Bad Girl, Good Business

GRATITUDE #4: Michael Bernkopf (The Grateful 40)

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I was in the very back row of a flight back to Phoenix from Los Angeles…

I was stressed and sad for a variety of reasons, which I won’t get into here. When I had left New York two years earlier, I was in amazing shape (even Prevention Magazine said so).  I had been lifting, spinning, doing Pilates, and walking a ton.

But a series of unfortunate events and a year in Minneapolis had taken its toll. Although I had worked with other trainers and programs, I was stuck in a rut.

I happened to be sitting next to a fitness trainer on the plane. 

We chatted the entire flight and then I started working out with him in the fall of 2019. Now, a year later, I’m 25 pounds lighter and down a whopping 30 percent body fat.

Mike Bernkopf has become more than just another guy who cheers me on while I do skull crushers and squats. He guides me on what to eat (mostly protein) and is a confidante and true friend.

During the height of the pandemic in Arizona (when gyms were closed), we trained in the park and wherever else we could find socially-distanced and clean air. I once even did lunges while holding on to the ping pong table at my building and used the pool lounger to do sit-ups.

Lessons I Learned From Mike in 2020

  1. Excuses don’t work. In business, in life, and in fitness, you can always come up with a “Yes, but…” But if you want something badly enough, you’ll commit and find a workaround.
  2. Stress is toxic. Cortisol is one of the most dangerous chemicals in our bodies. Learn to chill and avoid haters and people who give you agita.
  3. Motivation takes many forms. Some people may like a drill sergeant approach. But I’m more of a teamwork and tough love (emphasis on love) believer.

Body image is not just about looking good on ZOOM calls and fitting into tight jeans. It’s directly tied to mental health. Now that I have my NYC mojo back (even though I’m in Arizona), my focus and confidence have improved dramatically. I’m more productive, have more energy, and (yeah, I confess) look better on camera.

You rock, Mike! I’m even willing to get up at 5AM for you sometimes!



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