A few months ago I was contacted from the owner of a very well-liked "nerd-focused" workout website that will be known as "Carl" from this point on. (I refuse to use their actual name in this post. They are popular enough without my help.) Carl didn't like the fact that we named our gym because it sounded like their site: Carl.com. The businesses are completely different in all ways. The logos look completely different. Brand confusion wasn't really an issue. Not one person entering my gym thought we were an extension of that site. Not one.
Now, they are a website. That's it. That's all they'll ever be. They sell ebooks and seminars and workout plans and that's all well and good, but it doesn't actually teach you anything. It all relies upon you. There is no coach. No in-person community. No gym. No personal instruction. In my book, that's disingenuous and lacks authenticity. It makes the owner of the site a lot of money and makes for a cool blog post, but, honestly, it lacks an important part of the equation to a life-long change: reality.
What is reality when it comes to this rant? It means:
At my gym, I'm very much paying attention to everything you are doing right down to how the middle of your foot moves in a squat. Noticing when you're having a bad day or a great day. Getting you out of a head space that blocks you from completing a goal. You know, coach shit.
My contribution to you is always being educated on proper form, mechanics and psychology. I will pass on all pertinent knowledge and if I don't know it, I'll go find it and learn it. My loyalty to your success will know no bounds as long as you're a client at my gym.
Connection, to me, always is solidified through effort. An artist to a painting. A builder to stone. With effort and time, we can create great things. One of the greatest things are our body and minds and I'm here to help bring those two together.
Everyday we'll work together, side-by-side on the next big thing. I'll see you fail and I'll see your successes and you'll see mine. My collaboration will be determined by you and I figuring out each other, how we can better communicate, challenge each other and push pass our so-called limits.
Now, if a blog can do this for you, then you don't need my gym. You have everything figured out and are possibly the most capable person on the planet. You are the Taskmaster! But, most people aren't perfect mimics with a photographic memory. Most people need a coach or a friend to teach, to push, to propel us to that next level. That coach should be many things along the path: the bard for when you're down, the fighter for when you need the help, the wizard to push you knowledge and the cleric when you need repairing. If a blog can do this for you, then you don't need my gym.
BACK TO THE POINT
Business is business. I understand that. It is sometimes cruel and cold. It has many facets (I'm learning everyday) and one of them is trademark law. Now, Carl, loves trademark law because Carl has a lot of free time and not a physical gym to run or clients to oversee. Carl contacted me about the previous mentioned issue and we went back 'n forth about semantics and other aspects of trademarking. I thought we should work together, Carl wanted lawyers involved if I didn't do his bidding. Carl was a bit condescending at times calling me "dude" like we've been friends for years. I didn't even know Carl existed until 2013 and when I did, I wanted to avoid that property like the plague for various reasons.
Here's the thing...
Carl trademarked his name years before I did. Carl has to defend his trademark or loses the right to defend his trademark in the future. Carl has more money than I do and Carl doesn't like others to play in his sandbox. You see, Carl wants a monopoly on nerds, geeks and fitness and will do anything, including threatening legal action, to get it. That's why Carl named his company so vaguely. To encompass many arenas of nerds and their fitness, but, by doing so, he has to burn all his bridges with other businesses of similar ilk.
But, money is the main issue. Carl has a lot of fans and many of those fans are willing to fork over hundreds if not thousands of dollars to ensure Carl's existence. So, Carl has capitol, whereas, we do not.
IT'S ALL GOOD
At first, I wanted to fight. Fighting would require time and money and lawyers. Then, reality set in. I talked to lawyers, friends and other people much smarter and less prone to emotion as I am and they set me straight. They were my coach. I looked at the analytics of search keywords and a future customer's ability to find our little gym in Noho. We had come the a conclusion...
We're changing the name.
Frankly, this will be better for the gym. The name is unique. The identity will be stronger and I won't have to deal with Carl.
The name will be Nerdstrong Gym.
It's sad to see the old name go, but Carl can have this small victory. The gym will survive. We are in the midst of trademarking the name, hopefully, that won't make me into a Carl one day, but it might and I'll have to remember how my communication with Carl made me feel and try to handle it differently. As we move forward, we can only concentrate on the good we do everyday and be vigilante in being strong.