Iron 101: The Turkish GetUp 2.0 “Pound Sand”

Posted in Articles on March 22, 2017 by oldcountrystrong

I’ve written an article on this particular subject before. But as I always say as a coach, you should always be growing. And in my own personal training I have found a way to take my Turkish Get Up training another step further, and I’ve had a lot of success with it.

So first things first, if you’re unfamiliar with what’s going on here in this picture, the athlete is performing a Turkish Getup. It’s one of the best things you can do for yourself, when Done PROPERLY.

The Turkish getup, much like any lift, can be done with poor form, it can be done with a lot of weight with poor form, and in doing so (just like any other slow lift) you can put yourself at risk for injury.

The key comparison here between the Getup and other slow lifts is the term SLOW. It shouldn’t be something that is rushed or butchered for time.

Let’s get back on track here for a second. I was first officially taught a proper Getup by my mentor, Jeff Martone. While Coach was starting his intro to the Getup he dropped some awesome knowledge that would put a goal in my sights at the time.

“Back in the Old time StrongMan days, one of the standards to be able to train to was being able to perform a 100 pound getup on your right and left arm.”

I instantly told myself I needed to be able to do that.

I was a broke trainer at the time so I only had light bells and other stuff you find in a traditional gym. But with proper attention to the movement over time, I was able to work my way through curl bars, sandbags and finally able to lift my manager over my head up and back to the floor with both arms She was 125#, and I’ve hit heavier human getups since then.

What I’m getting at is that this movement, if done correctly, not only builds strong and stable shoulders but an immensely strong trunk. All of which have huge benefits in your Training.

But this movement should be approached with lots of respect and proper technique and not hammered into workouts where positioning can become compromised by a clock.

Now this is where we get into the 2.0 of this whole thing. Building strong, stable shoulders with the TGU is important for durability, strength, symmetry, you name it. I recommend folks hitting two sessions a week of 8-10 Heavier Kettlebell TGUs to establish all those things.

Now let’s talk about the broke trainer that I was. Or Maybe an athlete having to work light TGUs for stability only. How can they go Heavy? Well that’s where a new favorite of mine gets center stage: The SandBag Turkish Getup. NO, this is not done with an extended arm overhead. This is performed by placing a sandbag on your shoulder and recovering from a sub optimal position on the ground and moving to standing without some of the limitations that may occur with a traditional getup. And you can instantly start working with a heavier load compared to the traditional KB TGU. It’s not odd for me to teach this to someone new using an 80# bag for the guys and a 50# for the ladies.

It’s simple, effective and easy to bail out of because it’s a bag of sand. Now this doesn’t mean form goes out the window, but it does allow you to work with heavier loads at a slightly faster tempo.

And here is the prescription I try to get in personally, and we see posted to our Training Log. If you want to pack your trunk with Iron, to reinforce everything from a strong back, and give yourself the ability to work with heavier loads in your lifts, it’s simple. Do 10 minutes of alternating Sandbag Turkish Get Up once or twice a week and see the benefits across the board.

Beside the strength gains across multiple plains, the continuous movement gains builds an awesome base of stamina that really shows when reapplied to your higher output intensity based workouts.

So take a couple times a week to work 8-10 Heavier TGUs into your program, and then also make the the time for a couple sets of 10 minute Sandbag TGUs. You won’t regret making these movements a priority in your training.

You can find a video of a sandbag TGU on my Instagram account today showing the simplicity in this version of an awesome old time lift.

Posted by: Z

Heavy Hitters Apply Here: “The Old Times are Back…”

Posted in Articles on February 17, 2017 by oldcountrystrong

Well this Blog is called Old Country Strong “Life and Lifting”

And since I started writing again a lot of it’s been about life. Well, a large part about my life is lifting. My own personal training helps level me out, but so does training other people and I love to write programming. It’s probably one of the things I’m better known for. So much so that I now have a collective of coaches that are part of a charter program that represents the I/C and how we do things.

Awhile back, I started writing the I/C Training Log with a large focus on group training. It’s worked great. Those gyms and Charters do the I/C proud. In the meantime, I took a lot of the old-school, real gritty, hard nosed training I use to write and privaitized it and would send it to my coaches and athletes abroad in private emails.

I did that because a lot of times I had no idea who was doing what I posted. And sometimes I worried folks were mssing the point of the training or just didn’t know how to do some of the stuff that was posted.

Well the first I/C training post went up on September 4th, 2010. I had been wrting program and running a gym for a bit of time before then, but this was the first time I really let the cat out of the bag on how I did things behind the curtain. Well since 2010 things have changed and accessing information via the interwebs has become a lot easier.

So I’ve decided to make the private training public again. This is the nitty gritty kettlbell, barbell and lung burning workouts that were the base we built everything on.

Since the beginning of it all, program models have changed. The program is always growing and so am I. Since that time, I’ve also become the lead programmer for CrossFit KettleBell, written the programming model for that course and run the training you see on that blog daily. Styles have been updated and the mass building, hurtin bomb program of old times is coming back with fresh updates.

This program kicks off Monday and shouldnt be used by anyone competing in the coming CrossFit Open. Why? Well cause it’s not designed with that in mind. It’s designed with the old goal of the Club in mind. to be the hardest man or woman in the room. Be it in strength sports, on the mat or field, the competitive fitness floor or just life in general. It’s to build raw strength and legs and lungs that can take the demand an individual can inflict on their bodies.

I’ll post weekly videos on my Instagram demoing kettlbell and dumbell complexes to compliment your training. You can find that on the IronClubAthletics account. And you can follow it on our Training Log, http://www.ironclubtraininglog.com.

So if you’re ready to Slang Iron and build some hurtin bombs check the Training come Monday. Use stuff you find on there or follow along for one hell of a ride. Be sure to check the FAQs for info on the program and read the About section which will have nods to those that have helped inspire parts of this program. No coach should go without growth by those that have come before them. But you’ll also see a huge dose of the foundation the Clubs been built on. We kick off Monday, grab your bells, weights, sandbags and any heavy objects you can get your hands on and get ready to bang.

Posted by: Z

So I have a “illness,” thanks for the update…

Posted in Articles on February 7, 2017 by oldcountrystrong

“Once you’ve accepted your flaws, no one can use them against you…” George R.R. Martin

So I actually wrote this article last Wednesday. I’d been meaning to write it for a while, and I had already mentioned some of the contents in other articles I had written. But after getting it finished I kinda backed off on posting it.

The whole thing was pretty in-depth and was really me trying to help others to understand what a lot of folks are dealing with. But then Friday I just had a FUCKED day. My rig broke down on the way into work. Then work that day was a complete mess. I’m also gearing up to go teach a course in China and have a nagging injury that makes a 19 hour flight before teaching a two day seminar just sound amazing. But then I had a Fuck It moment, and decided to rewrite this whole damn thing and just kick it off the way I start our LiveForward support groups.

So here it is: My name is Zach and I have Borderline Personality Disorder.

It’s something I’ve dealt with for more then half my life and to tell you the truth it really blows most of the time. But one of the big problems with it was that I was too stubborn to accept there may be something “wrong” with me for a long time. I saw a counsellor for it once when I was in high school, and end up getting misdiagnosed with ADD. I got some pills, the pills didn’t do shit, so I just scrapped that route of action.

I actually decided to scrap any action in dealing with things. And what I did instead was muscle my way through life. Let me tell you something, that wasn’t the way I should have approached this. But, hey in my mind it was cause I could hanlde anything.

I just told myself there was no way anything was “wrong” with me. I was just an asshole sometimes with a short temper that had a real issue managing his emotions in a lot of situations. That lead to more internalized pain and anger than I’d like to admit right now. I just kept pushing forward. And when things got real dark in life, I just kept my head down and kept pushing. It fucked up relationships, made me real difficult to be around sometimes and put my family through a lot of things I wish I hadn’t made them go through.

You see most folks with BPD are usually diagnosed within 4-5 years of its onset. I made it 16+ years before the floor fell out with out a bottom in sight. I had taken multiple trips to what I call the elephant graveyard and had found rock bottom before. But this last time even rock bottom couldn’t stop the spiral.

I sadly lost another Uncle to suicide this Summer. And I thought I was gonna be able to deal with it and be the rock for my family. It may sound odd to feel flawed and be a support system for anyone, but that’s a large part of who I am. Then one night it all caught up with me and that’s when the floor dropped out. I couldn’t get a grip and I pretty much gave into everything like I had in the past, but this time was different and the fall didn’t stop, I think part of it was I didn’t want it to.

When I finally realized what was happening and there was no bouncing back, I had to get help, like real help. I went back to a counsellor, which let’s be real is a term for a therapist. And the search wasn’t easy. I stormed out of offices and really hated the whole experience. But then I found a couple of Docs who I ended up trusting (which is really hard for me). So got real help, I got on meds even though I didn’t like the idea, I did it, and I began the process of figuring out what was wrong.

It didn’t take too long to figure out I had BPD. To make this short, it’s kinda like being Bi-polar, but instead of hills and valleys of emotions I have a Richter scale that bounces like an earthquake is going on. But the thing is that earthquake is always happening. I’ve started reading more and connected with some of the things I read. The simplest one was it’s like living without skin, so bumping into things that set me off, set me the fuck off.

But there’s also good things about it and those things I don’t want to change. I’m empathetic and really attached to other folks’ distress and emotional issues. I’m a business owner, a coach, a mentor and have always been a point of support for people. And I wouldn’t change that for anything.

I just missed some key developmental points in my life and I’m relearning how to deal with them. And that’s just part of the process and I know its a long one and I hate it but I’m going to see it through.

Part of that was becoming open with all this, and standing by my belief that life doesn’t end at diagnosis. It just doesn’t, it’s just a word and some people may view this as an “illness” and that’s their own right. I simply see it as a part of who I am, but not who I am.

After losing my second Uncle this summer, part of finding my feet again was creating LiveForward. It’s a support group that’s open to anyone. Mental health isn’t the only topic we tackle; addiction, suicide, those that have lost loved ones or who are the support system for others are all open for discussion.

The other week I announced that I joined Team Uncommon which is part of my friend Ryan Sutton’s brand, The Uncommon Breed. I’ve know Ryan for a long time and when he explained his mission statement and vision for his Team, I signed on right away.

Part of the deal though, was that I wanted to be viewed as an Athlete/Advocate. I’ve been an athlete my whole life and physical culture and training has pulled me through a lot of those dark times. And at this stage of my life, I have decided to get off the sidelines and not only tackle my own mental health issues but be an Advocate for those that aren’t ready themselves for help or who need it and haven’t found anywhere to turn.

In LiveForward we say, Close the Loop. My Loop is far from closed, its damn near cut in half honestly. And thats why I decided to simplify this article.

It’s ok today feel different, there are a lot of us out there. I wrestled with it for a long time but now I am Unashamed. I’m proud to have the people in my circle that have put as much into LiveForward as I have, and I’m also proud to be part of a Team that represent tackling these issues with me in The Uncommon Breed.

Don’t be afraid to find help. The first step is the hardest and mine wasn’t publicly admitting this, it was the private acceptance that I just couldn’t do it on my own anymore.

Get out there and live life. It’s a gift and if you need help there is support, you just gotta take the steps to find it. If I can take this on anyone can, and you don’t have to do it alone

#LiveForward

Posted by: Z

Like Tony Stark said, “Sometimes you gotta run before you can walk…”

Posted in Articles on December 22, 2016 by oldcountrystrong

As of late everything has seemed to be a whirlwind of work and change in my life. The last article I wrote was about the very special trip I took to Germany which involved visiting the town where my Grandfather had been shot down during the World War. But to say that moment alone made my trip to Germany meaningful would be a false statement.

Since my return from Germany life has been a roller coaster. My first weekend back I was the Best Man in one of my Best Friends weddings, then its off to teach a course. Then I have another event and then another and then before I know it I’m teaching another weekend course for the third weekend in a row. These aren’t really bad things but they do take away from something I promised I’d get back to, writing.

And not just writing but writing about things I found important, and this article is one that is overdue. When I boarded the plane to head to Germany back in November it was coming off 7 or 8 months of pretty heavy work and life obligations. This including taking the time to get myself in line and create LiveForward. So when I took off for Germany I was just happy to get some time out of the States and see some old friends and do what I do best, teach.

But what I found in my time in Germany was much more then just time with old friends and teaching. And honestly what I found there brought me back to what it means to be a part of what we call the Club.

When I first went to Germany years back, we had no Iron Club Charters there. I just had athletes and friends I worked with. But after spending time with my friend Rob Powell and getting to know his gym and community, I knew Ansbach was a pretty special place. So when I left Germany, I left with an I/C stamp of approval on Rob’s gym and our first overseas Charter.

Since that time, others I view as close friends have earned the title of Charter. We have a Iron Club in Miami led by my buddy Eddie Ramirez and another Charter run by Jerome Boitelle in Cassel, Germany as well.

It’s not an easy road to become a Charter and it can take years.

But the hard work it takes to become a Charter is a source of pride to everyone who has earned it. What I didn’t realize though was just how much pride every Club I visited out there had in it as well.

Every gym associated with the Club has its own community and culture. But one thing tied us all together and that was the I/C. Folks rocked Club colors every class I visited, and were excited to let me know just how much it all meant to them. It was a very humbling experience to see people have pride in something that may seem so simple to other people. And that experience reminded me that not everyone wants to be part of the mainstream and we’re proud to be part of something that connects us in our diversity.

While I was there I also made a trip to Weiden to visit a coach I had spent a fair amount of time mentoring online named Philipp. Rob made the trip with me and after a long train ride from Ansbach we arrived in Weiden. We were met by Philipp who took us back to his gym so I could work some classes with his gym. His crew all does the I/C program though his gym is not a Charter, he has been working towards it.

When we got to his spot it took me back. It was barebones and it was just the way I remembered things from when I started out myself. It wasn’t the larger facilities that most of the Charters now find themselves in. It was small, and to me it was a trip back in time to when things were real simple. As his folks started showing up I got to meet more and more of Philipp’s community. And though they weren’t a Charter they had just as much pride as those carrying the title.

When I took a step back Weiden was what the Club was all about. Every Charter head started out the same way Philipp did. We all grinded, sweat, hustled and put everything we had into what we had to work with to create what we have now. And Philipp is doing that now.

Seeing that desire inspired me to get myself back in the game. It was time to get back to leading from the front. I had felt burnout creeping in on me before my trip to Germany. But being there among the Charters and then visiting Philipp’s gym and seeing someone in the early stages of where myself, Rob, Eddie and Ome had started left me with a fire lit back in me and one choice to make.

I returned to the States and called for a vote for the hard working young man from Weiden and his gym to be considered as a Charter. You see there must be a majority vote among the Charter heads to allow a new Club to be established, we take this pretty seriously.

I presented my case and waited to hear what my colleges had to say, I was especially interested to hear what the other German Charters thought about my submission. I also let them know my mind could be changed if any case against Weiden proved valid for me to vote against my own submission.

One by one votes came in and not only votes of yes or no but votes showing great support for Philipp. I couldn’t say how proud I was of the other Charters for seeing the same starting point we all had taken and wanting to support the journey Phil and his gym were on.

So after the unamimous vote was cast I reached out to Phil and let him know what had happened and want to know if he was ready to join the ranks of an official Iron Club Charter. The response I got back let me know we had all made the right choice with our vote.

Sometimes all a young coach needs for his community is the belief of his peers and we are all very happy to announce our 5th Iron Club the RedBear’d I/C located in Weiden, Germany.

Congrats to you and your community Philipp, welcome to the family. You may be still finding your feet but we got your back and its time to start running with the pack. Makes us all proud boss, Pals.

Posted by: Z

“I knew John Butler…”

Posted in Articles on November 16, 2016 by oldcountrystrong

“It is not the strength of the body that counts, but the strength of the spirit….” J.R.R Tolkien

I just returned from a ten day trip to Germany. I had no idea how important this trip was going to be to me when I first booked it. I love to teach and I work with a number of gyms in the southern part of Germany. So it just made sense to extend my trip out from the first course I taught and to go visit them all and spend time with them. I wanted to get to learn their communities and meet the faces I see on social media that are members of what we call our Club.

But the week before I left I found out something that would change this trip for me forever.

You see I have number of tattoos. Most people will judge a book by its cover even though your not suppose to. I’ve been told that you should know what your getting yourself into when you walk into my gym and see the coach has two full size pinups girls tattooed on his calves. Well I wouldn’t get them if I didn’t find things like that funny or amusing. All my tattoos have a story and thats important to me. Everything from my wrists to my back have some kind of meaning to me.

But the tattoo on the outside of left forearms means the most to me.

It’s a classic style American Eagle and at first glance you’d assume it just flows with the rest of them. And yes I do like a classic style of tattoo but that isn’t the reason that eagle is inked into my skin. It has so much meaning to me that when that eagle and this trip crossed paths it seemed to me like what a lot of people would call fate.

I got that particular piece like some of the other during a hard time in my life. Things were bad and I actually had taken myself back to where my parents were from in Iowa. My grandma (whom we all called Nano) stilled lived in the house my Ma grew up in and we’d visit it every summer growing up. Nano was amazing to be around and just her presence made everything feel right in the world. But I knew once I went back to the world she wouldn’t be there and my problems still would be. So there was someone I needed to talk to, I needed to talk to my Pa.

Pa was what we called my Grandpa and he was the patriarch of our family. I don’t use the term lightly and if you know me I make a kicking motion anytime I use 10 dollar words and says “who needs them.” But thats what Pa was. He was the head of our family and we all loved and respected him above all else.

When he passed away much like when my Nano left us I spoke for my brothers and myself at the funeral. Some people say I’m good with words and public speaking is a gift my Mother ingrained in me as a child. But it was more the fact I could see my brothers grief and I wanted to speak for all of us cause I felt I could get the words out before breaking down.

You see even now Pa is always with all of us. Even later in his life when his sight left him he would still swing dance with Nano at wedding and travel to Seattle to sit and at me and my brother wrestling matches and football games. He just wanted to be there for us. I learned what family means from my Pa.

But when I went back to Iowa that year Pa wasn’t there to talk to, but I needed to speak to him. So I told Nano the following afternoon I was going to visit him. The cemetery was just down the street from the house we spent our summers at and we actually use to go play there when we were kids. I still remember the day we laid Pa to rest. It was full honors. A 21 gun salute and the Air Force did a fly over performing a missing man formation for him. Everyone loved and respected Pa, everyone.

Now that Nano isn’t here to read this I’ll admit I grabbed a case of beer and went to the cemetery that day. I stood in the snow and talked to Pa. I talked about life and what was wrong and how I wished he was there. We all had a bond with Pa so I can’t say mine was closer then anyone else’s. He loved us all, he loved his family, I just needed him. But as I stood there talking out my problems I began to feel better. I knew he was with me even if he wasn’t there in front of me. And I had one of those moments where things just made sense. Once I had said my goodbye I went back to Nano’s and took her out to dinner. When we got home we watched tv and then when we were getting ready to go to bed I turned to her and said, “I’m going to Iowa City in the morning, I’ll be back for dinner.”

In the morning I got in my car and drove into town. I walked the streets I’d walked with my family those Summers in the cold snow and just wandered looking for a tattoo shop. I had no idea where one was and I didn’t care I just walked and walked. This is not how I would recommend picking a shop to get a tattoo mind you but it made sense to just walk until I found one. And as I started to get frustrated in my search I happen to look at the ground and see something with an add on it for a shop on it. I bent down to pick it up and I realized the address was literally right above me in the second story of the building I was in front of, Sting Rays, the name alone could have sold me.

I walked up to the shop and to the front desk. “I’d like to get on the books for an classic American Eagle today.”

Oddly enough the guy scratched his head. “Man no one here does classic.” This should have been a sign to leave the shop honestly. “But hey let me call Sting Ray he’s the owner he does classic.” Now we were getting somewhere. When the owner arrived Sting Ray was everything you could have imaged in an old tattoo artist. He whipped up a quick image with a banner like I requested and before I knew it I was in the seat.

“We don’t get to many request for eagles anymore.” I found this very odd, but whatever.

He went about working on my arm and at one point said he needed a smoke break, I just nodded I was use to this from guy back in Seattle. Except Sting Ray just leaned back in his seat and lit one up, yup this place was awesome. While we were sitting there he asked me.

“Aren’t you a little young to be getting “7-20-1944” on your arm. I just nodded,and then I told him.”

“7-20-1984 is my birthday and 40 years prior to that my Grandpa was shot down over Germany during the War.”

You see Pa loved us all. But that date was special, the day I was born was the anniveray of Pa surviving jumping out of his B-17 after taking heavy fire over Chemnitz. This whole story could be about that epic day. Pa dodged falling debris and another plane while he drifted to earth. This was after being pinned against the open door of the plane and being unable to jump as the plane began to go down. Prior to that the story of the battle they engaged in before taking to many hits and losing control of the plane still give me chills. I didn’t only know this man he was my Grandfather.

Pa was captured after slamming into a roof in Chemnitz. Being an officer he was interrogated repeatedly before finally being placed in a prison camp. Pa kept a log of everything that happened to his crew and a diary as well on toilet paper during his time in the camp. This would go on to be know as “The Toilet Paper Diary” and has actually been published in a book called “Only the least of me is Hostage.” This book is still for sale and if you want to read about the man John Butler was during that time you can pick up a copy and read the entire story.

I loved Pa, and everyone in my family had a connection to this so amazing man. When we lost him there was a big hole. It was hard to not have him there but he is always with us in our hearts and minds.

The week before my departure my Ma said I should go visit the crash site. I told here it could be on the other side of the country for all I knew and I didn’t know if I’d be able to make it. So we researched and my breath was literally taken away when I saw that Chemnitz was only three hours from where I would be staying most of my trip.

I knew nothing on earth would stop me from getting there.

With he help of my family and friends I set aside a day to take the train to Chemnitz and be in place that held so much meaning. It was important and I had to do it. It felt like fate was calling me there.

Last Thursday I undertook that journey. The trip itself was beyond hectic and included missed trains, sprinting though the streets of Nuremberg and undertaking some challenges that would make it that much more rewarding to me.

After 4 hours of travel by train I arrived in Chemnitz. The whole train ride there I looked out the window and imaged it all. I read the documents of it all that my aunt had sent me and I read Pa’s words from the diary. When I stepped off that train and looked into the sky where my Grandfather had flown I never felt so connected to him or a place in my life.

I walked the streets until I found the perfect bar. It was in an old castle style building and was very much what I had pictured the whole trip in my head. I sat down at the bar, pulled out a picture I had carried with me the whole trip of Pa and his crew set it down and just looked at it. The bartender came up to me and I asked for glass of whiskey. When she place it down I just sat and looked at it and the man I knew in the picture.

With a heavy but happy and full heart I lifted the glass and toasted the man I wished I could be more like every day of my life.

I finished my drink, paid and began my trip back to meet a friend who had driven three hours to come pick me up. As I walked I thought about Pa and I thought about the last time I talked to him.

The story brought tears to my eyes as I made my trip on the cold streets of Chemnitz. I pulled my beanie down low over my face unashamed of the tear but not wanting to draw any attention. This was my time in a special place and I wanted that time to remember Pa.

In our last conversation I had visited Pa at the nursing home down the street from the house he had lived in with Nano and raised his daughters and taught me about life and what a real man was. At this point life was trying to steal him away from us and sometimes he had trouble remembering things. But that day we talked. He told me stories like he use to and I sat and listened. At the end of our talk he simply turned to me and said, “I’m tired now, my grandson is going to come visit me can you let him know I’m sleeping.”

To say this broke my heart would be a lie. I had gotten to stand there and talk with him. I had gotten to hear stories like I use to and I was able to be with my Pa. That will always stay with me and I will always remember him as he was and the man he was. Last week I got to stand where he had survived his plane being shot down. I got to be somewhere very important somewhere he would start his own journey and make his way back home and raise a family. He’d have a daughter with hair so blonde it looked white who would give birth to her 3rd son on 7-20-1984, 40 years after that fateful day.

In my eulogy at his funeral one thing I said that still stand out was the following. “Pa would come and watch me wrestle every year. And even though I knew he couldn’t see me I knew he watching me.”

Pa is always watching over all of us. He’s in our hearts and in our minds. You keep the people you love alive there and nothing can ever take that away. Last week I got to be in a special place and remember one thing, he may have been my grandfather but he was so much more then that. And I can honestly say one thing that makes me proud in life.

I knew John Butler…

Posted by: Z

LiveForward

“Cause thats what living is, the six inches in front of your face…”

Posted in Articles on November 6, 2016 by oldcountrystrong

Last weekend I had the honor of taking one of my best friend out for his big night before his wedding. Luckily for me this friend thinks so much of me he wants me to stand next to him as his Best Man.

No, this isn’t a story about a bachelor party its about the return trip and something I remembered on that trip back that had helped shaped the man I am today. Much like boys will do we swapped stories about our past. One of mine include a bunch of stuff that went down in high school and the talking to I received as a athlete from a coach. You see I’m a coach, I value the coach athlete relationship. It’s a bond, you put your trust in someone and without question you do as they say. And if you don’t you really should find another coach.

You see the thing about this talk was I had let my coach down. It happens, no one is perfect and to all you coaches out there you need to be ready to step up and deliver the right words when something goes wrong. I was a freshman, I’d like to say I didn’t know better, but I did. And one by one as folks walked into the coaches office I sat on the bench in the locker room waiting. I was going to be the last one to talk to him cause he had only know me for part of a season.

When my name was called I stood not knowing what to expect and walked into his office. This coach wasn’t just some coach to me either. You see he had a huge impact on me as a real coach can have. I have to this day tried to mold myself after this man and coach. So when my name was called I walked in. He told me to sit, and I did as I was told, cause I had so much respect for this man that my defiant streak disappear in his presence. He looked at me from under his heavy eyelids and with calm but angry voice he asked a simple question.

“So Zach why did you break the rules…”

I looked at the floor like any 15 year old boy would do and tried to think. Then I knew, I looked up at him and simply said said one thing.

“Coach I wanted to be part of the team.”

He looked back at me with that calm emotionless face that you knew he meant he was pissed and said something I had forgotten until last weekend but left its marks on the man I was to become.

“Well Zach if the whole team jumped off a bridge would you?”

And with no defiance of the man sitting across from me I answered him.

“Well yes if my brother was jumping off a bridge I would too…”

He looked me in the eyes and said something I had forgotten but would be a cornerstone of my life.

“Well Zach, an attitude like that will take you real high or real low in life.”

And with that he waved me off and I walked out of his office. I can’t tell you if he was pissed or proud but now that I’m a coach I know.

I’d be proud.

He could have torn me apart for my answer. He could have called me a loser or told me not to be on his team. I wasn’t trying to be a smart ass it was the truth. Family mean everything to me. And there are two kinds of family. The ones your born with and the ones you choose. You see in my line of work as a coach I choose to allow my feeling to dictate who I am. Sometimes its a good thing sometimes its a bad thing but I decided to let that attitude define me.

I love my Mother, I love my brothers, I love my family. But then there is the family you chose. I was closed off most of my life to be honest. I thought the less people near me the less chance I had of getting hurt. But the ones I loved, I love with my who heart.

I remember telling this story as a joke and when I came to what coach had said to me I became aware of the power someone like that can have in forging a person.

Yes I was wrong, yes I could have made better choices. But looking a man in the face whom I respected above all else and saying I’d follow my family anywhere still speaks to me. I loved that coach. I loved that team. And I’ll tell you the truth, love is a difficult emotion for me. But I meant what I said and I’d wish if he could see me now he’d be proud of the man he helped build.

The quote for todays article is from “Any Given Sunday” and as I sit on plane bound for German to teach other coaches I can’t help but be proud. I still want to be that coach. The one that cried at wins and losses and actually gave a fuck about us. I try for that every day, be it with someone older or younger then me because that is where life has taken me.

“An attitude like that will take you real high or real low in life.”

I think coach was trying to tell me something. And since that day I have followed my heart on that. Love your family and love your family. The friends I have managed to hold onto through all the years of my life fall into that family category. I’d do anything for them sometimes to a fault. But I’d rather see my life like this then take some road that would lead me somewhere else.

This article isn’t random and isn’t only brought on by the talk I had with my boys on the trip home. You see I havent been off the traveling scene per say but I’ve had to focus on my gym at home and not the other things I do. And as I write this on a plane to Germany I can’t help but think about those at home that not only allow me to leave to do things like this but support it.

I had people give me special passes at the airport. Make “international survival” kits for me and genuinely tell me that they would miss me when I was gone. Life is the six inches in front of your face not whats behind you. It doesn’t mean don’t remember the past and allow it to inspire you but don’t let it define you.

Everyday you wake up is new day. I have chosen to be part of peoples life for the better in whatever way I can with my job, and that is a rewarding thing. So to quote the Notorious B.I.G “I went from Negative to Positive.”

“An attitude like that will take you real high or real low in life.”

Thank you coach, I am the man I am today because of your influence. I hope I can do the same for other people like you did for me. Love your family be it blood or the ones you chose. For me personally, I found that family in a gym and as a profession as a coach. I hope anyone reading this can find there own way to to take it far in life and not be afraid of the road less traveled.

#LiveForward

Posted by: Z

“It can’t Rain all the Time…”

Posted in Articles on October 31, 2016 by oldcountrystrong

Every year we remember my friends brother Officer Tim Brenton by performing a workout called “Lumpy” in his honor.

Matty Brenton and I have been finding ways the last couple years to make things more difficult each time we do this.

I recently lost my uncle and during the weeks following his loss I did just about every awful training piece I could. This included everything from 40+ minute workouts to Fran. Training has always been a outlet for me so it just made sense. So this morning I decided to start this special day by redoing Fran and getting a 8 second pr dropping my time down to 2:02. The pr itself wasn’t all that important, it was the meaning of the effort.

I figured since I did this as a way to remember and cope with the loss of Tom that I would get myself ready for tonight by doing this again. This kinda behavior may seem off to other people but I find it pretty damn therapeutic personally. And I always talk about the journey in physical culture and if you could take something and feel back in control of your life by making your body do something and reflect on those you care about I say fucking do it.

“It can’t rain all the time,” isn’t a simple quote from a movie to me. Sometimes when it’s actually raining I’ll just stop and tip my head back. I close my eyes and feel it on my face. It’s reminder that the bad times come and they go. But being able to sit there and not allow it to define you is powerful medicine.

Matty you are good man and friend. You Betsy and Derek mean the world to me. I am forever honored to be a part of this day with you. Can’t wait to see you tonight my friend. Once more into the fray, Pals.

Posted by: Z