When Matthew Short builds a muscle, his first priority is to build the confidence muscle.
A recent gathering of his clients at his Oak Street, Forest City gym saw over 100 people witness and participate in what he called a "Strong Man, Strong Woman Competition."
There was lots of clapping and cheering, especially when Kenny Rice, a 61-year-old strong man shouldered a frame that weighed 381 pounds and walked 20 feet across the gym floor. It was a little like taking a stroll with a woodstove or a piano on your back.
"I want people to understand they are not pawns in the game of life," Short, the personal trainer and motivational speaker, said of his work at the gym.
It is a mind and body program.
Rice said of his work with Short, "I was one of his first. I'm kinda shy, but not there. I'm totally comfortable. Everybody there feels like family."
Short studied organization and public communications at Appalachian State, but added, "It's really motivational speaking."
His journey to Oak Street began when he gained weight while in college.
"I just didn't feel good. I was sluggish. I knew I had to get fit to feel good," Short said.
But that feeling good is as much about attitude as it is fitness. His clients are working with him to live better lives all around.