When I opened Catalyst, I was in competition with EVERYONE: the gym down the street, the 'Personal Training' Studio next door, the doctors and nurses and health writers. EVERYONE was mowing my grass. They were telling people - my potential clients! - the wrong things. They couldn't possibly help anyone as well as I could.....
This forehead-smacking ideal was reinforced by my partners. "We want to put everyone else out of business!" they'd exclaim. "Don't put your ideas on a website - people will steal them!" Game for competition and drama, I'd lap it up, and then heap more on the top of the compost pile.
In short, I'd fight. I'd wake up mad, and go down swinging. It sustained me. I was wrong about my opponent, though.
A week or two ago, I mentioned that a new gym had opened a block away, and that a few of their members were trickling over. No one asks if we're worried about the 'competition,' because we now understand that we're not IN competition. We're so different that we almost warrant our own category. We're not 'a gym.' We're Catalyst. We do CrossFit, Personal Training, and have MMA in the back. We also help people with autism and serious brain injury. We teach guitar, drama, math. We run up mountains instead of walking on stairclimbers. We're an experience.
Tonight, we'll be attending an awards ceremony where we've been nominated as Innovation Company of the Year. How does a gym fit into a category normally reserved for algorithmic athletes and Alternative Energy experts?
By taking a step to the left. We don't compete head-on. Our 'competition' isn't other gyms: it's sloth, bad habits, ignorance, depression. Our fight isn't against CrossFit AreaCode: it's against the khaki bureaucracy of the healthcare and education systems.
In nature, the species without natural competition thrives until it dominates the landscape. It becomes so overwhelming that, eventually, it gets sick of itself. I'd like to see what that feels like.