Lance Armstrong gets 200 massages a year! That – and the reason he even mentioned this – was one of the “pearls of wisdom” I gleaned from yesterday’s closing session at what turned out to be a very good ISPA Conference in Austin, Texas.
It was around 11:00 a.m. and Deborah Szekely walked onto the stage to give some background information regarding the ISPA Alex Szekely Humanitarian Award, which is named in honor of her son (a past leader of ISPA) who passed away from melanoma cancer in 2002. As always she was eloquent, and this time, had a bit of a surprise for the audience. She came across a letter that Alex had written to Lance Armstrong during his bout with cancer. He expressed how inspiring Lance’s book had been to him and that he had even purchased 100 copies to give to all his friends and family. Thus Deborah read Alex’s words from that letter to introduce this year’s award recipient. It was all very moving.
Lance Armstrong (38 years old) came out from behind the stage curtain receiving a great deal of applause. He was wearing blue jeans, a tight blue t-shirt and sneakers with yellow soles that matched the yellow “Live Strong” bracelet he was wearing on the tanned right arm of his very toned body. It would be an understatement to say that the entire audience fell in love immediately. (And yes, I do mean men and women!)
He spent the next 30 – 45 minutes talking about his bout with cancer, winning the Tour de France seven times, his family and the work he is doing now raising funds for his foundation. He also answered some questions from the audience.
Filtering Lance’s remarks through my spa and wellness lens, here are some things that stood out to me:
- Lance Armstrong addressed Deborah as Ms. Szekely and began his remarks saying that while watching her introduction on a monitor backstage his reaction was, wow, this woman should continue speaking!
- In brief, his cancer began with a major headache (that later showed to be as a result of lesions on his brain), spitting up blood (that later turned out to be a result of golf ball size cancer in his lungs), and swelling in his testicles (that later turned out to be testicular cancer).
- When he was first approached with the idea of a “Live Strong” yellow bracelet, he didn’t think it was such a great idea feeling that few people would want to wear it.
- Today, 70 million “Live Strong” wrist bands have been sold ($1.00) which means $70 million has been raised for cancer research.
- He has four children – the oldest is a boy, followed by twin girls, and a six-month-old baby.
He has won the Tour de France seven times and came in third in last year’s race. He mentioned that it was good for his kids to see their dad not win the top prize.
- Lance acknowledged that his yellow wrist bands are made in China and that he has gotten some criticism for that in the past. However, he isn’t apologizing any longer since he met with the Dalai Lama and noticed he was wearing an orange wrist band with the word “Compassion” on it. Curious to know where he had them made, Lance surreptitiously turned it over to see that it too was made in China! (That got huge laughs!)
- In answer to a question about heart rate levels during training, he mentioned that they no longer monitor heart rates at all. Now it is all about power – thus they measure watts.
- Another thing they are beginning to use for training is compression boots.
- He has a great relationship with his mother, and although he is not currently married, he is in a committed relationship.
- He is all about prevention and thinks physical education should be put back in schools. (That’s where he formed his interest in competitive athletics.)
- He does not always eat healthfully and faces the same temptations that everyone does. Chips, salsa, etc. Like most of us, he needs to talk to himself about getting back on track with his training.
And finally the most memorable moment for me was his reaction to the question: How can spas make their establishments more physically appealing to men?
His face basically said, “Why is that a problem? And anyway, who cares?” He went on to say that he gets 200 massages a year and how important massage is to improve performance. It was as if he was saying that the decor of a place wouldn’t even factor in to his decision on where to have a massage. It’s all about the massage.
Hey spa industry…we’ve come a long way!
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