Tony Piccini wanted to go. He wanted to see Meri one more time . . .
to finally close a chapter in both of their lives. However, for a
number of reasons he could not go.
The New York corporation which owned the health club where he worked in
Upper Arlington, Ohio, just outside of Columbus, had told him in no
uncertain terms that he could not go to see Meri or her family. He had
been told that he was not to call them or send a note, not even a card
or anything in writing. He really had no choice but to do what they
All the corporation had done was put out a news release. It stated:
Columbus, Ohio – FitAgain Corporation with offices in New York and
facilities all across the United States and in three foreign venues
expressed its deep regret for the recent and untimely death of one of
its members in a facility it owns just outside of Columbus. Mark
Trudeau, CEO for the FitAgain corporate organization, expressed his
sorrow for the untimely death of Meri Margaret Lawrence who passed away
at the facility yesterday. He was quoted as saying, “Apparently, a
previously existing medical condition led to and caused Mrs.
Lawrence’s unfortunate death at our facility while she was working out
in order to improve her well-being. We express and convey our deepest
sympathies to her family on this unforeseeable and unpredictable
occurrence.” He added, “Thousands of our members safely work out
in FitAgain facilities each day without any adverse effects. Our
departed member, Meri Margaret Lawrence, and her family will remain in
Tony had come to the Upper Arlington FitAgain facility just outside of
Columbus some three years before he met Meri. He had been trained by
staff members of the Club through the materials provided by the New York
corporate office to the Club. He became certified as a personal trainer
by corporate through the use of their materials within a few weeks after
he started. Once he was so trained and certified, he then became a
member of the corporation’s recommended fitness professional
organization, the USA - Personal Trainers Association (USA-PTA), which
provided him with liability insurance to cover any injuries which might
happen to client-members of the facility where he provided service. He
paid for the insurance coverage himself, but FitAgain required the
coverage if Tony was to provide any service within their facilities.
Tony liked the Upper Arlington club where he worked, as well as most of
its members and almost all of his co-workers. He worked hard at selling
the corporation’s services and its club endorsed products. He quickly
caught on to the process to serve club members and their individualized
needs for attention. Those needs included exercise, weight loss,
nutritional and supplement counseling, life coaching and even sometimes,
more personal attention for some of the female club members who did not
have all of their needs fulfilled at home.
Tony was good at keeping his female charges happy in all categories.
The position he held was certainly a step up for him from a variety of
waiter jobs he had previously held at a number of Columbus-area eating
establishments. Since he had attended but not graduated from Kent State
University in northeastern Ohio, his career opportunities otherwise were
somewhat limited. However, neither a college degree nor a license was
necessary to be a personal trainer. Not in Ohio. Not elsewhere. In
fact, no such license was required anywhere in the United States.
Tony had liked working with Meri. She was a quick learner who really
wanted to lose weight and to lose it fast. She worked hard and followed
all of Tony’s directions and his prescriptions for exercise activity.
She also took all of the supplements and other nutritional products he
recommended to her. She even listened when he told her to cut down on
her physician-prescribed medications to control her elevated blood
pressure. He told her that these medications were slowing her fat
burning efforts and therefore hindered her weight loss.
Tony was very upset about what had happened. He did not understand how
things could have gone so wrong. If only he knew more and had been
provided with better training and preparation by FitAgain or for that
matter anyone else, anyone at all. Any civil or criminal responsibility
for what happened to Meri while she was under his care seemed almost
unbelievable – even surrealistic. Certainly, Tony never intended for
any of his efforts to go wrong. All he ever wanted to do was help Meri.
Now all he wanted to do was say good-bye.
Excerpted from "The Personal Trainer: A Tale of Pain, Gain, Greed & Lust" by David L. Herbert. Copyright © 2013 by David L. Herbert. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.