By Jonathan Aluzas

Somewhere in the late 90’s I came up with the name for my future gym. ?I was working at a health club in Pasadena, Ca and saw a scrap of yellowed paper taped to the corner of a framed poster in one of the sales offices. ?When I read the quote on that frayed paper, my blood began to move and the hair on my arms rose up. ?Interestingly, the quote was attributed to “Anonymous.” ?I would later come to discover that it is probably the most famous utterance from one of the most famous presidents of one of the most accomplished nations in the history of the world. ?But at the time, that “anonymous” quote was both a battle cry that made me want to charge into the teeth of enemy fire, and a mirror that caused me to sit back soberly and question the manner in which I live my life.

Are you in the Arena?

The quote, of course, was the famous “Man in the Arena” by Teddy Roosevelt. ?You’ve seen it a million?times by now, as have I. But have you actually taken the time to sit and live with it for a while? ?It’s powerful and inspiring, a treatise on following your own heart, an observation on what courage looks like, an admonition against settling or quitting. ?It’s defiant and proud, a fist thrust upward, an arrow in the heart of armchair critics. ?It’s the kind of perfect magnificence we all wish we could create with pen and paper. ?And I knew it had to be the name of my gym.

When we opened Arena Fitness in 2003, my business partner, Joe Garcia, and I weren’t interested in having a run-of-the-mill personal training and group exercise studio. ?We wanted it to be a place where people were willing to push themselves outside the lines they had drawn for themselves, a place where they would be brave enough to risk, and a place where effort was respected more than aesthetics. ?A place where people were willing to “actually be in the Arena.”

I try to live “in the Arena.” ?Sometimes I step back in honest observation and realize I’m not. ?But I strive to challenge myself by doing adventure races, taking on trail running, doing martial arts. ?And I can and will do more.

What are you doing to challenge yourself to live in discomfort, to stretch and grow? ?Not just with your fitness, but in any area of your life.

What are you doing to live “in the Arena?”

?Jonathan Aluzas is the owner of Arena Fitness, a personal training, semi private training and group fitness facility in Encino, California.