What An Asshole


“Hey, how’s it going?” asked the voice on the other end of the line.

“Good, “ I said skeptically.

“What’s wrong? It sounds like something is wrong…”

And with that, I hung up the phone. I was 16 years old and knew a prank call when I heard one. Hell, I was 16 years old, so I knew everything.

*Phone rings*


“Why did you hang up on me??”

I hang up the phone.

*Phone rings*

“(somewhat hysterical) I don’t understand what’s wrong….”

After a second of panic I made the only logical decision possible,  I once again hung up the phone and turned off the ringer.

After downing about a half-gallon of whole milk and a few packages of Ho-Ho’s while watching Woody Woodpecker reruns I once again returned to the phone, flipped on the ringer out of a combination of fear and curiosity and was only half surprised to find it was still ringing.


I reluctantly picked up the phone.

“(trying to sound annoyed) Hello”

“(full on crying) I just don’t understand what’s going on. Why are you hanging up on me?”

And it was at that very moment the light bulb appeared above my head. Because it was at that very moment I remembered my brother telling me that he started seeing a new girl.

And that he and I sound reasonably alike on the phone.


I recounted this story as part of my best man’s toast at my brother’s wedding to this very woman.

And, given that I was never that crazy about her, I couldn’t resist adding…

“Well, I tried my best to get rid of you then….” which luckily garnered a few laughs from an audience filled with my Jewish family who were none-to-thrilled that my brother decided to marry a Catholic girl.

So why am I telling you this story? Three reasons.

First, I think it’s pretty funny and we can all use a laugh. Secondly, almost everyone thinks I solely live in the gym and this proves that I can escape the squat rack, dress up and go to a formal event.

But mostly it’s to confirm the fact that I can be an asshole.

And in plenty of settings like, say, giving a toast at a wedding, this can be a problem. But in the gym, not so much. In fact, I’d say within these four walls I’m just the type of asshole you need.

Let’s get this straight. I’m our clients biggest fan. I love seeing them crush big weight or PR their thousand meter row or lose 15 pounds or do things they never thought they’d be capable of doing. When it comes to that, I’m all high fives and good jobs and calling my Mom to tell her that Lauren just incredibly back squatted 101kg for a set of four (PS: Lauren, my Mom is very happy for you). You will not find anyone prouder of people’s success than I am.

But when that isn’t the case. When you aren’t quite getting the depth you are capable of on your squats. Or you’re not really hitting the target on your wall balls. Or you just aren’t performing to the level of your abilities (and that is part of the joy of seeing people train frequently – you get a real sense of what they are capable of) I’m not going to blow smoke up your ass.

I’d even argue that it makes the praise that I dole out when you do a good job even more valuable. You know I’m not saying it just to say it.

In the current environment of fitness participation medals (Yeah, you showed up. That’s all that matters. Now you can do no wrong!!!) I’m going to be the asshole who shoots you straight.

And before you bomb the comments section, yes, I fully realize that there is a category of client for whom showing up is the victory. And those people get my high fives, too. But for the rest of you, who want me swinging pom-poms and have your name light up in sparklers just because you walked through the door….

Lately I’ve noticed that the people who actually train the hardest search for accolades the least. They seem to get more wrapped up in the process than the rewards. It’s almost as if the compliments get in the way of the work.

I know that I’ve tried to learn from and emulate those people. There is something very empowering about doing something for the sake of doing it and not for the approval of someone else.

“Yazibya!” to quote Ivan Drago in Rocky IV as he turns to the members of Parliament and tells them “I do this for me!” (if the subtitles are to be believed).

And maybe that’s the great lesson to be learned here. Don’t let the reaction of someone else dictate the effort you put into anything.

It’s either that or make sure you never ask me to make a toast at your wedding.