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Wisdom from Average Joe’s Gym

The movie “Dodgeball: A True Underdog’s Story” premiered in 2004. The movie’s premise was that Peter LeFleur, the owner of Average Joe’s Gym, played by Vince Vaughn, faces foreclosure unless he can raise $50,000 in 30 days. His solution is to win the cash prize of a dodgeball tournament held in Las Vegas. To achieve

The movie “Dodgeball: A True Underdog’s Story” premiered in 2004. The movie’s premise was that Peter LeFleur, the owner of Average Joe’s Gym, played by Vince Vaughn, faces foreclosure unless he can raise $50,000 in 30 days. His solution is to win the cash prize of a dodgeball tournament held in Las Vegas. To achieve his goal and save his gym, he must overcome a host of obstacles, including his nemesis, White Goodman, played by Ben Stiller. I know, crazy premise, but it was still funny.

While there were a plethora of great lines in the movie, including, “If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.” I was most fond of Vaughn’s television advertisement for his gym at the end of the movie.

The text goes like this: “Hi, I’m Peter LaFleur, owner, and operator of Average Joe’s gym, and I’m here to tell you, you’re perfect the way you are. But if you feel like losing a few pounds, eating healthier, and making a few friends in the process, then Joe’s is the place for you.”

Unlike just about everywhere else, Vaughn’s character doesn’t shame overweight people or put down other gyms or methods. He simply offers acceptance and help.

When Facebook first became popular, I merged it with my very extensive list of business contacts. What that means is with the push of a button, thousands of “friend” requests were sent out in an instant. Once I started to get past 600 or 700 “friends”, their contacts started to reach out to me, and things just started to snowball. Before I knew it, I had a contact list of several thousand people. I bring this up because almost all of them were fitness professionals that hailed from all over the world.

While I am sure most of them were very nice people and good at their jobs, there were some that made fun of overweight people and shamed other trainers. At the very least, these people rained judgement down upon the Facebook universe with what people should and shouldn’t do as well as what they ought to look and act like. They judged the most minuscule exercise technique mistakes, every tiny wrinkle on a person’s skin, an ounce of fat; you name it. At worst, some of them were downright brutal and would post hurtful and poisonous comments. Frankly, it led to me purging my Facebook account of hundreds of fitness professionals whom I had never met anyway.

Who were they to judge, and where would it end? I’m not saying we should never judge. In extreme cases, our moral compasses kick into high gear in reproach of someone that hurts a child or some such case. For the most part, however, I say people should be given the latitude to do what they want or look the way they want. Live and let live! If someone is trying to improve themselves, instead of discouraging them for being overweight, they should be encouraged and complimented for their positive efforts.

When I teach a wellness class or train a client, upon our first meeting, I make a point that I do not and will not judge. I am there simply to offer my help if they want it. If they should decide to become a client, my goals are to educate, encourage, and motivate. My job is to build up, not tear down.

As we move into 2021, I hope all of us can take a lesson from Vaughn’s character, Peter LaFleur, and encourage our friends, neighbors, and fellow humans. Try not to judge, encourage, and accept people as they are while helping them to become the best version of themselves.

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