Lessons From Rudy

When growing up I loved being active and playing sports.  I would mostly play with my younger brothers and sisters and occasionally with the neighbors.  My family had a rule that we couldn’t join organized sports until we were in 7th grade.  In 8th grade I joined the school basketball team for the first time.  8th-10th grade was an awkward time for my body.  I had a huge growth spurt and at one point grew 6 inches in 7 months.  I never was very fast, strong, coordinated, or quick.  I soon realized that I was overmatched physically and experientially by the guys who had played traveling ball since 1st grade.

I don’t know if it was around this time or if it was something I had as a young boy, but I realized that I might not be as fast, quick, or skilled as the others, but there was one thing each day that I could do better than anybody else.  Can you guess what it was?  It was my effort.  I understood that we are all given a different deck of cards, whether genetic, or environmental.  We can’t change that, but what we can change is how we show up to perform and the level of effort we give each and everyday in life.

So how does this relate to Rudy?  Most of you probably have seen the classic football movie Rudy.  If you haven’t, rent it and have your whole family watch it.  Rudy wanted to play for Notre Dame, but he was very small and didn’t stand a chance against the massive Notre Dame players.  He works very hard, and makes the practice squad and even though he gets destroyed every day in practice he keeps getting back up.  The movie ends with the coach playing Rudy and the whole stadium chants “Rudy, Rudy, Rudy…”  It is definitely a goosebump moment.

Here is the final scene from the movie when Rudy gets his chance:

My coaches soon took notice that I was the first one at practice and the last to leave, many times having to kick me out of the gym.  I steadily improved and in 11th grade became one of the only players (the only one in the couple years I played) who made varsity team and didn’t play traveling basketball growing up.  I went to a big school with over 2,000 students 10-12th grade.  I played mostly JV but would always practice with varsity players and I would get matched up against our top players in practice.  One day one of my teammates came up with the nickname “Rudy” for me.  It quickly caught on and that is pretty much what my coaches and teammates called me.  To be honest I never really liked the nickname and was a little embarassed by it, but looking back on it I can laugh about it.

My 10th and 11th grade years were mostly spent on the varsity bench but when we were blowing out the other teams (which we usually did), the non starters would get a chance to play.  My nickname grew throughout school and when there was a blowout, people in the stands would start to chant “Rudy, Rudy, Rudy…” over and over again until the coach put me in, then I would receive a standing ovation.  This was pretty humiliating back then, but again now it is cool.

My 11th grade year I received the award MIP (most improved player) and was runner up for the hustler of the year.

Why do I share this story with you?  I have found so many people scared and afraid to try my programs out because they don’t think they are in great shape.  They are afraid what others might think.  They are afraid they won’t see the results that most others are seeing.

I want to tell those people it doesn’t matter where you are currently at, and it doesn’t matter what other people think.  All you have to do is give 100% in life.  Outwork everyone else around you and at the end of the day you can be proud of your effort.  During your workouts, push yourself past the point you feel you can’t go.  Write that food journal even if you don’t feel like it.  Get up from your warm bed in the morning and get your workout in.

So many people live mediocre lives and I believe one of the reasons they do this is that they aren’t giving 100% and just being ok with 50%.

I might have shared this video with you before, but I love it and it is worth another look.  The whole video is great but be sure to pay attention to 3:50 and beyond.  Where Will Smith talks about never getting outworked.

Work ethic and how much focus you give to any given task is one of the things I look for and admire in people.  So I challenge you today to look at your life and see where you aren’t giving it your all.  Just remember everything that has happened to you in the past doesn’t matter.  It is only now you can control.  I dare you to get out of your comfort level.  If you have been reading my blog for a long time always doubting whether it would work for you, I want to tell you it can.  You just need to follow the plans and show up.  If you live in the Dane County area I would love to get a chance to meet you at one of my 10 Fit Fun Bootcamp locations.  If you don’t live around Madison, WI or would rather workout at your house, my Fit Moms For Life or Got Core DVDs would be a great place to start.

Everyday I get the honor of meeting people from all walks of life and have all different stories.  I don’t really care their size, sex, ethnicity, or fitness level.  All I care about is the effort they put forth in the workouts.  There is nothing that makes me more proud or feel more rewarded than watching someone struggle through a workout, but never give up.  They might be last up the hill, but if they don’t give up and do there best, that is all I can ask for and want.


  1. As one of D’s bootcampers I can attest that this is the honest truth and that our community welcomes, encourages and is inspired by every single person who shows up and does their best. It’s what we are all there to do. I was someone who followed this blog for a year before showing up at bootcamp, because I was afraid of “failing.” In the past year, I have learned so much about myself and discovered a strength, confidence and determination I never knew before. My next challenge is to carry this feeling with me into other parts of my life…it’s scary, but facing fear pays off. I’m rambling now…but if you’re one of the ones on the fence, I just want to say: Give yourself a chance, you won’t disappoint yourself if you give your best.

  2. And while I don’t want increase Dustin’s ego too much :), he’s right on. I too was worried about beIng the biggest person there. It can really suck when you feel like you are the fatest person in the room. But at some point you’ve just got to do it.

    On my first day of Mama Tone I weighed 242lbs. The workout was hard & it kicked my butt. But I did it. And I continued to do it. Getting there 2-3x a week was my only goal. (I have to break things into small bits or I get overwhelmed & stop.) I didnt change my eating until I was ready. And it happened, 9 months later! But it was ok. It was a pace I could handle. I figured it took over 35 years to get this way, so if it was a pace I could maintain, that was ok.

    I’ve embarrassed myself. Hell, 18 months into this I made a classic Laura fall at Friday’s Mama Tone. But that’s what I do. I laugh at myself & move on. I often laugh at myself (and Dustin) at class. It’s what I have to do to keep going.

    I wish I could do as little as I want & eat as much as I want & still be somewhat healthy. But I can’t. That’s just the way it is. So I come to Mama Tone & now sometimes even get up at the obnoxious time of 4:45am to exercise. It’s certainly not my favorite, but it’s what I’ve got to do.

    I’ve lost about 50lbs since I started. It’s been hard, it’s been slow. But that’s ok. It’s something I’ve got to do. Someone will have to push around my husband with his bad back & annoy my kids!

  3. Kathleen Larsen says

    AWESOME blog and video. Even tho’ I’ve seen it b4, I cried.
    One of my favorite quotes that I have posted in my wallet and around my house is “AMAZE YOURSELF!” It works, and so do the DVD’s!!!!! I never, ever, ever thought I’d be lifting 30 lbs. after 9 months of the workouts. But I am! And I’ve learned SOOOOOOOOOOO much nutrition from the tapes too.
    They rock and so will you! JUST DO IT!

  4. Great post! I was in a similar place in high school, I certainly wasn’t the fastest cross country runner, and ran JV most of the time, but the coaches constantly pointed me out as an example because I had heart and tried my hardest every day. Back then I hated it! Sure wish I would’ve had your dvd’s (although you were probably in elementary school ha ha.)

  5. @Mary, I didn’t know you were one of ten kids! Congrats on finishing college and also succeeding in your fitness goals and now helping other families become healthy.


  6. Vanessa,

    I am glad after the year of thinking, you did. You have not only made incredible physical progress, you have changed internally as well. I wish you the best as you work on transferring it to all other areas of life.


  7. Laura,

    You and I both can be categorized as “ungraceful.” I am known as the guy in hs that would be running down the basketball court and with nobody around me roll my ankle and fall down in a heap. Done it many times 🙂

    It is amazing to see your physical transformation dropping over 50 lbs.

    I think you bring up a great point, who cares if you are the fattest one in the group. Not doing anything because you are concerned about what others will think won’t change your life in any way possible.

    Now you no longer are the biggest person in classes.


  8. Katy,

    Nice job working hard during CC. That work ethic will pay dividends your whole life.


  9. Kathleen,

    I love that… Amaze Yourself. Great thing to think about.


  10. Hi Dustin, Will, is an inspiration just as you are. I’m going to try harder. Happy New Year. Always enjoy your positive reinforcements. Shalom, Esther

  11. This post resonates well with me at multiple levels. My parents cold not support sports at an early age because of cost and logistics. Further I am barely 5′, so not the most probable to succeed at many a common sport. But I was always a tom-boy and loved sports. So when high-school came around and fortnately for me, it was a relatively small school, I chose down-hill skiing and softball to try my darndest at. With skiing, most of the kids had a decade of practice on me and while I never ranked at the top, I amost always finished (even if I fell) and received awards equivalent to hardest worker. In softball, I had a little more talent, played third base for most of highschool on varsity and was known for being “scrappy”. I might not have been the strongest, but I was quick, practiced hard and was not afraid of a ball coming at me at who-knows-how-fast. My senior year, I was awarded senior athlete of the year….remember this was a small school, only 39 in my class. I would have loved to play college softball, but not really a possibility, so I pursued nearly every intramural sport possible, acting as coordinator much of the time. My junior & senior year I was nominated by peers as the “Intramural Athlete of the Year”. I was awarded runner-up my junior year and winner my senior year. It was all about effort, enthusiam and sportsmanship. My point is not to be a braggert at “second best wins”, but that Dustin is spot-on in pointing out its not how you rank/compare or what your delt….its what you do with the cards you have.


  1. […] feel, the more proud you will be of your accomplishments and the higher you will sore in your life. Click here to read my Rudy story, I think you will enjoy it and might be able to relate to it.  Keep working hard and surrounding […]

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