The Greatest Trainer in the World

I was getting ready to go down to UE for my WOW when I found my cell phone.  I had a voicemail from Washington State that came in at around 2am.  A second voicemail had been left later in the morning.  When I checked the messages, I found the most devastating news imaginable.

It is with a heavy heart and unimaginable sadness that I inform BBS followers and the HIT community at large that my dear friend Greg Anderson has died.  Greg introduced me to real HIT in May of 1997 when I made the pilgrimage to Ideal Exercise in Seattle to be trained by who I would come to regard as the best HIT trainer who ever lived.  I remember the five-sets of devastation like it was yesterday.  I wore a brand new pair of Reebok shoes when he put me through that workout.  They have been my training shoes ever since that day.  Every workout I have done at UE has been with those shoes, simply because I wanted to recapture some of the magic that Greg delivered to me that day.  Later that year, I would open UE based on the inspiration Greg provided and I returned to be certified by Greg because no-one else would do.  I could have been certified by Ken Hutchins himself, but I chose to travel across the continent to be certified by Greg.  Greg introduced me to my childhood hero Mike Mentzer.  Greg set a new course for my life when I met him in May of 1997.  I have sought his counsel on all issues great and small since that time.  He is quite simply one of the greatest minds I have encountered in my 50 years on Earth…and now he is gone.   I spoke at length with his wife Ann-Marie and she asked me to notify the community of Greg’s passing.  After making some difficult phone calls, I went down to UE for my WOW.  I cried as I laced up my 1997 Reeboks.  I will not post my WOW, instead I will post my WOW that Greg put me through in May of 1997.  I will post a more formal memorial in a few days, but no matter how good I will try to make it, it will fall short of doing justice to this legend of a man.

Nautilus Power Plus Leg Extension (with custom fall-off cam)

Nautilus Power Plus Leg Press

Nautilus Rowing Torso (cams flipped for proper fall-off effect)

Nautilus Compound Row (static hold)

Nautilus Flat Bench Press Machine.

As I lay on the floor, he handed me a tiny Dixie Cup of water which I could not hold without spilling.

I invite all to post their memories and sympathies.

81 thoughts on “The Greatest Trainer in the World”

  1. Has some down time today and watched the 2001 HIT Video. It was Brilliant as the day I got it. I found myself watching intently and admiring the execution of Master Instruction. Heck, I even shouted encouragement at the TV Screen. Great Memories!

  2. What???? Total and utter dis-belief. I met Greg (and later Ann-Marie when I first moved to Seattle in 1992. Greg was my trainer, later my friend, and later still my boss. I remember Ben, Sally and I being trained and tortured by Greg (we loved it!) as we worked to achieve our Super Slow Certifications. I moved with Greg and Ann-Marie when they were finally able to open their own gym. Greg trained me up until 3 days before I gave birth to my son, 2 days after the Seattle Super Slow Convention which I attended. It has been a couple of years since I’ve trained with Greg…..and I still can’t wrap my head around his being gone. So sad.

  3. I got a call from Heidi at the gym on Monday, about 4 hours before my weekly workout with Greg. She let me know that Greg had died the night before, and that I should come in next week for my regular slot… but not that afternoon. Despite my shock, or maybe because of it, it was only a few minutes after the call that I thought to myself: “I think Greg would be pleased to know that no one’s letting me skip more than one workout.”

    As it was, Ann Marie had been covering his workouts for a few weeks, but all the info I had up until that call suggested that he’d be back, maybe even this week. My wife and I have been training in back to back slots with Greg every Monday afternoon for more than two years. Not much of a record really, if you’ve seen the plaque on the wall honoring 5, 10, and 15 year clients. Still, spending the hardest 10 minutes of your life with someone for 100 or more weeks in a row puts you in a mindset unready to digest the kind of information I was getting in that phone call. All blessings to Heidi for her work getting the word out.

    It is frankly hard to imagine never again hearing those those quiet, perfectly-timed, devastatingly effective cues that kept my failures clean and excruciating, and my motions smooth and disciplined. No matter how raucous the gossip at the front desk, or how off-color the latest joke, when the workout began with Greg, the cone of discipline descended and the expertise was palpable. I’ll never forget the time I was slowing at ⅔ positive on an overhead press, knowing I was on the asymptote to failure, signals of panic beginning to form despite my best attempts at marshalling pure stoic effort. Then, just audible in my left ear, utterly calm, Greg’s voice: “It could still go.” I’d never heard that one before. The panic fell back, effort was focused, and there were a few more seconds of motion.

    To be honest, there was a lot in life I didn’t share with Greg. I follow no sports, I don’t eat meat, don’t drink alcohol (it tends to kill people in my family), but Greg knew all that, and came to trust that our shared enthusiasm and passion for… well… for enthusiasm and passion would be sufficient. Our shared interest in honest education and straightforward communication was another bond. Greg never hesitated to tell me about the things that mattered to him, even if the countries of our lives only shared a few borders.

    Most importantly, Greg made a difference in my life and in the life of my family and my students.
    After my father’s brutal suicide left me drifting into weakness, he helped me regain strength. At 45, I am now stronger than I’ve ever been. Greg also donated equipment to the little independent high school where I teach, so that I could start a Body by Science program with the kids, who are stronger and more disciplned than they ever thought they could be. Greg gave me the guidance I needed to oversee two years of injury-free workouts there and the kids just keep getting stronger. Oh, and my wife is now scary strong too, in a way I never expected to see.

    So, I sit here staggered at this loss, fairly blown away by Greg’s influence on the health of my community, and then consider what an absurdly tiny fraction of his life had anything to do with me. So then I try to multiply by what I imagine to be some factor, some quantity representing how many people he touched, how many people he made a difference for, how far his example reached, how much his thinking and writing mattered, how much his practice mattered, and I come up with an impact I can’t really wrap my mind around. I simply can’t form an adequate image. Greg’s loss opens a gulf beyond reason, but I’m going to trust that in the face of adversity, he’d want me to remember that “It could still go” to focus the effort for a few more seconds of motion.

    -Scobie in Seattle

  4. Doug,
    How do I ever thank you for such a wonderful tribute to my son. Mother’s always think their children our brilliant, but I could not have put the words to it, as you so eloquently did. A mother’s heart is broken and only time will help, but all the posts and comments are helping to ease his father’s and my pain.

  5. @ both Doug’s (McGuff and Holland)

    I was planning a training trip to Seattle in the not too far future to jokingly call myself and “alpha subject”. It was sort of warned against (or possibly dared to see what if) in UE Bulletin #1 (something about getting picked up by the neck). Do you have any stories to speak to this? That was my first introduction to the name Greg Anderson, so it make kind of an impact on my impression of him (read UE #1 in 2002 or so)…

  6. I remember two of the great comments Greg made in his talk at the 2005 HIT conference, he kept saying two of the most important things for a personal trainer to are “get paid” and “don’t hurt the client.” Still good advice that many trainers don’t get.

  7. Susan (Mom),

    It is my great honor to pay tribute to Greg. No parent should ever have to face the pain of outliving their child. My deepest sympathies to you and Greg’s Dad and the rest of your family.

  8. About a year ago I was updating my website and out of the blue Greg Anderson emailed my and we exchanged notes. We had never met or talked up to that point. Knowing what I knew of him through his writings and interviews i was flattered.

    We signed off hoping to stay in touch to compare notes but life got in the way and we didn’t. I feel a little like what Fred Fornicola described as what the police and fireman feel and refer to as “losing a brother”

    My sympathies to the family

  9. Fred Fornicola told me the sad news. Greg was a great guy. He got it and never showed a superior attitude. He would have fit in well with the original crew at the quonset hut in Deland. Rest in Peace my Friend. My sympathies to his Family and friends.

  10. @All,

    I just released a lot more memorial posts from the moderation queue. Sorry it took me so long to find them.

  11. Greg was one the first people in our community who advised me in matters of exercise. His counsel was generous, kind, funny, and as everyone here can attest, inimitable.

    While I had not spoken to Greg in some time, our occasional talks in the past were effortless and genuine and always with humour. Did anyone here ever hear his excellent Mike Mentzer impression?

    I mirror everyone’s shock and sadness over Greg’s untimely passing and I wish his wife and family solace during this most difficult time of mourning.

    Greg was a big man in every way that counts and his loss will be deeply felt by all who knew him.

    With deepest sympathies and condolences,

    Gus

  12. I met Greg and Ann-Marie back 1994, before they installed the HIT room in the old Northend Nautilus. Like many of us, I went from client to employee to friend. Long after I stopped working for them, they let me keep a key to their facility so I could come in and train on my own time. I’ll always be grateful for his friendship and, of course for everything he taught me. I knew him almost 20 years and he still could scare the crap out of me. Condolences to his family and other friends. I’ll miss you, Greg. You were a great mentor and friend. Thanks for everything.

  13. I have never seen Greg Anderson and unfortunately I never will. But all I know is that without this man I would not have anywhere near the kind of knowledge on exercise science as I do today. he has saved so many people directly and indirectly, from injuring themselves and wasting their time exercising hours and hours every day. what a huge contribution this man has made.God bless you GREG. THANKYOU, I AM VERY GRATEFUL

  14. @ Doug and Ed,
    Due to respect for those commenting here and share their emotions and memory’s about Greg I won’t post my wow with some thoughts.Just let me(us)know when it is appropriate or just to wait to next post and let this one only dedicated to greg.
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  15. @ Scobie,
    Your post was pure poetry.I demand that you post here weekly with your WOW along with some of those of your students.It is very inspirational to hear from some of Greg’s clients.I had a kickass day at work today after reading Scobie’s post.

    Greg and I had plans.We had planned to go speckled trout fishing in the Gulf of Mexico.I re-built my VW Thing so we could race in the Baja 1000(Imagine two weightlifters wearing Oakland Raider helmets without facemasks,dark goggles in place,blasting the Replacements on vintage 1980s cassette player,throwing empty beer cans of Lone Star into the desert).

    I go into my office,see a blink on my answering machine hoping it’s a message from Greg Anderson.

  16. AAARRRRGGGGHHHH!

    I can’t figure out what happened to the prior 50 posts, or how to fix it. Suggestions? John Little help me!

  17. In tribute to Greg Anderson, I performed the following workout:

    front grip pulldown
    shoulder press
    biceps curl
    Leg press in squat position.

    Workout time 8:30. Greg must have told me 100 times over the years, that if you move at a rate of an inch a second there will be no room to hide. If you consistenly do that you will never need more than 3 compound movements and maybe a single joint movement every 7-10 days. He told me that 18 years ago…I’m still doing it today.

  18. As we all know, HIT has been full of strong personalities and big characters from Arthur, Mentzer, Hutchins, and Doug Holland to the current RenX guys, ect.. The fact that Greg (who I never met or had the priviledge to talk to) managed to stand out among a crowd like that, says something. Of course, what hits home in all these rememberences is that he wasn’t just a giant of a personality, but a real mensch.

  19. Greg,

    You said-” Greg must have told me 100 times over the years, that if you move at a rate of an inch a second there will be no room to hide.”

    Sage advice. This may be the most important directive regarding dynamic exercise. It would kill many an argument. And yet, and yet…..

    Greg A was one of a kind and one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met. I heard the audio version of Doug’s story regarding Mastiff training. He left it on Rob Serraino’s voice mail. When Rob let me hear it I thought I was going to die. Still one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard to this day. Amazing.

    Greg was kind and extremely giving of this time to anyone who had the willingness to learn. He could talk for hours and would if he had the time(which he didn’t have much of because of how busy Ideal Exercise is).

    He could talk about anything, like the time he was bouncing at a club in the 80’s where Black Flag was playing. Great story.

    He will be missed and my heart goes out to Ann-Marie and the rest of his family.

    Al

  20. Hello Everyone,

    Your posts are so touching, thank you. Please continue them. I always like hearing how wonderful my husband was–not that I need to be told.

    I do have the 2001 HIT video dedicated to Mike Mentzer on DVD and our Weapons at Hand book available. Give me a couple weeks and then please call me directly at Ideal Exercise to order either one. (You can go to Weapons-at-Hand.com to preview the book.)
    Thank you again for keeping Greg’s memory alive.

    Sincerely,
    Ann-Marie

  21. I still can’t believe Greg is gone; I first met Greg during my junior year of high school. He prepared me for my senior year of football by twice a week putting me through an incredibly grueling workout, which some days included me pushing his car while Greg sat in the driver’s seat applying the brakes with a sinister grin on his face. Greg and Ann Marie have been more than good friends over the years they have been like second parents to my brother Kyle and I. I always looked forward to every training session with Greg, but would always dread every time he called my name to start my workout for it would always be very excruciating. Greg and Ann Marie were one of the first that my wife and I told we were having a baby, and our ultrasound picture is displayed proudly on their bulletin board. Greg would joke with me after we found out we were having a boy to figure out when he should get him a Judo Gi and when we should get him wrestling shoes. I’m very sad that my boy won’t get to meet Greg, he is one of the best people I have ever had to privilege of meeting, and you will always be missed.

  22. I want to offer my condolences to Ann-Marie and the Anderson family as well as the BBS and Ideal Excercise community on the loss of Greg. I had been away from the blog for awhile and just happened upon this today. I had the privilege all be it briefly for work for Greg at Ideal. In those few months I can say that I learned more about training that in all of years prior. I loved to hear him talk about training, and did my best absorb all I heard like a sponge. I will miss him.

  23. I only got to spend a short time with Greg in Indy a few years back. What a great guy and very helpful with a great smile and sense of humor.

    It shows us all to keep in contact because you never know when things will change.

    My condolences to Ann Marie.

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