I Make $600,000 a Year Tormenting Rich People

Hamid Castro, fitness coach
Drew Swantak/Thrillist

If you're fat, loaded, desperate, and willing to endure months of torment and mind games in order to get your shit together, you should call Hamid Castro. Describing himself as "Hitch on steroids," the 26-year-old overhauls the bodies, minds, wardrobes, and sex lives of the very rich. He'll take you to his haircutting guy, dermatologist, his dentist. He'll tell you what to eat, force you to exercise -- sometimes in the middle of the night while screaming at you -- and talk you through your problems with the deftness of a shrink (a really insulting shrink, but still).

Castro is also a legitimate tough guy, a native New Yorker and black belt who claims to have had dozens of physical altercations with strangers. Meet him in person and you'll believe it -- especially after he shows you the scar on his arm from where a guy shot him, after he had stopped a rape in Greenwich Village. But the man practices what he preaches. He's rich. He's charismatic. In bars and clubs, he attracts beautiful women just by standing there. I've seen it happen. It's both amazing and deeply irritating.

He greets me at the door of a $2.5 million one-bedroom apartment near posh Beekman Pl in Midtown Manhattan. It belongs to a client, but Castro has a key. They both use it as what he vaguely calls "a getaway pad." Wearing tapered sweatpants, a hoodie, a black T-shirt, and a fly pair of orange Nikes, Castro sits at a marble-topped table, drinking a bottled protein shake. He looks me over and slides a bottle in my direction. Then he tells me I should drink it and skip dinner.

Here he is, in his own words.


Seriously obese guys never have mirrors in their bedrooms. That strikes me as odd. I have mirrors all over my apartment. I want to see myself at every opportunity. They don't want to see themselves for who they are. They lie about their weight, lie about what they eat, lie about the amount of activity they get. Then they hire a guy like me. They pay me $10,000, $15,000 per month, and I help them to get into the kind of shape that once seemed impossible to attain. I force them to work out when they don't want to, make sure they eat the proper food and dress the right way. I give them the feeling of being the fat kids in third grade that everybody makes fun of; I get them working hard enough that they run into the bathroom and puke. That's a good thing.

That said, I have a soft spot for fat guys. They've helped me to get everything I have in life -- I have a closet full of perfectly tailored Brioni suits, a black American Express card, and a Maserati in the garage. Forty thousand people follow me on Instagram and I make $600,000 a year. See this watch? It cost me $30,000, and it's the one I wear when I'm dressing down.

Hamid Castro, fitness coach
Drew Swantak/Thrillist

I was finishing my senior year of college, at NYU, back in 2011, when I realized that I had the ability to transform people. I worked intensely with a couple of Wall Street guys that I met while interviewing for an entry-level trader's job. I got them looking good and turned down their job offer. Why would I want to make $65,000 a year, sitting in an office, when I was already earning more by pushing Wall Street guys to get into shape? But things kicked into high gear when I got a call from a trader we'll call Tom. He was a big boy, standing 6'2" and weighing 340lbs. He told me he was getting married in 12 weeks and wanted to lose 100lbs. He lived with his fiancée and she wouldn't sleep in the same room as him. She blamed it on his snoring. I blamed it on the fact that he was enormous.

I told him I could help him to get the weight off. But I would have to live with him, and he would need to do every single thing I said. He seemed surprised about the living arrangement, and he wasn't crazy about my rate: $10,000 per month at the time. He asked if we could negotiate. I told him that maybe we should forget about the whole thing. He wound up promising me an extra $5k if I got him down to weight.

He was scared. He thought I was crazy, that maybe I'd kill myself for real -- or kill him -- if he didn't listen to me. He said, "I thought you were going to die."

I moved in and took over. The first thing I did was tell him that we needed new bedding -- in his room and mine. We had to throw away the old shit -- these Posturepedic pillows and crap -- and get nice 1,000-thread-count sheets, goose-down comforters, soft pillows.

The walls of his room were the kind of muddy green that you see in psychiatric hospitals. I got a crew in to paint it a nice off-white color. He flipped out and told me that I shouldn't try being an interior decorator. I told him to calm down and paid for it myself.

Then we went to the dentist. His teeth were jacked up. We got them cleaned and bleached. I made him buy a sauna for the basement -- and then had him ride a stationary bike in there. He hated sweating and complained about the heat. I threw cold water in his face and told him to keep pedaling. Tom would stop doing push-ups and lay flat on the ground like a fucking fish that had washed to shore. I grabbed him by the belly with one hand and used the other to yank him up and down by the collar of his T-shirt. You think it's easy to do that? Try it sometime.

After work he went crazy. He told me I can't do that kind of stuff. I told him I could do whatever I want.

One morning, Tom wouldn't wake up, even though the alarm was going off and I was calling him on his phone. He wanted a cheat day but we didn't have time for that. I walked into his bedroom and poured cold water over his face. He started blubbering like one of those guys you see being waterboarded. He called me a psycho and said, "I told you. I'm not working out today. I'm sore. I'm talking the day off." I told him that he wasn't, and I physically pulled him out of bed. He told me to forget about training him. He said he'd give me my money and I should leave. I told him that it's not about the money and that I was not leaving.

It sounds like I'm brutal toward guys like Tom. But that's the way I have to be. He and the others are rich, powerful men. They're smart guys who are used to getting their asses kissed. With me they get their asses kicked. I enjoy being in control, I like being the man, but there's a reason why I push so hard. It's for their own good. There are a lot of trainers who are pussies. They're happy to see sessions get cut short and keep the money when a guy doesn't show up. But they're not getting the kinds of results I get. I'll do anything to get these guys into shape.

Hamid Castro, fitness coach
Drew Swantak/Thrillist

Here's a mad story. Tom had his own helicopter pilot, and he'd go by chopper from Long Island to lower Manhattan and back for work. I always went along -- he was paying me to be with him, not to sit in his house and jerk off. After a while I got friendly with the helicopter pilot -- who turned out to be as nuts as I am. Privately, I asked him if I could bungee jump out of the helicopter and get to within 15ft or so of the ground. He said I could. We agreed that I'd do it without Tom knowing it was going to happen. The signal from the pilot would be, "We're almost there." Then I would have 30 seconds to jump.

So we're flying home from the city. Tom had been complaining about working out. I told him he was being a bitch and treating me like a bitch by acting disrespectful. Things got heated and when the pilot said, "We're almost there," I was like, "Fuck it. I don't even want to be here." I opened the door and jumped while the helicopter just hovered at maybe 50ft above a grassy field.

Tom didn't know I had attached the bungee cord. He was screaming, "Noooo! Noooo!" I was hanging maybe 15ft from the ground, swinging around like crazy in a way that I hadn't anticipated. The pilot came down a little more. I disengaged myself and dropped.

He came out of his room, rubbing his eyes, and said, "What the fuck are you doing, Castro? You can't drill holes in the ceiling. It's 3 in the morning!"

It was a fucking stupid thing to do because I could have broken my neck. But I needed to jolt this guy and get him motivated. It worked. He was scared. He thought I was crazy, that maybe I'd kill myself for real -- or kill him -- if he didn't listen to me. He said, "I thought you were going to die."

By the day of his wedding, he had dropped 85lbs. It wasn't 100, but it was close enough. Tom gave me my bonus and he looked good in his suit.


Soon after, I got a call from a guy, let's call him James. I wanted to take things to the next level. James was a passive person who somehow managed to make a fortune. He was never exactly clear as to how he earned his money, but he sure had a shit-ton of it. He agreed to pay me $12,000 a month. I would move into his apartment in Tribeca. The plan was for me to get him into shape and teach him how to meet girls. He really needed the help. He could never get anyone to sleep with him. He weighed 260lbs, was 27 years old, and had had sex with exactly one woman in his life.

I cornered him and started making my chest pop. My teeth were gritted and I said to him, "Don't make me put my titties in your face, boy."

After moving into his apartment, I received a giant box from Amazon. James didn't think anything of it. He had no clue that the box contained a pair of gravity boots and a kit for hanging from the ceiling in them. There was also a drill.

After a few weeks of training, I felt that he was getting tired and had stopped giving me his all. He needed to be shocked into action. At around 2 o'clock one morning, while he was sleeping, I got up on a chair and drilled the boot-holders into the ceiling. Then I stripped down to just a pair of shorts, got into the boots, and hung from the ceiling doing sit-ups.

I used the stereo's remote to start blasting Ja Rule's "New York." I was in the zone, pumping out sit-ups, singing along -- I'm from New York, New Yoooork -- and shouting, "Come on! Get the fuck up!"

James came out of his room, rubbing his eyes. He looked at the ceiling and said, "What the fuck are you doing, Castro? You can't drill holes in the ceiling. And it's 3 in the morning. I'm not getting up. We don't do our workout until 6. That's the deal."

I swung down from the ceiling and told him that the deal had changed. I cornered him and started making my chest pop. My teeth were gritted and I said to him, "Don't make me put my titties in your face, boy."

He had no idea what was going on. He was scared shitless. I made him put on his sneakers and shorts and we went out and ran in the street. I took him out for a four-mile run in the middle of the night. He was freaked out, he had been woken up abruptly, his endorphins were rocking. The guy was forced out of his comfort zone and made to do something he had never even considered before. He wouldn't have done it if I had nicely asked him to wake up a little early. The bottom line is that I never saw him more pumped up than he was that morning.

When we got back to his apartment, he looked at the gravity set-up and told me he wanted to get up there. I was like, "Let’s not get crazy." I didn't know that the ceiling could hold his weight. I didn't want to see my client kill himself.

Hamid Castro, fitness coach
Drew Swantak/Thrillist

It wasn't always so smooth for James and I. I was frequently in and out of his office, preparing food for him and such. So the receptionists knew me. One day I walked in and strolled past the conference room. I saw him sitting in a meeting with the CEO and a bunch of other executives. In front of him was this giant caramel-topped coffee drink from Dunkin' Donuts or somewhere. I looked at that motherfucking thing and it flashed in my head that he was drinking 1,000 calories. I thought he had lost his mind.

So I walked into the conference room, took the drink from in front of him, and calmly threw it into the trash. His face was pure white and somebody at the table asked if I needed anything.

"No," I said and I walked out the door.

After work he went crazy. He told me I couldn't do that kind of stuff. I told him I could do whatever I wanted. Then I brought one of those drinks to the gym and every time he burned 100 calories, I poured a little bit out. He exercised until the drink was completely drained. We went for like two hours and 10 minutes. I wanted him to think about whether or not it was worth it.

James lost the weight, getting down to 185, and he gained confidence. He goes up to girls all the time now. It's no big deal for him. He's fearless and he’s gotten more women than he knows what to do with. He learned that it's about making them laugh rather than making them want to sleep with you. You should see some of the chicks he gets.


But it's not always about getting a new girl. Sometimes it's about getting the old one back. When a rich real-estate investor came to me because his girl had dumped him, I showed him pictures of her new boyfriend as he did his cardio. This guy is worth over $100 million and hated me for it. Nobody rubs shit into his open wounds. But he ran harder and got into shape. I made him give me a key to his apartment and yanked him out of bed when he tried to sleep in. He didn't get his girl back. But he gets other girls.

I kept my hand on him. I squeezed so hard I could feel his throat. I held him down and said, "If I ever hear about you laying a hand on my friend again, you're a dead man."

For another guy, I brought a big bag of Burger King to the workout and made him smell that salty meat odor as he exercised. I wanted him to think about the kind of crap that he was working off of his body. I soaked it with water before throwing it away; I was afraid that he would eat it out of the garbage afterward. I've made guys eat broiled fish while I ate juicy cheeseburgers right across the table from them. It seemed like torture, but it was to teach them to eat healthy when nobody else around them is. These guys are used to doing whatever the hell they feel like, and they need to change if they want any shot at losing weight and looking good.


Believe it or not, through these intense experiences I become friends with my clients. They like me and put up with all this because I know how to keep them motivated, and they know that I'll do anything for them. Once I was in the Barclays Center with a client that I've begun calling Slippy. He took me to a Nets game and we had floor seats. When we were leaving the arena, these two guys came up to my client and started pushing him around.

That's when my instincts kicked in. I grabbed the bigger guy by the neck, put a foot behind him, and gave him the Castro trip. He fell back and I kept my hand on him. I squeezed so hard I could feel his throat. I held him down and said, "If I ever hear about you laying a hand on my friend again, you're a dead man."

He got up slowly and said, "Your friend owes me $100,000."

Slippy, it turned out, had a gambling problem. I told him, "You better figure out a way to pay those guys back. And if you ever again put me in a position like that, I will fucking kill you."

Yes, I can be a hard-ass. And I can be a prick. But, as Slippy can tell you, I am devoted to my clients. And it's a 24/7 thing. One time my phone rang while I was having sex -- literally, right in the middle of the act. A guy of mine was out with a woman. She had one drink and told him, "Let's get out of here." He called me, wanting to know what to do. I told him that she wanted him to take her home and he better do it. The girl I was with heard that and hated it. There was nothing hot about this phone call and it pretty much killed the sex that night. But it was OK. I had to help out my guy.

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