Root For the Underdog
Posted December 28, 2022 by Matthew Romans
Everybody loves underdog stories. Some of the most successful and enduring films involve an underdog character: Rocky, The Bad News Bears, and Rudy come to mind. You can even consider Jaws to be an underdog story, as there was seemingly no way that Chief Brody was going to survive against that shark after the boat capsized. Many people in a variety of industries have succeeded beyond imagination after overcoming incredible odds or dealing with significant hardships.
I recently heard a radio commercial for a heating and air conditioning company that resonated with me. Unfortunately I can't remember the name of the company, but the owner made some really astute points and the story that he told in that brief commercial made me think. There are probably hundreds of HVAC companies in the Washington DC area, many of whom have large advertising budgets and scores of employees (most of us are familiar with Len the Plumber and F.H. Furr). In contrast, this gentleman is the owner of a small company who does much of the work himself. He spoke about taking pride in being on time, doing the work right the first time, and charging competitive prices. Every day he competes against the titans of his industry, and he says he takes pride in considering himself the underdog. Think about that for a second; he didn't shy away from the label, he embraced it.
That is exactly the mindset that we have at Total Results - we are the underdog! According to Lending Tree, nearly twenty percent of businesses fail in the first year of existence, so Total Results founder and former owner Tim Rankin had a lot to overcome when he started the company in his garage. We compete for clients with much larger companies (Gold's Gym, Orange Theory, etc.) that have bigger overhead costs, more employees, and spend far more on advertising. You don't see or hear Total Results commercials; our best form of advertising is word of mouth referrals from our amazing clients and professional partners, as well as in-person networking. We have no interest in competing with the big gyms at their own game; frankly, we don't even see ourselves as being in the same industry as the big health clubs because we have a vision and a philosophy that we refuse to compromise. Sure, we could probably make more money if we didn't have such strict ethics, but there are a lot of things in life more important than money.
The Total Results exercise methodology has always been at odds with the commercial fitness industry. Even before I came to Total Results in 2006, I taught this exercise protocol when I worked in commercial gyms throughout the area. I got plenty of strange looks from people, not only for how I dressed (because I didn't look like a gym rat), but for how I instructed my clients. I have faced obstacles in this industry from the beginning of my career, but as philosopher and author Ryan Holiday says, the obstacle is the way. Our underdog status was cemented in 2020 when we nearly had to close for good during the Covid lockdowns. The deck was certainly stacked against not just us, but many small businesses, and many of them had to close. We have our amazing clients to thank for being able to reopen and stay open.
Being an underdog means you have to work hard for everything you get and nothing is handed to you. I am proud to say that we have done just that, and I am grateful to be a part of this great company for over 16 years. Since we are a small business that is independently owned, our philosophy can remain untainted by outside interests, and we can stay free of the medical and fitness establishment. We will just keep chugging along, working to get better every day and continuing to give you the best exercise experience possible, because that is what you deserve.