Archive for personal thoughts
Almost exactly a year ago today I met a man who would become very influential in the man I am now. At the time my marriage was hanging on by a thread and was basically over and I went to the strongman dinner even though at the time my heart wasn’t really into it because of everything that was going on in my personal life. The Iron Tamer Dave Whitley even noticed that there was something off about me though he commented on it after I essentially updated him on what was going on after the fact. I’m about to share a story that I always enjoy telling people and that is how I got involved in the strongman world going from fan to student/practitioner/performer and that involves my teacher, NJ’s Superman Greg Matonick. It’s a story about never knowing where life would lead you and also that when the student is ready the master will appear.
I had gone to the AOBS Strongman dinner as a fan of this stuff and wishing to be the one on stage. It’s a nearly forgotten form of entertainment that is starting to get a resurgance. I remember vividly sitting there as I am contemplating where my life was and what the next thing for me was and I see an older man turn to me and say “So is kettlebell training the only thing you are into or are you into bending steel?” I turn to him and say “Kettlebell training is the main thing I use for my strength and I tried to learn how to do the feats, I even have dvds but it’s still something I find myself unable to do. I don’t know where to begin except from there.”
“I can teach you. I taught him.” As he points to Chris Wonder Schoeck…a strongman approximately my size who bent some really thick steel bars earlier in the evening. Chris confirmed it and is also the star of the upcoming documentary Bending Steel.
“That sounds great but I can’t really afford to pay you anything.” I said. Trying to run a business and starting over from scratch is not easy and was something that had come up in marriage counseling.
“I won’t charge you anything.” This was a big thing and an example of the kind of guy he is. I don’t know exactly what he saw in me or what not but he saw something and wanted to teach me. Whenever I tried to pay him he refused it claiming that he enjoys teaching and shouldn’t be paid for it. I disagreed because he had something that was valuable and had bills he had to pay as well.
That was last fall that that conversation took place. I told him that I wouldn’t be able to train with him for awhile because I had to get my demons out of my head during my separation and that sort of thing. January 9th this past year would be my first official strongman introduction and would represent a new chapter in my life. The first thing we did was bent a steel bar into a fish shape…something that gave me the power to start my rebar to ribbons project. He also covered rolling up a frying pan…something that blew my mind the first time I saw it and with his instruction I was able to do it myself. I don’t remember how long it took for me to progress but it was his urging that got me to bend a steel bar with my nose…something that helped me generate over $1000 for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Here is a picture he took of me the first time I bent a steel bar with my nose in his gym, something I never would have been able to do if he hadn’t been there for me.
For a very significant portion of this year that would become my Sunday afternoon. Go down to South Jersey and learn from the strongman. He would explain a feat to me, talk about the mindset and being an all around strongman (something that means basically being a good person all over) and I would do it while he watched with a bit of pride. He never even really asked for recognition that he was my teacher until one day he had said “When it’s time to promote yourself contact the newspapers and tell them you just graduated the so and so academy for olde-time performing strongmen” and I had said “Why don’t I just tell them that I’m your student?” His humbleness had almost forbidden him from saying “I am the teacher of strongmen” but his track record proved otherwise. I was going to help him put together a school for up and coming performing strongmen, just like I was and still am. He had too much knowledge in him, too much talent at teaching, and too much of a desire to teach it to go on quietly like he had been doing.
Here he is in the news with another student Sonny Barry who is also his best friend.
I don’t know if Greg really knew how much of an influence he had on me or if I even knew but it was pretty apparent to all those around me. During my separation I had taken all the pictures that were up in my house and threw them in the Ex’s car and for months all that remained were empty hooks that had represented the emptiness of a past life I wished to forget. After awhile those empty hooks that once held pictures that I had no desire to look at started holding onto some of the steel that I bent which represented other things, things I wouldn’t have been able to do if he wasn’t there to guide me with his generosity and knowledge. This chapter, the chapter of the strongman I am not ready to close and I will not. It’s not what Greg would have wanted anyways. I am willing to teach which to honor him I will not profit on. I’ll talk about this more in a different post because I don’t want his teachings to die with him. I believe I was his last student which I am thankful for the time I had with him.
Greg was self taught in the feats and I’ll never be able to duplicate his system but maybe I’m not supposed to. I guess the next evolution is to teach the rest to myself based on the things he has taught me thus far. A big take away I got from him was that I can do it as long as I believe I can.
Rest in peace Greg. Living by a giving mentality as well as being as dedicating all your feats to the man upstairs I am sure you are up in heaven. When I start doing more shows I always want you to have the best seat in the house because no matter what I may say at the start of every show or who I dedicate my feats to will always be a tribute to you because without you I wouldn’t have been able to do it in the first place. You taught me that strength was limitless as was your generosity. Thank you Greg, I’m going to miss you.
Sincerely, forever your strongman student
You’ve probably noticed I haven’t been so talkative online on my facebook or on my blog. The reason for this is because a little less then 2 weeks ago on Easter Sunday I lost something very close to me. My cat Cookie.
Cookie was a wonderful cat that I raised from a kitten. When we first picked him up from that God forsaken place that was raising him he was filthy. First thing we did when we got home was give him a nice warm shower in the kitchen sink because the place he came from must have had him in his own filth. As he was growing up he liked to drink from the faucet and we think it was because he equated water going over his head with a loving home.
As he was growing up he would always get into some sort of shenanigans whether it was getting stuck behind my mom’s organ pedal, getting trapped in the linen closet or finding his way into a hole that was above the fridge where he could walk out over pretty much the entire first floor of my parents’ house. Some of his favorite games that he would play with us were stalking us as we came up the stairs, hiding in the end of a couch castle that I would make for him and when you stuck your face in there to look at him he would charge at you (which would guarantee to give you startle.), and of course chasing string, lasers, rolls of tape that came whizzing by and that sort of thing.
He used to find strategic places of sleeping so you couldn’t help but pet him or cuddle up with him as we would walk by. Whenever he was asleep and you pet him he would curl up even tighter to show you how much he enjoyed being pet. He would also experiment with different poses to see which one was cutest (my favorite was when he would cover his eyes with his paws) to tempt you into petting him.
We would always leave our door open so that he could come and go as he pleases and if you were the lucky one he chose to cuddle with that night you could always tell when he fell asleep because he would stop purring and start snoring.
No matter how comfy and enjoyable I made his life I am still very sad that he has passed. Even now as I write this 2 weeks later I am wellling up with tears and I miss him very very much. Rest in peace Cookie. I love you and miss you a lot. You were such a good cat.
If you have a beloved pet…scratch them behind the ear for me. It is something I will never be able to do to Cookie again which makes me incredibly sad.
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….
I say this with a sad heart. Jack Lalanne died in his home due to pneumonia. In every type of industry there are the trail blazers and stand outs. In fitness Jack was untouchable. From the time he was first on the scene he had a television show where he would give out life lessons on how to stay in shape. He gave advice on how to be a champion and when it came to changing people’s health for the better he was undisputed.
The godfather of fitness kept up doing incredible things and leading by example. Here are a couple of his feats of strength and fitness that he had done to inspire people (from wikipedia.com).
* 1954 (age 40): swam the entire length of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, underwater, with 140 pounds (64 kg; 10 st) of equipment, including two air tanks. A world record.
* 1955 (age 41): swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco while handcuffed. When interviewed afterwards he was quoted as saying that the worst thing about the ordeal was being handcuffed, which reduced his chance to Star Jump significantly.
* 1956 (age 42): set a world record of 1,033 push-ups in 23 minutes on You Asked For It, a television program with Art Baker.
* 1957 (age 43): swam the Golden Gate channel while towing a 2,500-pound (1,100 kg; 180 st) cabin cruiser. The swift ocean currents turned this one-mile (1.6 km) swim into a swimming distance of 6.5 miles (10.5 km).
* 1958 (age 44): maneuvered a paddleboard nonstop from Farallon Islands to the San Francisco shore. The 30-mile (48 km) trip took 9.5 hours.
* 1959 (age 45): did 1,000 star jumps and 1,000 chin-ups in 1 hour, 22 minutes and The Jack LaLanne Show went nationwide.
* 1974 (age 60): For the second time, he swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf. Again, he was handcuffed, but this time he was also shackled and towed a 1,000-pound (450 kg; 71 st) boat.
* 1975 (age 61): Repeating his performance of 21 years earlier, he again swam the entire length of the Golden Gate Bridge, underwater and handcuffed, but this time he was shackled and towed a 1,000-pound (450 kg; 71 st) boat.
* 1976 (age 62): To commemorate the “Spirit of ’76″, United States Bicentennial, he swam one mile (1.6 km) in Long Beach Harbor. He was handcuffed and shackled, and he towed 13 boats (representing the 13 original colonies) containing 76 people.
* 1979 (age 65): towed 65 boats in Lake Ashinoko, near Tokyo, Japan. He was handcuffed and shackled, and the boats were filled with 6,500 pounds (2,900 kg; 460 st) of Louisiana Pacific wood pulp.
* 1980 (age 66): towed 10 boats in North Miami, Florida. The boats carried 77 people, and he towed them for over one mile (1.6 km) in less than one hour.
* 1994 (age 80): Once again handcuffed and shackled, he fought strong winds and currents as he swam 1.5 miles (2.4 km) while towing 80 boats with 80 people from the Queensway Bay Bridge in the Long Beach Harbor to the Queen Mary.
Seriously though how incredible is all that?
Ahead of his time I find myself still quoting some of his facts of how he lived in my facebook status updates and even just in casual conversation. His advice wasn’t dated and still stands on it’s own to this day.
Jack was the prime example of what healthy living was all about. He held a passion for healthy eating and exercise that continued right into his old age. Looking at some recent footage of him I thought he might live forever because he was still able to do chin-ups at an age past where most people are in assisted living. He was honestly incredible and his contributions to fitness will in a sense make him live forever.
Eric J. Moss (fan of fitness and of Jack’s work)
So I just got back from my honeymoon in St. Lucia. It was a bit of a long travel time (12 hours) to get there and it rained a lot but I have to say I enjoyed myself very much.
My wife (I am still getting used to that term) and I arrived last Tuesday evening. We ate a couple dishes in our resort (St. Lucian Grande) and went for a short walk around the resort to see what there is to offer. The next day we checked out the beach, took advantage of the free food and booze and had a great time hanging out with some of the people we had just met. We must have spent at least and hour and a half at the swim up bar and brought the drinks to the Jacuzzi. We pretty much did the same sort of thing the next day…just lounging about which felt awesome to do in the Caribbean after running around like a chicken without a head preparing for the wedding (I did some but my wife did a lot more then I did).
Here is a video montage of some of the stuff we saw intermixed with some pictures. (not that kind of video you sicko)
In the evenings the only place that was open late was the Old London Pub within the resort where we ate more then we should and drank even more then we should. I basically spent my entire trip in a drunken haze and somehow hangover free. The day would normally start at around 11 am and we would hang out on the beach or at the swim up bar and just do what you do there. The beaches were spectacular and I really enjoyed the food. We took a speed boat tour and saw some water boiling up from the ground. There was sulfur in the air so it stunk like the valley of the farts but it was pretty neat to see.
So you might be wondering what the point of me telling you all this is. Well I will get to that in a second. There was a fully capable gym (from what I understand) but I never even checked it out. The most I did was a couple of the bridging body weight exercises from the book Convict Conditioning. My point is that there is more to a fit lifestyle then suffering under a weight and eating clean all the time. Fitness and strength are supposed to improve your quality of life and if you are too hung up on trying to eat organic food, or kefir or any other health food, and fretting over skipping workouts then how are you supposed to enjoy life? I don’t fear beer. I drink it. Every now and then you just want to be able to kick back and relax and live like a rock star.
And speaking of living like a rock star, check this video out of me singing Rebel Yell by Billy Idol on Karaoke night.
I also did You could be mine by Guns N Roses but that wasn’t filmed.
Now that I am back home I can get on a semi regular training schedule and get myself back to reasonable physique measurements. Do you think I am going to be fearing stuffing on Thanksgiving? No. I live my life enjoyably. Whatever I lose I can gain back. Whatever I gain I can lose and it’s because I know how. I know exactly what has to be done to get back into shape whether I need to lose body fat or gain muscle. It really isn’t that difficult to do, so there isn’t a need to lose sleep over it.
Oh and I gained a little less then 10lbs while away but as they say in St. Lucia “No pressure. No problem”
Eric Moss over and out
This is it. Game Over. You see this past weekend I made a pretty big decision. A life altering one to be honest with you. Well rather then try and explain everything let me just say that a picture is worth a thousand words.
Yes that is right Eric J. Moss has tied the knot. Yesterday 11/14 I married the girl of my dreams. She has been with me for 8 years, somehow managed to put up with my shenanigans and has now become my wife.
The ceremony took place in a church that I grew up as a part of. You may not know this about me but I am half Filipino and we incorporated 3 Filipino customs into the ceremony.
From there we got into the limo and started cranking out some rockin tunes (that’s how I do things) and went off to the reception where we had pictures taken. Let’s just say they are very me.
(one picture actually has a picture of the the 48kg kettlebell also known as “the beast” chained to my leg as a metaphorical ball and chain). That will be uploaded as soon as the photographer sends it to me.
When it was time to enter the reception for the first time as husband and wife our parents came out to the song Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne, the wedding party came out to Welcome to the Jungle by Guns N Roses and we came out to Iron Man by Black Sabbath (I bet you can tell who gave the DJ the song selection). Oh and add those to your playlist the next time you train if you want to get yourself amped up. My wife’s maid and matron of honor both fought tears and failed. My best man cracked people up.
A lot of people had told me it was one of if not the best weddings they had ever been to. Heck if you are going to do something do it right.
Well by the time you probably read this I’ll already be gone, heading off to St. Lucia for our honeymoon.
Now is the time when I am glad I put in all the training so that I can feel pretty good about the way I look. Heck last week I checked my measurements and I was within 97% of being proportioned like a Greek Statue. Well with the amount of eating and drinking I did I doubt it’s still that way but gimme a break, I had a wedding to get to and hey, close enough. And since I trained for performance rather then just to look good I have that useful kind of strength and conditioning that will really come in handy for
…carrying suitcases ;P
Well it is time for me to sit back and relax and enjoy our days on the beach as a newlywed. A drink in one hand, a titanium wedding band on the other and just let it all have been worth it.
(Limo and reception pics by my friend and groomsmen Mike Dlugosz which I hijacked from facebook)
Eric J. Moss game over and out