“Think of it this way: it’s not a sacrifice, it’s an investment.”

Team USA triathlete Gwen Jorgensen says that exact perspective from her coach is probably the most valuable advice she’s ever gotten. Jorgensen came to competition late, by some sports’ standards, and in order to help, her husband Patrick, a cyclist, chose to quit competing and put his energy into his wife’s career as well. Some would call this a sacrifice, but he and Gwen both know it’s an investment.

When it comes to being a world-class athlete, the amount of time and energy it takes to perform and excel is something that many of us couldn’t even imagine. But we’re all making choices each day on how to invest our time in our own pursuits.

Whether you’re training for the Olympic or Paralympic Games, or just trying to get into better shape, we all face challenges to mind and body, in pursuit of our health, fitness and life goals. You’ll see the results of Team USA athletes’ extraordinary preparations for the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games beginning this August. And 24Life is privileged to bring you deeper insight into the commitments that athletes must balance, the support systems they’ve built and the wisdom that comes with all of it.

Since 2004, 24 Hour Fitness has partnered with the United States Olympic Committee to support Team USA’s top competitors as they work tirelessly to bring home the gold. This year, 24 Hour Fitness is partnering with five athletes who will be representing Team USA at the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Each athlete is an inspiration, not only in competition, but also in everyday ways that you may find surprisingly close to home. Alysia Montaño’s story, is just one of many examples.

Meet the athletes 

  •  Conor Dwyer, an elite swimmer and Olympic gold medalist participating in individual and relay events. Dwyer won a gold medal as a member of the winning U.S. 4×200-meter freestyle relay team at the London 2012 Olympic Games. In total, he has won 14 medals in major international competitions.
  • Gwen Jorgensen, a two-time world champion triathlete and the only U.S. woman to win back-to-back elite world titles in triathlon. She holds the women’s record for career ITU World Triathlon Series (WTS) wins with 15, and she has won every race she has started since May 2014 for 12 consecutive wins on the WTS circuit. In 2015, Jorgensen became the first triathlete — man or woman — to complete an undefeated season.
  • Alysia Montaño, a middle distance runner and seven-time U.S. outdoor national champion. She has represented the United States at numerous international championships including the London 2012 Olympic Games. She distinguishes herself by wearing a flower in her hair while running, a personal gesture she adopted to celebrate her femininity while training.
  • Lex Gillette, one of the top visually-impaired long jumpers in the world, winning the silver medal at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Paralympic Games. He is the current world record holder in the F11 men’s long jump and is the only completely blind athlete in the world to eclipse the 22-foot barrier in the long jump.
  • Cortney Jordan, a two-time U.S. Paralympic swimmer with medals from both the 2008 and 2012 Paralympic Games. Jordan won eight Paralympic medals in her classification: one gold medal (50 meter freestyle), five silver medals (50m freestyle, 100m freestyle-twice, 400m freestyle-twice) and two bronze medals (100m backstroke, 200m individual medley).

These amazing competitors serve as inspiration to motivate us all to achieve our own goals.