Life, Fitness, and The Road to Hana

I need to know everything you can tell me about Hana, I explained.

I was discussing an upcoming trip to Maui over a meal with my good friend Michael Keeler (Co-Founder of Mark Fisher Fitness). We’d already touched on his favorite restaurants and meals on the island when we got to the topic of the popular excursion known as “The Road to Hana.” 

Michael spent two and a half years in Hawaii fine-tuning his customer service and management skills while working for the Four Seasons about a decade ago, and he quickly proved himself to be the most-informed trip-planning resource in my network. 

You want my best piece advice, Pete? Stop at the spots that fascinate you, buy some banana bread from a roadside vendor, and then turn yourself around and head home the moment you feel like you’ve got your fill. Experiencing the road to Hana has little-to-nothing to do with Hana. It’s about the experiences along the way. 

The thought of only completing a portion of the trip hadn’t even crossed my mind. What’s the point if you can’t say that you made it to Hana, I thought. Michael had quickly repositioned my expectations and objectives for the experience ahead, while also showing me that the road to Hana is a pretty good metaphor for life in general.

I went home from that meal and pulled up a list of the dozens of potential stopping options on the journey, highlighting the five or six that specifically matched with the interests my wife and I share. (If you’re interested in seeing why this is such a popular trip, drop the term into a google image search and it will all make sense.) 

As it turns out, we made it to Hana and never even bothered to stop. There was nothing in that little town that garnered our interest, so we kept on rolling past it to the last potential stop along the way, Haleakala National Park. There, we did a wonderful two-mile hike to the most beautiful waterfall I’ve ever seen in person. We never once lamented the fact that we’d taken the Hana out of the road to Hana. 

The picture doesn’t even begin to do it justice.

The picture doesn’t even begin to do it justice.

What the hell does this have to do with fitness, you ask yourself?

Well, your current and future clients mostly share the same bad habit I brought to the table when preparing for my travel experience...they come to you with nothing but a destination in mind. 

To some, it’s a specific body fat percentage that’s going to suddenly make them happy. To others, it’s looking good at their approaching high school reunion. It could even be an aspiring powerlifter who has convinced himself that capturing the elusive 500-lb deadlift will equate to him finding his own personal promised land. 

It doesn’t really matter what the singular goal is, because your objective as a fitness service provider is two-fold: manage expectations on the longer than anticipated road to supposed happiness, and make sure that the client stops to take in the scenery along the way. 

You’ve got to deliver life lessons on the nutrition front that will carry forward far beyond a singular event on the calendar. You’ve got to teach people to think strategically about their own fitness needs the next time they walk into a hotel gym while on the road and don’t typically know where to start. You need to hammer home the importance of quality technique to the dad who will one day set up a rack and some weights in his basement so that he can teach his son how to prepare for football tryouts. 

Every single thing we do with our clients in the weight room is about getting them to the metaphorical waterfall on the other side of an initial target that usually just turns out to be nothing more than an unremarkable sleepy village. 

Teach your clients to celebrate the process instead of the outcome, and you’ll actually leave a lasting mark on some lives.


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