Interview with Scott Cole
by Gary Wise
You started a high-profile, fitness career
fairly young. Was this a childhood dream you had or
did you just fall into it?
I was very sick with encephalitis when I was 4.
Spent a lot of time in the hospital and also
remember being home alone quite a bit. One of my
favorite things to pass the time was to spin my
small globe. And, I knew in the depths of my being
that someday I was going to travel, make money,
help people and have a good time.
Did you know it would involve
When I was at the University of Texas, I was
very athletic and did college cheerleading. I found
I was much more drawn to the movement and
creativity of fitness and the arts than to my
Was there a specific moment of truth that
I vividly remember having a sort of, out of body
experience, where I was looking at a job interview
board and felt myself part of some external frenzy
that didn't ring true to me...plus, I was literally
being pushed out of the way by others anxious to
sign. As I hyperventilated in total panic looking
at that board, KNOWING there was nothing up there
that I wanted to do, it occurred to me: Oh
God! I just wasted four years of my dads
Truth can be pretty scary.
I walked outside of the business building,
dragging my blue blazer (jacket) behind me on the
ground. Stopping in the bright sunlight, I reached
my arms out like a bird wanting to fly, hands up to
the sky and said, I dont know what
Im going to do. But, its going to be
fun, and it's going to have meaning.
Some time passed and my little nephew and I were
watching the National Aerobic Championship on TV.
He elbowed me, pointed at the TV and said,
Hey! You could do that!
I looked at him and then at the TV and said,
Youre right. The next year, I won
the National Aerobic Championship on national
television. Thats how it all started,
traveling, performing, teaching, and thats
when I knew my globe-spinning dreams were being
fulfilled. I now understood the valuable message I
had to deliver and the venues to do it in...and the
doors continue to open.
You trained Christian Bale for his film role
in American Psycho. You also work with other
celebrities like Barry Manilow and do a good amount
of your own TV work. What kind of switches do you
turn on or off when you move in those
I like to think I dont turn any switches
on or off. The best way to deal with celebrities is
to treat them like real people. Most of them enjoy
and need a good dose of reality anyway. Early in my
career, I was a bit intimidated by television, but
once you deal with a few nasty producers, you grow
up real fast, and you learn that if YOU want to be
heard, you need to focus, quit blithering, remain
upbeat, and get your message out in the allotted
time, with no apologies.
Why do you choose to live in the Palm Springs
desert while others in your field opt for major,
media-oriented cities like Los Angeles or New
If people could walk outside with me and look at
the mountains, theyd understand. I just fell
in love with the mountains and nature here. I lived
in LA for a number of years and am considering
moving back in some capacity, though not full-time.
I am, and always will be, a nature-boy at
You feel more spiritually connected in
Yes, I visit the beach frequently, and also have
a home in the mountains. The desert has a definite,
less-is-more kind of magic which I didnt
really understand or appreciate until I got a
little older and started really listening.
Youve produced and starred in some
top-selling, instructional Tai Chi and Workout
dvds. Have you practiced other martial arts, and
how have they helped you develop as a man?
Aside from 11 years of Tai Chi, I dabble in
Kickboxing, Tae Kwon Do, and Karate. I just
returned from China where I studied Shaolin Kung
Fu. Martial arts have definitely helped me grow as
a man. A common misconception regarding martial
arts is that its all about kicking ass. A
true martial artist is a peaceful warrior whose
higher choice is not conflict at all. Honing my
martial skills is more of a physical/spiritual
discipline, requiring mental focus. But the best
martial skill of all is to be an honorable, more
aware human being.
Has championing kids health with your
Get Fit America lecture been personally fulfilling?
Why are kids an important part of your
Im just big kid myself. I connect with
children. I also feel a fatherly desire to give
them better opportunities than I may have had.
Im particularly excited to provide early
exposure to both martial and healing arts because
it teaches them to work hard, set goals, have
discipline and be respectful. Chinese children
studying at the Shaolin Temple radiated such
happiness, health and joy.
Give me an example of Scott Cole, the Big
(chuckles) Well, I still do prank phone calls. I
also still climb trees and will never stop.
A lot of people might view your life as
glamorous and idyllic. Have you ever gone through a
traumatic, Dark-Night-of-the-Soul type of
experience as an adult?
(Laughs) I feel like I go through that every
night. The more I learn about the yin/yang energies
within us and around us, it seems natural to FEEL a
lot about whats going on. When I do sense a
souls shadow experience coming on, I realize
I may be investing too much energy into something
that is not good for me, or for someone else.
Thats when my soul goes into its cocoon,
thinks and then emerges again with better
intentions and, hopefully, a higher level of
What are qualities you value in men?
The generalizations of men are that we are
unemotional and disconnected, and that we are only
driven by testosterone. And, although testosterone
does drive a lot of who we are and what we do, we
also have a number of opportunities to achieve
balance. Men are becoming very aware of the
importance of the balance of the chakras---from
root to crown. That said, I value honesty, drive,
sensitivity, full-on expression, joy of life and
the pursuit of joyful experiences. Really, these
are also the qualities I value and want to bring
out more in myself. On my website I say, "Be a
dream facilitator, not a dream squelcher."
Is there one magical moment from childhood
that still makes you smile?
(Smiles) Yes. I was about 8 and riding bikes
with my buddy, Glenn. We were gliding down our
tree-lined, suburban, Houston street on our bikes.
The wind was rushing against our faces as Glenn
looked over at me and shouted, I love
spending time with you!
It hit me like this amazing, life-altering,
breathtaking thing. I paused briefly, felt my whole
body smiling, and shouted back, I love
spending time with you too! And, we both just
grinned and stared at each other for a few seconds,
then faced the road and pedaled even faster.
One of lifes more magical moments, for
I think, deep down, men still want to have and
express that kind of connection. But, they are
afraid to really embrace deep levels of male/male
bonding and friendship. And, its really so
Id like to share the flip-side of that
It makes me shake to talk about it. I was 9 or
10 and my dads best friend had recently
passed. My dad took me with him to view the body at
the funeral home. As we made our way up to the
casket I watched him break down and cry for the
first time. And, as he reached in and placed his
hand over his friends heart, he wept out,
I will miss you so much. You were my best
friend. And, as we walked out, I wondered why
they had never said that to each other while they
were both alive. It hit me that they had never
hugged or said, Hey, I love you. Youre
a great friend.
You lost a great friend this past year also.
How are you coping with your Moms passing and
have you learned anything about yourself through
Some days, I think Im coping beautifully.
Then, there are moments where I feel I havent
even started. I was driving home the other night,
and the moon was very odd with clouds in front of
it. And, it took me back to the last time I took my
Mom outdoors just so the two of us could look at
the moon together. I had to pull my car over and
really sob. I just let emotion happen. It has been
a journey to allow myself that. It was also
something my Mom encouraged in me. You know, my Mom
could call me on my shit like nobody else. One
word. One glance. And, I miss that. I miss her and
I miss that.
What are other ways you vent pent up
Well, I discovered punching a wall is not one of
my better options. That was one painful pattern I
am happy to move beyond. Now, I think all that I do
in my life is my way of venting. Im teaching
others what I need to learn. Tai Chi helps me to
slow down, breathe and focus. Beach volleyball
allows me to fly through the air and get
Thats multi-tasking in a new light.
Sounds like youre harnessing the energy of
anger in a healthy way.
I used to be really worried about the anger side
of me and letting people know it exists. Many
people cant believe its there. But, my
inner circle has seen it, and knows its definitely
there. Its important for men
important for ME to acknowledge that, Hell
yeah, I am angry about blah, blah, blah!
Because if you dont bring it to light and
work it out of your system, it comes out in other
ways, whether you like it or not.
What kind of people stand the test of time as
friends of Scott Cole?
People who are accountable. I enjoy an eclectic
group of friends. But, definitely the common thread
is that I want to be surrounded by people who are
dependable, available, and loving---and I want to
provide those qualities for my friends.
What are your personal struggles in
developing your own integrity?
I have to thank a Hawaiian healer named Kalili
who taught me to say, Ive had a slip in
magnificence, rather than, I have made
a mistake. I like this interpretation because
all of us are sweet works-in-progress, and yet, are
also Divine as we are. The integrity component is
being able to admit our slips in magnificence.
People of integrity differentiate themselves from
others because they embrace the desire to work
through conflict with an underlying state of love.
Developing my own integrity has been about facing
my accountability and increasing my verbal and
As a fitness and health guru, any thoughts on
your own growing older in our youth-obsessed
I believe in Peter Pan. (Laughs) The internal
child stays alive as long as you feed your
curiosity and zest for life..... We have laws of
nature. We have gravity. Our culture encourages
temporary fixes with nips and tucks. Fighting
gravity? Not a smart move, and most often, not a
pretty one. It is an individual choice, and "aging
gracefully" is quite subjective.
Hey, Audrey Hepburn supposedly refused to
have plastic surgery. And, she really was beautiful
even in her final years.
There are certain things about the aging process
that Im okay with. I embrace new levels of
physicality every day. And then, some things bug
me, like my thinning hair bugs me. Kinda like,
What the heck is causing this?
You too? I thought that was my line.
Theres a youthful-at-all-costs game thing
going on in our society that I choose not to
participate in or encourage. In martial arts like
Tai Chi, there are many examples of people well
into their 70s, 80s, and 90s who
are youthful and still have that vitality in their
eyes, and stellar movement in their bodies. So,
Ive decided to just stay in the moment with
growing older and savor the spiritual depth that
comes with it.
Weve talked a lot about integrity in
you. Where do you think men as a whole are at with
it in our society?
On a positive note, I think modern compassionate
men of intelligence actually exist in larger
numbers are now able to identify manipulative
actions, speak out with a clearer voice, and
eventually redirect the ugly actions of our
most-often self-centered-at-all-costs male
leadership (present administration HIGHLY
included). Multi-dimensionally healthy men are able
to discern their own distinctive identities,
tapping into true power of words and actions,
garnering the energy force necessary to counteract
historically dogmatic, arrogant, male
weirdness---and I hope the tipping point will come
Any men stand out as good role
There are men writing beautiful, sensitive
things. Dan Millman, who wrote The Way of the
Peaceful Warrior, comes to mind. I admire men who
have a passionate vision and they do it. They make
it happen and simultaneously explore the depths of
their own intelligence and emotions.
There will only be one Scott Cole
ever. Who do you want him to be?
Im still deciding that. I am allowing that
to emerge. There was a time when I was all about
making lists and setting goals. Now, I think more
about being in the moment and being available,
allowing the Universe to directly influence me.
Kind of a motivation and inspiration balance---with
a Yang drive and a Yin groundedness.
What are you afraid of?
Not completing all of the beautiful projects
that I have in my heart. Im afraid of getting
so discouraged that I dont create anymore.
Stripping off all the layers, who are you
under the accolades, TV appearances, celebrity
My goofy silliness is not always visible. I like
to have fun. My fundamental rule is, If it
isnt fun, I dont want to do
Any other misconception people have about
When they first meet me, they immediately
apologize for their abs and think I am going to
judge their physical appearance. And, the reverse
is really true. Im a very compassionate,
loving person. The last thing I can imagine doing
is making fun of someone physically.
Anything really piss you off?
People taking advantage of other people. I also
get really mad when people treat the Earth like an
ash tray or trash can.
You went on quite the China adventure.
The children were so beautiful. Just the light
in their eyes. In doing the work I do with Get Fit
America for Kids, its been a sluggish and
difficult process. In China, the kids are so
enthusiastic and just bouncing around like balls of
energy. They eat pretty clean and dont
consume all the sugary, processed stuff we have
Aside from the children, anything else stand
I realized the immense scope of their healing
and martial arts. From reflexology to Chinese
medicine and acupuncture. They also have extreme
levels of martial arts that are dimensions beyond
anything we practice in the U.S.
Talk to me about women.
I grew up with women by spending a lot of time
around my Mom and two older sisters. Women come on
to me all the time and I know its because I
get them. I understand women. I love
women. I love to dance with them and also love
feeling that I play a role in empowering them.
In the lecturing that you do, do men open up
to you as well?
Men do open up to me, a lot, especially in my
Tai Chi workshops, where the movements that we do
have a magical way of opening the spiritual and
psychological. Men inevitably come alive, are open
to hugging, touching, laughing, partnering, and I
can tell they really love. I get very tender, kind,
beautiful e-mails and communication from men of all
ages, shapes, sizes, and orientations.
A true man is comfortable with himself. And, in
finding that comfort, one becomes compassionate to
all people. This includes compassion for men who
are attracted to other men. Women who are attracted
to other women. You also become compassionate to
your own desires and how or when or not to act upon
Do you feel men would opt for more intimate
bonds if society were more accepting?
I think we often feel deep bonds for people,
male and female, who have moved us in one way or
another. And, with that often comes attraction that
we dont usually act upon. I personally think,
if given free reign and our culture was more
tolerant, people would cross the lines and explore
more sexually and emotionally. And, the reason we
dont is because we buy into societys
labels of, Oh God! If I do that Im gay,
or If I do that, Im bi,
or Im going back to being straight by
bringing a woman back into my life. And, all
the while, all these things we fear keep us from
discovering who we really are. The discovery
process of loving can be so much fun if we let
You dont like labels very much. do
Labels are what get us all into trouble because
they put us into little boxes and separate us. I
cant stand it when someone says, Well,
Im a Christian or Im a
homosexual. To me we are all so much bigger
than any of these labels. And, if you remove the
labels, it puts us all on the same playing field. I
like the Taoist Way of just "Being."
Final thoughts? How about your lifes
To be happy. To be extra-ordinarily happy. When
we are happy, everything falls into place, and we
truly become an inspiration through our joy.
© 2007, Reid Baer
Related Issue: YouTube
commercial for this column. Also see Reid's poetry
* * *
The fame you earn has a different taste from the
fame that is forced upon you. - Gloria
Reid Baer, an
award-winning playwright for A Lyons
Tale is also a newspaper journalist, a poet
with more than 100 poems in magazines world wide,
and a novelist with his first book released this
month entitled Kill
The Story. Baer has been
a member of The ManKind Project since 1995 and
currently edits The New Warrior Journal for
The ManKind Project www.mkp.org
He resides in Reidsville, N.C. with his wife
Patricia. He can be reached at E-Mail.
Gary Wise/Phoenix Rising/camp
Caroline Sept. 2006, is a freelance writer and
photographer of fashion, fitness, and events.
Living several years in Asia and Europe inspired
Wise to capture the vivid imagery he witnessed. An
adventurer at heart, he has also traveled
extensively throughout Australia, South America and
North Africa. Overcoming a life-long, crippling
illness at 33 through dietary change, holistic
healing and visualization, Wise now believes
anything is possible and strives to bring faith and
healing to others so they can realize their own
personal adventures and talents. He lives in San
Diego ...with himself. www.GaryWisePhotography.com
Scott Cole is a mainstreaming
martial & healing artist, TV's Abs-Of-Steel
fitness veteran and published author who tells how
to keep fit and sane ...even around an American
* * *
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