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
Here’s a funny video I took of my cat Batman. I saw him playing with my trusty 24kg kettlebell and had to get a video of it.
Anyways don’t forget to download my 7 Strength Myths Busted Ebook by putting your email address in on the right side.
So a couple years back I had gotten ripped and wrote a program lovingly called 12 weeks of torture that explored several different avenues of the different training styles that I was into back then. Recently I had taken it down and had it redirected here which there is a good chance that’s how you ended up here. Here is why.
I didn’t think anyone was still doing it and it was costing me money to keep it up.
I’ve grown as a trainer since then and no longer thought it was a good program and thought you deserved better.
So I had a dilemma, leave up a website that might be getting traffic to what I believed to be a sub par program but was still getting traffic…or pull a fast one that I think will help you out better and I went with the latter.
The problem with 12 weeks of torture is actually partially in the title…I made a program that was hard…ish but didn’t really have that much rhyme to a reason. It was diet and exercise and that’s why it worked but truth is you could do the same if not better with other programs that would also be user friendly. Actually what I had originally envisioned back then was to have text and videos and other cool stuff but it was my first non free website and I didn’t really know what I was doing internet wise. I actually still don’t but now I can have people help me out with it.
So I’ve been getting email about getting a new program up that you can follow. Truth be told I don’t need to put up another one because there are still program that I did that had more intelligence already up on my youtube channel but chances are you missed it. Until I come up with something new…I’d rather you followed this program instead since it is a better program.
There are better things then that too. As you already know I am a huge fan of Kettlebell Burn by master RKC Geoff Neupert. Also coming from the standpoint of a newly single guy I have to say there is something to the whole Adonis Effect thing and it’s been fun field testing whether or not the Adonis Effect is a real thing or just a marketable thing. It’s real baby Now personally I don’t follow their program since I tend to be more performance based with the steel bending and all but I can’t argue with their results.
So in the mean time sign up for my newsletter that includes a new the 7 strength myths busted ebook that I wrote and if you still want me to write up a program I will…but I need to know which goals are most important to my followers so I can create a program around it. Please respond in the comments below so we can get a dialog going and I can figure out which goals are important to you.
So a question was asked of me about mindset training and how it would relate to overhead pressing to get that one last rep in when you otherwise would have failed. Well when it comes to most of my training I like to cut the set short. Basically getting quality practice of an exercise down and avoiding failure because when you train to failure you train your muscles to fail and I want them to succeed. So I guess the direct answer for that would be…I don’t. However…
That doesn’t go with all exercises. An exercise like the swing for example tests your mental capacity because it doesn’t really follow the same rules as an overhead press and similar exercises. One of the things that is believed to cause muscle failure is lactic acid in the blood short circuits what causes muscle contractions or some complicated mumbo jumbo like that. With the kettlebell swing the rhythm of it supposedly flushes that out (with the exception of the gripping muscles because that is a static contraction but there are ways to get around that). So with the swing and it’s unique rhythm of tension and relaxation it changes what your rate limiting factor is (the weak link in the chain). It could be your grip, which one thing that could be done is to shake your hands out the way rock climbers do. It feels like your lungs will give out but it’s mostly in your head… which brings me to my next point.
As you probably know I have been training for a side gig as an oldetime performing strongman. Not the same type of thing where you see the big polish guy on tv lifting up cement balls in a contest but more like the Mighty Atom back in the day, Slim “the hammer man” after him and Dennis Rogers. The slogan that my teacher Greg Matonick also known as NJ’s Superman uses is “What’s impossible to you is normal to us.”
Now I often times get the question “What is the secret?” Well I guess if there is a secret other then being strong, knowing leverage and body mechanics and that sort of thing it is what has been called “hysterical strength”. Not that much is known about hysterical strength because it can’t be clinically replicated (putting someone in a life or death situation in order to get that part of your brain to kick in…just wouldn’t be ethical).
Hysterical strength is what happens when you hear about when a mother who never trained in their life picks up a car off of their children or someone fights off a wild cat and that sort of thing. Now the Atom believed that it could be accessed without being put in that situation and I’m inclined to think he is right. He was a 140 lb. man that could do things that are impossible and his students have done things that are impossible.
How to access this dormant super power? That’s a tricky question that I am still trying to uncover. I’ve sort of accessed it a couple times with some of the particularly thick steel bars, the horseshoes and the steel bars on the bridge of my nose. I’d say it’s a multi part process. It starts with belief, if you believe you can then you can. Next up is to push through and don’t let anything stop you no matter what.
There are little voices that are subconscious that tell you that you can’t do something. If you are observant you might notice it. It’ll say things like “it’s too heavy” or “No that’s impossible”. These are self protecting mechanisms that prevent us from over stepping ourselves unless absolutely necessary but it’s learning how to control those voices that are the difference between Clark Kent and Superman. The few times that I’ve accessed that part of my mind…it’s quiet, simple and focused…like there is only one task.
Here’s what is going on in my head when I am bending a steel bar with my nose. I can feel the pressure of the bar on my nose but it doesn’t hurt but is uncomfortable, I can feel it give way to my power, I can feel myself lose leverage and I readjust my grip. What I don’t hear are the things people are saying around me. It’s almost like there is nobody else there. To prep myself for it I put the bar on my nose and feel my adrenaline kicking in and I think to myself “I am going to pull down with everything I got and I don’t care how much it hurts.” Believing you can and doing it no matter what. Seems to be a good way to look at success with anything doesn’t it?
Ok as you know I used to update my blog pretty regularly with blog posts that were simultaneously meant to educate and entertain you while simultaneously giving you an idea of my personality, making you trust me by being honest whether or not it was popular opinion (especially if it isn’t popular opinion lol) and then all of a sudden my blog posts and youtube videos stopped coming out. The few that did were seemingly uninspired and I figured I’d let you know what’s going on because some of you have expressed concern for me which even though I may never have met you, it means a lot.
Well truth be told back in the period between September through now I had separated from my wife which was an extremely dark time for me. If you have been on my newsletter (hint you should sign up for my newsletter) then you might have noticed a I had recommended doing an incantation to yourself to get you through a dark time where you look at yourself in the mirror everyday and say “You are too strong and awesome to be defeated” and you repeat that until you are better. I won’t go into the details behind the split because I don’t think it would be fair to her family and they have always been good to me. Suffice it to say it was necessary.
I’m now divorced and loving it. When I used to live for her, now I sum up my marriage in 6 words “Whew that was a close one”. If there was one thing my ex wife was right about it is that I was literally built to be a bachelor. I have been officially back on the market since January 1st this year and dating isn’t exactly rough…when you are a strong, confident, ambitious, goal oriented guy that is proportioned like a Greek statue (fact!) and has a good heart and sense of humor. One thing I can tell you is that a while back I was curious about whether or not there was anything to the Adonis Effect. Oh it is real and it is spectacular albeit you need to have the personality in place in order to get them to realize there is more to you then looking good without a shirt. I’ve also been studying some of the stuff put out by Mystery and Style because I believe that if you are going to do something you should do it right and you can do it right by studying the people that have done it before you and then absorbing what is useful and discarding that which is not.
So suffice it to say, “I’m back baby!”
and I’m back with a vengeance.
So now this blog is going to take a couple new directions rather then simply being about kettlebell training and general things with life. I’ll give advice on dating, body weight, strongman feats and a couple other things. Don’t think of me as a guru. Think of me as the Asian kid in class that you use to get the answers from rather then the teacher. I’ll be writing about my life, not in detail because some things are better left unsaid. I’ll just say that having the Adonis Effect is a cool thing
Anyways this blog post is to just tell you that I’m back.