TORONTO -- Celebrity fitness and lifestyle coach Phil Zullo had never met Mayor Rob Ford until the two crossed paths during the civic leader's stay in a Muskoka rehab.
"I knew him from the news and I, of course, did vote for him, but no I had never seen him before," Zullo said. "And now I would do anything for the big bear."
Well, he is not quite as big as when he checked in to the GreenStone Treatment Facility almost two months ago.
"Put it this way -- he needed to get a new belt," said the personal trainer famous for training hockey players, musicians and actors inside his Pro-Fit gyms.
"And in the old one, they had to put five new holes in there."
The new and improved, perhaps significantly less than 300 pounds of fun, will be back on the political scene Monday.
But not before some final gym time with the trainer legendary for working with former Leafs Shayne Corson and Darcy Tucker and many other players on their way up to the NHL or CFL.
In fact, that is why Zullo is in Muskoka.
"I am up here for the summer working with all sorts of hockey prospects, and the kids of former NHLers, and helping them get ready for a career in hockey," he said. "And I also did a deal with GreenStone to go in and help the people in treatment there, too."
Ford just happened to be one of them. I spoke with Phil on Ford's cellphone. I could hear the mayor in the background working out and saying he's just not in to talking.
Ford plans to do plenty of that when he gets back to town on Monday and during the days leading up the Oct. 27 election.
He has a speech almost prepared and sources say he will be addressing Toronto in a frank and earnest way. It will be interesting to see if he speaks honestly about the crack use. It will be his decision if he chooses to.
Zullo's focus was on getting the mayor physically healthy.
He said the mayor has worked hard at that.
"We decided to go over to Wasaga Beach to surprise his kids," Zullo said. "It was really something. His kids were on the beach and didn't recognize him as he walked up to them. His daughter Stephanie said, 'Dad you look amazing, like you are 13 years old'.