PART 1. 1952-1959. FRANCE/MILWAUKEE
PART 2. 1960-1965. FRANCE
PART 3. 1966-1979. HOLLYWOOD/82ND ABN.
PART 4. 1980-2002. TRIATHLONS
PART 5. 2004-2014. SAN FRANCISCO
PART 6. 2015 LOS ANGELES
PART ONE. 1952-1959. FRANCE/MILWAUKEE.
The 1st 7 years of my life were all but typical. I was born in Paris, France; and acquired a gastronomic predilection and caught the travel/adventure bug early on. Surrounded by many aunts, uncles, and cousins, my childhood years were regularly dotted with sumptuous and lengthy family dinners.
Christmas, Easter, weddings, baptisms, birthdays, or just simple reunions were occasions to celebrate around those legendary French meals.
Usually starting at 12noon, these special occasion multi-course meals would progress into early evening. As the impatient children went out to play (me), the adults engrossed in discussions would commandeer the afternoon into the ‘4 heure’, (the equivalent of British tea time) when the espressos, delicate pastries, and butter cookies would make their appearance. After another hour or so of adult conversation, it would be time to say farewell in order to go home and eat dinner at 8 pm.
This happened frequently in my early years of childhood. This also was a fairly standard and secure upbringing for a Parisian toddler in the stable post war era of the 1950’s.
In 1957, my parents boldly headed to the colonies in the true spirit of the pioneers. I loved the plane ride, all 19 hours of it with a stop in Reykjavik, Iceland for refueling. We flew the majestic 4 engine turbo-prop ‘Constellation’ with the distinctive 3 rudder tail section. It was truly the lap of luxury in flight travel at the time. It left an indelible and exotic image on me of planes, travel to far away lands, and a budding spirit 4 adventure.
I immediately embraced the American lifestyle, and within 3 months was speaking like a true native. Here I discovered my affinity for athletics. Swimming in lake Michigan, ice skating when the ponds froze over, learning to ride a bicycle, throwing a football, or just having room to explore and run in parks and playgrounds.
I had never experienced the bounty of Thanksgiving, or the massive BBQ’s of the 4th of July, Memorial and Labor days. For that matter, I had never had a hamburger, a hotdog, or ever tasted ketchup!
These, among many other first time exposures, were responsible for a 2nd childhood of sorts. A repeat journey of entirely new discoveries and foreign sensations. Score another point for the developing spirit of adventure! My world was about to change once again. In 1961, my Father heeded the call to ‘Go West young man, go West’, and so my parents would leave frigid Milwaukee for sunny Hollywood, California.
PART 2 1960-1965 FRANCE
But first, I would head back to France with my Mother. It is here that I fell in love with the Ocean and Big ships.
We sailed the Atlantic ocean in style on one of the last Transatlantic liners, the ‘SS United States’. A 6 day crossing on a floating city! The finest food, the most elegant furnishings, pools, theaters, and a huge ship to explore! We even got to sail through a Typhoon, that was so much fun!
Back in France, the Family had gotten even bigger, the cousins were now in school, and those multi-course dinners were even more numerous to celebrate first communions and graduations. Being older, I had also acquired an appetite that fully took advantage of these meals.
The rigors of attending French schools was a very demanding and all consuming task. For the 3rd time in my short 8 years of childhood, I would readapt to a totally foreign environment. I had forgotten French entirely, as well as all the aunts, uncles, and cousins. Being so resilient, it took no time to drop back into French lifestyle and culture, and in the process forget about Milwaukee, Thanksgiving, ketchup, and English.
In the summer of 1963, I made my first trip to paradise. I spent an endless summer with my parents in sunny Hollywood, California. Again, the trip there was all the rage. The jet age had arrived and was well established by now. The trip only took 12 hours (non-stop) on a Boeing 707. Truly amazing this was! Once again, it was a deluge of everything new. Marvels just waiting to be discovered. Ocean, sun, surf, swimming, pools, palm trees, Disneyland, and a beautiful place I didn’t know could be so hot- Palm Springs. Too bad I had forgotten all my English. As a matter of fact, I was very reluctant to speak any of it.
Once again though, I was presented with the opportunity to swim nearly everyday in the blue Pacific getting hammered by the huge waves at Zuma beach in Malibu. Needless to say, Ocean swimming was a favorite that summer, and I developed a quite fearless attitude in the raging surf. I was caught many times in rip tides with my Father who repeatedly called on the Life guards for assistance. Well, it was over way too soon. Summer was over and it was time to leave.
Back in Paris, school had now become extremely demanding. At 12, I was solving math problems of the time and distance variety more suited to an algebraic formula: Train A starts at 8am traveling at 25 mph, Train B starts at 9am traveling at 35mph; At what time does B overtake A, and how far have they traveled?
Well, it took 2 years just to figure that one out. Had I stayed in France, I would have started Latin the following year at the tender age of 13. As fate would have it, in the summer of 1965, I was back in Hollywood, and this time stayed for good. It was 1963 all over again, only better.
I didn’t know it; but all this fun, adventure, travel, and fledgling athleticism, were contributing to shaping me for the sporting penchant, and the fearless (nearly daredevil) attitude I would develop in my future years in the USA. This would also coincidentally push me towards a sports and fitness career.
PART 3 1966-1979 HOLLYWOOD/82ND AIRBORNE
I started Jr. HS, and within weeks was speaking English almost without an accent. This of course, because I had already been there before, (an important concept we will revisit). I now had access to a variety of sports. Baseball, football, basketball; but in PE class, it was in pure and simple running that I had the most success and pleasure in.
I just liked to run around that 1/8 mile white painted circle on the blacktop of the school grounds.
Then, for that first Christmas, I got a bicycle. It was just fine with me that it was a hassle for my Mom to drive me to school. Since we lived in an apartment complex with a pool suitable for swimming, I now had the 3 sports that would be so central in molding me. I biked everyday to school of necessity, I ran continuously in PE class, and I swam regularly in our near-olympic sized swimming pool with the tiles imported from Italy. Of note, is that the movie star Johnny Weissmuler (the original Tarzan) used to train there in the heyday of Hollywood! Life went on like this for the 3 years of Jr HS. It was pretty much fun, maybe a bit too much fun as the grades were not quite there.
Then came Hollywood HS, where dozens upon dozens of TV and Movie stars had graduated from. It no longer was cool to ride your bicycle, so befitting my constantly evolving need for speed, it was replaced with a Triumph 650 Tiger. Maybe I should have started with cars as I promptly proceeded to lay it down in the hair pin turns of the Hollywood Hills within a week! Little did I know this wipe out would portend the bloody carnage in my life to come!
Fortunately, I survived all my accidents and motorcycle years. Anyway, I could walk to school. To make up for the bicycle, I now found myself on the swim team and track team. This was my first introduction to organized sport, and the training to get faster and stronger. In competition, I found I no longer was at the top of the food chain like in Jr HS. But that was ok, I acquired the discipline to train and improve. Besides, I relished any opportunity to test myself.
After HS, I attended 2 Jr colleges. The 2nd of these was an agricultural/husbandry college located on an extensive property with horses, cows, hogs, orchards, and wheat tracts (how weird I should be attending this college again 45 years in the future). We had moved to the San Fernando Valley, where citrus fruit reigned king. Anyway, it was here on the dirt switchbacks of Los Angeles Pierce College that I discovered Cross county running.
It made running around a track seem like child’s play. It was so difficult and seemed insurmountable. I was still under my High School track mentality that running any more than 1 mile was long distance and should be avoided at all costs. These trails, switchbacks they called them, went on forever it seemed, and they also went up and down really steep hills. Even though I preferred the beautiful tartan track facility available there, I felt compelled to run the trails every now and then just to remind myself how difficult this was.
In 1972, I attended California State University, Northridge. There, my athletic focus acquired a broader scope. The school offered a sizable variety of elective classes I was itching to try. They offered new experiences as well as an element of danger that appealed to my sense of living on the edge.
Scuba diving taught by an ex-NavySeal, sailing, archery, mountain climbing, and survival training taught by a Green Beret were some of the activities offered. I was in a mountaineering class taught by Mr. Mountain, I kid you not! At this time, I was also taking flying lessons and in the process of acquiring my private pilot’s license.
The physiology training I was exposed to in scuba diving and flight training led me to seek more classes dealing with the response of the human body to extremes of environment. CSUN also offered classes such as advanced lifesaving and first aid, managing athletic injuries, and courses of that nature.
I had taken a somewhat easy course of study, majoring in French literature. While the academics made me appreciate my native language more; it was really with sports and athletics that my heart lay. I continually needed more of a rush. Indeed, when graduation came around in June of 1976, I quickly missed the physical demands and adrenaline rush of the classes offered at CSUN.
I realized that at CSUN, my scope of athletic endeavor had been tweaked several notches beyond traditional sports and activities as a means to spend all the energy a 24 year old daredevil had. Life quickly became a bit too boring, partly because I still had no idea about what I wanted to do, and also because of the revulsion I had at the thought of working at ‘just another boring JOB’. In retrospect, I was still nearly 10 years away from the entrepreneurial spirit that would slowly materialize in my life.
OCT 1976 – OCT 1979
Since I enjoyed flying airplanes so much, and I was now advanced enough to fly solo, I decided to go in the military to learn about helicopters and later perhaps fly them. Yes, I wanted to fly; but I was always mechanically inclined and couldn’t resist finding out what made a jet turbine tic? It always fascinated me how such a small package as a jet turbine put out so much HorsePower? So I joined Army aviation as a Crewchief on Huey helicopters to find out!
It must have been fate; but instead of going to a facility in Washington on the West coast, I was offered the same specialty on the East coast at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, home of the 82nd Airborne. One look at paratroopers jumping out of airplanes, and I realized I had found my next adrenaline fix.
It would be physically demanding, psychologically intimidating, and quite frankly, it scared the hell out of me; but I’ve always been about stepping out of my comfort zone and pushing the envelope. And yes, I would be flying in planes and helicopters all day long.
Jump school was the first time I realized the human body’s unlimited potential for food intake and physical exertion. Training was harsh, demanding, and so unrelenting in the hot sun, that no amount of eating replenished my body. No matter how much I stuffed myself, I was always hungry with not a gram of fat on my body. I could never drink enough water either. I remember thinking how ironic this was: I eat and drink as much as I can hold, yet I’m always hungry and thirsty. If I don’t pig out enough, I actually lose weight!
Anyway, I survived jump school and earned my wings. Yes, for me, there has been no bigger thrill than jumping out of a jet plane and rushing towards earth in free fall at 125 mph. Bungee jumping comes close; but that’s another story for another day. After 2 more years of various forms of fun and training, I finished my tour of duty at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
PART 4 1980-2002 TRIATHLONS
I really enjoyed my time in the military; but I still drove back to California as fast as I could. With my honorable discharge came the benefits of the GI bill. So while I was enjoying my new found freedom, I decided to go back to CSUN, take a few fun classes, and get paid by the government for doing so. It was here that I read an article in the school newspaper about a student who was in training for a competition in Hawaii called the – Ironman Triathlon-.
What sort of competition can that be, I asked myself? I never heard of such a thing! Well, when I found out it was a new type of competition that comprised a 2.4 mile swim in the ocean, followed by a 112 mile bike race, and then a 26.2 mile marathon, it was more than I could stand. Right then and there, I committed that the following year, 1981, I would be at the starting line in Hawaii.
It also occurred to me that I knew nothing about how the human body really worked. Since I was embarking to complete a race of epic proportions, and Uncle Sam and the GI bill would pay my way, I enrolled to study physiology of Exercise at CSUN. So began my triathlon training that lasted for the next 22 years.
I completed 6 Ironman distance triathlons that took me to continents I would never have visited otherwise. In the process, I lost count of the dozens upon dozens of other triathlons, ocean swims, running, and biking races I competed in. Somewhere in there, I also managed to compete in Eco-challenge, an Adventure race in British Columbia in 1997. However much fun all this competing and travel around the world might have been, it was the decision to study the human body and what made it tick that would cement my calling in life!
I was a pioneer of sorts in the fledgling sport of Triathlons, but another novel approach in the Fitness world was brewing. Private training was emerging into mainstream as an off shoot of the Hollywood stars who had physical trainers help them get lean and mean for movie roles. This caught on like wildfire, and everyone was clamoring for ‘Private trainers’.
In 1984, I worked as a contractor to provide ‘private training’ for another trainer who billed himself as the ‘Trainer to the Stars”. With time, I gained a clientele of my own, and expanded into training athletes coming into the sport as well. On June 30th, 2002, I competed in a half Ironman distance triathlon, capping off a very long racing career.
PART 5 2004-2014 San Francisco
I was happy to take a break from 22 years of triathlon training. Although I like to have too much fun, I did have many adventures in far flung places of the globe. I now spent more time on developing my business.
In the mid 1990’s, I had become a massage therapist, and now had time to expand in that direction. I was always fascinated with the idea of accelerating recovery of the physical body, and anything that banishes aches and pains and promotes quality of life and longevity. Now that I no longer was training 30 hours a week for Triathlons, I added massage to my budding private training practice.
It was actually working on other people’s bodies that taught me the most about massage’s healing and restorative properties, something that had escaped me during my Triathlon career.
In both private setting, and working with Chiropractors, I couldn’t help but notice the therapeutic stress release in patients following massage. Not lost on me was the calming effect giving massages had on me. I remember observing I wish I had known this when I was training so heavily for Triathlons!
In 1999, I also became a varsity swim coach at the high school level. I had to learn basic computer skills, I had never paid attention to this technology before. Having to be on computers, it was at this time that I took notice of a fairly new phenomenon called the ‘Internet’.
As I became more intrigued with this emerging technology, I realized this to be the perfect vehicle to spread the message of fitness. I enjoyed private training; but always felt the built in limitation of working 1 on 1; not an efficient way to reach the masses. Computers and the Internet were the perfect solution to reaching a wider audience. Trouble was, I knew next to nothing of computers or the internet.
In 2004, I relocated to San Francisco because of health issues with my Parents. I would end up spending an entire decade there. In 2008, I made the decision to study computers and how to use the internet as a means to deliver Fitness on a grand scale. Thus began in earnest, a very long, arduous, and sometimes frustrating journey to understand this digital world. The more I learned, the more obvious it became how little I did know. I started at ground zero.
When I started studying the internet, my already haphazard training suffered even more. As I spent time sitting at the computer, sometimes for hours at a time, I started noticing emerging aches and pains. Nothing of any significance; but irritations that would materialize out of nowhere. Fleeting back aches, a general tightness, loss of flexibility, carpal tunnel, etc. I realized that I was becoming (dare I say it) SEDENTARY!
I noticed as well that though I no longer trained as I did several years before, I kept eating just the same, and my weight showed it. Just because I had been in awesome shape, I was not immune to the ravages of a sedentary lifestyle. I could get fat just like anyone else. I was slowly becoming detuned. It was a rude awakening!
Over the years, I made multiple attempts to regain a semblance of the conditioning I enjoyed back in the 80s and 90’s. I would start training and make great progress, only to be sidelined by some injury after one or two months. Most bothersome was an Achilles issue on my right leg. This routine went on for the better part of a decade, and although I suspected there was a fundamental flaw in my approach back to the level of fitness I once enjoyed; I just didn’t know what to do. Sometimes, it takes the longest time to figure the obvious.
When I came to the conclusion I would have to let go of my Ego and adopt an entirely different approach to fitness in my 50’s than in my 30’s, progress showed. Many aches, pains, and injuries went away; but not all, most notably the persistent right Achilles tendon. I was on the right track; but it would be a long road to get back to triathlons. During this time as well, my Dad passed away and several years later, the Dog he had rescued before his long illness. There were several years that training and the internet were put on the back burner.
On December 28, 2012, I turned the big 6-0.Yep, that time had come. Athletically, I was but a mere shadow of my former self, I was about 30 pounds heavy, and I had a host of irritating (not debilitating) aches and pains. I likely carried more fat than the scale indicated because I had lost much muscle too. This I suspected all along, but I would be horrified 4 years down the road when I would find out precisely how much fat I had gained, and how much muscle I had lost!
For years now, I knew the internet was the next business step in my life; but I didn’t want to be just another private trainer yelling in your face like ‘Tony Little’ or ‘The biggest loser’ trainers. I also couldn’t figure who I wanted to appeal to. The light bulb went off when I turned 60. It would be the BabyBoomers and anyone who is getting older, that pretty much covers everyone reading this about page. The vehicle would be getting back in shape to do Ironman triathlons once more, and PR faster than I had 30 years before. That would be my goal, that would be my motivation.
My Mom wanted to sell the family home and size-down in a year or two, and in the end the decision was made to move back to Los Angeles. The house had been built in 1965, and to be advantageously competitive on the market by 2014, it needed a lot of work to get prepped to sell. Prepping the house took a staggering 2 years; I did most of the work myself. Needless to say, training and the internet went out the window, and I only ended up with more aches, pains and fat. GoingON30 would have to wait.
PART 6 2015 LOS ANGELES
I’m so happy to be back in LA. San Francisco was behind me and so was the house. I now had no worries, only time to finally devote to taking my business to the internet and getting back in shape.
After settling in, I started training in view of going back to Ironman triathlons sometime in the future. I will start with the ‘Baby’ triathlons this time however. In fact, I won’t even start with triathlons; but a break in period for each sport which will likely take the better part of a year. No Ironmans for at least 2 years.
Perhaps, if I train with a bit more intelligence and patience in view of being injury-free, as opposed to going ‘balls to the wall’, I may find myself healthier than I’ve ever been and at the starting line of past Ironmans:
Wishing you a happy Journey, Claude