The Total Row Way: Why We Donate

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Total Row: More than just a gym

We want Total Row to be more than just a great place to workout. Yes, rowing is one of the best exercises available and that does makes us a little special (at least our moms think so), but we want to be MORE than just a gym that provides a great workout.


The Inspiration

The original inspiration for starting Total Row was actually borne out of the desire to make a lasting impact on the community we live in – not necessarily to fundamentally change how a gym operates.


We had been on a mad search for inspiration, and we were captured by the theory of Conscious Capitalism – that business / capitalism is not just about profits, but about creating a powerful movement that enhances all of our lives. These books were written by the likes of John Mackey (founder of Whole Foods, and one of the original Conscious Capitalists – he literally wrote the book on it!); Blake Mycoskie (founder of Tom’s, that donates a pair of shoes for each one purchased); and Yvon Chouinard (the founder of Patagonia, one of the largest environmental advocates in the world).


These companies are in business to make money…yes…but they go a step further by using their power, influence, and resources to positively impact those that make their success possible.  It has become a central tenet of their business plan. It has become a core competency. It has created a soul within the company.


We love this idea.


The Why

As my wife Lauren and I began missing family functions, skipping happy hours (ok, not all of them), and working late into the evenings / early mornings (on top of our “real jobs”) trying to conceptualize a winning business venture, there was one thought that we couldn’t shake – a realization that without the support and encouragement from the local community, many businesses will fail from the start (regardless of how good the idea is).


Logically, the business owes the community, although this sentiment is rarely shared among our fellow entrepreneurs. To us, supporting and giving back to the community must be fundamental; this laid the foundation on which to build our dream. The “How?” or “What?” questions became secondary; it was the “Why?” that mattered.


Total Row

As we circled back to the realization (and reality) that we were trying to formulate a new business venture and not debate business ethos of the 21st century, our process became to uncover an outdated business model that lended itself to this concept or intermingling profits / success with community involvement and helping our neighbors. Our search coincided with a newfound love and appreciation for rowing, and the chord was struck:

Gyms and fitness centers play a central role in so many communities; yet, few have moved beyond just being a platform for physical, superficial change (and many don’t even do that well), to proactively improving the neighborhood that supports it.


It was time to alter that. As Richard Branson (founder of Virgin and a fellow Conscious Capitalist) would say, “[Let’s] screw business as usual.” Hence, the birth of Total Row and “Give me 10 Big Ones!”


The How – “Give me 10 Big Ones”

If a crew falls behind during a race, the coxswain (the little coach on the boat with the big megaphone) can yell out, “Give me 10 big ones!” as they urge the crew to give 10 especially powerful strokes, no matter how tired, no matter how far behind, no matter how little energy is left in the tank. This is a call to look inwards and find out what you are made of. This has become our battle cry at Total Row. For every $1 we make, 10% (10 big ones!) will be donated directly back into our community.


For every $1 of profit we make, 10% goes directly back into our community. Guaranteed.


This donation is our version of Giving 10 Big Ones, and is our way to help our neighbors, show our commitment to the community and our crew, and just generally say – THANKS! Each quarter, we will let our crew know where our donation will be headed (and many times get your input). This will happen EVERY quarter, no matter how well we are doing financially, how much time we have, or how tired we are.


The Only Crew You Need

We do not use the word “customers” or “clients.” Everyone that comes in to take one of our classes is a CREW MEMBER, as we are all in the same boat together. Our hope, but not requirement, is that all of our crew members want to be a part of the movement we are creating. The next time you have the opportunity to help someone, or make their life just a little easier – do it! Don’t feel bad for them, or give them well wishes – take an active part in the SOLUTION.


Like being a crew member in an actual boat, we must all pull together to be our best. You have a responsibility to follow the stroke rate of the teammate in front of you, and diligently pass it to the crew member behind you.  When you see someone that is down on their luck, tired, or just needs some encouragement, keep the boat moving forward by pulling for the crew, not yourself!


So How do I Join the fun?

At Total Row, you will have access to fun, high-quality classes on world-class equipment, taught by some of the best instructors in the Atlanta area. We are excited to spread the word on rowing’s numerous benefits, and hope to see you in one of our soon!


Ready to take your first, COMPLEMENTARY class???


Not ready to commit? That’s OK, but how about joining our Mailing List for great, relevant information that won’t clog your inbox.


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