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My fitness story begins early in my life. I signed up for little league football when I was 9 years old. I was probably the only kid on the team who liked the exercises better than the game. I had more fun doing push-ups, sit-ups, and wind sprints than playing football, so my coach put me in charge of leading calisthenics and exercises. That was my first transformation camp.
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A History Of Fitness
As I grew up, I loved to learn about fitness and teach people what I had learned. I paid for my college education through personal training and coaching. I thought I wanted to be a doctor, but in 1990, I started a mail-in personal training business, and my fitness career really took off. From there, it just kept growing.
The first celebrity I worked with was Sylvester Stallone as he was preparing for his role in "Cliffhanger." After I helped Stallone, my reputation for helping stars get muscular for a movie started to grow.
I helped Demi Moore get strong for her role in "GI Jane;" I trained Edward Norton from scrawny to brawny for "Fight Club;" and I've continued to work with my favorite comedian, Jerry Seinfeld, through the years. I've also worked with athletes Karl Malone, Roy Jones Jr., Terrell Davis, Shannon Sharpe, and John Elway. When the Broncos won their first Super Bowl, I was the nutrition and supplement expert for the team.
Along the way, I wrote the books "Body for Life" and "Eating for Life," founded the magazine "Muscle Media," and started the EAS supplement company. I wanted to teach people everything I had learned. I wanted to cross the abyss between knowing and doing. I wanted to share, and that desire has led me here—but my journey hasn't been without hardship.
I made a name for myself by teaching people how to get in shape. I had books, a magazine, and videos that inspired people and taught them how to work out correctly and eat well. But I also know how it feels to get out of shape and to fight to regain your fitness. I have a transformation story, too.
The Fall From Fit
A few years ago, I went to walk downstairs after a home workout. On the first step, I came down with about half my foot on the stair, and my leg was so exhausted from working out that it just buckled. I fell forward, knees first. All I remember is that it sounded like six dry branches breaking. When I grabbed the rail to try to stand up, I found that I couldn't move my legs.
I pulled myself backward up the stairs with my arms and called the ambulance. As I was riding in the back of the ambulance, I was pretty scared. The EMT was more concerned about my neck than my knees because, on a fall like this, I could have easily broken my neck.
Falling on my knees the way I did caused my quadriceps tendon to rupture from my knees. In a way, I had a lucky fall. My legs were the strongest part of my body, and they took all the damage.
After the surgery, all I could think about was how much pain I was in. It felt like burning knives were beings stuck into my legs. The doctor said it took five hours to reattach the muscles. They drilled holes in the patella and brought the quad muscle back down to where it should be. I had 500 stitches in each leg.
Then, the surgeon gave me some really difficult news. He told me that if I bent my legs in the next 40 days, I'd be right back in for surgery. So I was put in leg braces that locked my legs out. I was constantly sweating. Everything was really uncomfortable.
I was released from the hospital a couple of weeks later. I lay in my bed at home. I couldn't move; I couldn't even bend my legs. I ate for comfort.
Four months later, I was able to stand up and walk into my bedroom. I looked in the mirror for the first time, and I was devastated. All the years of working out and all the years of knowing what to do didn't mean a thing. I got the message real quick: I wasn't special. I was just like everybody else.
Back to Fit
Imagine being Bill Phillips. You've written books and have millions of people doing your fitness programs, and then you look in a mirror and see an unfit, weak, sad person. When I looked into the mirror, I got pissed off. I looked at myself and I said, "To hell with this. I'm not doing this anymore." I made the decision right then and there that I was going to work.
I immediately started to take action. I went to the kitchen and took out all of the junk food. I got out a trash can and I started throwing that stuff away. It made me feel better.
A couple days later, I was able to get my walker into the gym. I did some Frankenstien curls. I wasn't really starting a program; I was just seeing what I could do. Getting the dumbbells back in my hands was like taking a pain medication and antidepressant at the same time. I love lifting weights, and I was excited that I was getting close to a time when I could actually train.
As I went through my transformation over the next several months, I planned every meal and every workout. Each day that I went to the sports center and ate healthy was a win. Slowly but surely, I regained my fitness.
It's always humbling to look at my "before" photo. My body is just like everyone else's; with inactivity, it fell out of shape. But, after a really difficult personal period, I discovered that—even in my late 40s—it's possible to get back on track. I'm here to help you make that same discovery. Regardless of your age, you can get back to fit!