What legacy will we leave?

My dear friend and colleague Jeni Morrison and I were talking last week about the importance of Legacy and the impact we have in our environments.  The conversation was born out of a few site visits I had made last week and the conversations that birthed out of them, I asked her to share with us her thoughts on legacy, see below for her perspective, I know I certainly enjoyed it!

We often ask this question when great leaders like Nelson Mandela pass away. Sometimes we ask when the holiday spirit sweeps over to ignite acts of giving. In the fitness industry, we may learn of  instructors or clubs that simply inspire. This week, an instructor in Texas and two health clubs in Colorado have lead me to the question of legacy.

Drew Suprenant is a Group X Instructor and co-worker of mine. Earlier this week, he posted on his Facebook page after teaching a Les Mills BODYCOMBAT class, “A single moment of tear jerking joy came tonight. About half way through warm up in BODYCOMBAT tonight, I looked past the back row and noticed a women in the window…in a wheelchair. She was just a punching and going! Caught me off guard. Then I realized, this is what I'm here for - my purpose. We take so many things for granted...some just want to try… she touched my heart. Live for others because life is too short to not impact at least one life.”  If you know Drew, you know that posts like these are not uncommon. Drew often writes of experiences and uplifting messages. As a result, he has gained many followers from all over the world. Although he has never met many, they are positively impacted by his posts. He takes the time to respond to each and every one. Drew will leave a legacy of humility, hope, & humanity.

Southeast Fitness is a club in Aurora, Colorado. Dalene acquired ownership last year although the club has been open much longer. The previous owner had some choice operational ideas leaving the club in financial ruin. The day the doors were being shut, Dalene assumed ownership, with a large amount of financial obligation that came along with.  Over the past year, Southeast Fitness has gone from 300 to 1000 members. Acquisition didn’t come from top dollar marketing or social media exposure. Dalene walked door to door through Aurora and made homemade signs to post around town. Although the membership has increased greatly, Dalene has yet to draw a paycheck. When asked why she keeps the doors open, she turned and waved to an overweight man entering the club and said, “I do this because of people like him. When he first joined, he had to stop and sit down on this couch to catch his breath before attempting the stairs to the work out room. He can now walk in and make it up the stairs.” I know the legacy Dalene will leave. Unselfishness, sacrifice, and giving to her community.

Slated to open in 2014, Women of Ruffhouse is also located in Aurora is a women’s only health club. The first thing seen upon entering the website is, “The Only One Who Can Beat Me is Me.” Former police officer Sherrel Roland, is the founder of Ruffhouse. Two years ago, her 17 year old daughter was sexually assaulted. She chose to turn her feelings of helplessness into a call to action. Her mission is to provide a safe fitness environment for all girls and women, many who have been victims of sexual assault. Along with Group Fitness classes, Ruffhouse will also offer motivational speakers and educational programs. The building may still be under construction but the foundation for the legacy has already been set. Sherrel will leave a legacy of empowerment, restoration, and service.

As I think about Drew, Dalene, & Sherrel, one of my favorite quotes came to mind from Mandela, A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.” While he wasn’t referring to our industry specifically, we all know that this applies to instructors, managers, club owners, and anyone who serves in our industry. I have always found a perfect time to reflect is when the year is coming to a close. Have I served our industry in a way that I want to be remembered as? What did we provide as a company? How were others impacted?

With the anticipation of what 2014 will hold, I ask you to consider …..what legacy will you leave?


Jeni Morrison has been part of the Fitness Industry for over 10 years.  Born and raised in Texas, her passion to positively impact people’s livesdeveloped into a career where she has worked at the YMCA, 24 Hour Fitness,and PUR-FIT and currently works in Business Development at Les Mills South Central.