Leaning Into It: PYL Through The Pandemic

By Matthew Cole

To say the past year has been a year unlike any other is an understatement. We’ve seen a full spectrum of challenges and emotions. We became isolated, yet connected in new ways. We saw society become more divided in certain regards, yet more united in others. It’s pretty safe to say a lot of us are still in the process of digesting all that has happened. Some things have left me feeling very disheartened, but there’s also been a lot that has made me feel incredibly optimistic. I’m no stranger to the fact that growth can be messy and painful at times. This year exposed a lot of us in ways that we can all do better. I think it also resulted in a lot of inner reflection, which can sometimes be a tough pill to swallow; but a valuable pill nonetheless.

One thing that has me feeling optimistic is our ability to adapt. I saw a lot of people accept that there are things that they can’t control so they can place their focus on what they can control. I saw businesses shift how they operate and take completely new directions they had never thought they’d have to take.  

Alchemy was no different. The instant we closed our doors, our leadership team was already rolling out a plan to ensure we could still bring value to all of you incredible athletes. We had no idea if Alchemy would even survive, but we weren’t about to go down without a fight. We pivoted in record time to a completely digital platform with many of us coaches converting our living rooms and apartments into pop-up digital workout studios. As staff, we took on many new roles challenging ourselves to perform tasks beyond our normal job descriptions.

We began offering live and recorded classes for our athletes and were able to still bring them some semblance of normalcy to their days. To be honest, it was hard and scary. Many of us were taking on new tasks for the very first time. But the amount of love and gratitude we received from our community was overwhelming. Messages from the community thanking us for keeping the PYL going, keeping that sense of community, and providing people with a real outlet. We even had former members that had moved regain the ability to take our classes again. New people were able to try their first ever Alchemy class from all across the country, even from abroad.

We really had to embrace the uncertainty and take things one day at a time. With the initial plan being just a two-week shutdown, to being in a strange state of limbo for over a year. All we could do was keep our focus, stay optimistic, and control what was within our control. That’s been our mantra for the past year as we’ve been doing all we can to protect our community and provide our athletes with an excellent experience to the best of our ability.

This has left me with an overwhelming sense of gratitude. This past year has been hard. Really hard. I have learned so much from so many people, and I’m choosing to use the lessons I’ve learned over the course of the past year to become a better person. In a lot of ways, this is what Pursue Your Legend means to me. It’s a pursuit that never ends on the path to becoming a better person. Not just when it’s convenient. Not just when the circumstances are right, but always staying in pursuit despite the circumstances. It was a giant lesson that there is a lot that you can’t control, but you can choose to focus on what’s in your control. I’ve learned that growth can often be messy, and is rarely a linear process. You need to be willing to put your hands in the dirt to do what needs to be done, and have the ability to adjust your sails as the winds change.

I’m so excited to be able to continue this PYL journey with this community, and it’s safe to say I won’t be taking hugs or high-fives for granted any time soon!


Coach Matthew is the General Manager at Alchemy 365 Northeast in Minneapolis, MN. When he’s not coaching in studio, he spends his time doing Jiu-Jitsu, going for long hikes, and sitting in the sun with a cup of coffee and a good book. 

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