RIP: Greg Anderson

On Sunday December 2nd, I received a call from Doug McGuff was very sad news: our mutual friend Greg Anderson had suddenly died. It was all I could do not to cry as I staggered to sit on the curb in Downtown Austin. I was speechless, which is not something that often happens to me.

Greg is partially responsible for my being a trainer and taking pride in attempting to become a better coach over the years. After becoming certified and training for a little over a year with Coach, I met Greg for the first time. I was 18 years old. Coach had talked about Greg in glowing tones and upon meeting him and watching his interaction with Coach it was clear why: Greg was an easy-going guy who was sharp as a knife and critical in the kindest way when teaching and coaching. It was clear he thought a lot about how to say what he said when training and how to command authority from a client without explicitly demanding such. I was amazed then as I am now at that ability.

During this visit Greg let me put him through a workout, in which I tried my damndest to make sure I just didn’t fuck the whole thing up. After he returned to Seattle, where he and his wonderful wife Ann-Marie train at their studio Ideal Exercise he sent me this letter:

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This is framed in my office. When I’m feeling that I’m not able to reach my ability or that I’m somehow at a loss for how to explain to a client what we’re trying to do in a way that excites them and creates compliance, which you have to do as a coach, I read this and think that someone with years more experience than I sees something in me. This encourages me to not only reinforce belief in my own abilities but to know that I’ll figure a way through my problem eventually.

The Lifelong Student

Something I always admired about Greg was that his training facility was never run like a business per se: discussions with him was never about business models, expansion plans, internal systems, or profit maximization. I attempted to express this in our last discussion before he died:

  • Me: I admire and strive to have what you have someday…to do what you do.
  • Greg: You mean whatever the hell I want?

However, what that meant was to be singularly focused on one thing: the highest quality of coaching of high intensity training possible from anyone anywhere in an environment tailored exclusively to meeting that end goal. In that sense he was like the great martial arts instructors: their focus on teaching allows them to better learn over their lifetime this singular art. And believe me, coaching is an art.

Greg had a 6 month waiting list, on average. As a result, if he was profit-focused, he could have done all the right “business” things: build those systems, expanded, trained others to do what he did so he could focus on further business building. Instead, he kept the waiting list, trained 4 days a week while taking a 2 hour lunch, and celebrated his clients with plaques on the wall for those who had been with him 5, 10, and 15 years. Greg and Ann-Marie even took their clients who a baseball game every year as a way of saying thanks for their patronage and hard work. They made Ideal Exercise a “third place” for their clients, which in this business is an unheard of idea. They made it work stunningly.

The training community is worse for having lost Greg, as is humanity. Rest in peace, my friend.