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From Dad Bod to Father Figure

How one man quickly turned around his physique and his life, and how you can too.

It is paramount to use our podium when possible to promote the results of successful fitness journeys. We've titled this From Dad Bod to Father Figure because being a positive role model for his children was a huge factor in Anthony's motivation. After seeing his transformational posts on social media, we had to learn more. In the beginning, Ironmaster equipment was involved; however, as we learned more it became clear, this isn't just an Ironmaster story, it's an Everybody story. Anthony took the time to walk us through his recent and dramatic lifestyle changes, the challenges, and without further delay here is our brief discussion for your consideration:

Anthony, "Before"

IM: Before we jump into the last year and a half of your journey can you give us a snapshot of how athletics and fitness fit into your life growing up, and any influences you had from others (ie. coaches, family, pro athletes)? 

AG: I grew up in a very small town in southern Massachusetts which at the time had a population of <5000 people.   I was the youngest of 2 at that time and never really took a liking to organized sports.  My father was not into sports at all so I never learned the basics of anything sports related and funny enough I couldn’t really catch a ball until my early twenties.  I had no idea how to really play any sports and often was picked on because I sucked at everything sports related.  

After my parents divorced at age 11, I fell in love with skateboarding.  It was something I could do by myself  and it distracted me from all that was going on at the time.  Although I still sucked at that, I loved it, and the skate homies always show mad love to their own.  We had a tight crew back then, it was sick.

 At that time my brother, 3 years older than me, got heavy into weight training to distract him from everything at home.   We were both small people but man he was shredded like Bruce Lee, oddly enough his name is Lee.  I always admired him for that, so I’d say he is the one that got me interested in lifting.  He showed me what was possible if you worked hard.

When I got into high school I started lifting weights in my garage.  I got reasonable results but my nutrition was terrible.  I continued lifting through college and put on a lot of muscle despite still having crappy nutritional habits.  At the time it was more for selfish reasons, to impress the ladies…and had nothing to do with being healthy.  The kids of the suburbs of Boston lived off of $1 slices of pizza and sandwiches from the local sub shops, that’s what we thought was good nutrition!  

I continued lifting all the way until I got married at the age of 30, and then I pretty much stopped going to the gym religiously and fitness took a back seat in my life for well over a decade.  I still lifted here and there but was often injured from doing stupid shit and not taking good care of myself.

IM: Let’s talk about the big change you made in your life. Tell us, what was the catalyst for the change, what was going on in the world, your life, and what direction did you see it going that you didn’t like?

AG: I was traveling a lot for work in my 30s and anyone that travels like that knows you usually end up at lots of dinners with drinks as well as airport and hotel bars.  When the pandemic hit my drinking just got worse and turned into a daily thing.  It was just too easy to do and before you know it I had gained a gut and starter set of man tits.  I never thought I’d be that guy…but it happened.

At this point I was in my early 40s and had 2 young boys.   I remember when they were very little I still had decent biceps and they admired those…but as the years went by I got the nickname “fat daddy”.  I wasn’t super fat, but like I said, I had a gut and man tits!  The name Fat Daddy straight up pissed me off..not at them, but pissed at myself for letting it get this far.

I kept telling myself I was going to stop drinking but there always seemed to be some stupid excuse to carry on with it.   There were all sorts of hints that my drinking had become excessive… smart ass comments from my wife, things my kids would say, etc.   I knew I had an addictive personality in general, it ran in my family, but I just couldn’t come to terms with it and quit.  I didn’t consider myself an alcoholic because in my mind I could quit whenever I wanted.  I held down a really good job and kicked ass at it, how could I be an addict?   In my mind I was just a man that liked to drink, not a man with a drinking problem.

IM: How did you finally resolve to make and implement this new course of action?

AG: I just finally got sick of the fact that I was only 43 but really fucking out of shape.  I remember going to the skate park and taking some videos on my phone while I was trying to kickflip off this bank.  It was hot out and I had my shirt off and I remember looking at that guy in the video in complete disgust.  My gut was jiggling and titties bouncing, I was like oh HELL NO, this isn’t who I am meant to be.  

IM: What tools, or coaches did you use? What had to give way for this to stick?

AG: Well I wasn’t about to go AA because I refused to believe I had an addiction problem.  I had quit things in the past, such as cigarettes, by going cold turkey and I always knew I could do the same with alcohol. 

I knew I just needed accountability and through searching through YouTube videos I found this crazy ass guy, Wes Watson, who was yelling at me through the screen talking about Purpose over Pleasure, and how I drinking was for pussies, etc.  Right then I knew I needed to hire him, or someone like him, to get my sorry ass back in line.  I needed a drill sergeant, someone who wouldn’t listen to my sorry ass excuses and wouldn’t tolerate the lies that I was telling myself.

So I joined his fitness/mindset program on May 1, 2022 and it forever changed my life.  The very next day I put down the bottle for good, cold turkey.   I attended his weekly group calls and replaced all my bad habits with good habits.  

I had a set of Ironmaster Dumbbells and the Super Bench in my garage…it had been there for years but was mostly covered in dust.   I dusted it off and got to work.  I created a daily routine of discipline where I woke up every morning and hit the weights.  I figured there was no way in hell I could get up early and lift weights if I was drinking the night before, and it worked.

IM: How quickly did you see a change?

AG: I noticed a change in energy level within a week and everything just kept getting better the longer and longer time went on.

In 90 days I dropped close to 20 pounds and was ripped.   IN fact, I was more ripped than I was ever in my life…. My wife would say I was too skinny but that was because my macros were still way too aggressive and I was over training.  I didn’t care though, I needed to basically train every day to replace my bad habits with good habits… I was definitely overtraining and undereating but I felt great.

It’s funny, when you have an addictive personality all you have to do is make substitutions.  Substitute the bad habits for good ones.   You could say I’m addicted to fitness… that’s probably true.

Image, Anthony Gentile of Chopped Up Fitness flexing his After transformation physique.
Anthony, "After"

IM: Was it hard to maintain?

AG: Not at all.  The big thing that hit me was that all my joint pain was gone.  I fully believe I was just in a constant state of dehydration while I was drinking daily and that was killing my joints, making me feel at least 10 years older than I was at the time.  I had been on the brink of getting shoulder surgery but quite frankly it rarely bothers me now.   It’s amazing how much alcohol fucks with your body, they call it poison for a reason.  

IM: Looking back now, what stands out significantly as a major obstacle, as well, what stands out as a significant support?

AG: The major obstacle was me - I was my own worst enemy.  Any time I felt bad, I’d drink.  Anytime I felt good, I’d drink.   It was stupid man, I didn’t even realize how much of an idiot I was at the time.   Drinking was just part of my life and it crept in without me realizing it!

A lot of people think they’ll lose friends if they make such drastic changes.  I shook a few of them no doubt, but I guess they weren’t real friends anyway.  Most of my drinking buddies were fine with the changes I made to my life.  We certainly don’t hang out as much anymore but I have no problem being around people drinking.  In fact, just last week I met up with my old boss at a bar.  He invited me to meet him there not knowing I had quit drinking.  At first he was like, do you mind if I drink ?  I was like fuck no man, it’s your life.  I have no problem with it.  I just ordered an iced tea and we chilled there for an hour or so.  It didn’t even phase me.

The biggest support came from my wife, Linsie.  When we got married I was in great shape, so she knew I could do it.  She believed in me every step of the way and helped with my accountability.   She is brutally honest, and for that I’m forever grateful.   

IM: You have a home gym and a commercial gym membership. Why is that? How does the mix help?

AG: The home gym was critical to get me started.  It lowers the activation energy to fit in a workout when you have no time to get it done.   I am a firm believer that every person should have easy access to gym equipment.   You don’t need a traditional gym nor weights.. hell you can do a lot with just body weight.  A good set of dumbbells, a pull up bar and dip station will get you even further.  

The thing that pushed me into the gym was my chicken legs.  I always had chicken legs growing up and I just figured if I’m going to grow these sticks and make them tree trunks, I needed more equipment that I don’t have in my home gym.  Plus I wanted to do more power lifting too, and trying to do that at 0400 in my garage (which is under my boys’ bedrooms) would disturb the whole family.. I can get loud!

My garage is my home gym but I’m an avid automotive enthusiast so I refuse to make the space needed for a complete home gym with a full squat rack and all that…. maybe someday I’ll get that bigger garage, but for now it’s a multi-purpose space and I need room for all my tools, etc.

The Ironmaster gear is still something I use often though.  It comes in handy when I’m short on time or if my wife is traveling and I can’t leave my boys alone to hit the gym.  I workout at 04:00 daily, so leaving them here alone  while I hit the gym isn’t an option as they are only 10 and 8 years old.

IM: Looking forward, are there short term goals to accomplish in the next few months or year or two?

AG: Yes, about 9 months ago I started  Chopped Up Fitness which is an online coaching business.  I know how much of an impact this has had on my life, and the life of my family.  I just want to give back as much knowledge as I can give.  There’s so much BS and misinformation out there.  My goal is to teach men how to fish, as they say… how to change their bad habits into ones of discipline so they can rebuild their confidence and lead their families.

I know for a fact that I’ve had a dramatic impact on hundreds of lives already and I’m just getting started!  I get so many messages about how my message has helped people and that keeps me going, it’s so rewarding.   

IM: What other hobbies do you have outside of your fitness business?

AG: My first love was and is skateboarding.  I grew up as a street skater in the suburbs of Boston and still skate when I get a chance.   I will never stop skating until my legs stop working…and even then I will find a way.   My motto is that I’d rather wear out than rust out… that’s how I live my life.  Full throttle all the way!

I also love working on cars.  I have an air cooled 911 and an M5 that I’m constantly tinkering with in my garage.  My wife thinks I break stuff just to fix stuff, she might be right.   While my dad didn’t teach me much about sports, he did teach me how to be handy and fix shit.  That’s a skill that most don’t have anymore.

IM: What are your priorities like now, versus then?

AG: I think the main difference before and after this journey is that I used to put relaxing and self pity above being a role model for my family.  That’s some lame shit right there.

As I look back I am really ashamed of who I had become as a person.  I was always looking for an excuse instead of driving for an answer.  I was always trying to make myself numb to my problems instead of taking them head on with authority.

Today I prioritize my health first.  While that may sound selfish it is the exact opposite of being selfish.  If I’m not healthy, I can’t be the best version of myself for my family.  I wouldn’t be able to ensure that I’m at my full health so that I can be here as long as possible to serve them if I was still looking for solutions at the bottom of the bottle.

It’s very selfish to drink until your problems aren’t front and center.

To wake up hung over and tired, and thus being grouchy all day long.  To not be fully present for my family.  To be some lame ass, sloppy version of myself.

I will say that I’m very honest with my children about the man I used to be, and why I’ve made this change in my life.  I think it’s important for them to understand, so they can understand what makes me tick.   They are very proud of me for the changes I’ve made, and I’m proud of myself too.  I know they deserve the best, and I can only give my best when I feel my best.

IM: Any other affiliations, coaches that you want to highlight or give a shout out?

AG: The list is too long to mention, there’s a lot of people out there that offered their support throughout this journey.  I’ve made some great friends through social media of all things… people I’ve actually never met in person but have been routing for me this entire time.   

A few that come to mind are some of the realest dudes out there, leading their families:  Andres Meraz, Gary Fish, Robb Wilson, Mark Kimball, Shawn French, and so many others … the list is long and I have crazy respect for all the guys who have changed their lives and dedicated themselves to helping others do the same.  Our country needs people like this, people who lead from the front.

Learn more about Anthony's and his business on Instagram @choppedupfitness and at his website choppedupfitness.com.

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