Training for Your Freedom

July 20, 2017
Mark Santistevan

Staying consistent with your exercise and training program can be challenging. Some days are harder than others and it’s the hard days that we need to remind ourselves of why we’re training in the first place. I’ll never forget my father bringing me outside and surprising me with my first bike. It had a purple frame, big banana seat, long chopper forks and tall ape hanger handle bars. I loved it. As I stood there the bike whispered to me “let’s go for a ride”. I hopped on that bike and never looked back. That bike gave me more than just wind in my face – it gave me freedom. Freedom to pedal wherever I wanted and see new places when I wanted. I was no longer at the mercy of someone else. When I wanted to go somewhere – I could pedal there. Absolute freedom.


If I had written a diary back then, I’m almost positive my daily writings would include riding my bike. From cruising around with my friends in the neighborhood, to my paper route –  I rode everywhere. What I wouldn’t have written about in my diary, because I didn’t understand it at the time – was that riding a bike daily was slowly helping me create a habit. Riding my bike was never a chore, it was never something I “had” to do. It was something I got to do. I would be reminded of how fortunate I was to have options of going places when I had a flat tire. With a flat tire, I couldn’t go anywhere. I was stuck and at the mercy of someone taking me to the bike shop to get a new tube. I was on their timeline, not mine. And I just couldn’t stand it! I loved the freedom my bike gave me and it drove me to take measures to make sure my bike was working properly. Measures like greasing the hubs, truing the spokes, oiling the chain, cleaning the frame – and of course learning how to fix a flat tire. Like training.


Often times the things we want most come with some sacrifice. Sure there were days when I didn’t want to clean my bike, or fix a tube. However, the pain of not being able to go somewhere when I wanted to far outweighed the pain of a few minutes of taking care of my bike. I often look back on the bikes I had when I was a kid and the many lessons I learned from them. While my bike is no longer my main vehicle – I still want the option of physically doing the things I want to do. That taste of physical freedom is still fresh on my palate, and when I can’t do the things I physically want to do – I’m reminded of how precious our bodies are and the importance of taking care of ourselves and training for the unknown.


I too need the motivation and I am in a business that requires me to motivate others. So when I know I need to dig deep, I think about the many years I rode my bike, the sacrifices I made to do it – and the places and adventures I was able to experience. Which memories do you tap into when you are feeling unmotivated to train? What options do you want to have that require you to exercise your body? Think on it for a moment and I’m sure you’ll find inspiration. Remember – the good habits we practice create opportunities we desire. The vehicle may change – but the destination is the same. Freedom. My first purple bike is proof of that for me. – Mark

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

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Mark Santistevan

Mark purchased his first fitness facility when he was 26 years old and owned 3 multi-purpose facilities by the time he was 30. His passion for seeing others succeed is tied to a strong belief in the need to create an environment that keeps members “wanting to come back for more”. These business practices led him to be named “Gym Owner of the Year” in 2000. In an industry that averages 30% member usage of the club’s facilities, his clubs had over 80% member usage. Mark sold his clubs and started a consulting company becoming an advisor to a licensing chain of over 300 locations, Nike Sports Centers, Anytime Fitness, and many other privately owned fitness and wellness groups. His attention to data collection and analysis has led him to create programs that drive operational performance leading to higher utilization of programs from the groups that are served. Mark is the President of Advantage Training, LLC and resides in Scottsdale, Arizona with his wife Elisabeth and their three girls.

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