This Man Thinks You're Fat

Michael Karolchyk has built his unorthodox fitness brand by offending nearly everyone. He calls himself the health conscience of America, but is he really trying to help you, or is he more interested in helping himself?

January 2008

"My son has become a liar," Pat Karolchyk told me. "I don't know what has happened to my son."

Among the untruths: Michael Karolchyk's father is a high school English teacher, not a college professor. The family moved once during his childhood; his parents owned the same home from the time he was six until selling it about seven years ago. He was never beaten up at school. "He was always one of the popular kids, always a conversationalist, so he never had problems," his mother says. "He was a fantastic son. I loved him deeply. We were best friends."

She says her family witnessed the transformation after her son moved to Colorado. His explanation for the rift with his mother is a radio interview Karolchyk says he gave in 2007 in which he called her fat; she heard it and was deeply hurt. This is news to Pat Karolchyk, who says she has never heard her son on the radio. "Why does he lie?" she says. "What does he have to gain from hurting his parents? What is he trying to do to his family?"

Karolchyk downplays his mother's anguish, calling her a "hurt and wounded animal." But he also hopes for an eventual reconciliation. "I love my mom to death and do not want her hurt anymore," he says.

For now, a detente seems unlikely. "When he was a kid, he said he'd never drink, but now there he is, drinking. He said he'd never do drugs, but there he is. Michael has asthma, so why is he smoking marijuana?" Pat Karolchyk says. "I don't know who my son has become. He's a PR generation. I want my boy back. He's ruining his name. What's wrong with Michael being Michael?"

And with that, she sniffed. "I'm going to go now and cry," she said, and hung up.