Fitness, Health & Wellness
Open image in lightbox
(photo: Micah Boerma /

When I was a little kid talking amongst my friends, the topic of whose dad was the strongest always came up. I always thought my dad was the strongest. I still won’t cross him. He’s gotten increasingly sneaky as he ages, and I feel he can still take me on. 

As a dad, I think we all want to be that in our kids’ eyes. Now, I do not have any kids yet, but I plan on being the strongest dad one day. I would like to tell you a story about one of my clients who is a father of four, an entrepreneur, and has had a double hip replacement twice. Let’s call him Pete for anonymity. 

Pete was diagnosed with advanced osteoarthritis in 2016 and was scheduled for a double hip replacement. For those unfamiliar with osteoarthritis, his hips became bone-to-bone in the joint and began developing multiple bone spurs. He was in a ton of pain all the time. After the double hip replacement a year later, his new hips became infected, and they had to remove them and reinstall new ones. Yes, I know, crazy. Pete went ahead and had four hip replacements. Needless to say, Pete is a tough dude. I forgot to mention that he is currently 55 years old.

Pete reached out to me during the peak of the pandemic in 2020, when everything was shut down. He called to ask if I could train him virtually. My first question was, “Pete, do you have any injuries or issues I need to be aware of before we begin?” His response still makes me laugh to this day: “I have this thing called negative butt syndrome.”

He said this with such sincerity, I had trouble holding in my laughter. Then he cracked, and we both laughed together. He told me about his health, his history of surgeries, and sought something more aggressive to help him return to normal. Normal for him was standing up without assistance, or taking a knee and getting back up without someone having to help him. He was in bad shape.

When we started, there was not much we could do, and we were virtual, so he worked out in his garage doing all the crazy stretches and movements I could think of that he couldn’t get injured doing. Pete agreed to meet with me three times a week at 6 a.m. amid his busy schedule. He has done this now for three years. When we met, he could not sit down to a standard chair height without falling to it, he could not do a push-up, and he could not lunge to save his life.

It’s 2023, and Pete can now carry 65-pound dumbbells in each hand for 50 yards. He is squatting below parallel regularly without falling. He swings 53-pound kettlebells for multiple reps and sets. When I ask him to do push-ups, he smiles and asks, “How many do you want today, coach?” All that stuff is cool, but what was really cool was when he asked me if his kids could work out with him a few months ago. I, of course, said yes; I love working out with families. His family came and had a great time getting their butts kicked. 

The next day, I asked him how they liked it. His daughter said, “Dad, no offense, but I didn’t think you could do any of that stuff.” Seeing her dad dilapidated from his past surgeries and struggling to get his strength back, and then doing a workout with him where he runs circles around her and her brother just blew her away. 

I recalled this story at a dinner I attended and it brought tears to my eyes. It is so rewarding to see someone start where Pete started, to persevere through all the crap we all go through daily, and then to get to the end where he can be “The Strongest Dad on the Block” in his daughter’s eyes. 

I don’t know how far you’ve fallen behind on your fitness journey. Perhaps, you think it’s too far. But as I think back on all the clients I’ve trained, few had as far to go as Pete. And yet, he persisted. And if he can do it, I’m sure you can, too. spt

Eddie McKenna

Eddie McKenna is co-owner of Heyday Elite Fitness. For more info, visit