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Bahram Akradi, the founder, chairman, and CEO of Life Time — Healthy Way of Life.

Many people tell us they are drawn to Life Time because of the passion that pulses through our spaces. They feel it the moment they walk through our doors — this dynamic energy that motivates them to pursue their own goals.

Behind that energy, however, there’s another, quieter force at work. And it’s this simple four-letter word that’s the greatest differentiator: care.

Much of who we are and what we do centers on how we care for one another. It’s essential to human existence and how we build meaningful connections.

Think about the many things we care for and nurture. With our kids, we want to ensure their safety and meet their needs, so we care for them by encouraging them to learn and grow. To deepen relationships, we devote time to our friends and family, listening to one another and showing up each day and especially when it matters most.

To help our bodies stay strong and healthy, we prioritize moving and nourishing them in ways that feel good.

When we care about someone or something, we figure out how we can, rather than surrender to why we can’t. We commit to finding a way. We iterate — and if we fall short or fail, we’re willing to keep trying.

Of course, there’s always the possibility that we can care a great deal and never succeed or make the impact we want. Yet not caring at all — just going through the motions — almost always results in failure.

Care can require great sacrifices of time, energy, and resources; other times it’s the smallest of gestures — paying attention to detail, offering a few words of encouragement, or holding the door for a stranger.

Caring requires vulnerability and courage, which allow us to show up, take risks, and keep going.

When I think about someone who beautifully exemplifies care, I think of Shawn Severson, the general manager at Life Time in Edina, Minn. Shawn’s care is evident from the moment you meet him. Every day, he greets members with a smile on his face. He knows their names, asks how they are, and really listens to their responses.

Shawn also cares for the space, and he’s often seen wearing a portable vacuum on his back, doing his part to keep the club clean. His role is about leading, and that means doing the work right alongside his team. So much of his time, focus, and energy consistently goes into that club and the people inside it.

The key word here is “consistently.” Shawn makes genuine care a daily priority. He doesn’t limit his interest or appreciation to a few people or give it only when it’s convenient. He consistently connects with members and team members, demonstrating his care for and support of everyone.

Shawn knows what matters to him, and it’s obvious when you meet him.

That’s not always clear for many of us, whether at work, at home, or in our communities. With all the distractions and temptations we encounter in our lives, we can lose sight of our priorities and what — and who — we care about.

That’s why it’s important to check in with ourselves and make sure we’re crystal clear on what’s important. To figure that out, ask yourself: What do I want to create, support, protect, or change for the benefit of the world around me? Where do I feel driven to invest my time, focus, and personal energy?

For me, the same answers always come up. I want to support what I feel passionate about: people’s health and well-being and the future of our planet. Every day, I work to care for these things in a variety of ways, some big, some small.

The answers will be different for each of us — and they can change over time. If you’re an artist, the answer might be about creating something meaningful or beautiful. For healers, it could be about improving and sustaining well-being.

For entrepreneurs and inventors, it may be bringing something new and useful into reality. For justice seekers, it might be about redressing wrongs or defending the defenseless.

Caring requires vulnerability and courage, which allow us to show up, take risks, and keep going. When we care, we’re “daring greatly,” as Theodore Roosevelt said. We’re showing up for something greater than ourselves.

Caring is one of the greatest gifts we can give one another; it gives life deep significance. It’s through care that we find understanding, connection, and belonging. And it flourishes when we learn to accept it, respond, and return it as a pure act of kindness — without expectation.

Bahram Akradi
Bahram Akradi

Bahram Akradi is the founder, chairman, and CEO of Life Time. Hear more from him at

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