The Grind: Hashtags, BS, Truth, and a Little Too Much at Times

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I’m a firm believer you get what you work for. Nothing just happens. You don’t miraculously earn a decent income, hit a new PR in the gym, pick up three new clients, get an A on your history paper, or finally beat Mike Tyson in Punch-Out without some modicum of effort and hard work.1


Hashtags like #grind or #grindcity or #grinding worry me. For starters, some people (certainly not all) use them as a way to cover up the fact they’re lazy AF and to give off the perception they’re somehow working hard (or to be more colloquial: crushing it). It worries me because it gives off a false sense of accomplishment.

Such hashtags are commonly accompanied with an epic picture of a cup of coffee, or, if someone is going to tap into their inner Scorsese, maybe a laptop (with a cup of coffee conveniently placed next to it for added effect).

It’s the age we live on nowadays. Where we can bullshit ourselves (and everyone around us) that we’re somehow better or more work ethicy (<– not a word) than everyone around us. It’s never been easier to curate a life that seduces adoration.

I’m not holier than thou. I don’t deny I do it. As of late, every picture that my wife and I have put up of our now 7-week old son is of him smiling or being super cute.

“Look at us. Parenting is sooooo easy. #nahnahnahnahnah.”

Okay, there was this one. No glitz and glam here.

Easy peasy.

A post shared by Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore) on

Whenever I see all those different iterations of #grind on social media regurgitated by coaches and personal trainers alike part of me can’t help but think to myself, “what’s so impressive or vainglorious about going to work?”

But then I think about how many of those same people are listening to every podcast or 2-minute clip of Gary V on Facebook about the grind and how you have to work your ass off if you want anything to happen and to make something of yourself.

Work, work, and more work. You can sleep when you’re dead.

To some extent I couldn’t agree more. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t work my ass off:

  • I remember all those mornings getting up at 3:45 AM in the dead of winter in central NY to open the gym for members.
  • I remember working as a commercial gym trainer for FIVE years before I even smelled my first professional athlete.
  • I remember 6-7 day work weeks when we first opened up Cressey Sports Performance. 12-14 hour days to boot.
  • I remember writing articles for my site – everyday – knowing that only 50 people (okay, 20) would read it on a good day.

As much as I’m a fan of telling people to embrace the ass-kicking and inevitable failures that are bound to happen, and that there are many sacrifices that will be made in the name of entrepreneurial shenanigans2, I also, too, encourage people to know when to tone it down or turn it off.

Go to the movies.

Have a date night.

Spend time with your kids.

Read a non-fitness, non-business, non-existential-money-making-life-changing-x-y-z-book-that-was-only-written-by-the-author-so-he-or-she-would-increase-the-chances-of-being-hired-by-a-fortune-500-company-as-an-consultant-and-nothing-written-in-the-book-will-have-relavance-to-your-fitness-studio book.3

Watch Netflix. Even better if there’s some chill involved.

In short: have a life.

Recognize that part of being “successful” (whatever that means to you) is recognizing there’s only so much “grind” you can muster before you want to toss your face into a brick wall. You’re not going to lose demerit points if you decide to go bowling with some friends on a Friday night instead of scouring PubMed for the latest studies on moment arms and hip extension torques during a deadlift

Bret Contreras and Greg Nuckols are the only two people I know who would happily choose the latter. But they’re also super nerdy. And super good looking and classy (in case they’re reading)….;o)

There’s a work-life balance that’s going to be different for everyone. And trust me: there will (and should) be times where you’re dragging ass and grinding.

I just encourage you to find a little more life to fit into the scheme of things.


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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

I don’t share email information. Ever. Because I’m not a jerk.
  1. I can’t even begin to tell you how many hours it took me to finally beat him back in ’88. Best day of my life. Minus, you know, getting married, having Julian, and seeing Norah Jones live in concert (twice). Priorities.

  2. HINT: It helps to have a very supportive SO or partner

  3. I suggest Robert Ludlum novels.

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