As I wrote before, and in my e-book, the biggest influence to my lifting was my mom. Second biggest was the words of my asshole football coach who instead of seeing a good athlete, he sees a skinny kid who has yet to fill out.
I was a late bloomer, I was gifted with speed but not size, as time wore on the size came…
I wasn’t born in a suburban paradise where I had access to weight rooms, strength coaches and an excellent diet. I grew up eating hot dogs, peanut butter and jelly and plain pasta.
My mom and dad both worked hard for a living. My mom was the driving force while my dad was the “if he doesn’t want to do it, he won’t do it”.
I was raised on baseball, basketball, street hockey, soccer, and doing random hooligan shit that city kids do.
It wasn’t safe to play after dark, it wasn’t safe to travel far from home; we got into fights, we egged houses on Halloween and while my neighborhood was still decent, it was starting to become a rougher place to live as I grew up.
It wasn’t South Central LA, but it sure as hell wasn’t Orange County either.
My high school football team had athletes who were amazing but fell victim to drug use and some became predators. Not the warrior-type of bullshit you hear people say who lift weights, but the real predators. Drug dealers, criminals, rapists; people that you don’t want on the streets. Despite that, growing up where I did was something I would never trade for anything because I learned so much about being street smart, not just book smart.
My mom ensured I was book smart. She exposed me to the arts. I was playing piano at a young age, I learned how to play sax, I acted in plays when I was younger but I was always an athletic kid and I gravitated towards sports almost every time.
The one sport I enjoyed playing the most (before rugby was thrown into my life) was football.
There I learned to hate lifting weights and also love it.
Our football strength program consisted of these lifts:
Stiff Legged Deadlift
That is all we were tested on and it didn’t include squats.
I was in the gym doing my best, receiving no instruction because the coaches catered to the top athletes on the team. Truth be told, at that time I was a far better baseball player than I was football (funny considering I had a pro-FB workout years later). I hated the head coach and my rebellious attitude combined with the fact that I was getting no instruction made me hate lifting.
That was until my mom brought me to her gym to start lifting….
As time wore on, I got bigger, stronger, faster… all by my own doing.
No help from anyone, I didn’t ask for form help, I didn’t ask for a program, I did it solely on my own. Before the days of the internet and reading hundreds of articles, I learned it by watching others, reading bodybuilding magazines and just trying shit out.
My city wasn’t a hotbed of weights. Sure we had an excellent track record in basketball, but those guys didn’t lift, they shot hoops all damn year.
The fitness craze didn’t hit Reading, PA until years later; it was, and still is, a very destitute town where people aren’t as worried about looking good as they are about living to see next year.
Well, my mom fostered a culture in me that took me on a lifelong quest to where I am now with the iron.
It became an addiction. I had bigarexia.
I would sit down and chug super high calorie weight gainer shakes because Flex magazine said so.
I would buy new supplements because the ad in the magazine said so.
I would walk 2 miles to the gym when I had no car, at the downtown YMCA, and train next to ex-cons because I wanted to.
I would go to the local independent supplement store and talk shop with the owner for hours to learn more.
When I was broke I would sneak into Albright College’s gym to train there with students and athletes I knew from that school.
When I was broke I would buy only ground beef, sauce and pasta and eat that for all my meals.
I did what I had to do to not only live but continue my addiction.
When I was seeing myself grow from a skinny, fast, powerful teenager into a bigger and stronger version of myself; that fed the machine.
That unearthed something in me where it became my passion. This wasn’t new, this was always there; I just had to find my chosen addiction because it sure as hell wasn’t going to be drugs. I’ve seen too many people growing up who’s lives were ruined by drugs and alcohol and I wasn’t going to be that guy. So I found the best addiction one can have – being physically better.
That addiction led me to having the pro football workout, that led me to starting for a Nationally ranked Division 1 rugby team, that led me to numerous top three strongman finishes in the late 90’s and early to mid 2000’s, that led me to training people, training athletes and writing a book about my system. It led me through life.
All of that can be traced back to my mother feeding me those words and setting in motion something that became a huge part of my life.
I was a kid that grew into what I am now. I remember where I came from, I always do. I see myself as the kid riding his bike down the alley. I see myself as the kid who grew up in a dead-end town and got away from it. I see myself as a man who found something that physically drives him and it was all started so simply….
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Check out Pump, Dump, and Hump; a fitness group based around health, lifting, and sexuality run by my wife and myself.
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