3 Things That Changed My Life

by Dave Thomas
Owner, Performance360

Today I’d like to take a change in course on usual posts and get a bit more introspective on a few things.

I get very bored with writing about training all the time. There’s such a large part of me that believes in the damn hustle of it all. Just show up, do lots of different shit, get strong, focus on being physical and be a fuckin’ savage. The recipe is so not difficult.

I will always love and focus on ways to help people improve their physical strength and health, but I will also always give close attention to the main part of our improvement.

The mind.

We spend so much time focusing on our physicality that we rarely spend time to address our mentality. And that’s really what matters at the end of the day.

How decisive we are with who we are.

I live in fear of many things while also possessing extreme confidence, bordering on arrogance in many others. It’s a hilarious contradiction that I know exists.

I’ve always been this way and imagine always will be.

I also imagine I am not very alone in this.

Becoming a better version of myself is something I constantly prioritize yet simultaneously resist. I think it’s human nature to want to improve, but that very nature to be ourselves is what often holds us back from changing.

Thing is, you shouldn’t change. You should tap into, and embrace.

Here are three things that I recommend to you for what they did to impact my life.

Finding a Way to Self Express

I am a natural introvert, much more outgoing in my writing than I am in my human interaction. I get shit all the time for this among friends and people I am close with, and while I know it, I can’t help it. Some people have big, magnetic personalities and I learned long ago that I do not. For one reason or another, I’ve always been most at comfort expressing myself in written form.

When I was a kid, I used to play whiffle ball for hours and track the stats in notebook after notebook (who the fuck does that).

When I was in middle school, I used to write song lyrics pretending I would submit them to Metallica and they would use them (still waiting on that, James Hetfield…also I did this in college with my friend, AJ under our band name “The Bouncepass Rebellion…but I digress.)

I’ve always felt a sense of comfort in writing things down, so it’s no wonder that I quickly took to this blog a few years ago.

Now, there has to be a natural side of doing so that seeks approval and recognition. That’s just…that’s just Freud 101. And anyone who writes or creates anything has an element of that.

However, at the end of the day, this website has existed as an outlet. An extremely beneficial one at that.

Behind the scenes of my day to day, my brain moves one million miles per minute with thoughts traveling through them faster than I can process. Not trying to suggest I am pondering the meaning of the universe (though sometimes I am). Sometimes I’m thinking about, like ketchup n’ shit. Or wavering on nine different dinner options. The only way I can maintain some semblance of sanity is to ultimately express them, and in the process, channel them in a way that helps people.

By finding the creative outlet of writing, I solved the need to both release thoughts I felt we important and to help others in the process. Two things that are truly important to me, and without picking up writing, would have likely just simmered and overheated.

We all have outlets we can find. Writing, singing, music, painting, art, building things, DIY projects, hell…going fishing, spending some time in the outdoors.

Find something that allows you to self express and don’t be afraid of doing it.

Only whiskey should be bottled for years on end.

Becoming Self Aware

Gary Vaynerchuck describes self awareness as the act of sticking to your DNA.

While Gary is addressing people who strive for success in business, I think it’s so damn important that we do this as human beings.

Acknowledging who we are, who we are not, and embracing both with equal fervor.

Going back a few years to when Pritz and I were scribbling notes to open a gym, this concept of DNA was easy to us. The common decision for gym start-ups doing any kind of S&C was to affiliate with CrossFit, yet that thought never once crossed our mind. We didn’t give a shit about forging elite fitness. We wanted to forge elite humans.

Yet, when we first opened the gym I found my self awareness becoming compromised through no one else’s fault but my own. I felt a ton of pressure on a daily basis. I am not an inherently outgoing person. I’ve never felt comfortable always being on, and always being accessible. I bent over backwards trying to be everything to everyone. I would go home and agonize over every minuscule interaction I had with people and hoping it came off polished and the best outward representation of myself and the brand.

In the end, I got myself burnt out trying to play this game, quickly realizing that no matter how you interact, you’re never going to please everyone. So I decided I was just going to be myself. As raw, sometimes abrasive, but ultimately straightforward with cutthroat commitment to helping my people. Flaws on display as much as strengths.

I learned very quickly I would not be everyone’s friend and that some people would dislike my style. In turn, I embraced not liking people that I didn’t really like.

And you know what? Once I became at peace with that, things changed much more so for the better.

You can’t just be a sugar coated caricature of yourself.

Be respectful, but be the hard wiring that’s running through you and nothing else.

Don’t sacrifice it. Don’t muzzle it. Don’t disown it.

We all have shortcomings we should be improving to become better human beings. But we never want to change the true essence of who we are. I’ve attempted it and it’s a dangerous road to go down.

Those who matter will end up on your team and whether it’s five or fifty, you’ll know exactly where the people in your life stand.

Life’s too short to try and emulate someone else’s DNA


Lifting is about two things for me.

Release, and improvement.

Numbers, aesthetics, physical progress. All secondary.

Nothing has ever come into my life and provided such a course correction like lifting. Nothing.

When I was in my 20s, I was going through some shit back when I lived in Virginia. My step brother with whom I grew up with committed suicide when I was in my early 20s. I went through bad relationship stuff like everyone else. And, overall my life felt a complete lack of direction or substance. Boo hoo, right? We all deal with unsavory things.

Only I handled it all terribly. It was just one big superficial mess of bad decisions. The net result was a lot of partying and a lot of shutting off emotions. I partied a lot. Smoked. Lived recklessly. Didn’t really give a shit about much other than myself and what I was doing this Friday or Saturday.

Most readers and people at the gym know me only as a guy who preaches health and fitness but shit, before all this I was anything but.

Only when I found lifting did I find a way to release demons in a way that produced positivity.

Not “the gym”. Not yoga. Not running.


Once more into the fray, to the last good fight I'll ever know.
“Once more into the fray, to the last good fight I’ll ever know.”

Lifting teaches us about strength. You have absolutely no choice but to get stronger physically when you lift. And when you get stronger physically, better believe that shit spills over to mentality.

Lifting teaches you about dedication and commitment. You learn not to flake and you learn to hold yourself accountable against your own bullshit.

Lifting teaches you to respect your body. To fine tune it as machine and fuel it like an adult.

Lifting teaches you to prioritize yourself. To carve out time in the day for you to demand of yourself and submit to being uncomfortable in the name of expansion.

Long ago human beings fought for their survival. The right to breathe air was earned daily. We don’t have those fights anymore. We have different predators. Boredom. Complacency. Soulless routine. Lives we find out we wake up one day and hate. By going to the gym and pitting myself against weights, for me, that is how I choose to fight them daily.

That’s why I lift. Period.

Call that meathead mentality, call it taking myself too seriously. Don’t give a shit.

Lifting lit the initial fuse that set off where I am today.

That’s it. Those were three things that changed my life. We all have people we love, places we’ve been and memories we share who also shape who we are, but we must have more than that. We must have things that live within ourselves if we ever want to achieve our best.

What are yours?

Dave Thomas is owner of Performance360 gym in San Diego, California.