonexistent. Those tools that the fitness industry markets as necessities are nowhere to be found. In many cases the gym is nothing but an open strip of land. For example, the Rhino Boxing Club in Kampala is not a brick and mortar establishment, but rather a space between other buildings within a crowded neighborhood. The boundaries are marked by hanging laundry.
Another similarity between these athletes is that they lack access to the nutritional supplements so often consumed in other parts of the world. They also do not have the luxury of picking and choosing between the countless dietary plans that are marketed today. For example, many boxers in Ghana are involved in the fishing industry. Such work doesn’t even guarantee a dollar a day in earnings. When you earn one dollar a day, you eat what you can, not what you want.
Yet, despite training with almost nothing and eating what little they could afford, there have been several dominant athletes who came from these lands. Their success in many ways is a direct slap in the face to the fitness industry. These athletes didn’t rely on the tools, programs, and supplements that you’ve been told you need.
How can it be? What really matters?
The answer is to these questions is quite simple. The athletes who have thrived in these harsh lands had something greater than any tool or supplement. They were hungry to succeed. They trained with dreams of bettering their lives and the lives of their loved ones. And it is that type of dedication, commitment, and desire that trumps everything.
Unfortunately, these internal qualities do not receive nearly enough attention. Why would they? The supplement store cannot sell you a month’s supply of hard work and dedication. These attributes are not for sale. What’s popular in the fitness industry is often what can earn someone from somewhere some money. Trends are based on revenue potential. They start from the top and trickle their way down. Marketing dollars won’t be wasted on convincing you to work hard. The businesses of the world would rather sell you on the idea of using their equipment, programs, and supplements. Money makes the world go around.
Meanwhile, athletes in the different parts of the world continue to go against everything we’ve been told. Observing them in action offers plenty in return. These athletes aren’t trying to sell you anything. They are trying to survive and thrive. There is no deception. It’s just hard work.
The take home lesson is quite simple. I’m not suggesting that you throw away your equipment and live in poverty. Do however recognize that the word need is grossly overused in the fitness industry. Don’t be misled to believe that you need a particular tool, seminar, certification, or program. Instead, recognize the significance of diligence, perseverance, and consistency. Understand that these attributes come from within and are available to us all. You don’t need to live in Uganda to want to succeed as bad as someone from Uganda. We all have equal rights in terms of how bad we want it.
If you truly want something, go get it. Whatever excuse you’ve convinced yourself to believe would be laughed at by those from these poverty-stricken lands. Despite what you may read online or in a popular fitness magazine, almost anything works if you are willing to work. Regardless of what you have access to, you have more than enough to improve. Don’t let the fitness hucksters of the world convince you otherwise. Observation of the athletes above is all the proof you will ever need.
“Everyone has a fair turn to be as great as he pleases.” – Jeremy Collier