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Gathering Momentum

In conversation with Stretch Rayner

Photo: Nathan Taylor

We first met Stretch back in 2012 while he was smashing our WiFi, omelettes & long blacks (all in equal proportion) at our Leonard Street cafe. Having previously ditched his corporate IT job, he was writing a business plan for Hackney’s first Crossfit Gym. Within a year, Momentum Training was opened in a derelict railway arch in Haggerston and we were invited down to try out a class. We’ve never looked back and most mornings you’ll find the Ozone Girl Gang (plus James) down at the box lifting heavy weights and /or throwing up in a corner. The challenges around ‘motivation’ are about as real as it gets for a trainer and business owner. Here, Stretch shares his philosophies on work, life, community and getting your sorry arse out of bed in the morning.

Sports psychology, especially motivating people, is a huge part of your work.
How do you tackle this challenge?

Many people are surprised to hear that I have had multiple strength and movement coaches who have programmed my training over the last six years. I am a student of many mentors who I aspire to be like. No textbook, no online learning course or university degree could teach me the art of being a successful coach like those who have walked the path before me. These teachers are the best damn motivators and reporting to them each month keeps me accountable. They have inspired me to improve myself both physically and professionally. One day I can only hope other coaches will come to me for mentorship and inspiration so I can give back to this wonderful community. Motivation starts with listening and uncovering areas of strength and areas of weaknesses. As coaches we do our best to play towards our clients strengths and gradually work on improving their weaknesses. We aim to make them stronger and fitter in the gym, we aim to educate them on nutrition, exercise and the importance of sleep. We work with them day-by-day, week-by-week, year-by-year to gradually improve their lifestyle and help them achieve their goals.

Are motivation and willpower inseparable?

You can certainly have willpower without motivation. I’m not sure you can have motivation without willpower. Any hopeful entrepreneur can endure the difficult startup months, the long hours, and the social sacrifices.
Just like anyone who wants a six-pack can resist their sweet tooth for a week or two. But when things get difficult or temptation presents itself, this is when you need to stay motivated and continue on the path towards your vision. As they say, great things start from humble beginnings and a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

As people we tend to go through ups and downs all the time, have you developed or discovered a coping strategy?

No matter what your vision is, no matter what you are trying to build, one of the best ways to stay on track is to publicly announce it. Making a commitment to a community of people creates one of the best motivational tools for success. This community is the one who will question and challenge your ideas. These are the people who will support you, hold you accountable and help you on the journey to discovering your masterpiece. These people often feel a genuine joy and happiness by contributing to your success and your personal growth, and this motivational tool can grow stronger when you return the same support to the community. I strongly feel one of the reasons why Momentum Training has such a successful business model, is that everybody trains together, they inspire and motivate each other in all things associated with health and fitness. Healthy competition, enthusiasm, and accountability is organically established in our community of like minded members who have no hesitation in recommending our services.

 

You’ve built a strong community.
Can you guide us through your thought process when deciding what environment you wanted to create and why?

I strongly feel that one reasons why Momentum Training has such a successful business model, is that everybody trains together, they inspire and motivate each other in all things associated with health and fitness. Healthy competition, enthusiasm, and accountability is organically established in our community of like minded members who have no hesitation in recommending our services. To be honest, in the beginning, we had very little control over the community, we simply opened a gym in an up-and-coming area – we didn’t choose the members that signed up to Momentum. People from all walks of life; lawyers, doctors, bankers, accountants, teachers, media, design peeps, and coffee shop owners all come together to workout, motivate and inspire each other, ultimately sharing their stories. No uniforms, no titles, no ranking, no egos – just hard work, buckets of sweat and unique friendships. The members believe in our brand and many of them have helped us build our brand. Website design, bookkeeping and accounting, gym graffiti art, legal documentation, gym administration, and business partnerships have all been created by our members in return for our services.

Not just in sports, in life too, we sometimes need to make uncomfortable decisions – we can quit the gym, it’s a lot harder to quit life. How do you stay focussed on the big dreams and keep motivated when initiating huge career changes?

Ditch the prison of the “daily grind” with its constraints and hesitations. Ask yourself, what can I be doing right now to live and share my life experience with others? Just over 10 years ago I left a full time corporate job in Australia and moved to the UK. For the next two and half years I worked as an I.T contractor before quitting that world to start following my passion. After competing in numerous team sports, marathons, triathlons and Ironman events I discovered an interest in health and fitness, nutrition, human anatomy, movement and helping people perform at their best. They say “choose a job you love, and you will never have to work another day in your life.” I’m not going to lie and tell you that changing careers was easy or that learning new skills and building strength in the gym is effortless. There were certainly days where I felt like I wanted to quit, but I didn’t. Most people fail not because they lack the skills or aptitude to see their purpose, but because they simply don’t believe they can reach it. When I first decided to change careers my daily income became my monthly income and my willpower was certainly tested. Work colleagues and friends questioned my sanity and doubted my ability to turn my passion into my career. “First they asked why you are doing this? Then they asked how did you do it?”

It’s pretty hard to get out of bed and do sports first thing in the morning… How do you fight an urge to ‘snooze it’ for a little longer?

In today’s fast paced world many of us overestimate what we can do in a day and we underestimate what we can do in a month, or even achieve in a year. Success in life is not measured in how much you do in one day. It’s about surrounding yourself with the right people, working smarter, building systems to save time, hiring the right people, enjoying the journey, and understanding the true value of your time. If we treat our training with the correct attitude and the right amount of discipline, we can quickly find ourselves reaching our fitness goals and achieving things we never thought possible. If we approach life with the correct attitude and the right amount of discipline we can find happiness and purpose. Pursuit must become your daily routine, not just a New Year’s resolution or a once-a-year sport. It is a constant exercise in listening, learning, preparing, acting and teaching. Begin each day ready to educate yourself. Live each waking moment as if it might be a “teaching moment,” a chance to expand your mind and strengthen your abilities. End each day feeling confident that you have done something positive in this world to help a community and hopefully re-commit to your passion. Enjoy the journey.