Sean Dunston

Before I talk about Jay, I want to give you context on the type of jerk I am, so you have some perspective.  I’m a bit older than the average strength athlete (46) and I like to think I know everything.  I’ve been coaching athletes for almost 10 years, and have owned my own gym for over four years.  I have had several coaches in the past, but since 2009 I have been self-coached with two small 12 and 16 week exceptions in that entire time.  Both were “remote” coaches, and the programs/interactions were a bit below what I considered an acceptable standard.

I have competed in powerlifting (USAPL/NAPF/IPF) since 2009, and have gone to all kinds of meets – local, state, national and international.  I had a terrible showing at USA Powerlifting Raw Nationals in 2015, and decided for 2016 I would drop from the 83kg class to the 74kg class.  I tore my right shoulder labrum in March of 2016, so I knew that would be a bit of an obstacle in training, but my squat and deadlift are my better lifts anyway, so I stuck with the plan to train for Nationals and cut a weight class.

Jay and I have known each other through a few online groups that we’ve both been members of for several years.  In late Spring this year, I posted on one of those groups that I was sick of writing my own programs and was willing to hire a new coach for this year.  One thing led to another and I hired Jay.

I won’t get into the details of the program because that is what Jay gets paid to do, obviously.  However, what I will say is that for powerlifters, there are a handful of templates that I tend to see (and use) for myself and for other lifters.  Needless to say, Jay’s program for me was a departure from those typical templates and the new twist was refreshing, and his use of different accessory lifts and exercises was also a nice change of pace.  Knowing that I had a torn labrum, his choices of lifts were varied and quite helpful for me to regain strength and confidence in the shoulder – and as you’ll see the squat and DL work was great too.

I live in the DC suburbs and Jay lives in OKC.  You’d think that would make communication an issue — it was not; far from it actually.  I had constant communication and feedback with Jay.  He’d lay out the program (through an App) a week in advance, and as I’d warm-up each day, I could shoot him a message and tell him how I was feeling.  If I’d done a working set (or even warm up set) already, I could shoot him a text or a video, and would get a response/feedback from him prior to taking my next lift. That experience was consistent throughout the entire time he coached me.  As we got closer to Nationals, I felt stronger and stronger — mind you, all the while I was dropping a weight class.

In the week leading up to Nationals we went over openers and attempts.  And when the morning of Nationals finally came, I was texting him at O’dark thirty to let him know that I easily made weight (74kg was the cut off, and I weighed in at 73.46).  He kept texting me throughout the morning to see how warm ups and attempts were going.

I went 3/3 on squat – hitting my final attempt at 458#,  I went 2/3 on bench missing my third but making the second at 242#.  When I was warming up my Deads, I told Jay I was feeling strong and I had a shot at setting an American Record for my class – but the warm up room was BLASTING cold AC.  Normally that would not be an issue, but the session and lifting on my platform was running a bit long, so the wait was getting longer and longer.  We decided to stick with the opener we’d worked on together.  Due to my Lot number being higher than my closest competitor, I saw that he was going to attempt to break the record (prior record was 232.5kg – 512.5#), and he called 233 for his second attempt.  I called for 233.5.  He hit his, and then I hit mine, taking the record. When I walked back to the scoring table I saw that he had waived his third attempt, but he had a 2kg lead on me in the Total, and another guy had called for a 235kg third attempt.  So I called 236kg (520#), just in case the other guy got the 235, and so that I could leapfrog the other guy on the Total.  The guy set up for his 235 and couldn’t break it off the ground.  Then it was my turn, and I made the lift, which was not only a new American Record, but also a lifetime PR, and it was at a bodyweight 20# lighter than when I had set my old PR!

In summary, Jay listens to you and your goals and works with you to help achieve your goals.

He doesn’t just take your money, give you some “off the shelf” cookie cutter program and disappear.

He takes a vested interest in seeing you do well, and WANTS YOU to do well.

His communication is better than any other coach I’ve ever worked with.

I’m happy to call Jay my friend and Coach.