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Joe Cirulli, who has owned and operated Gainesville Health and Fitness Centers since 1978, is the 10th recipient of Club Industry's Lifetime Achievement Award. Photo by Migdalia Figueroa.
After flying all over Florida with no lights, no instruments, nothing but a compass lit by the flashlight in his mouth, Cirulli finally was ready to land. Some runway lights happened to turn on at a small airport in Cross City, about 50 miles west of Gainesville.
Cirulli had to manually lower the landing gear. For every turn, he had to twist the handle four times. It required 15 turns, and he needed every ounce of his upper-body strength to maneuver the handle. He pushed himself the way he would push someone to lift a weight in his club.
“Thank God I work out,” Cirulli thought.
After landing the plane safely in Cross City at 2:30 a.m., he called a friend to take him back to Gainesville. Later that morning, Cirulli, still shaken by the flight, went into his club without telling anyone what had happened, even denying anything was wrong when someone noticed that he was less talkative than usual. Then Cirulli found a book on his desk that included this famous quote: “Circumstance does not make the man; it reveals him to himself.”
After reading that quote, Cirulli thought about all the times in his health club career when he had no one else to turn to, just as he had no one to turn to but himself that night in the dark skies above Florida. His flying adventure re-emphasized what he had learned in his journey to becoming a business leader: Focus on what you can accomplish, not on what you cannot accomplish.
“I did OK,” Cirulli said to himself that day. “I did what I was supposed to do.”
For more on Joe Cirulli and the respect he has earned inside and outside the fitness industry, read this online-only sidebar.