Scott Cole

PalmSprings.com Spotlight: An Interview with Scott Cole

America’s Premier Wellness Expert, Scott Cole, earned the title of National Aerobic Champion, starred in the infamous ABS OF STEEL video series, and created conscious DVD programs like America’s top-selling DISCOVER TAI CHI DVD series, and GET FIT AMERICA FOR KIDS (Winner of NAPPA Best Fitness DVD for children). Named one of the Top 5 Fitness Instructors in the world by IDEA, Scott is an American Fitness (AFAA) Notable for his work with HIV/AIDS and abused children. With over 30 published products from motivational music to meditation to martial arts, Scott Cole appears regularly on television as a health and wellness expert (from ABC’s The View to CNN Headline News), and has been featured in over 500 publications worldwide (from Men’s Fitness to The Wall Street Journal). Scott continues to lift spirits, open minds, tone bodies, and inspire hearts through motivational appearances in over 30 countries.

Scott, we first met through mutual friends in Palm Springs almost 14 years ago and I’ve always been impressed with your deep commitment to transforming lives through mind/body connection, functional fitness and wellness. Your spirituality, optimism and delightful demeanor light up any room–or stadium. How does one become a worldwide fitness expert? Please tell us a little about your journey.

Thanks Kate, I often call my journey “Seat of the Pants Productions”–which most often included lycra and spandex pants in the 80s! I actually became aware of my potential entrepreneurial energy when I was four.  Spinning our household globe in my bedroom in Houston, dreaming about my future, I very clearly had these thoughts about my life: Travel, Help People, Make Money, and Have a Good Time! I watched my dad and all of the adults around me working very hard, but not necessarily having FUN, and certainly not traveling.  Shortly after graduation from the University of Texas at Austin, I had another really clear vision to enter and win the National Aerobic Championship on television.  After a year and a half of training and teaching aerobics in Dallas, I pulled together and choreographed the first all-male team for the win.  Alan Thicke was the host of the show, and you have to see our winning clip, an outrageously funny time warp.

Our contract for 1987 included lots of travel, performing, teaching, and before I knew it, I was carrying Jane Fonda onstage for her Lifetime Fitness Achievement Award.  We were plastered all over SHAPE Magazine, and I was featured in my first layout in Men’s Fitness as well as USA Weekend.  I teamed up with another Champion, Jeff Vandiver, and after our contract was over, we hit the ground running, teaching in Los Angeles at Voight Fitness and Dance Center.  My students included Kevin Bacon, Paula Abdul, Bronson Pinchot, and so many more cool people.  Offers poured in to teach internationlly, and we quickly became Fitness Rockstars in over 30 countries, headlining major Fitness Conventions all over the world.

Wow! And how did you leverage this into the programs that constitute your brand today?

My goal became to create programs, videos, and DVDs of all kinds to address all types of people and fitness needs.  In 1994, I landed my first consumer video breakthroughs with Abs of Steel 2 for Men, and Buns of Steel Power Stretch, which were big sellers and provided high-profile PR.  I was already authoring and publishing Mind/Body Fitness articles in other countries–Mexico, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Japan featured my work, which was very encouraging.  It seemed back then that the US was not ready for deeper material, which was very frustrating for me, as I was so popular abroad and virtually unknown editorially in the US.

I learned that it is a very big world and it pays to have patience and stick to what you believe.  In 1996, Men’s Fitness called and I penned their “Body Shop” column for one year, and after that, my fitness writing career finally had some legs.  My book, Athletic Abs came in 2002, as did the opportunity to star in the DVD series Discover Tai Chi.  I had been training with Master Tim O’Connor in Los Angeles since 1995 and had been incorporating Yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, Stretching, and Meditation into many of my programs at home and on the road, so the opportunity to star in a premier consumer Tai Chi Fitness series was HUGE.

The connection between Abs of Steel and Discover Tai Chi proved to be a marvelously interesting one and also a curious PR angle–which landed me on the front page of The Wall Street Journal, and helped me land show after show—LIVE with Regis and Kelly, CNN Headline News, Soap Talk, The Early Show, The Other Half, The Doctors, HGTV, E!…as well as a season on The Food Network.  From 2000 on, I had been conducting school assemblies around America, because I feel so strongly about impacting the lives of children increasingly affected by obesity, depression, and over-medication.  My video distributor at the time refused to produce a DVD for kids, claiming, “It won’t sell.”  Had I proposed a DVD called 8 Ways to a Tighter BUTT, they would have said “Great!” So…I produced Get Fit America for Kids solo and was immediately asked to be on The View, where I did five segments with Meredith Vieira, learning once again that the only way to run your life is to get clear on what is important to you, and GO FOR IT.

Today, the Discover Tai Chi DVD series is #1 in America, and I just shot a new DVD called Discover Tai Chi for Fitness.   My little globe-spinning dreams became real a long time ago; now I move forward in a quest for quality in all that I do, hoping my visions and products will continue to help people feel better in their bodies, clear their minds, and move Energy (Chi) in positive directions.

Scott, you’ve had an amazing journey and have experienced incredible success. Who or what has been your biggest inspiration along the way? 

Nature.  When I’m feeling down or confused, I turn to quiet time and to nature.  Palm Springs is great for that—we have mountains, streams, open space, creosotes, smoke trees, stars, birds, bunnies, coyotes, roadrunners, and so on…I love it all! I have my home in Palm Springs and a cabin in Idyllwild, but I also love the High Desert too–always a surprise and so accessible for internal clarity and healing.

You are deeply involved in the Palm Springs community–not only via fitness, but also through your commitment to sustainable living, including ecologically-sensitive decision making, and access to healthy organic food and clean water for all. Along those lines, you regularly contribute to Going Organic Guide. Please tell us a little about that.

I love Palm Springs, and have written health-related articles for years for Palm Springs-based publications, and now serve as Creative Wellness Editor for Going Organic Guide.  I believe in doing all that we can to not only maintain the integrity of our individual communities, but to collectively work to beautify the world through ecologically conscious choices.  This includes buying food that is grown consciously, locally, and organically without pesticides and packaged without preservatives, corn-syrup, and unhealthy additives.  I am often disgusted by the entitlement that many Americans have–that it is our world to spoil.  I would love to see America become the leader in the environmental movement.  We need to take a good hard look at our current status as a country constantly trying to avoid responsibility via taking advantage of our economic status.  We just had the hottest streak in recorded history across the “Heartland” of America.  The Earth is a living entity that we are fortunate enough to inhabit, and it’s telling us that Life will change as we know it, if we don’t change.  Going Organic Guide is cutting edge consciousness, filled with so many marvelous life-enhancing planet-saving ideas and projects currently being implemented in the Coachella Valley and beyond.

Scott, you recently returned from a trip to Uganda working with Water School, and are now working on a short film based on that experience. Global water rights (as opposed to corporate water rights) is a cause about which we are both extremely passionate, and I know that trip was incredibly transformative for you. Please share a little about that with us.

I journeyed in March 2012 to Uganda through my work with a charity called Water School, whose goal is to implement the SODIS [Solar Water Disinfection] system to the band of land 30 degrees north or south of the Equator, where the Sun’s UV rays have the power to shine into a plastic bottle of tainted water, kill all bacteria, and make it drinkable in 24 hours.  Amazing! We went into remote schools and villages in western Uganda to help educate on better sanitation, to build SODIS racks to hold the bottles in the sun, dig trash pits, create elevated trash cans, and make latrine covers.  My trip was sponsored by Frostburg State University in western Maryland where I have been working on a wellness initiative called CHILL (Creating Healthy Informed Lasting Lifestyles).  I connected Water School with Frostburg State and went with four students on this experiential education trip. It was absolutely the trip of a lifetime for all of us.  I was also able to work with the Ugandan children–the interpreters said, “Hey, go follow that white guy, he’s going to play with you,” and the kids came dashing across the fields to come play.  We had a videographer, Mike Snyder, with us and we created a short film called “Unbridled Enthusiasm–The Children of Uganda.” The footage is off the charts and our hope is that it will serve as inspiration for all of us to “come out to play.”

I want to go with you next time! That sounds wonderful in every way. Scott, when you’re not traveling the globe, you make your home in Palm Springs. What is it that you love most about the desert?

I love the quiet and the palpable power of the surrounding mountains.

What are some of your favorite restaurants, retail stores and hot spots in Palm Springs?

Palm Greens is such a wonderful addition to this city and is a delightful organic experience.  I love Shame on the Moon–Ginger and the whole staff always make it really special.  Johannes has an organic chicken schnitzel that I am hooked on; breakfast at Lulu’s and Cafe Europa are favorites, as is happy hour at Kaiser Grille.  Lunch and dinner at Trio and Jake’s in the North End are tons of fun.  El Mirasol, La Casita, and Blue Coyote fulfill my Mexican/Tex-Mex cravings; dancing at Sammy G’s and live music at Woody’s are musts…and ok, Woody’s has a great chocolate malt!  Stein Mart for clothing, etc., and I always have to stop in The Estate Sale to see what goodies people are getting rid of…

Scott Cole, I so appreciate your taking the time in your busy schedule to speak with me–it’s wonderful to catch up with you after all these years and to hear all the amazing things you’ve been doing! 

Thanks Kate, it was fun sharing my story and catching up with you too.

If you or your organization would like to be interviewed for a Palm Springs Spotlight, please contact PalmSprings.com.

About Kate Buckley

Kate Buckley is a brand strategist, premium domain broker and consultant, interviewer, storyteller, visual artist, and award-winning poet & writer. She’s worked in media and marketing since 1997, holds an MFA in Creative Writing, and is the author of A Wild Region (Moon Tide Press) and Follow Me Down (Tebot Bach). A four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her awards include a Gabeheart Prize and the North American Review’s James Hearst Poetry Prize. She was most recently shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. A ninth-generation Kentuckian, she’s made her home in Southern California since 1998.

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