For the past few days, I’ve been semi-obsessed with the tragic story of Greg Plitt, who was killed by an oncoming commuter train Saturday. Greg was a successful fitness model, personal trainer, and motivational speaker. He was filming a video for one of his fitness products when the train struck him.
Why was he filming on train tracks — something that is both dangerous and illegal? According to anyone who knew him, he was an adrenaline junkie who loved to take these kinds of risks. In fact, this wasn’t the first time Greg filmed one of his videos on train tracks. According to the Los Angeles Times, he often compared himself to Superman, sometimes going so far as to “act like Superman.” As anyone who ever watched the Man of Steel knows, Superman was “more powerful than a locomotive.”
It’s predictable that social media is filled with judgment and condemnation. How could he be so stupid? All muscles, no brains. And those are some of the kinder remarks. I’m not judging Greg. From what I’ve seen, he seemed like a kind, dedicated, and caring man who really loved helping people with their fitness goals.
But I do wonder about this: whenever he “acted” like Superman, was there anyone around him who was bold enough to say, “No, you’re not Superman.”? I’m guessing that didn’t happen. I’m guessing that most people were won over Greg’s charisma, his “anything is possible” mantra — and yes, his rock-hard abs and Hollywood-handsome face. (I will admit that as a gay man, I can definitely see the appeal there.)
But here’s the thing: “anything” is NOT possible. Not when it isn’t realistic. Greg was human, and humans are no match for locomotives. That’s why it’s illegal to do just about anything on train tracks other than ride a train. And he was not Superman. In this case, Greg was delusional. And delusion — even when it comes in a handsome, muscular package — can lead to tragedy.
As someone with depression and anxiety, I’m fascinated by what kinds of “crazy” society accepts, and what kinds that it doesn’t. Something tells me that if Greg was not fit and handsome, people would have reacted differently to his Superman obsession. But that was just too easy to overlook.
Greg paid a horrible price for this delusion. But maybe his death will be a wake-up call, and make people realize that delusion — in any form — is toxic and unhealthy. Greg was someone who seemed to get a lot of joy out of motivating people. Something tells me he would approve of this lesson.