Several months ago my friend Anna started doing a fitness podcast with a guy named Vinnie. I didn’t think much of it but Anna is a good friend so I gave it a listen. Then I listened again and I fell in love with the podcast. It’s fun and entertaining and also keeps me on track.
Vinnie coauthored a fitness book that, like the podcast, isn’t all about fitness. It sort of meanders and tells stories about what it’s like to be a trainer in Hollywood alongside stories about growing up in a small town in Louisiana, getting Leukemia as an adult and the complicated nature of our relationships with ourselves, our bodies and each other.
Every great story needs a great writer and Dean Lorey is Vinnie’s coauthor. Now that Anna’s made Vinnie part of everyone’s life I really wanted to hear from Dean what it was like to work with him. For the record I know what it’s like to work out with Vinnie… it’s hard. Since Dean is a writer I decided a Q&A would be more appropriate than any other interview. Here’s Dean’s take in his own words.
JG: When did you meet Vinnie? I’m assuming there’s some fabulous Hollywood story there because ya know… you’ve basically written everything worth watching.
DEAN LOREY: Vinnie was introduced to me through mutual friends and I hired him to train me. I was a good thirty pounds heavier then, I didn’t exercise and my diet was absolute crap. Vinnie tried to put me on a healthy path, which I repaid by firing him, LOL. In COOL HAND LUKE, Paul Newman is told to “get your mind right.” Back then, my mind wasn’t right. But, somehow, Vinnie and I remained friends. I liked him, he liked me. A couple years later, my “mind was right” and, even though Vinnie wasn’t training me at the time, I started paying attention to how he was eating and I copied it. I began going on walks and, with Vinnie’s encouragement, those walks turned into runs. Eventually, I dropped all the weight and ran a half-marathon. I was Vinnie’s worst client and, somehow, became a bit of a fitness success story, which is still astounding to me. If I can do it, trust me, anyone can!
JG: How did you guys decide to write this book? It’s certainly different than the Nightmare Academy.
DEAN LOREY: Well, I knew from personal experience that Vinnie’s method worked and I also thought he was one of the most funny and unusual guys I had ever met. That, plus his incredible personal story — battle with leukemia, ultra-athlete cycling 508 miles through the heart of Death Valley — made telling his story a no-brainer. I also thought he had a really fresh take on diet and fitness with a “warts-and-all,” tell-it-like-it-is, slightly r-rated vibe. I’d never heard that before in a diet and fitness book, so I thought it could be something really unique. Plus, I loved that Vinnie was interested in exposing the ways that the fitness industry exploits us, with real, workable tips on how to come out on top. Even though I’d never written a non-fiction book before, I just could’t resist!
JG: Vinnnie has some great stories to tell and you’re a story teller, how hard was it to maintain Vinnie’s voice?
DEAN LOREY: Pretty easy, considering Vinnie stood behind me with a bat as we wrote! Anytime I wrote something that rubbed him the wrong way, he’d say “I wouldn’t say it like that, I’d say it like this…” His version was always better — plus I didn’t want to get whacked with that Louisville Slugger!
JG: Are you surprised by the book’s success? You’ve obviously listened to the podcast, did you think that an online community could accomplish this?
DEAN LOREY: I had NO IDEA the book was going to be this successful! It sort of exploded out of the gate. I mean, I’d always thought Vinnie was great, I thought his personal story was fantastic and I genuinely believed in his fitness methods, but who knew so many other people felt the same way? When we worked on the book, we had one main goal — make it fun. We hated how most diet and fitness books seemed dry and boring and full of “filler.” We were determined to make FITNESS CONFIDENTIAL a quick, fun, page-turner with no fat. Anytime we wrote something that didn’t seem great or make us laugh, we cut it out.
JG: So we’re going to eat sugar and grains, what do you go for? Sweet or savory?
DEAN LOREY: Well, if I’m going to cheat, I’ll sometimes get pasta as long as it’s in a great restaurant. Or ice cream. Or… God help me… Good N Plenty’s (which my wife HATES — she can’t stand the smell). My general rule is that I stick to eating NSNG unless I’m presented with some spectacular food that I just can’t turn down. Like a slice of NY pizza. Or a beignet in New Orleans. Ugh, why did you get me thinking about this, LOL!
[One day I'll tell my story about Good N Plenty's, magic mushrooms and a very bad news boy I was dating in 1987...]
JG: If Vinnie was a character in Arrested Development who would he be? I’m thinking Lucille’s trainer….
DEAN LOREY: Actually, I was thinking Lucille herself! Like Lucille, Vinnie is incredibly smart, driven and looks great for his age!
JG: Which Arrested Development character has your traits?
DEAN LOREY: I guess… Maeby? She’s tenacious and has a great ability to roll with the punches and get things done. Although, considering I just matched Vinnie and I up with two female characters, maybe I have some Tobias in me, LOL…
JG: What’s next for you Dean? You’ve covered comedy, horror, kids, memoirs… everything you touch has turned to gold.
DEAN LOREY: Well… gosh! You make me blush! Aside from FITNESS CONFIDENTIAL, I’m currently an Executive Producer on THE CRAZY ONES, a new comedy by David E. Kelley. It premieres this fall on CBS and it stars Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar. That’s my day job and I love it. FITNESS CONFIDENTIAL is my passion project. I hope your readers love it as much as I do! And people should always feel free to visit my web site (www.deanlorey.com) or my Facebook page and drop me a line. I love hearing from people and I always try to reply, even if it sometimes takes me a while. Thanks for the great interview!
Robin Williams back on TV… so exciting! Na-noo Na-noo