Discover a new way to Row
This article appears in our Q1 2023 issue of Finance Transformation Magazine. To download the issue, click here
Double Olympic Champion, Alex Gregory MBE talks about his incredible journey to becoming a success and the mental challenges this involved, which eventually inspired him to launch Fluenta and share his passion for rowing with you.
It wasn't until I was 17 that rowing appeared on my radar. I'd never watched it on TV, I knew no rowers and to be frank I wasn't the least bit interested in finding out either. But, after some persistent persuasion from a school mate, something about the sport took me by the shirt collar and dragged me in.
The journey over the subsequent 8 years was closer to a miserable Helter-Skelter than the peaks and troughs of a roller coaster. I found myself on a path of discovery that continued to show weaknesses and failings rather than strengths and successes. Unbeknownst to me I had fallen into a state of mind that trapped me, blinkered me and sent me into despair.
The thing is, I was a good kid. I tried hard, I was committed to something I set out for, to a fault, which had turned into the pursuit of Olympic Gold. Relatively quickly I found myself competing at World Championship competitions only to fall short time and time again.
I'd found myself in this incredible environment of High performance and success without managing to achieve any of it. I was part of the British Rowing team where nothing but Gold was good enough.
Disaster followed disaster. I 'failed' time and time again, often in quite a public manner. I felt I was letting myself, team and country down year after year. I was on a downward spiral, filled with despair, empty of confidence and intensely anxious. Time to give it all up and "go get a proper job".
Jurgen Grobler, the British Men's chief coach threw me a lifeline. He gave me an opportunity to support the team as reserve in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The trajectory of my life changed forever.
Witnessing the Olympic Games caused a paradigm shift and showed me with crystal clarity my Why, What and How. The experience brought purpose to my journey, everything changed.
In 12 months I became World Champion, in 4 years, Olympic Champion at the London 2012 Olympic games and in 8, Olympic Champion for the second time.
What was the difference? Everything boils down to people. I'd grown up believing that as a sportsman I needed to be tough, to know what to do, how to do it and to be able to cope. As a consequence, I spoke to no one, not a soul.
Not a single person on the planet knew how I was feeling or what was going on in my head. The result: Pressure, intense stress, fear, anxiety, physical injury and constant illness. The crushing pressure I was putting on myself nearly defeated me…but not quite.
No one can do anything worthwhile alone. I'd isolated myself unnecessarily.
To win I needed to allow people in.
I started to talk and I learnt very quickly that:
1. Vulnerability is far from a weakness, it's an immense strength and can become a strong leadership quality
2. Honest communication can change not only what a team thinks but what they produce. Direct results come from effective communication
3. Consistency is Gold: The value of being consistent far outweighs that of the odd exceptional performance. Create a team of consistent people and you become unstoppable
4. Help others and you'll help yourself: The power of service to others is that you become their strengths as they become yours. The team becomes greater than the sum of its parts.
After sharing my journey to hundreds of organisations around the world, I've returned to the sport with a far deeper understanding of how important mental and physical health is to us all. Rowing is an incredible activity for the mind as well as the body. Fluenta is my answer.
I've created an online fitness platform for anyone, any age, any experience with any rowing machine!
In a departure from the traditional view of rowing, where the rowing machine is viewed as a bit of a torture device in the dark recesses of the gym, Fluenta brings it to the forefront.
We create inspiring, interesting and motivating content, beautifully filmed by our team of National Geographic filmmakers turning a rowing workout into an experience. Our catalogue of content is ever growing and we have a range of options available:
On water experiences - Immersive workouts transporting you to some of the most amazing places to row in the world. From your rowing machine you join me in the boat as I we row stroke for stroke together.
Row trips - Designed as an informative travel experience where you get a great workout, while I show you around cities of the world delving into historical and cultural events. A fun escape, allowing your mind to wander while you exercise.
Studio rows - The most comprehensive rowing workouts ever made. These are filmed from all angles giving you the technique, information and motivation you need to take your rowing to the next level.
Weekday workouts - Filmed from my home studio, I release these twice per week and work towards a specific theme. These are progressive, informative, filled with technical insights, stories and information.
Meditative rows - Lock into the repetitive motion that rowing brings while you travel down beautiful waterways and lakes of the world.
Fluenta is not just about rowing. It's about giving ourselves the best chance in life. My passion is helping people create an environment for themselves that gives them what they need.
Health, fitness, mental wellbeing and happiness at their own pace. This isn't easy, it takes time, commitment and consistency, but no one can really do it alone. I'm here to make that a little more manageable for anyone willing to row with me!
About the author: Alex Gregory MBE
Alex is the founder of Fluenta, the online rowing fitness platform. The father of three is a motivational speaker, author and high performance coach.