The Confessional: I was Sean Penn’s Workout Partner (Kinda)


In my 20s, I was buff–seriously, totally, completely freaking buff. I worked out 5-6 times a week, and was heavy into weightlifting. Nothing made me happier than to out curl and out squat the average man who walked into the gym flaunting his non-existence Arnold Schwarzenegger stuff. I was strong and fiercely competitive.

On occasion, I was also an idiot; like the day I worked out with Sean Penn and didn’t know it. I swear on a mountain of carrot cake topped with the most decadent cream cheese frosting that we spotted each other, shared exercise machines, and even traded stories of leg pressing gone wrong. He was reserved and rather shy, but also commanding and confident all rolled into one well-oiled machine.

I was oblivious to the fact that I was in the presence of greatness. A multiple Academy Award winner and staunch political and social activist stood before me and all I was concerned about was getting through my routine and back to the office before my lunch hour was over.

I thought it was odd that the few familiar faces at the gym that day stared and whispered like little fiends. Most people left me alone. I was a serious weightlifter and did not appreciate distractions. The gym manager and personal trainers giggled and glanced as Sean and I swapped machines and unloaded weights. I noticed these anomalies, but they didn’t register as red flags.

Sean did look strangely familiar and, at one point, I almost asked him if we had met before, but I didn’t want small talk to interfere with the momentum. So I never asked. Never.Freakin’.Asked.

He left before I was finished with my routine. We didn’t say goodbye or see you again. He simply thanked me and walked into the locker room. And that…was that. I didn’t give him or the encounter a second thought, until all hell broke loose. The second he was out of the building, clapping and cheering ensued. I had no clue what was happening. Had I performed the miracle of all leg lifts (doubtful)? Was there suddenly a halo over my head (not likely)? What was going on?

Several gym members rushed over to me. They spoke in sentences that resembled a 33 RPM record playing at 78 RPM. For those not familiar, they sounded like this kid:

“Do you know who that was?”

“Holy shit! You worked out with >>couldn’t catch the name that crackhead just dropped<<!”

“He hasn’t worked out with anyone. Or talked to anyone since coming in here!”

“That was so cool!”

Who? Who were they talking about?

Finally, I heard the name.

Sean Penn.

The look on my face must have lit up like a neon sign in front of a strip joint:


There was silence for about 2.2 seconds and then everyone laughed. And pointed. And laughed some more.

I had just worked out with Jeff Spicoli. Duuuude.

This was my personal brush with greatness. I later learned that his acting career began in television with a brief appearance in a 1974 episode of Little House on the Prairie. This was the year I was born and the book series that initially prompted my love of writing.

Coincidence? I think not.

That’s my Tuesday confession. Have you ever met a celebrity? Share in the comments!

Posted on by Crystal in Confessions of an Older Mom

25 Responses to The Confessional: I was Sean Penn’s Workout Partner (Kinda)

  1. Seana Turner

    Nope, never met a celebrity. But I think even if I did, I wouldn’t freak out. They are just people after all, and probably appreciate it getting to be anonymous!
    Seana Turner recently posted..The Portable “Desk”

    • Crystal

      I don’t think I would have freaked out. I would have been nervous for sure!!!

  2. Janine Huldie

    Totally thought of Jeff Spiccoli immediately and still one of my favorite movies of all time. Truly awesome and for the record I probably would have not realized at first either, because I swear I can be truly oblivious sometimes, too!
    Janine Huldie recently posted..Love Is All Around – February 2014 GLOSSYBOX

    • Crystal

      It makes me wonder if I’ve ever run into anyone else famous. Will never know!

  3. Tamara Camera

    I met Matt Damon and Taye Diggs. Matt was short. Taye was sexy. That’s about all I could register. I just smiled and moved on. I was really interested in getting chocolate/taking photos. This was 5th Avenue in NYC.
    Tamara Camera recently posted..The Beauty In The Sick Day.

  4. Katie @ Pick Any Two

    I love this story! It’s so much better that you didn’t recognize him and prioritized your workout. I myself have never met a celebrity; I like to think I’d keep it cool if I did, but truthfully I’d probably end up blubbering like an idiot!
    Katie @ Pick Any Two recently posted..Will This Make Healthy Eating Easier?

  5. JDaniel4's Mom

    I haven’t met anyone famous. If I had, I probably wouldn’t have recognized them.
    JDaniel4’s Mom recently posted..Together Box Review

    • Crystal

      It’s funny how our brains work. He is soooo recognizable…yet not at all, obviously! LOL

  6. WriterMom Angela

    Several years ago I was flown to NYC to do a day-long job interview. At the airport on my way home my flight was delayed for several hours and I had to cool my heels at JFK. Wandering the book store I ran into–literally–Ted Danson. That’s as close as I have gotten to a brush with celebrity and we actually did ‘brush’ for what it’s worth! LOL
    WriterMom Angela recently posted..Review: It’s Really 10 Months

  7. Lisa @ The Golden Spoons

    Ha! We lived in Nashville for about a year. Sometimes, for fun, we went to the “fancy mall” and once we walked right past LeeAnn Rimes. My oldest daughter was three at the time and went to a half day preschool. One of Trace Adkins’ daughters was in another class at the preschool and he was there for the Christmas performance. Didn’t talk to him either, though – he is humongous and kind of intimidating up close!
    Lisa @ The Golden Spoons recently posted..Tuesday Ten – My Purse Inside Out

    • Crystal

      I would think he was huge! He appears that way!

  8. Allie

    OMG that is too much!! I met John Stamos when I was a kid and he was on Full House. I took my picture with him, blew it up and framed it. I didn’t take it down from my room until I moved away to college! So funny. Great story!
    Allie recently posted..The Rest Day

    • Crystal

      OMG! I still think he’s hot!

  9. Menopausal Mother

    I LOVE this story!!! It’s one you can share for generations!
    Menopausal Mother recently posted..Sleepus Interruptus

    • Crystal

      You bet! Will never forget it!

  10. Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama

    This is AWESOME!! I love that you got your sweat on with a celebrity and didn’t even know it. I bet it was the best workout of his life!!
    Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama recently posted..Birthday Bonanza and Giveaway

  11. Patrick Egan

    I taught in a Quaker school in Manhattan in the early 1990’s. It was a very artsy school. Two of the parents of a child in the Lower School were Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins. On several occasions, I would pass Susan in the hall at dismissal while she waited, with stroller, for her daughter. Once I was tempted to walk up to her (she stood, leafing through a magazine) and say hello, and then add that for about $4.00, I could go next door to the video store and get a movie where she was naked. But I never did…I only held the door for her.

  12. Courtney @ Project Courtney

    Great story! I look like such a goober at the gym, I would have felt like a tool.

    It’s awesome that you didn’t PLAY it cool. You WERE cool.
    Courtney @ Project Courtney recently posted..Meditation. All The Cool Kids are Doing It.

  13. Ray

    Hahaha, you are like me, a million years ago when I lived in London, I worked in Knightsbridge at a small cafe, very chic. One night a couple of employees from the restaurant across the street wanted some of our food and we ( a friend of mine and co-worker) wanted some of theirs. So at the end of the night they came over and grabbed some and then my friend and I went over to their kitchens for some of theirs. As we were standing their waiting for the food a lady in white jeans and a blue blazer and blue baseball cap came into the kitchen and stood next to me. She was blond and very tall, and I asked her if she was picking up take out as we were. She said yes that her and her boys love the food. My friend was standing next to me with her mouth open, and practically drooling. What the heck was her problem…

    Oh I was chatting and had no clue that it was Princess Diana!!!! Yep!! Go figure…. Who knew.
    Ray recently posted..No Make-Up Selfie

  14. Liz

    That’s wonderful. I live in NY and never see celebrities. I’m like the Sixth Sense in reverse, because my husband will see them, right next to me (alive of course) and I will always miss it.
    Liz recently posted..Zoe vs. the Monster and the Ghost (and to a Lesser Extent, the Dragon and the Dinosaur)

  15. Laura Ehlers

    such a great encounter! I hate to admit it, but I tend to be oblivious when it comes to meeting people. probably because when I think I know someone they are not who I insist they are… and I would imagine your nonchalance is what allowed such a casual exchange.
    Laura Ehlers recently posted..A Slight Deviation from Normal

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