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Fitness: The thread running through my life

NickTraining mentally, physically and spiritually occupies most of my day. Being fit has always been a part of my nature. My body expects to burn lots of calories every day so my every inclination is to find the time to give my being what it needs – and wants. When things get tough, I work out. I love the feeling of freedom that being active gives me. I am a fitness guy and will always rely on my training to keep me going. My mind is active all the time too. So meditation, prayer work, running and weightlifting will continue for years to come. In the introduction to my book “Healthy Aging & You”, I challenge myself to run a 6-minute mile on my 80th birthday and I am running each day with that thought in mind.

Getting my body to respond to training is a little more challenging now, but I find that I cannot get up in the morning without acknowledging that my body, mind and spirit look forward to running and playing again. Over the course of his long life, Jack Lalanne proved that anything is possible when it comes to fitness, the body and the mind. Passion and emotion play a large part in my life and I believe in using them as a way of appreciating the gifts I have been given. But things haven’t always been this way in my life.

A happy beginning

I was born on Maui in August of 1946. My life consisted of playing with friends, going to school, and swimming – for fun and competition. My first childhood memory is of being held in the water by the man who would become his future coach and learning to kick and paddle my arms. Back then my world was simple but became complicated over the years.

The move to Oahu

The years following our move to Oahu in 1956 were difficult because my mother felt unhappy leaving her home of many years and her parents behind. My grandfather had been principal of Lahainaluna School for 35 years and my mother’s family going back to her grandfather’s days had been a part of Hawaii since the late 1800s. He was a doctor in the Royal Navy and came to Hawaii as part of his work. My mother’s distress at the move and anxiety only increased as time passed and we grew to our teen years in anger and isolation. The fighting seemed endless and my three bothers and I always seemed to be in the middle of it all. This formed the foundation for a broken family that once had been very happy. My father was distant and my mother angry – not a great combination. When our high school years ended, each of us wanted to escape the chaos that was now a part of our lives and in turn we left for colleges on the mainland – all of us now carrying baggage that would stay with us for years to come.

The challenges of my adult years

After I graduated from Syracuse University in 1968, I carried unresolved issues that took decades to address. I married and did my duty in the Air Force as a Titan II Missile Combat Crew Commander, had a lovely daughter and after leaving the service spent 10 years wrecking my own marriage with bad decisions, poor job choices, and no planning. The Air Force taught me to follow checklists and adhere strictly to procedure but unfortunately life doesn’t come with a manual. This I learned the hard way. By 1982, my wife had had enough and even though at the time I was clueless of the pain she felt, I never suspected what she would do. In June of that year she left a note on the dining room table saying she had decided to leave me and not to look for her.

That note changed the course of my life. I was going on 36 and now realized I was totally wrong on many levels about myself and had hurt someone I loved very deeply. It was a wakeup call and over the next 10 years I responded to the call by moving ahead to find out who I really was – and wanted to be. My wife did come back before our daughter returned from her visit to her grandparents in Florida but nothing was ever the same. Her withdrawing and my desire to “fix” things didn’t work – no matter what I did. In the 80s, I found myself struggling and trying to “keep things together” – emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I was invited to speak to a professional audience in January of 1986 based upon articles I was publishing on client centered marketing in local business journals and other sources and slowly I built a consultancy and speaking business that brought me some measure of peace and joy but no lasting effect.

How the change came about

My first spiritual encounter was by invitation from a man I met briefly (and never saw again) in June of 1985 at the Church of Religious Science. The minister was a wonderful soul named Peggy Basset. She was a remarkable woman who, from the very first moment I heard her speak, made me feel that no matter how messed up and useless I thought I was, I could choose to grow into my potential if I would just follow the principles that life gives us and change my mind about who I am (sounds simple doesn’t it?).

For the past 31 years I have continued the journey that I began with Peggy at the church in Huntingtin Beach (CA). This led me to the fitness profession, clients who loved and respected me, and whom I helped one on one – one day at a time. The patience and determination and love that I acquired along the way gave rise to a “new me”. This person cared about people and their needs and they challenged me to be my best so that I could help them – and inspire them. They, like Peggy had done years before, became my teachers – and I the student. Being a student has allowed me to face my fears of “not being enough” and take up the challenge of meeting my “real” potential and that it’s OK if I fall short. The anger and resentment I carried within me for more than 40 years was replaced with purpose, vision, love and a desire to share the many gifts I was given by all those who loved and appreciated me along the way and served as my guides to my future.

The present

At first, I was hesitant and a little resistant to opening up my personal story to the world but now I realize it is just “the next step” in my evolution as a “spiritual being having a human experience”. These are exciting times because I have the opportunity of sharing with you what I have learnt in my life. I want to prevent people from going through what I have experienced or be there to help them get through it. I want people to fall in love with whom they are and what they are here to do. I am here to inspire and empower you.

My writing is a testament to the little boy on Maui who loved life and was deeply connected to his place in the world. Today, looking back on my childhood, I realize that my journey has allowed me to find again that excited and passionate boy filled with wonder at the magnificence of life. As I look to my 70th birthday this August, I can only say that I am so happy to be alive and be actively engaged in fulfilling my potential. My life is an unfolding tapestry of wonder and awe-inspiring growth and I will share my knowledge on healthy aging and fitness with you because this is what I was meant to do. How will you respond to the demands of aging in your own life? Actively or passively? Only you can answer that question but keep reading my articles as you might just find a tip or two to help you along the way.

Has Nick’s story touched or inspired you? Let him know by leaving a message in the box at the bottom of this page.

About Nicholas Prukop

Nicholas Prukop, an ACE Certified Personal Trainer & a Health Coach, is a fitness professional with over 25 years of experience whose passion for health and fitness comes from his boyhood in Hawaii where he grew up a swimmer on Maui. He found his calling in writing his first book "Healthy Aging & You: Your Journey to Becoming Happy, Healthy & Fit" and since then he has dedicated himself to empowering, inspiring and enabling people of all ages to reach for the best that is within them and become who they are meant to be – happy, healthy and fit – and be a part of a world where we can each contribute our own unique gifts to life. Recently, he has written a series of 50 articles for the website askthetrainer.com outlining the key ideas and knowledge contained in his book and which will assist anyone – of any age - to “grow older – and not old”. Nick is excited to be a part of Healthynewage as it moves forward to change lives and leave the world a little bit better than we found it.

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2 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. I have learned in my life that being active, healthy, and helping others is the key to happiness. I look forward to continuing to read your articles.

    • Thank you Cheryl. I am grateful my story touched you. I am at a point in my life where I want to reach out to the world and finally play my part in helping move life toward a better place and writing is one way I can do this. I will continue to share what I have learned and I hope my writing makes a difference in your life – as well as the lives of others too. Aloha, Nick

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