Remembering A Fitness Icon: Greg Plitt (1977-2015)

The fitness industry is stunned by the sudden death of one of its most charismatic and driven ambassadors. pays tribute to a true original: Greg Plitt.

Greg Plitt, the man whose fiery motivational videos, countless magazine covers, and drill-sergeant-with-a-heart-of-gold persona transformed him into a fitness industry icon, died Saturday, January 17, at age 37. A passing commuter train in Burbank, California, struck Plitt, who was pronounced dead at the scene. Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding this shocking tragedy.

Plitt touched every corner of the fitness world, appearing on so many covers that nearly every photographer, stylist, and editorial team had worked with him at some point. His website had more than 10,000 subscribers, all of whom felt a connection forged by his prolific content.

Numerous industry models tried following in his footsteps, and he helped even those who wanted to steal his crown. He met and inspired hundreds of thousands of individuals at appearances around the world. The Baltimore, Maryland, native was certainly well-known to followers of, having written articles for us and starring in our popular four-week military trainer MFT28. [LINK: MFT28]

Plitt wasn't someone who wanted to help you add a couple of vanity inches to your biceps. He wanted to reach deep inside you and steer you onto a higher level of existence where every rep, workout, and action you took meant more. This was especially clear in his recent work, much of which was along the now-poignant theme of "Will you be remembered?" Greg didn't want you to just do some stairs for cardio. He wanted you to take "1044 Steps to Paradise."

Through happenstance, I conducted Greg's first industry interview back in the early 2000s. A West Point graduate, he was a U.S. Army soldier when a modeling agency sent images of him to us at Muscle & Fitness. We had pegged him for a cover—the first of many. As the tape rolled over the course of an hour-long conversation, he struck me as someone who could accomplish something special, perhaps through sheer force of will. He exceeded that expectation tenfold in a career that also encompassed acting, including roles on two Bravo reality shows: "Work Out," which aired from 2006-2008; and "Friends to Lovers," which debuted a week ago.

What Plitt said near the end of our interview, when asked about the future, seems especially poignant today: "My goal would be to be 80 years old, sitting on a rocking chair, on the front porch, watchin' the sunset, looking back on my life, and honestly be able to say I lived without regret. There's a fine line between regret and foolishness, but to really give it all you had; and when it's said and done, no matter the outcome, to say, 'Damn, that was top-shelf shit.'"

Rest in peace, my friend. After a career spent ripping people off the couch with an incandescent intensity and passion, you earned it.

Join us as industry figures pay tribute to our fallen fitness brother.

Alicia "The Machine" Marie
fitness model and author

There are very few people I have known who, simply with their devotion to life, have made me want to do more, to see more—to just be more. Greg Plitt was one of them.

We first met well over a decade ago in what I refer to as the "first wave" of the New York City fashion industry's furtive curiosity with developed musculature on male and female models. At that time, we were rarities, and we were thrown together so many times that we became fast friends—just two outgoing young adults hypnotized by the roaring excitement of big city lights and with an unrelenting passion for super strength and incredible human aesthetics.

I found a kindred spirit in this man. He was, at his core, a creative with big dreams. We shared a love of extremes and spontaneity, which some might say, in the early days, could border on being a bit reckless. We fancied ourselves superheroes.

Through the years, from New York to his—and then my—subsequent move to sunny California, we stayed in contact, and we were lucky enough to work together many times. And as friends, we shared the triumphs—our first magazine covers, athletic contracts, business ventures—and the lows, like relationship issues and tabloids.

Though it all, he never lost sight of what we had set out to do from the start. He stayed the course and loved reminding me to stay on my game as well. Success follows success, he said.

Fear? A concept unimagined by Greg. He absolutely lived to do things that most would consider implausible or scary. Foolish bravado? No. Calculated risk to prove to those in doubt of their own abilities that the impossible is definitely possible? All. The. Way.

That is who he was. Today, I choose to remember this man as my friend; a skilled carpenter, a motivator, an entrepreneur, an industry icon, the perfectly imperfect man with a huge heart, superhero strength, and the face and body of an Adonis.

I—no, we—owe it to his memory to go after that fire that burns in our hearts. You know, the one that you keep trying to put out with self-doubt, but only succeed in making it burn faster, louder? Cherish the people who are always there rooting for you, and treasure this day and every day as if tomorrow is not a guarantee. As Greg used to say, "How do you want to be remembered?"

Peace, brother. The world is better to have known you.

Robert Reiff
fitness photographer

Rest in peace, Greg Plitt. Like the entire industry, I am saddened and shocked beyond words by this news. He is one of the few in my long career in this industry I can call a true friend, a man I loved and admired. We spent countless hours talking and sharing deep thoughts on life. He was an icon to everyone in the industry because of his thoughts and actions. My heart goes out to his family who he loved and admired so much.

Greg did everything up to and beyond the limit, including helping friends in need. He was in his prime and had so much left to experience and to share. I will miss you greatly buddy, and I'm thankful for the times we spent together.

Clark Bartram
personal trainer and fitness model

I had the pleasure of writing one of the very first articles on Greg, when he came into the industry highly touted as someone who would take it by storm—and that he did. He excelled on every level at everything he did, from world-class wrestler to Special Forces operator. I often thought of Greg as the James Dean of fitness, because he lived life on the edge and to the fullest. His early demise only makes that comparison even more eerie.

All of us in the industry work hard to leave a legacy by touching and positively affecting the lives of the people we encounter, and that is exactly what he did. His unique style of motivation was a breath of fresh air, and his words will live on forever in the lives of the people he touched. To give another comparison, I believe his body of work, like Tupac Shakur's, will continue to have a positive effect on the lives of millions of people, both young and old.

I wish you peace, brother, in your next adventure. Respect!

Adam Silver
President at Silver Model Management

I can't believe this. I can't. Greg Plitt has passed away. I've worked with this remarkable man since 2003, and he was one of the kindest souls I've known. He always went headfirst into everything he did, and he did it to the best of his ability.

Greg was more than just a model and actor. He changed so many lives for the better, whether it was helping them learn a new exercise or fix up their house. You may not know, but he was an expert craftsman, too. At one point he lived right around the block from me in Arlington, Virginia. I used to love going to his place to watch TV in his "man cave."

The world has lost a good soul today. He was an amazing friend and an amazing soldier. God bless him and his family. I love you, dear friend!

Dr. Sara Solomon
BSN and Team Athlete

The world has lost a truly amazing person. The day I joined the ranks at forever changed my life. This past November, I had the opportunity to listen to him speak live at Natalie Minh's Fitness MBA Summit. Watching my number-one source of inspiration speak live was surreal, and a memory I will forever cherish.

Greg, thank you for teaching me how to think differently. You inspired me to follow my dreams and make a difference in the world. You showed me courage, resilience, and perseverance as you created magic in your pursuits. I will miss you immensely and you'll always be living in my memory. May your soul be at peace.

Matt Weik
Account Manager, Team Sports, MET-Rx/Balance Bar

Words cannot describe the pain I feel after hearing the news of Greg Plitt's death. I had the honor of working with Greg for the past 10 years on projects for MET-Rx and other industry events, and it was always a fun and amazing time whenever our paths crossed. He was an inspiration to people all over the world. His passion for living a good, healthy life shined in everything he did. He lived life to the fullest—whether he was jumping out of a plane, climbing the highest mountains in the world, or spending some downtime with his dogs.

Greg Plitt spoke to millions through his words and motivational videos, and changed the lives of everyone he came into contact with. There wasn't anything he wouldn't do for his fans. I'm sure he's up there crushing some workouts as we speak. I hope he saves a set for me when I get there. Rest in peace, my friend. Though you may be gone, you will never be forgotten.

Jay Cutler
Four-time Mr. Olympia

Greg Plitt was such an inspiration to so many! He exemplified fitness and everything that there is to it. His legacy will never die. Peace, Greg.

Jamie Eason
fitness model, author, Team Athlete

After hearing about Greg Plitt's passing, my very first thought was how truly sad it is that he never got married and had children, because there truly is no one else like him. On the outside, he had supermodel aesthetics and looked like how I imagine a superhero would look. I was truly fortunate, however, to have known him beyond the beautiful exterior and larger-than-life personality.

Most people knew how charismatic he was and how he had the uncanny ability to motivate and inspire all who met him, but what many people may not know is his vulnerable side. Greg had a tender heart, especially for animals. And as for people, he had so much love and respect for anyone who would set out to do something and then follow through. He got so much satisfaction from seeing people pull their bootstraps up and just get it done. And if you were lucky enough to be friends with him, you would get to experience one of the greatest hosts and entertainers ever.

Greg wanted everything that he did with his friends to be an experience. For years he had tried to get me to jump out of an airplane, but I just wouldn't do it. He gave me a hard time about it for ages, but fortunately for me, he always respected someone who would stick to their guns. While he may never look down from heaven and see me jump out of a perfectly good airplane, I do promise to live the life he always encouraged, never losing sight of my dreams and never shying away from doing the hard things, because, as he said, "The hard things are done the least but provide the most."

Love you, my friend! You will never be forgotten!

Jamie Alderton
WBFF PRO, Team Grenade Athlete

It is very sad news to hear of the death of fitness icon Greg Plitt. He was a complete game-changer in the industry and someone I looked up to for motivation and inspiration. Rest in peace, buddy. You changed the lives and minds of thousands of people!

Michael Lyons
Creative Director at Silver Model Management

So many thoughts, so many memories, so many things left unsaid. One of my proudest discoveries was Greg Plitt. Booking him on his first magazine cover at Muscle & Fitness was a proud moment. I can look back on so much: Greg coming to our home for dinners, showing my wife the engagement ring he was giving to his then fiancée, getting him an audition for a TV show just this past week.

No modern-day fitness athlete has inspired more people. I can't tell you how many people over the years have told me that they started working out or improving their lives because of him.

I just spoke with him on Tuesday, as he sent me an audition tape for the TV show "Bones." Adam Silver and I were talking about how great it would be going into the Arnold if he booked that show, because we could celebrate at the Arnold together. I have a weary, heavy heart, and I will cherish his memory forever. May songs of the angels welcome you into heaven, my dear brother.

Zuzka Light
fitness model, co-founder of BodyRockTV

Greg Plitt and I shared the same representation, and I'm simply heartbroken to hear of his passing. Greg was a wonderful person and an inspiration to fitness enthusiasts worldwide. It's such a tragedy whenever someone dies in the prime of their life with so much to look forward to. He'll be missed, not just by his friends and family, but also by a huge number of his followers and loyal fans. Rest in peace, Greg.

Kizzito Ejam Team Athlete

It's heartbreaking to hear about the passing of Greg Plitt. He was a titan of the industry and one of my biggest inspirations. When I first started, I remember him telling me the importance of branding myself, but far more importantly, how I should always stay true to who I am and use my personality to motivate the masses. I still hold onto those words spoken to me years ago. He will be missed, but his legacy will live on.