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Sad News on a Happy Day

June 9, 2011

Hi friends.  Even though it’s Ryan’s birthday (happy birthday, baby!!), I’m writing this post with a heavy heart.

Last summer—actually, almost a year ago to this day—we joined the Summit Fitness Club in Altoona, and I immediately signed up for some training sessions.  The first session was free, so I figured, what the heck?  Then, after my first session, I was hooked—I signed up for a package of sessions.  The trainer I’d been paired with, Eric, was upbeat, positive, really encouraging, and seriously ripped.  He’d moved to Altoona from California, where he’d been a serious competitor in body competitions, and was still a part of that culture even in PA.  I’ll never forget, on the first day of my training, he said, “We’re gonna get rid of your skinny gazelle legs!!!”

Well, he didn’t really follow through with that—my legs are still pretty much toothpicks.  But—he did teach me all sorts of new training moves. He pushed me to work hard every single session, and I always left with my body practically shaking—but feeling stronger.

When the sessions ran out, I didn’t renew—mainly just because of the cost.  I loved Eric and loved my training sessions, but they were pricey. Plus, I felt like I’d had enough sessions to feel pretty comfortable doing most of the moves on my own.

Over the winter, I began working out at home a lot through dvds and our treadmill, and when we went to the gym a few weeks ago, it was my first time being back in months.  I was sad to see Eric’s picture no longer hanging on the gym wall with the other trainers’—but I figured he had probably gone back to California.  He was always talking about wanting to go back to be with his son and maybe even open up his own training business. 

Well, yesterday afternoon, we were at the gym again.  This time, we passed a sign in the stairwell with Eric’s picture on it—the sign said that they were having a fundraiser for Eric, who had suddenly passed away.

My heart dropped.

We asked one of the other trainers about it, and he said that Eric’s heart gave out due to steroid use.  They found him in his apartment on Monday afternoon. 

It makes me sick to my stomach just to type that.

Eric was such a great guy—always friendly, always smiling.  I know that some people hadn’t always had pleasant experiences with him as a trainer, but I just loved him—not for his training skills, but for his positive energy.  The fact that he’s gone now seems surreal to me.

It’s such a sad, sad thing.  I can’t imagine the pressure he felt to remain as ripped as possible, to keep building bigger and bigger muscles—but at what cost?  Sometimes I think we’re all becoming so obsessed with building better bodies that we don’t see the fact that we’re actually harming ourselves in the process.  I’ve never thought about steroid use (obviously), but sometimes—I admit it– I see ads for diet pills like Hydroxy Cut and think, Hey,maybe that could help me lose a quick five pounds before vacation!

It’s just not worth it.  I think so many of us think that we’re invincible—that we can push our bodies harder and harder and nothing bad will come of it—and that’s simply not true.  Sometimes, the body just gives out.   

My heart goes out to Eric and his family.  It’s strange to say that I’ll miss someone who repeatedly made me miserable week in and week out, but I will—and I know many others will as well, in Altoona and beyond.

Sorry guys—heavy post.  Hope you’re having a good day and treating your body kindly—I know I’ve been a little more appreciative of everything my body does for me since hearing the news.

21 Comments leave one →
  1. June 9, 2011 7:21 pm

    Oh my goodness, that is really tough news to hear. It’s unfortunate that men and women alike feel the pressures from society to look a certain way that it can, literally, be the death of them. I wish people would change their ways and respect their bodies rather than mutilate them. You only have one body.

  2. June 9, 2011 7:32 pm

    Omg Anna, my heart is breaking right now. I am so very sorry for the family.

    I remember reading about your training sessions w/ Eric like they were yesterday. Wow.

    Steroid use and the pressure he must have felt to use them. Wow…this is a wakeup call for everyone.

    My prayers are with the family.

  3. June 9, 2011 7:47 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear about Eric, Anna. It is very sad. I agree that a lot of times we become obsessed or focused on appearance instead of the importance of our health and what we are doing to our bodies. May his death not be in vein, but a life lesson to everyone who knew him. ((HUGS))

  4. Ginger permalink
    June 9, 2011 8:36 pm

    I’m so sorry for Eric and his family. You are right – this should be a wake up call for all of us. Our health is so important and there are so many things that are more important than our appearance. That becomes more and more important the older you get, with society worshipping youth and unrealistic beauty, it can be overwhelming if you don’t keep your wits about you! Thanks for this post!

  5. June 9, 2011 9:27 pm

    I remember you talking about Eric kicking your butt. I am so sorry to hear about him passing. That is devastating. My thoughts are with him, his family and friends. It’s so sad when we have to lose people like this to understand how serious using products like that are.

    Happy birthday to Ryan.

  6. June 9, 2011 10:05 pm

    What terrible news! What a devastating loss to his family & friends. It is definitely a wake up call and reminder of how fragile our bodies are and how we need to treat them with love and respect. Wishing Ryan a Happy Bday.

  7. June 9, 2011 11:30 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear that =( I always thought of steroids as dangerous but this is my first time hearing just how dangerous… my heart goes out to his family and friends

  8. June 9, 2011 11:46 pm

    I remember when you started training with him. This is so incredibly sad. Happy birthday to Ryan of course.

  9. June 9, 2011 11:55 pm

    Oh wow. Sorry to hear about Eric. So sad. It really does make you think about how our quest for perfection as a society is so strong that it makes us do dangerous things and not even bat an eye.

  10. June 10, 2011 12:25 am

    Oh Anna, what a sad story! I always question the extreme pressure some feel to look “perfect”. My heart goes out to Eric’s family.

    On a positive happy note, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO RYAN 🙂 Hope he has a wonderful day!!

  11. June 10, 2011 2:19 am

    So sorry about Eric, very sad. A scary wake up call and heartbreaking. The pressure to be perfect is a horrible thing.

  12. June 10, 2011 3:00 am

    Wow, that is horrible. It’s sad that people think they have to rely on nasty things like steroids and such to look/feel a certain way. My thoughts go out to his family.

  13. June 10, 2011 10:58 am

    Wow 😦 That is so sad. You just never know what someone’s coping with, it’s terrible. *hugs*

  14. June 10, 2011 11:35 am

    Oh my gosh, how horrible to find out like that for you guys! And how sad. 😦 Thanks for the reminder about what’s important.

  15. greensandjeans permalink
    June 10, 2011 11:37 am

    When I was living in Arizona I worked with several people who competed in body building and figure competitions, at least one of which was using steroids and it always scared the crap out of me to know what they were doing to their bodies. I am so sorry to hear about Eric and my thoughts are with his family. (And happy birthday to Ryan!)

  16. June 10, 2011 2:35 pm

    First off, happy birthday to the man. Hope you guys get to celebrate it up this weekend!

    Second, What a SAD story….ugh. Makes my heart ache for sure. The pressure on Athletes, trainers, etc is a lot, but its just a shame that some of the measures they take to maintain their physiques can lead to things like this.

  17. June 10, 2011 6:42 pm

    I’m so sorry, Anna. That’s just terrible. Thank you for your thoughts.

    And happy birthday to Ryan… I miss you both!

  18. June 11, 2011 4:40 pm

    So sorry to hear about Eric…that is just horrible. Steroids are very very scary drugs.

  19. June 12, 2011 3:26 am

    oh my gosh, sorry to hear about Eric. Sounds like a great guy and trainer. It is so sad how far some people will go to get that body, I have been surrounded by that many years as my two older sisters did bodybuilding and in college I worked in that environment. So sad, but for some they love it.

    HUGS!

  20. JenATX permalink
    June 14, 2011 9:16 pm

    Bless his family and friends. What a sad, sad, story. Its just awful that someone who helped others feel better and more confident about themselves felt the need to use steroids. Just goes to show that people can put too much pressure on themselves 😦

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