Scott Cole has trained celebrities like Christian Bale and Barry Manilow. He’s appeared in Abs of Steel 2 for Men, and created his own DVD series, Discover Tai Chi, which has sold more than 1 million copies.
It was his success on the national stage that also brought him to the desert in the late 1980s.
“When I won the National Aerobic championship in 1987 on ESPN, one of the prizes was a week for two to the all-new JW Marriott Desert Springs in Palm Desert,” Cole recalls. “Our National Championship team actually performed there in the spa. I remember Gerald and Betty Ford were there.....and I thought, ‘this place is cool’.”
Cole gave that prize to his parents, and he joined them for a couple of nights driving in from his home in Los Angeles. “We tooled around in my 1984 Le Baron convertible,” he shares, laughing. “It was so much fun, and my dad died the next year, so the memories of that trip are priceless. I bought a condo here in 1996, while still living in LA, and like many us, fell in love with those mountains, and moved here full-time in 1999.”
Turns out Cole was able to put his national reputation to work in the desert and his latest position is tai chi instructor with Desert Clinic Pain Institute in Rancho Mirage. Cole shares how he is putting his experiences to work for his patients, and looks back at his journey to the desert.
VIDEO: Watch Scott Cole direct and talk about one of his classes.
PSL: How has your adaptive tai chi and other classes beneficial to the clinic patients? Can you give an example?
Scott Cole: My goal continues to be to open patients' minds to the power of breath and movement, which translates into teaching them how to move their chi (which means energy) in a positive healing direction. I also believe fully in hands-on loving touch, eye-to-eye listening, and movement prescriptions from the most subtle to appropriately vigorous to move the blocked energy and pain through and out of the body. Humans are designed to move, and when that ability is stalled, I equate it to a stagnant pool of water sitting there festering. We have to get the beautiful clear "body stream" running again to wash, cleanse, and activate the circulatory and lymphatic systems so the person is able to live a more normal life again.
PSL: Explain what makes Desert Clinic Pain Institute a successful and progressive experience?
SC: Thankfully, Dr. Tobias Moeller-Bertram had the vision to bring together one of the most amazing teams of people I've ever had the privilege to work with. We have some of the most accredited doctors, naturopaths, acupuncturists, movement therapists, yoga therapists, psychologists, therapists, and chiropractors, all working together in multidimensional fashion to address the patients' often complex needs on as many levels as we can. There is true heartfelt collaboration going on at the Desert Clinic Pain Institute, focused solely on improving patients' lives, with the common goal of reducing or eliminating the need for pain meds, and bringing to light the array of healing options a patient can experience. We also collectively emphasize that the patient must do their prescribed "healing work" (nutrition, diet, exercise, stretching, breathing, meditation, essential oils, etc.) at home, and be the main motivator for their own healing. We are the teachers and prompters, but like any goal, if the student doesn't participate, the results will not magically appear. We also have fun at DCPI, and for many, it is this social time together that gets them out of the house, interacting with others, being inspired, and revisiting that wonderful reality called hope.
PSL: How much of your personal client base has been with celebrities?
I trained actor Christian Bale for his breakout film, American Psycho. Hollywood called me for years to get dirt on him, (laughing), and I finally revealed our "Psycho Workout." I still get emails from people who say, "I heard you trained Christian Bale for my favorite movie American Psycho....." I immediately hit delete (laughs).
Scott Cole has his class work on balance.
I also trained Barry Manilow for 11 years, preparing him for his first very physically demanding Las Vegas gig at the Hilton, where Elvis played for years. He is a lot of fun, and I have a memory training him in the original huge Elvis Suite at the top of the Las Vegas Hilton. I have worked with Suzanne Somers, a real sweetheart, and super smart on the health and wellness spectrum. Gena Lee Nolin from Baywatch was a frequent client, as was the original Temptations bass, Melvyn Franklin aka David English. We sang in the church choir together at Hollywood Methodist Church in Los Angeles. Currently I do train my dear friend and world-famous photographer Michael Childers here.
PSL: How did you get involved with celebrities?
SC: I taught at the Voight Fitness and Dance Center in West Hollywood from 1987-1996, and every celebrity imaginable floated through there. I used to have Juliet Prowse and Finola Hughes in my morning aerobics class, then Paula Abdul and Kevin Bacon in my afternoon body sculpting class. The list goes on and on, but each celebrity connection always has a different story to it, which makes it fun. I didn't know who Christian Bale was when I got the call in 1999 to train him. It is nice when you just meet on an even scale without the "celebrity" moniker.
PSL: Do celebrities have goals that are different than what the average person pursues? Do you train them any differently than other clients?
SC: Celebrities often have an immediate goal (ie: concert or a movie), but it is the same as a bride or groom getting in shape for their wedding.
PSL: When you got involved in Abs of Steel videos/workshops, did you have any idea it would become so popular? Why do you think it did?
SC: It was a work-for-hire for me. I got paid nearly nothing, but it really opened the public relations doors for me. The "Of Steel" trademark is owned elsewhere and the Buns of Steel, Abs of Steel videos rivaled Jane Fonda's for biggest sales ever. I did Abs of Steel 2 for Men, and a video called Power Stretch, part of the Buns of Steel Mind/Body series. I remember the Seattle Times ran a full-page of me promoting my video, and on the same page in smaller type was O.J. Simpson, who was on trial at the time for murder, and was releasing his video at the same time. They heralded me, and called his "the sick joke of the season." Interesting times. The "Of Steel" trademark made those videos sell, I was a small player in that, but the public relations endures.
Individualized attention is part of his classes.
PSL: Is the video/DVD still applicable today, or have we drifted away from that type of teaching method?
SC: I was introducing flexibility training into "core work," which many say I was ahead of my time on that. Some of the "No Pain No Gain" bruisers criticized me while others loved it and really saw and felt the value of increasing your core potential by becoming more flexible all around. Increased range of motion in and around a joint allows more muscle recruitment....it isn't rocket science.
PSL: Is there a DVD for your class at Desert Clinic Pain Institute?
SC: My Discover Tai Chi DVDs passed the 1 million sold mark and the Discover Tai Chi for Balance and Mobility DVD continues to be the biggest seller in U.S. and Canada. It is the program I recommend for most for our patients in pain and lacking mobility.