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Gratitude in the Face of Challenge

Kyla Maynard

This final column of the year often includes nice words about reflecting on the gifts and victories of the past 12 months, but I think it’s safe to say that most of the world is ready to turn the page, finish the chapter and close the book on this twisted plot called 2020.

Everyone on the planet is weary. Even when we’ve sought respite in a neutral corner to breathe and recover, there has been scant mercy there. This bruiser of a year keeps charging with a seemingly endless supply of knockout haymakers: COVID-19, social injustice, the fragile economy, politics, virtual schooling, crushed business dreams and the impact of climate change. Left, right, cross, uppercut. Ouch—and the hits just keep coming.

Yet, with every punch, our resilience and resolve as a community have grown. With minds made up and in a pure spirit of hope and faith, fitness professionals everywhere are lifting each other, moving forward, reshaping the industry and inspiring their clients to keep going. A reimagined industry is emerging. Beyond these troubled times, leadership is the catalyst in the chemistry of our future.

This issue’s feature story gets to the heart of what it means to lead courageously through crisis. Author Shirley Archer, JD, MA, unfurls examples of the creativity, pluck and survival reflexes of many fitness leaders who stepped up to meet the moment and address immediate concerns, but who also kept eyes fixed on the future. We can learn much from our colleagues, who leaned into legacy leadership principles that have been used through history to navigate times of disaster and uncertainty.

It can be easy to wish away challenges rather than be grateful for them. But as Kyle Maynard, IDEA’s 2020 Fitness Inspiration Award recipient, shared during his IDEA® World Virtual keynote in August, these are the moments that define us. Maynard, who was born with a rare condition known as congenital amputation that gave him arms that end at his elbows and legs that end near his knees, described such a personal moment when he was ready to give up on his grueling ascent (literally a crawl) of Argentina’s Mt. Aconcagua, at 22,841 feet the highest peak in South America.

“The mountain is always going to be higher and colder than we can handle,” he said. “Everything in me wanted to stop.” His friends urged him to keep going, and he somehow tapped into his inner spirit to reach the summit. After the group descended, they did a wine tour to celebrate. One of the wines they tried was called “El Enemigo,” which translates to the enemy in English. The irony of it was not lost on Maynard, who felt it was symbolic of conquering the enemy within him—the “I can’t” voice that nearly made him quit on the mountain.

“At the end of the journey, we remember only one battle, and that’s the battle within,” Maynard said. “It’s a great metaphor for life and for right now. That battle, that force of will is always there. We’re usually far more capable than we feel we’re able. Tap into your inner spirit to reach the summit. Be grateful for the challenges and opportunities and adversities we’re having. These are the moments that help us find our personal why.”

It’s hard to sum it up any better, so I’ll leave you with those powerful thoughts as we move onward to 2021. Be well, friends. We are grateful for the opportunity to serve you and support your dreams.


Wishing you happy holidays and a bright, beautiful new year,





Sandy Todd Webster

Editor in Chief





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Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster is the editor in chief of IDEA’s award-winning publications. She is Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified and is a Rouxbe Certified Plant-Based Professional cook.

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