"My name is Daniel Lugo and I believe in fitness" is what Daniel Lugo (portrayed by Mark Walhberg) says as the film opens to his capture, moments before we're flashed back to a few months prior. Pain & Gain is about Lugo's obsession and desire for his perception of the 'American dream'.
We see that Lugo is a schemer, who served time for conning people via Medicare fraud, after release he begins working for John Mese, owner of the Sun Gym. Lugo boasts he can increase the gym's membership by triple the amount within six weeks and leads us off on a speech about desiring more and achieving more. We see Lugo's lust for a high earning lifestyle when he begins to train Victor Kershaw (portrayed by Tony Shalhoub).
Lugo's eye is caught by a motivational speaker called Johnny Wu (portrayed by Ken Jeong) and is persuaded to become a 'doer'. This one self-help seminar sends Lugo on the path of future criminal acts when he devises a plan to kidnap and extort Kershaw, believing he is a crook and undeserving.