SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 33: “Get Off Your Butt and Exercise!”

It’s been an incredibly long day. Rise early, shoot SCE campaign, wrap day and the return last of unused supplies.

This evening I’m traveling with my friend, and crew member, Danny. Having finalized the unpacking of a rented van, we set path for home.

As we drive, Danny, knowing of my 365 projects, says! “Look there is someone riding a bike.”

My first reaction is to decline the sighting, leaning on my third commandment of 365, “Thou shalt not chase someone down!” I’ll tell you some other time of commandment one and two.

Ah! what the heck here they are now. Commandment one, “never bother a person while they are eating!” Commandment two, “do not approach someone at work if it looks like they will lose their job!”

Back to the story. A beat passes; seeing no other photo option on the horizons, the hour getting very late and with empty streets all around, I relent to my first instinct and loop around the block to investigate.

Picture us, two tired looking guys, in a cargo van, traveling a conservative middle class suburban neighborhood late in the evening. Somewhat suspect, isn’t it?

Of course it is. We look just like an abduction team. I’m preparing for a night of utter rejection, at least as long as we are in this ride.

On the horizon we spot our target. One man, one bike, two dogs and one very dark street. I slow the van to a mere roll and match his pace. The window down, I call out, “excuse me” expecting a strong, get lost!

I introduce myself, Danny and 365. As expected, he questions my intent and requests to see the blog. Thank you technology, I can answer right on the spot.

iPad in tow, I accommodate his request. Five minute later we are deep in conversation and again I find myself in the right place at the right time.

Please say hello to Mario and his two walking buddies, dogs Trojan (named after the horse, not the condoms) and Punky.

The street is extremely dark and we chat by light provided by Chevy. Mario has a rich history of overcoming life’s obstacles and proves to be yet another testament to life rebuilt.

A changed man, Mario holds no shame in sharing with us the fact that he is a past criminal, completing his parole in 2006. He states, “I’m keeping my head straight and never want to lose my freedom again.”

We find this out when Danny asks him, “what was your first thought when we drove up?” He answers, “I did not know if you were law enforcement. I have a criminal record.” What impresses me is the respect in his tone regarding the law. Very humble, accepting and peacefully confident. I see a man of experience, with no chip on his shoulder at all. Better than many I know with the cleanest of history.

He speaks with a profound and open countenance and we find out that his life is completely committed to helping others. Be it through his growing physical training business, Corona Workouts, (after all, a man has to make a living) or through the volunteer service he provides in sharing his story with local organizations and schools. He talks as a banner citizen, with enthusiasm for his future.

Both Danny and I are struck by the physical fitness of Mario as he reflects on his outlook regarding health.

“Physical exercise is the key to happiness, and those missing out on it are setting themselves up for problems.”

He goes on, “Too many people rely on drugs and fad diets, rather than just practicing good nutrition and physical activity,”

“Did you know, 2/3’s of all Americans are overweight,” a frightening fact, and one that motivates Mario to build his business.

He shares the importance of good food and balanced activity, and follows a one with nature point of view. So much so, that his life dream is to own an organic farm, where he can not only produce the finest of product, but educate the public in healthy living practices.

I am impressed with his perspective and example of a life turned. Mario is proof of the power of physical training and positive mind-set.

He leaves us with a few challenges and promises:

One (simple and to the point)
“Get off your butt and exercise!”

“If you stay in shape, I promise good things will happen!” And he can back it up with his story.

“Keep your mind open!”

and Four (my favorite)
“Talk to your neighbors!”

Mario, Thanks for talking to us tonight!

Now I’m off to do my sit-ups!

Readers, get down and give me ten!

Talk tomorrow!