In some ways, my wife Claire is very unlike me. In my free time I enjoy reading books, watching Netflix, or going to my parents' house to play with their chocolate lab. She, on the other hand, enjoys more outside adventures such as hiking, swimming, and traveling. As you can imagine, we do what she wants about 75% of the time (and that’s an estimate probably on the low end).

One recent Saturday after we were done training, she wanted to jump in the pool. It wasn’t particularly warm out, which meant the water was less than ideal. After her and I both dipped our toes in, confirming our thoughts that it was cold, we both stood by the edge seeing who would wade in first. Finally, I just let go and jumped in. It was cold and a little uncomfortable for a second, but then I swam to the other side of the pool, by which time I was acclimated and it was enjoyable. Later in the evening she asked why I just jumped in unannounced. I didn’t really have an answer; I just did it because it felt right. I thought about her question more and, like most other things, I related it to training. I then asked her if she remembered when I started training with Josh Gutridge and heading to Westside Barbell. Her reply was that yes, she remembered, but what did that have to do with jumping in a pool? Little did she know, it was everything.

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I’ll never forget when Josh first invited me to train. His crew was always seen as the biggest and strongest in Newark, and if you trained with them that meant you were near the top of the game. Josh began to help me, but I wasn’t sure of everything. It was so much different than what I had done in the past that there was no way it could work. At the same time, I wasn’t being honest with myself. In almost four years, my total had barely budged, I still had doubts about myself, and I assumed I was just destined to be a mediocre competitor.


At one of the meets we held at Showtime Strength & Performance, Louie Simmons brought the Westside Barbell lifters and it was unlike anything I had seen. I saw people warming up on bench with 500 pounds like an empty bar. I introduced myself to Louie and he thanked me for running the meet, but I figured that’s where it stopped. I competed that day and pulled 600 pounds for a 15-pound PR. I attempted 620 and it didn’t budge. Beyond frustrated and with nothing to lose, I asked Lou if he saw anything that I needed to do differently. That was when it happened: he invited me to Westside Barbell to train. He said there was nothing wrong with my pull and that I just needed a few things tweaked and I would deadlift 700. I thought he was crazy but was beyond excited to get the invite to the world’s strongest gym. After four weeks, I made the decision to go out and see what could be done to help me fix what I couldn’t figure out on my own.

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At this time, Claire lived in California. I remember talking to her the night before I went to Westside and she asked what I was going to do. I’ll never forget my response. Out of pure disappointment with how my competition went I told her, “I’m shutting my brain off. Whatever they say I need to do, for whatever reason, that’s what I’m going to do.” As a strength coach or trainer, I think it sometimes becomes hard and exhausting to think about what your own training needs when you’re spending 10 or more hours doing that every day for others. I told her I had the chance to train at the world’s strongest gym, a place that people from all over the world travel to just to have an insight of what they do. My opinion at this point didn’t matter and I was their guinea pig. I had no idea what I was getting into, but I knew I was tired of not progressing in something I cared about so much. I told her it was time for me to go all in. As a coach, I expect my athletes to put their full trust in me and believe everything I say, so why should I do anything different when someone is willing to spend time helping me? This proved to be one of the best decisions I ever made and helped me learn more about myself than I had ever imagined. I was ready to go all in.

When I got to Westside, no one really talked to me except Louie and Tom, probably because they were the only people that noticed I was there. I had never seen people make 90-pound jumps on each set, going up to and beyond 1000 pounds on squats. I quickly realized I had a lot to learn if I was going to stick around. The crazy thing was that everyone around me seemed to have more confidence in my lifts than I did. Lou kept telling me I was right there and we just needed some adjustments to get me there.


Other lifters like Josh Conley were awesome at this time. They helped me when I was lifting and always answered any questions I had. It made me realize that this gym is all about progress and world records. If you don’t want to get better, you don’t belong. But if you want to get better, you have every resource right in front of you. With the help of Josh Gutridge, Joe Bayles, Lou, and everyone at Westside Barbell, my total went from 1345 pounds to 2020 pounds in 10 months. The things I once thought to be insane were now becoming a reality.

If you have been around training long enough, you have probably noticed that whenever someone releases a new book with a new program, social media pages are flooded with people doing exactly what the new book recommends. Most of the time, though, people will put their own insight on what they feel the program needs. I remember talking with Mark Watts about this when he said, “If the author thought the program needed a change, they would have written it that way. They wouldn’t release something unless it was what they wanted you to do.”

This is where the problem begins. I’m not pointing fingers; I have been there more than once or twice. Whether it is training, nutrition, or whatever else, just be fully committed to it. Otherwise, how can you determine if it worked or didn’t work based on how the creator intended it to work? You have to follow the plan to decide if it works or doesn’t work. You can’t pick and choose what you want to do or don’t want to do. At some point, you have to let go. At some point, you have to trust the process. At some point, you have to be all in.

Nick Showman is the Owner of Showtime Strength & Performance in Newark, Oh and the owner of the Natural Ohio Bodybuilding Association. Prior to Showtime, he was an Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach at Denison University, Granville High School, and Total Athletic Development.