September 19, 2001

I'll begin with an apology for using this space to let loose a few of my own pent up feelings. I don't pretend to be any great commentator on National Issues nor do I delude myself into believing I'm about to create any work of literature. I just find it difficult to attempt, even for a moment to ignore the situation we as a people are faced with.

We have seen the absolute worst. We have witnessed evil in its most hideous form. While movies, books, and TV shows regularly brought images of mass destruction before our eyes, never has it prepared us for the impact and the threat of September 11, 2001.

I'm writing this on September 19, just 8 days after the Towers fell. The stories I'm hearing, not only from the news, but from people I know, are so disturbing I'm not sure where my emotions are going at any given moment. My Mom went to the dentist two days ago. She lives in NY and was trying to go about her routine, trying to find some sense of normalcy, keeping an appointment she had. Everyone in the dental office was in tears. The dentist was delivering dental records of his patients who had to be identified in the carnage. These were neighbors of mine . . . people who grew up in the same city as I did. They did nothing to deserve this yet the actions of some deranged maniacal terrorists have snuffed out their lives. It touches everyone.

Personally, I'm sad. I'm still in disbelief. The World Trade Center, the buildings that are the first thing I see when I fly into LaGuardia airport giving me a sense of being back in my hometown . . . they're gone. Once I get past the sadness, and the disbelief, I find I'm angry. I want to help. I feel helpless to do so. I'm frustrated, I'm enraged, and I want to understand why something like this can occur, even in the mind of another human being. I want revenge, I want justice, I want peace. Those emotions get all jumbled around and then they all get pushed aside by the "appreciation of every living moment" emotions. That's where I am right now. Appreciating the fact that I'm still here . . . that you're still here . . . and that the only way we can be defeated is to wave the white flag. The ability to maintain normalcy is in itself a victory.

As a nation, we've been bruised, but not beaten. In trying to maintain that outlook . . . to go about life as usual . . . nothing feels quite right. Sure, I can go through the motions, conduct my seminars and consulting jobs, and respond to e-mails. It's just that everything seems so trivial compared to the enormity of this attack on America, on human life, and on freedom. There is something I've noticed however. Through the ashes has risen an intense outpouring of Love. Yes, there's a sense of patriotism beyond that which this nation's seen in my lifetime, but on a more personal level, people are concerned for their own. They reach out desperately to mourn, to share, and to give to those they love.

We've heard the heart wrenching phone messages from those who were only moments from the end of their lives . . . they needed to say goodbye and tell those close to their hearts how much they meant to them. Mothers and fathers all over the country ran to pull their children out of school . . . just to be with them. It brings home a sense of what's really important. The number of phone calls I received from people asking if my family is OK was staggering. I have such appreciation for the caring of friends and loved ones, and that's why, in this time of despair and mourning, I have been able to come full circle and find my way back to doing what I do . . . sharing fitness knowledge.

Last week my radio show was cancelled, and rightly so. I wouldn't have been able to do a show about anything other than the tragedy we witnessed. Tomorrow I'll be taping a show which may or may not air this week . . . and I've agonized over how to put my feelings aside, or at least put those negative emotions aside, and get on the air, doing what I do best . . . motivating people to change their lives in positive ways. I came to realize, what I share with people is not a quest to go to a health club, nor is it a push toward vanity, but more than anything else, it's caring.

Yes, it's tragic beyond description to watch people perish unjustly, and I don't only mean when they perish due to massive crimes against humanity. If you've been listening to my show for any period of time, you've heard me address the number of deaths from weight loss drugs, from "fat burners," from excessive cosmetic surgery, and even more widespread, from the degenerative ailments and diseases Americans face only because they didn't understand how to take control of their bodies. This gradual death of spirit and body should not be lessened in its enormity and its impact because a larger more senseless tragedy emerged.

That's what brought me here . . . back . . . to do my show, to write my articles, and to continue to spread a very important message. If love is in fact what's most important, if our deep rooted primary concerns are for being able to help and share with those we most care about . . . we are in fact cheating ourselves and others by not being the Best We Can Be. It isn't selfish to want for fitness or physical excellence, but it should be an obligation, as the more fit you are, the greater your abilities to provide for and share with the family members who depend on you.

So, tomorrow, I'll tape a show (which you might have already heard by the time you read this), and I'll talk about the dangers of ephedrine, I'll talk about the mistake of believing exercise is for other people, or the danger that lies in believing you simply don't have time. No, I don't believe I'll change the world tomorrow, but if I can help a few people realize the important link between that which I profess . . . health and fitness . . . and the inherent value of our time spent on this earth, I'll sleep well knowing I did some good.

It's hard to find meaning in the good that we do after we are overtaken by an atrocity, but at some level we must recognize evil for what it is. It's the antithesis of good, thus it allows for a definition for morality, for caring, and for making a difference. Without a concept of evil, we wouldn't have so many words to describe human kindness. Although we will never find any justification in this disaster taking place, we can grow strong from knowing that we somehow grew stronger, individually and collectively.

Defeat is only in dissention or surrender. As Americans we have always treasured our individuality, our freedoms, and our ability to remain committed to our personal beliefs. When a crime however is perpetrated upon the whole of a community, there are two options. Surrender or fight, and in order for the "fight" to be effective, it must be undertaken with the wholeheartedness of that community. Internal conflict weakens any campaign. I personally become extremely distressed when I find neighbors, Americans, doing battle with each other because their Gods have different names or their skin colors are a few shades apart. For us to rise to a higher level of good, we must recognize the virtues in mutual betterment, we must take responsibility and control for our health, for our loved ones, for our futures, and for us to win this war on terrorism, we have to unite, and as a nation living up to its name, The "United" States, we can win, and grow, and flourish.

Thanks for letting me use this forum to vent, to let off a bit of steam, and to justify, in my own mind, why it's important, even at this time, to continue to spread a very important message of truth. Don't push self-caring priorities aside, don't lose the desire for physical excellence, and don't abandon the program you started out of a sense of their importance being somehow diminished. These virtues and actions have earned a rightful place at the top of your priority list, as they empower you to act on everything that follows.

Wishing you love, fitness, and peace.

Phil Kaplan

Please send me your comments regarding this Update. Help me understand how your life has been affected and how this horrific event has impacted your outlook on health and well being. I have posted some comments from both fitness professionals and individuals with varied commitments to fitness. Read their comments. I'll continue to update them over the next few days and weeks. I encourage you to e-mail your comments to or use the standard contact form. I will continue to update the website with feedback I receive.

Note: As hard as this may be to believe, there are those who will capitalize on tragedy and several fraudulent telemarketers have been soliciting money under the pretense of disaster relief. I encourage everyone to give in any way they can, but be certain if your giving is financial in nature, you donate to a legitimate organization. The banner at the top of this page links directly to the website for the American Red Cross. For other legitimate options for contributions, visit

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