One of my best friends, who also happened to be my Strength and Conditioning coach, passed away on Thursday. To say he was honest, selfless, enthusiastic, passionate, loyal, and a great friend would be an understatement. He was truly one of the best men I have ever met. There isn’t anything he wouldn’t have done for another person. I am one of the many people who looked at him as a best friend. The truth is, there are many people out there who feel the same way, because when he was with you, he was totally with you.
One random day several years ago, as I drove by No Limits Personal Training on my way to substitute teach, I decided to give him a call. From the absolute first second I heard his voice on his voicemail (“Hi, this is Don Messing of No Limits Personal Training”), I could almost foresee our future. To be honest, I had nothing to really offer Don at that time. I was not w/ the UFC, nor was there any guarantee that I would make it, I didn’t have any money to give him - all I had was a passion that he respected and wanted to see fulfilled. And from that day on, we were a team. I don’t know if I had a bigger supporter.
As I alluded to earlier, I am confident that just as I feel now, he made every single person who walked into his gym feel the same way. He was there for others. I’ve never seen, and keep in mind I am around world class fighters regularly, anyone push themselves how he did. The work, the training, training others, his strict regimen, his time dedicated to his passions (kayaking, biking, running, camping, bodybuilding, dieting) - he truly made the most of every minute he had on earth.
Don and I had big plans, and I will never forget those plans. One of the lasting memories I will thankfully have forever is our Spaniard Fit. I smile just thinking about it. He must have rolled his eyes every time I expressed my particulars into what exactly I wanted. It was a business that our minds put together, and something I will carry on in his name.
We, I mostly, often joked about me being a prima dona. As you train so intensely on a regular basis, things can often go stale. That being said, he was ALWAYS, ALWAYS looking to improve our training, to research new and different training methods. He never rolled his eyes or “yes’d” me. He was that sincere in maximizing my potential and giving me the best training possible. That was one of the best things about our relationship. I could openly express my thoughts, and he could openly express his feelings right back. We’d talk for a few minutes, get our game plan, and then attack it. It was not easy, logistically, our training. I live nearly an hour away from his gym. Because of how busy I was, he would actually take time out of his work day, drive an hour to NJ, train me, then drive an hour home. Well, actually, he’d often times request that I bought him some all-you-can-eat sushi in return :) It was the least I could do. And the best part was the look on the waitress’s face when he ordered five or six rolls to start, and continued at that pace for quite some time. He gave a new meaning to “All You Can Eat”. They should’ve called it “All Don Can Eat”.
I often asked him what he got out of Personal Training, what was the reason he dedicated himself so much to his profession. As we all want to have money, this was perhaps the least important aspect of his job. I’d often tell him that he was too generous, even to me. His message was simple, and to paraphrase what he said, “The people who come to me need help, and I can help them. I know that if they follow my advice, their lives will be improved greatly. That’s was drives me.” That was it. He wanted to help people.
I am a religious person. I believe in God, angels, fate, prayers. That is how I was raised, and it is my core. In believing such, in Don, we only had one person w/ his passion. Maybe God saw that in taking Don, we now have the hundreds of people he touched spreading his passion, and for that, the world is a better place. That’s what helps me sleep at night.
My mom always says God gives us tests. This is a test for all of us who knew Don.
No Limits Personal Training, No Limits Personal Training, No Limits Personal Training!!!
And if you ever watch my blogs, THIS, what you just read, is “My Strength Coach Don Messing of No Limits Personal Training.”
I love you man.
Charlie “The Spaniard” Brenneman