I Hired Chet Hanks as My Life Coach

It’s 7 AM on a Wednesday as Chet Hanks and I cruise the streets of Los Angeles in his black Lamborghini Urus. We've just finished an absolute burner of a back and biceps session at Gold’s Gym. We’re high on fitness, and the post-lift dopamine rush is hitting in full effect. Gucci Mane’s “Icy” blares through the speakers as Chet narrowly avoids a collision with an oncoming vehicle while he fiddles with the volume.

Over the past month, Chet Hanks has been my own personal life coach. For a price that he asked me not to speak of publicly, I joined his program, HanxFit, and put him in charge of my daily routine. Major changes ensued: I started praying, performing burpees at 5 in the morning, and more, all in an effort to get me to “reach my ultimate potential.” Did I succeed? No. But through a series of long phone calls and philosophical meetings, deep into the nooks and crannies of my and Chet’s psyches, slowly our time together turned into not so much a plan to fix my life but a way for Chet to share his. 

On Lincoln Boulevard, we pull off to an IHOP, Chet’s favorite establishment, where he orders a Big Steak Omelette with apple juice. As we wait for our food, we dive in on topics ranging from childhood trauma to screenwriting. Then suddenly, our deep convo is interrupted by a phone call. 

It’s a new client interested in HanxFit. Chet excuses himself from the table and walks outside to lock in another business deal. I turn my attention to the egg whites sitting in front of me, I have protein goals to hit: 60 grams to be exact.

Never, and I mean never, would I have guessed that I would find myself in this situation. And honestly, if I did ever come close to reaching my ultimate potential, this had to be it: crushing IHOP omelettes with Chet motherfucking Hanks. I was starting to feel like we were becoming actual friends. In reality, it was the beginning of the end for me and Chet—and for his career as a life coach.

Not long before, I knew Chet solely as the son of America’s dad: Tom Hanks. Over the years, he would pop up in my feed every once in a while with some new controversy, like his fake patois on the Golden Globes red carpet or his viral single “White Boy Summer.” In my eyes, he was a drugged-up nepo baby leveraging Hollywood connections to make a fool of himself online.

Then, one Sunday, lounging around my Brooklyn apartment with a nasty hangover, my friend sent me a video of Chet Hanks insanely jacked and seemingly sober, doing an ungodly amount of burpees. Veins popped from his neck as he introduced HanxFit.

Perhaps this was another attempt to thrust himself into the spotlight. But when I dug deeper, I found that Chet was different than I’d expected. Instead of posting videos popping bottles with a beer belly, he was preaching a message of self-help with a six-pack, encouraging his followers (albeit quite aggressively) to get off their asses and better themselves. It felt like I was witnessing a man genuinely recreating—or perhaps destroying—his old self. So I slid into Chet’s DMs playing a bit of a role: a lost 30-year-old man seeking help and guidance. 

Chet answered promptly with a Facetime call. He was at some wild party in the Greek Islands, yelling over the music, and asked if I was ready to level up and change my life. I said, “Hell yeah,” and we scheduled our first meeting.

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Our first Zoom call was later that week. I was in a Billy Joel T-shirt in my dingy apartment in East Williamsburg. Chet was shirtless and nestled under a poolside cabana at the Hanks family home in the Greek Isles, sucking down on a Peach Mango Airbar. His demeanor on our call, and demeanor in every interaction thereafter, was a roller coaster, moods swinging wildly from closed off and paranoid to friendly and trusting. So when I told him I wanted to document my journey in his program I was a bit nervous about how he might respond.

To my surprise, he was into it. He seemed excited to bring attention to HanxFit. But he had one stipulation: I had to complete one month of his life coaching program with my full effort. Not knowing what I was about to get myself into, I agreed.

“No drugs, no alcohol, no mind-altering substances. You can hit your vape, but that’s it.” –Chet Hanks

For the first three weeks of the program, Chet would coach me remotely via text and weekly, multi-hour, one-on-one Zoom calls. Then, for the fourth and final week, I’d fly out to LA to spend more time in person and train.

First and foremost, I had to get sober. “No drugs, no alcohol, no mind-altering substances,” Hanks told me sternly. “You can hit your vape, but that’s it.” Secondly, he prescribed a strict high-protein diet. And third, I’d follow this daily routine:

4:30 AM – Wake Up.

4:45 AM – Pray.

5:00 AM – Do burpees.

5:30 AM – Transcendental meditation.

6:00 AM – Arrive at the gym for one hour of weight training using an app-guided workout from Chet. 

The program was as physically and mentally gruelling as it was half-baked. Hour-long gym workouts focusing on specific muscle groups were administered via “Fitness App,” a cookie-cutter personal trainer app in which it was clear that Chet just selected all his usual workouts and the app did the rest of the work. This app is also where Chet would manage weekly group meetings with all of his clients.  

These meetings generally had an evolving cast of 15-20 normal everyday people, all taking the program very seriously. There was a truck driver who bragged about pulling off on the highway to get his burpees in. Another man had injured his knee took pride in still getting to the gym to work out with just one leg. Black women were a core demographic, spanning in age from late 20s to early 50s. I asked Chet about it, and he said Black women are some of his biggest fans, ever since he once appeared on the Shade Room and professed his love for them.

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More important to me, though, were our one-on-one calls, where Chet would coach me through problems that I was having in my life, in the program, or in my attempts to balance the two. These Zoom calls would go on for hours as Chet and I would vulnerably explore the various aspects of our lives. And when I say vulnerable, I really mean it.

As a life coach, Chet doesn’t have any formal training. All he has is his own life experiences, and he lays them bare in the hopes his clients will open up too. “Let’s be honest about it,” he explained. “The more vulnerable we can be, the realer conversations we can have, the deeper our connections can be, and the more we can help each other. It’s on me to set the example. So that’s what I'm doing.” He even started therapy to do the work on himself so he could feel comfortable sharing more. 

This is probably why the topic of sobriety was a bell that rang throughout our Zoom calls. Chet would continuously dig into my own relationship with alcohol in an effort to identify why I drank. His diagnosis seemed to be that I was a “social drinker.” Now, he’s probably right, and it seemed to be the reason for Chet’s drinking too. 

Chet would often tell stories about social situations where he felt anxiety that, in his past life, he would remedy with drinking. It could be trying to impress a girl at a party or doing coke in the Hollywood Hills with a bunch of “sketchballs.” When I asked if he actually suffered from an anxiety disorder, he hesitated and said, “We all suffer from some form of anxiety.”

The destruction of Chet’s former self began during his time in rehab two years ago, “I finally hit rock bottom,” he said. “Like, I cannot continue down this path anymore. If I do, I’m gonna fucking die.” His program, HanxFit, is the product of that effort to change his life.

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Prior to my time with Chet, I had never actually experimented with sobriety, and I had trouble staying sober throughout the program. After devoting three weeks of my life to waking up at 4 AM to do hundreds of burpees, I found myself missing the connection with others that alcohol provided me. Frankly, I was lonely and just wanted to go out with friends and get a drink. 

To Chet, even if I wasn’t an alcoholic, drinking was keeping me from reaching my full potential. He said I was using drinking as a crutch in social situations, and if I was able to “make myself into a stud” and be present, I wouldn’t need it anymore. This would be true confidence, unlike the kind I felt drinking: “One is earned, and one is ingested,” he said. And I believed him. From what I could see, he was confident without alcohol. Still, with a father like Tom Hanks, you’d think confidence isn’t so much learned but in Chet’s DNA.

Chet said living up to his father isn’t something that bothers him, but being in his shadow has certainly changed how Chet is been perceived by others, which has affected him. “I felt like I was a million light years away from the level of prestige that my family is on,” he said, “and everyone is looking at me like I’m supposed to have this prestige, and I don’t, and what is wrong with me? What is defective about me? That generated a lot of negative feelings and energy that I medicated with drugs.”

“People assume that being the son of a celebrity, everyone is super friendly to you and basically kissing your ass. But my experience felt like the opposite.” –Chet Hanks

“White Boy Summer” was a passion project, he said, and one that he didn’t think would be a viral hit. He made it to express himself, in the moment, in the summer of 2021, but it only compounded the perception of him as crazy. “People assume that being the son of a celebrity, everyone is super friendly to you and basically kissing your ass,” he said. “But my experience felt like the opposite. It felt like everyone was against me. Everyone hated me. And everyone judged me right off the bat without knowing me. I was always the center of attention in a very negative way. And all that negativity, I internalized it.”

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I asked Chet if physical fitness was just another addiction for him, and he said, “Yeah, a positive one.” The natural high from working out is actually an essential element to Chet’s transformation. “In the midst of the struggle and discomfort and pain, learn to truly embrace it and enjoy those moments,” he told me. “Because that's what's going to lead to the most sublime and profound realizations. When you start having those feelings of being connected to something greater than yourself or to your higher self, that's a fucking high dude. And there’s only good that can come from getting addicted to that. If that’s the high we’re chasing? Then be a fucking junkie!” 

He told me that, for the first year, he was doing 500+ burpees every single morning and going to the gym 7 days a week. He pushed his body to a breaking point, seriously injuring his back. Which brought him to the conclusion that the program needed rest days. 

HanxFit, at the time, was in a constant state of evolution. The program shifted to meet Chet’s needs, to keep him from returning to rock bottom. He said clients help him stay on track. We give Chet a sense of responsibility, meaning, and another high: “The true high is when you can transfer it to other people,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s not about me, it’s not about you, it’s about what we can do for other people. Period. That’s that good dope, bro.”

Chet is candid about not only destroying this old identity but also the fact that he’s still got work left to do. He said he’s cut out things like meaningless sexual relationships, going to strip clubs, hanging out with people who aren’t going to uplift him, and even watching too much Netflix. These have been much harder to quit than drugs and alcohol: “The deeper the layer of the onion, the more difficult it is to sacrifice.”

I truly gave the program my best shot, and I suspect that if I continued down this road with him, I, too, would have had to shed my onion. But, frankly, the idea of this was terrifying. To give up so much of my time, my friends, my life. I asked him, “What happens if you sacrifice everything—everything negative, everything you think is holding you back—and you’re still not the person you want to become?” I was legitimately nervous saying this, that I might hurt his feelings or expose to him that all of his hard work with me might be for nothing. But his response was short and sweet: This was an “asinine” question. I was creating “false realities in my head,” he said, and it was these narratives that were holding me back.

Heading back home from LA, that stayed on my mind. Perhaps, he has a point. Perhaps, my inability to quit drinking, cut out everything holding me back, and realize the true potential of Chet’s program was a fear of the unknown. A fear of who I might become if I were to lose my friends at the bar. And maybe, Chet went to rock bottom hard enough to go there, that scary unknown. But where does that lead him? Unfortunately, by the time my mind arrived at this question, I was having the last sip of my gin and tonic, touching down at JFK.

A few weeks later, even without asking, I received an answer. Amid another nasty hangover, scrolling through Instagram, I came across his latest post. In it, Chet said that for much of his life, he had played a character, a character he thought people wanted from him, but now, with this character destroyed, he had become his true self, a servant to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I went over to Chet’s page, and he had deleted everything. Any mention of HanxFit was gone. He was evolving. 

I reached out to see if we could catch up on his latest changes for the purposes of my documentation. He told me couldn’t talk, “It’s gonna have to wait, bro. I’m not ready to come out of reflection yet.”


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