Remembering 9/11

I remember it well, from the balcony on the 39th floor of my Midtown Manhattan office building located just 3 miles north of The World Trade Towers. Chapter 43 of my memoir, Simply Between Millions: From Wall Street to Hollywood, recants that fateful day 20 years ago today:

CHAPTER 43 – 9/11

“As I write these words, it is exactly one week prior to the 10th Anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks. This is how I remember it:

It was the most beautiful of NYC days. Crystal clear blue skies and a coolness that made everything in the city feel alive. I was excited to go to work that day because I was giving my printer the thumbs up for my first mailing, The Tola Report. It was this fancy, four-page color flyer that was going out to more than 1,000 owners. I had spent the past six weeks getting it ready. Now it would be finalized and sent out directly from the printer. I also purchased two new suits and was excited to get them to my tailor on John Street. My tailor was less than 500 yards from the World Trade Center. I had planned to go there before I went to the office – he opened at 8 AM. But I was running late and the subways were crowded, so I decided to go straight to work and then go see him during lunch. I arrived at my Midtown office just before 8 AM.

If I had stayed on the Lexington Avenue subway line, I can only guess that I would have been at my tailor’s at exactly the time the first plane hit.

View from Midtown Manhattan on 9/11 – RIP

Our office had a balcony with an unobstructed view of Tower I and a partial view of Tower II (about half). As I was proof-reading my report for the last time, a senior broker, Zev, came running past me with a huge pair of binoculars. I would soon learn that he was a paratrooper in the Israeli Army and loved his military binoculars. He screamed, “Smoke’s coming out of the Tower”, as he ran by. I turned to look out my window and then at my clock radio that was playing the news. It was 8:44 AM, and there was still no mention of it. About three minutes later the reporter sounded confused when he said something about a small plane had hit the World Trade Center. I went to the balcony to check it out. A few other brokers and assistants had joined me, and others were in my office listening to the radio. We passed the binoculars back and forth, each taking a few minutes to look. Soon we were all staring at each other because we knew it wasn’t a small plane. There was way too much smoke pouring out of a huge swath of floors high up on Tower I. As real estate people, we strangely knew it would fall. Then a plane hit Tower II and it was chaos. Everyone in the office seemed to be running all over the place, onto the balcony, into my office, over to each other’s desks, until I found myself alone on the balcony.

Time stood still for the next two minutes as I secured myself so the binoculars wouldn’t move a millimeter. Then I focused my sights on Tower I. The stainless steel skin of the building, right below where the smoke was pouring out, was peeled away like a banana skin, arching away from the building, frozen in the air.

I then saw two men climb onto the steel skin, one behind the other, clinging for dear life, crawling away from the inferno. When the first man couldn’t go any further, he let go. As he plunged to his death, he did what appeared to be a backward swan dive. The other man soon followed, and when he let go, he grabbed his knees and slowly tumbled forward. I put down the binoculars and went inside. I’m not sure what happened next, other than I was on the balcony with a few others when Tower I fell. I didn’t have the binoculars, but I watched in shock as Tower I slowly crumbled to the ground. The same for Tower II – I was on the balcony and stayed until I could no longer see the horizon.

The next thing I remember, I was standing in the middle of Madison Avenue looking downtown at the smoke-filled sky. Cars were stopped dead in their tracks, doors open, people just standing there, screaming and pointing to downtown. If felt like a scene from a movie, as New Yorkers fled the streets not sure what to do. It soon felt like everyone was moving north. Me and two other brokers who lived in New Jersey walked north to my place. The entire time I looked back over my shoulder, trying to figure out what happened. All cell phones were dead, so it was word of mouth from the people in the streets. Once we got to my place, we put the TV on and set up camp. My apartment was busy with friends coming and going. By 6 PM, my broker friends had left, and fortunately, they both got off the island and made it home safely.

The next day, Jimmy V and I took the subway south to Canal Street. For some reason, we both needed to go there. The subways weren’t running past Canal, so we got out and walked east toward the Manhattan Bridge. Every street running south to downtown was barricaded with NYC policemen. We finally found a side street in Chinatown where we snuck by and made our way toward the rubble. It was at least a mile away. By the time we got to Foley Square, Jimmy V had an asthma attack. The air quality was bad, and of course, we shouldn’t have been there. Since he could barely breathe, we went down into the subway, just to get away from the polluted air. Twenty minutes later, we headed back.

What I remember most about our trip wasn’t the sounds and smells of the city that day. It was the two-inch layer of soot and ash delicately resting on the wrought iron fence surrounding Foley Square. It looked like really dirty, dry snow had fallen – it was eerie and yet strangely peaceful at the same time. I truly did feel my skin crawl that day. Something I won’t forget for the rest of my life.”

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Have an awesome weekend everyone…and get your workout in!

Peace – R

Time to de-COVID-tize your Habits

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!

It’s exactly one year since the Coronavirus shut us down and we’re slowly getting back to normal, so it’s time to de-COVID-tize your Habits. That is to say, keep the good ones and delete the bad. It’s also been a while since my last Tola Talks 2.0, so it’s good to be back! Today is all about getting you back on track with those pre-COVID routines that include your old – and good – habits. So let’s re-tool, re-focus and stick to the winners that served your well.

All the while staying safe and strong and thinking positive along the way…also know as “Step 11 – Think Positive” in my new book, How to Drink from the Fountain of Youth. Because who doesn’t want to live their best possible life. Now available in audiobook.

Have an awesome day everyone, and get your workout in. Peace – R

Start Strong and Set Your Sights

Just like it’s always best to finish the year strong, the same goes for starting strong, also know as ‘like a bat outta hell’, as the rock legend Meatloaf once sang. At the very least be sure to set your sights, aka your specific goals for 2021 – or the first six months like I do – and make sure to respect your temple along the way. Every single day that is, because who doesn’t want to stay healthy, vibrant and young while drinking from the Fountain of Youth?

In the New Year we also lowered our prices to make it easier for anyone to get motivated by my old-school “everlasting youth” advice that’s very practical and doable and most importantly, effective. Because the proof is in the pudding. Always. Not to mention a little fun and fast-paced inspiration from the plethora of wild and witty stories recounted throughout my life’s colorful journey.

Rich Tola’s books on Amazon, Kindle and Audible (Fountain of Youth coming soon!)

How to Drink from the Fountain of Youth: 30 Steps to Everlasting Youth is now $11.99 and my memoir, Simply Between Millions: From Wall Street to Hollywood is now $14.99. Thanks to everyone who has already purchased them on Amazon, Kindle and Audible.

Have an awesome day everyone…and get your workout in! Peace – R

Self-Correct…anytime you get Off-Track

Whenever you find yourself getting off-track when it comes to your fitness regime or worse, your body weight, no worries. Simply Self-Correct.

Anyone who has read my memoir knows that Chapter 67 is one of my favorites and is called just that, Self-Correct. Because it’s all about getting back on-track ASAP as soon as you start to deviate from your daily fitness responsibilities as well as from your ideal weight.

Case in point: Last month I gained the COVID 5, that is to say, 5 pounds of extra weight due to the overconsumption of food (mostly cookies) during this crazy pandemic. Not sure about you, but the prolonged ‘safer-at-home’ decree has really put a damper on my fitness routine, not to mention my usually good eating habits. So rather than get mad or frustrated, I confidently chose to Self-Correct and I’m right back where I started…5 pounds lighter.

How did I do it? I increased my aerobic exercises to 8 miles of walking per day (up from 7 miles/day last month) and decreased my weight training exercises by about 50%. Thus, I kept my total monthly exercise percentage the same (12%) while increasing my total calories burned. That said, with a little time and energy and discipline (of course), anyone can make the right choice versus the easy choice. For more self-correcting details, check-out my book on Amazon.

Here’s my exercise report card for May 2020:

  • 20 minutes/day of Abs/Stretching and Tola Yoga = 10 hours
  • 20 minutes/day of bodyweight training = 10 hours
  • 25 flights of stairs/day = 750 (about 3 hours)
  • 8 miles/day of fast-paced walking = 250 miles (about 60 hours)
  • 7 minutes/day of standing balancing poses = 3 hours

Have an awesome June everyone…and get your workout in! Peace – R

Build a Strong Foundation with Tola Yoga

Everybody knows the answer to that infamous question, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall”, right? Of course, it’s “practice, practice, practice”. And if you believe best-selling author and pop psych writer, Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers), you’ll say it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become world-class in any field.

But what happens when the foundation you’ve set for all your practicing is not that sturdy, or better yet, it’s built on quicksand? 

That’s why anyone looking to build a strong yoga practice should learn the proper fundamentals before spending hours upon hours in the yoga studio. Just like I say in Chapter 68 of my memoir, Simply Between Millions: From Wall Street to Hollywood, it’s always best to Learn from the Best. Or at the very least, learn from someone who has learned from the best.

That’s also why if you’re in Los Angeles you should treat yourself to a Tola Yoga class or private lesson to help you build that strong foundation. There’s something for everyone…from beginner-to-advanced as well as pregnant women…with my five distinct classes:

  1. Tola Yoga Fundamentals  – for beginners or anyone looking to re-learn the basics
  2. Tola Yoga Prime – for intermediate students and strong beginners
  3. Tola Yoga Power – for advanced students and strong intermediates
  4. Tola Yoga Prenatal – for women in all stages of pregnancy
  5. Tola Yoga Stretch & Restore – for all students from beginner-to-advanced

Feel free to email me your questions and to schedule your Tola Yoga private lesson today: info@richtola.com

Peace – R

Think, Prepare and Leap…to Chicago

It’s been two weeks since I moved to Chicago to pursue Stand-up comedy and to teach Yoga in the third most populous city in America (about 2.7 million residents).  And what a city it is, with more than 50 million visitors last year alone, the “Windy City” has breathtaking historical architecture and world class culture including public art, theater and improvisational comedy, not to mention all the jazz, blues and house music. And don’t forget professional sports, which I should know since I’m currently living three blocks away from Wrigley Field…Go Cubbies!

And if you haven’t seen the sunrise over Lake Michigan, you should try it sometime. But wait, what about “I Love LA” and 9 years worth of plying my craft and producing 20+ hours of instructional Yoga videos throughout the streets of Hollywood? It’s all preparation for what comes next, and it’s all part of life’s wonderful journey. If you ask me I’ll always say never be afraid to take a chance on yourself, regardless of how scary it may be – or seem to be – to leave behind what you know best, i.e., your comfort zone.

The good news is Chicago’s not too foreign to me because I did spend two years here during my grad-school days at The Kellogg School at Northwestern University. Albeit, I spent most of my time in the comfy confines of Evanston, but of course I did venture down to bars in Wrigleyville, Lincoln Park and Rush Street for the occasional ruckus with my buddies – which you’ll know if you read my wild and witty memoir, Simply Between Millions: From Wall Street to Hollywood.

So never be afraid to LEAP…just make sure your move is well thought-out and even planned, although too much thinking and planning may lead to inaction (not a good thing). And if you make it to Chicago, give me a shout and come take my Yoga class.

Which, by the way, as of today I’m teaching at all 9 locations of Chicago’s premier fitness club, Chicago Athletic Clubs. In honor of National Yoga Month, I’ll be teaching a special class on Sunday, September 27th at the Lincoln Square location. Hope to see you there! Peace – R