A trainer who’s helped countless people transform their bodies reveals the 5 questions that will change everything
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Question #3: Why now?
Mark works as a high-end tour guide, taking wealthy out-of-towners around to see the homes of the stars—or, more often than not, the imposing gates outside the stars’ homes—while providing a steady stream of witty commentary. The job is volatile, to put it mildly. It’s not just subject to seasonal and economic fluctuations, as you’d expect, but also to the current political climate, with fewer tourists coming to the U.S. with money to spend.
Then there’s the unpredictable nature of driving in L.A. He conducts his tours in a luxury car, owned by his employer. The tiniest fender bender could lead to astronomical damage claims. In the worst-case scenario, he’d be classified as a high-risk driver, which means he wouldn’t just lose his job, he’d be virtually unemployable in his field.
He’s haunted by thoughts of that future job search.
“Of course I want to look good for an interview,” he says. “I have no problems with confidence, or the ability to learn, or anything like that. But the impression on somebody when I walk into an office, I want it to be better than it would be now.”
Question #4: What happens if you don’t get into shape?
Something I haven’t yet told you about my brother in law:
He’s never married, but for the past 24 years, he’s been a surrogate father to the daughter of his former roommate. Mark and the roommate were never involved romantically (she was already pregnant when they met), but they remained close friends and provided a stable household for her daughter. But now, with the daughter out of college and living with her boyfriend, “I’m not sure I want to be finished with parenting yet.”
He wants to explore foster parenting, and perhaps even an adoption down the road. But he knows time isn’t on his side.
“Being in good shape would make a more favorable impression on adoption and foster agencies,” he says. “And the energy from being fit would help me keep up with him or her or them.”
He then shifts to his personal life, something I never ask about.
“Through the first half of my time as a parent, I dated a lot and got serious twice,” he says. “I don’t date much now because I don’t really feel I have a lot to offer, is what it comes down to. I don’t feel like I’m there.”
This feels like we’re pretty close, but when I run these answers past Cosgrove, he tells me to ask one more question:
Question #5: What happens when you do get back in shape? How is your life different?
To my surprise, Mark circles back to the age issue.
He talks about the confidence he’ll have by not just looking younger, but also feeling younger. It’s the linchpin connecting everything we’ve discussed—employment, dating, and even the chance to start a new family.
“I enjoy being mistaken for younger than my actual years, in part, because it can also make me appear smarter,” he says. “Fair or not, attractive people, especially in L.A., are better perceived and have a leg up on others with similar qualifications.”
Now I think we’ve arrived at motivational ground zero. The open question is, is it enough? I guess I’ll know when we see each other a year from now.
Lou Schuler is an award-winning journalist and contributing editor to Men’s Health. His latest book is Strong: Nine Workout Programs for Women to Burn Fat, Boost Metabolism, and Build Strength for Life, with coauthor Alwyn Cosgrove.
This article first published in Men’s Health.