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  • Mitchell Rothbardt

Let Me Tell You A Story…

Today I want to tell you a story. Do with it what you will.


Some of you may know that along with being a fitness trainer I’m also a musician, although I really don’t play very much anymore. I play the drums and even went to music school with the idea of being a professional musician. Well, sometime about 20 years back (it’s absolutely shocking that it was that long ago) one of my absolute favorite musicians was the great saxophonist Steve Coleman and one of my favorite drummers was his drummer Gene Lake. As luck would have it, they were playing at a club in San Francisco at one point.

At this time I was probably at my best as a player. I’m not one to brag very much but I was a professional level drummer then, even though it was never my real profession.

I went to the show and during one song Coleman invited people out of the audience to come and sit in.

Let me interrupt the story at this point to state that Steve Coleman is known for his extremely complex music. To even think about playing it you have to be in the very upper echelon of players and have the ability to effortlessly play what very few people in the entire world could. You can listen to this incredible clip to see what I mean:


It was during a particularly difficult song that he started inviting the audience to sit in. It was a tough song that I wasn’t sure I could get a handle on.

I fidgeted around and struggled with it, but ultimately I stayed in my seat.

Someone from the audience stood up, walked towards the drums, took my favorite drummer, Gene Lake’s, seat, and started playing.

Steve Coleman must have realized that the extremely difficult song he was playing wasn’t really manageable for mere mortals and switched to a song that was 10,000% in my wheelhouse. I could play the heck out of this one blindfolded and with one hand tied behind my back. Let me re-iterate that this was around the time when I was at my absolute peak as a player. The only problem was that I wasn’t the one who was behind the drums.

What made it worse was that the guy who had the guts to stand up, take a chance, and sit behind the drum kit, frankly wasn’t in my league as a player. He wasn’t bad, it was just that I really was much better. By the way, if you know me you know that I don’t brag. At all. This just happened to be the case here.

I listened as the incredibly smoking hot Steve Coleman band jammed like crazy for about 15 minutes, knowing that I passed up a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

I think of this moment all the time and I thought of it again as I attended a 3-day coaching workshop last Wednesday through Friday. There were about 35 other people in the workshop from all sorts of disciplines. Health care workers, probation officers, teachers, therapists and others. It was a very hands-on interactive workshop and there was a lot to learn. My approach at these types of workshops is to participate as much as possible. It stems from the experience I told you about earlier. I have a limited opportunity to learn whatever the workshop is about and I want to take advantage of that opportunity by getting feedback on my interpretation of what we’re learning. I won’t have the opportunity to get such direct feedback from an expert again!

It always surprises me how many people at these workshops seem reluctant to participate. It’s as if they’re worried about making a mistake. I just hope they don’t regret that decision and, if they do, they learn what I learned 20 years ago.

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Level 2 Lean Eating Coach, FMS 2861 Grove Way in Castro Valley MitchRFitness.com MitchRFitness@gmail.com 510-754-7113

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