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Why this former student-athlete works out with 100 people in one year

In June, Crystal Ho, senior vice president at Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management, worked out with Dave Maloney at her gym, Rumble Boxing, in New York City.

One hundred workouts with 100 people every year, never counting more than one workout partner at a time or the same person twice. It’s a massive goal to attain in 365 days, but one that Dave Maloney is on pace to achieve for the third straight year.

His personal workout challenge does more than keep him fit and motivated. As a former Auburn runner and founder of a national athletic tour that raises money for pediatric cancer research, Maloney is maximizing his networking opportunities in a space few others do: the gym.

In 2016, when Maloney and his nine-person staff moved into a new office in Houston, he had a quote most often attributed to Plato stenciled on the entry wall to inspire him and his team daily: “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than a year of conversation.”

And discover, he has. Maloney has learned that breaking a sweat with a new acquaintance can quickly break down barriers. Being empathetic and confident enough to show vulnerability, while supporting another in being vulnerable, has helped him form hundreds of new relationships.

“My business goal is to meet people in settings and in activities that are natural for athletes,” Maloney says. “There is an honesty derived in those moments that’s undeniable, and the relationship is far more transparent from the start.” 

Maloney taps into the NCAA After the Game LinkedIn group and other sources to find and connect with new business professionals each year. “With a high degree of accuracy,” he says, “you can figure out whether that person cares about exercise.”

Maloney shares his background, that he’s an athlete and has a business objective he’d like to pursue with them. “Could we meet for a workout?” he asks.

The answer, Maloney says, is almost always yes.

“When you replace the steak dinner, golf outing or happy hour with a request to work out with them, the ask itself distinguishes you,” he says. “And you further distinguish yourself in these shared experiences by meeting them where they are already going to be — in his or her gym.”

For Maloney and his workout partners, activities have ranged from traditional endurance sports, such as cycling, rowing and running, to CrossFit and other strength and cardio workouts. Most often, these take place in the executive’s local, preferred fitness venue. Other times, Maloney coordinates a workout on the road in a city where the two are scheduled to be at the same time. 

After the workout, Maloney leverages the new relationship by asking who else his workout partner can introduce him to. “It’s the easiest introduction someone is willing to make on my behalf,” he says. 

Maloney reports that his relationships grow exponentially beyond those initial meetups. For instance, a successful media entrepreneur he worked out with is now someone he regularly turns to for insights and advice. “It’s a real business advantage for me,” Maloney says.

As college athletes transition out of sport and into the workplace, Maloney suggests they make the most of their athletic backgrounds. “It’s part of your personal story, and it gives you a home-court advantage in making personal connections with busy executives and industry influencers who are predisposed to working out.”

Capitalizing on that advantage is easy to do in the gym.

Dave Maloney

Dave Maloney is founder and executive producer of The D10, a nationally televised athletic competition produced for amateur athletes who compete while raising funds supporting multiple pediatric oncology research centers directed by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Decathletes compete in a mix of 10 events traditionally performed in the Olympic decathlon and NFL Scouting Combine. Maloney, previously featured on NCAA After the Game, earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Auburn while competing in cross country and track and field. 

Behind the story

Becoming workout partner No. 84
By Monica Miller

When I interviewed Dave Maloney by phone, the exchange was about as friendly as a writer could hope. We had never met in person before, but that was inconsequential as Maloney turned the tables by asking me, the interviewer, the final question.

If I am ever in your city, he asked, would you want to do a workout together?

“Sure, that would be fun,” I replied. But as sincere as his offer was, I thought the likelihood of that happening was low.

Then, just weeks later, a business trip took me to Houston — where Maloney lives and works.

I never thought I’d play a part in personally helping the business executive and former Auburn runner achieve his goal of 100 workouts with 100 people in a year. But there it was, a chance to do just that while in Houston.

We met at Equinox River Oaks, Maloney’s gym near his D10 office. Barefoot and ready to stretch it out, we shared a quick hug and joined in a 60-minute yoga class over the lunch hour.

It’s interesting when you meet someone in person whom you’ve only known on the phone. Normally, the interaction starts with dialogue. But this was refreshingly different.

We worked through the prescribed yoga moves side by side. Sixty minutes. No talk. Just sharing the space, this new space, together.

Only after, as we were lacing up our shoes to head back into our busy lives, did we catch up with one another through conversation.

“What NCAA After the Game business do you have in Houston?” he asked.

“How did your D10 competition last week in San Francisco go?” I inquired.

Just before we parted, I asked Maloney where this workout fell in his goal for 100 workout partners this year.

“Eighty-four,” he responded.

I am his workout partner No. 84, and no one could be more surprised than me.