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A Challenge, a Proposal, and a Diabetic

By August 7, 2014Running a Gym
Reading Time: 5 minutes
The next Whole Life Challenge starts in:

Note: Heather McKearnan is the program director and co-owner of Undisputed Fitness, which is a CrossFit affiliate in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This is the story she tells about her affiliate’s experience with the Whole Life Challenge.

Undisputed Fitness (CrossFit Santa Fe) adds three or four new members to its client list each time it participates in a Whole Life Challenge, but that’s hardly important considering everything else that happens.

During its fourth Challenge, for instance, two of its students got engaged because of the WLC.

“We had a student who had been through a couple of Challenges, and he kept asking his girlfriend to participate with him. He thought it was an important experience, and he wanted to share it with her.

“She kept saying no, he kept asking. Eventually, he wore her down, and she said yes,” said Heather.

She might have been pressured into joining the Challenge, but somewhere along the way, she realized that the WLC was a framework for making her whole life better.

“They both ended up winning,” said Heather. “She came in second place, and he came in third place.”

But the best part?

“He proposed from the winner’s podium!”

When we say that the Whole Life Challenge is an extraordinary eight weeks, we aren’t speaking in hyperbole. It changes lives, something Undisputed Fitness has seen each time it has participated.

In fact, one of Heather’s students lost forty pounds and was able to stop taking diabetes medication after participating in the Whole Life Challenge.

The WLC truly is an unimaginable experience.

So we’d like to propose to you: Will you join the next Whole Life Challenge as one of our partners?

A Greater Scope of Influence

Partners of the Whole Life Challenge earn a percent of the revenue collected from each of their team members, which earned Undisputed Fitness thousands of dollars during the last Challenge.

But truth be told, registration takes on a life of its own. Though Heather and her team encourage their community to get friends to register for the upcoming Challenge, Undisputed Fitness doesn’t have to do much in terms of inviting new people.

“When you look at the numbers, we didn’t even recruit that many participants,” Heather told me. “We had 287 members on our team. We recruited about 80 of them from within the gym, but those 80 gym members got 207 additional team members by asking their friends, co-workers, and family members to join the Challenge.”

So 207 people from Santa Fe and across the globe, including a small group from Toronto, became extended members of Undisputed Fitness’s “family.”

And for the next Challenge, those 207 people will tell their friends, co-workers, and family members. The momentum will build, and Undisputed Fitness will see an even bigger pool of team members.

“Honestly, it chokes me up a little,” Heather said with a shaky voice. “Our scope of influence is so much greater because our people get their people to join the Whole Life Challenge. Suddenly, we can have a much bigger impact on the world. We even had a participant once from Germany!”

Undisputed Fitness encourages its members to enroll their friends and families, which as two benefits: 1) It gives participants a built-in support system at home; and 2) It exposes a new group of people to a different way of living.

The extra revenue stream brought on by the Challenge is nice, admitted Heather. So, too, is the fact that three of four of these “extended family members” who join the Challenge end up becoming full-time students of Undisputed Fitness.

But that’s not why Heather and her crew at Undisputed Fitness keep participating in the Whole Life Challenge.

“The people who go through a Challenge with us are going to remember us for the rest of their lives, and so are their families and friends. People we have never even met will know about what our gym does for its members, and how sacred we consider their health and well-being.

“That’s why we do it.”

In fact, the scope of influence doesn’t stop with those 207 extended family members and their loved ones. During one Challenge, the co-op next to Undisputed Fitness put stickers on items of food that were “Whole Life Challenge Approved.”

And Chef Patrick Gharrity from the restaurant, La Casa Sena, created a “Whole Life Challenge Menu.”

So shoppers and restaurant-goers from all over town began asking questions about the “Whole Life Challenge.” In the course of finding out about the WLC, they learned that Undisputed Fitness is the only gym in Santa Fe that challenges its members to take it all the way and embrace wellness as a way of life.

(But if Undisputed Fitness has anything to say about it, there will surely be more gyms in Santa Fe that follow suit.)

A Stronger Community

And what about the 80 gym members who joined the Challenge? Well, they started showing up ten minutes early to fulfill their “mobilization” requirements. They stuck around after class, created new friendships, and became more and more engaged in the gym’s culture. For any gym that takes on the Whole Life Challenge, this is all par for the course.

“It gives us a bigger sense of community,” said Heather. “It’s unusual for people to take something on as big as the Whole Life Challenge, so for eight weeks, the Whole Life Challenge becomes the focus of everyone’s conversation. It’s all we talk about. We get on our Facebook page and offer each other support. Our students come in on their rest days just to report in and answer each other’s questions.”

Come September, Heather, her coaching staff, and the Undisputed Fitness community will participate in their sixth Whole Life Challenge.

I asked what she would say to a gym that was reluctant to join the Challenge.

“I’d say: Why in the world would you be reluctant? There’s just nothing to not love about the Whole Life Challenge. And how often can you say that? How often can you take something on that has a purely positive impact on yourself, your gym members, and your entire extended community?”

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Andy Petranek
Andy is what you’d call a modern day Renaissance Man: a former professional trumpeter who attended the Eastman School of Music; a snowboarder, mountain biker, surfer, kayaker, outrigger paddler, mountaineer, and former Marine (Gulf War veteran); a professionally sponsored adventure racer; and the oldest participant to qualify for and participate in the CrossFit Games at the age of 43.

Andy is a certified CHEK Practitioner and holistic lifestyle coach. He holds a spectrum of certifications from CrossFit and is also a Vivobarefoot certified running coach. He has trained as a Zen buddhist and graduated with a Master’s degree in spiritual psychology from the University of Santa Monica.

Andy founded CrossFit LA one of the first and most successful CrossFit training centers in the world and the first to be featured in national media. He is the co-founder of the Whole Life Challenge, Inc, currently its president, and is also a consultant and life/business coach. Andy lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Julia, and son, Dashel.