Wonder bread, con jobs and a new hope

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Dan Trink

Dan Trink


Fort Co-Founder






I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before but I come from a family of immigrants.

This felt challenging when I was a kid as all I wanted to do was fit in and feel normal. ​Things like the Boy Scouts and having a Christmas tree and eating Wonder Bread may seem mundane and unremarkable to you, but to those of us who grew up with immigrant families, these things seemed as far away as the moon. “Why would you want to go camping in the woods? We’ve worked so hard to have a nice home!” ​“Why would you want to eat store bought bread when there is a Jewish bakery down the street!” ​These were the common rationale for holding onto our heritage while also pursuing the American dream. But it turns out being surrounded by people who risked everything they knew in pursuit of success, dream fulfillment and hope actually teaches you just about everything you need to know about life. There are plenty of movies made on this topic (perhaps “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” being the most extreme?) so I don’t feel the need to explain further.

Because, given all the evidence, the only suckers, the only “freiers”, are the ones who choose not to participate.

Dan Trink

Fort Co-Founder

One of the small side benefits of growing up in such a culture is being exposed to a variety of languages. And not only languages, but phrases or slang in other languages that don’t fully exist in English.

Schadenfreude is perhaps the one that has crossed over (my auto-correct even knew how to spell it) thanks to Lisa Simpson. But just in case this one passed you by, it's a German term for taking pleasure in the pain of others. Sure it’s a bit sinister but also very evocative.

Growing up I was surrounded by Polish, Yiddish, Hebrew, Hungarian and even some Spanish (my Dad worked in factories with a lot of Spanish speakers) and each one of these languages has phrases or slang that don’t quite often translate directly.

One of my favorites is “freier” which is a Hebrew word that, to my understanding, means fear of being a sucker.

Israelis, Romanians, Hungarians and similar cultures are terrified of getting screwed or someone getting the better of them on a deal and the word “freier” sums this up perfectly.

And even though most people don’t articulate this during their initial consultations and calls with me when we discuss their fitness history, for sure many of them - in the back or forefronts of their minds - have the fear of being a “freier”.

This is for good reason.

They’ve been burned before.

Whether it’s due to some perception they made up in their own mind, something they saw on Instagram or a sales manager from a big box gym selling them dreams of six week transformations, so many people who have any experience with spending money on fitness feel like they’ve been deceived in some way.

And, many times, they have been.

Just like the stereotypical used car or insurance salesman, there is no shortage of fitness purveyors who sell big dreams filled with deceit or unrealistic expectations. Experience that enough times and it’s no wonder that people have lost faith and trust that there are fitness solutions out there that actually work.

As a representative of the industry the first thing I feel the need to do is apologize. Because research continues to confirm what we’ve known for a long time - fitness, and strength training in particular, are absolutely essential when it comes to a healthy and capable life. So the fact that it’s been taken away from some of you due to a lack of ethics or someone just wanting to make a quick buck without any commitment to driving results is a travesty.

I realize that may seem grandiose or overstated. But when you break it down I don’t believe that it is.

Just like sleep and nutrition and stress management and shelter, exercising is an absolute pillar of living a successful life. So if this has been taken away from you because of a past experience stemmed in deceit, this is a pretty fucked up thing.

But I’m also here to implore you, given the importance of training I just expressed, that you don’t give up hope. That you find a solution that you can believe in. Whether that be a yoga practice or walking outside or a Zumba class filled with your peer group or an organized strength and conditioning model like we run, find an avenue that you believe in and that you trust.

Because, given all the evidence, the only suckers, the only “freiers”, are the ones who choose not to participate.

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