Fathers and Fitness: Four Trainers on How Their Dads Inspire Fitness

Paul L. Underwood
by Paul L. Underwood
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Fathers and Fitness: Four Trainers on How Their Dads Inspire Fitness

Our relationships with our fathers are oftentimes simple and complicated, particularly when it comes to fitness. Some of us have dads who have stayed active as they’ve aged — going on long bike rides, competing in marathons or showing off that they can still do more pushups than a man half their age. (Go, Dad!) Some of us, on the other hand, have dads who inspire us by modeling what not to do, while we wish they would take better care of themselves.

For most of us, the reality is somewhere between those two extremes. We love our dads regardless, and continue to take inspiration from their examples, even when that example is showing us what we don’t want to be.

See? Complicated.

To learn how some of the fittest people we know get inspiration from their dads, we asked several trainers for their story. Here’s what they told us.


My father inspires me to stay fit the same way my mother does: By encouraging us to be strong and continuously learn about what we love to do. Don’t just do it, know about it! My father was a professional basketball player for Aruba as well as a baseball player, and he’s played soccer and tennis. When I was younger he shared his mindset and the gifts of hard work, paired with a reminder that he did not have anything growing up as the youngest of five in a poor household. His continued dedication to staying fit is a daily inspiration for me to live my best life. As a father of three children, I pass the same message along: Find something you love and do it with all your heart. Strive to know as much about it as you can, every day.”

— Marc Coronel, TriggerPoint and TRX master instructor and owner of Open Mind Fitness


“My dad inspires me to stay fit by doing an incredible job of managing his diabetes. Despite being thrown a curve ball by being diagnosed with a unique form of autoimmune diabetes later in adulthood, he has set a great example. He has shown me resiliency, discipline and the ability to adapt to challenging circumstances by developing better eating habits, staying active and generally keeping close tabs on his overall health and wellness since this diagnosis. He manages the condition meticulously and I’m proud to have him be an inspiration to stay fit and healthy.”

— Tim DiFrancesco, former strength and conditioning coach with the Los Angeles Lakers and founder of TD Athletes Edge



“When I was 5 years old, my mother was diagnosed with the terminal neurodegenerative brain disorder Huntington’s Disease. Not only did my dad stay by her side until her last breath, but he also held our family together and taught me how to live each day to the fullest. Together, he and my mother ensured I learned the value of physical activity by involving me in several sports to allow me to have a life outside of what was happening at home. Because of him, I have an appreciation of strength — both physical and emotional. #StrengthOfDad”

— Shana Verstegen, an Under Armour trainer and world champion log roller


“Unfortunately my dad lived a very unhealthy life in his time. High-stress, high-alcohol, lots of processed foods and no exercise, is what I believe led to his dementia and ultimate death. He ‘lived it up’ for much of his youth but showed me the importance of taking health steps now to prevent costly health issues later. A very expensive, but crucial, lesson.”

— Sandra Gallagher-Mohler, CEO and run coach at iRunTons

About the Author

Paul L. Underwood
Paul L. Underwood

Paul is a writer based in Austin, Texas. He tweets here, he Instagrams there and he posts the occasional deep thought at plunderwood.com. He’s probably working on a run mix as you read this.


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