How the LTT Seminars Evolved

(and I Grew Right Along with Them)

Over the course of 17 months, four seminars, and two extra trips up to London, OH just to train, both my business and I have grown exponentially. I owe much of this to David Tate and elitefts™. On one ocassion, my training partner Waylon and I went up to the elitefts™ gym to train. We came in early as hell, couldn’t figure out how to turn on the radio after getting hammered drunk at Stinger's the night before, and did max effort squats, benches, and deadlifts in cold, dead ass silence. As one of the people that have attended all four Learn To Train Seminars, I wanted to share my view of the event and how they have changed over the years.


Stinger's Lounge, one of London, Ohio's finest drinking establishments. Keep an epi-pen handy!

In the first 'Learn to Train' (LTT) seminar, Dave spoke a lot. He lectured on many topics, and we went over techniques. We even got a chance to lift, but what stuck out to me the most was when Dave talked about how he built elitefts™.  He talked about what it was, what it has become, and most importantly, what he wants it to be. When asked what his goals for the company are, Dave responded, “The world…everything.” When I said that Dave talked a lot, I was being serious. I'm pretty sure that the seminar lasted until like 8:30 or 9 p.m. that night. What I recognized was that he was the real deal. He started from scratch and rose to the top because of the passion he had for what he was doing.

The DarkSide

It was soon after the first LTT that Waylon and I decided to start an offshoot of our gym’s website called The DarkSide. This basically started as three dudes working out. Our goal was simple—log our workouts, learn new stuff every day, and pass on all the stuff we learned to everyone else. To this day, one of the things I pride myself on is that if you're a member of my gym, you learn and understand how to take care of yourself so that if for some reason you ever have to leave, you won’t fall for some stupid bullshit gimmick. You’ll be able to take care of yourself for the rest of your life. Somehow, the plan was to turn three dudes working out into a premiere strength and conditioning facility and to have everybody wanting a piece of our shit.

The second seminar was a huge improvement over the first. It was two days and it featured 11 speakers (with many more there to coach lifts). It was the first time I was introduced to Mike Robertson, who proved to be a great resource for me. I had the opportunity to work with him a few times since then as well. I remember Jim Wendler did an open Q&A and nobody asked him any questions about training, only about what music he liked and his life philosophies.

I previously refused to read Jim Wendler’s stuff. I kinda hated him just because everybody else liked him so much. However, when I had the opportunity to actually meet him and listen to him speak, I couldn’t help but to dig his philosophies and how he looked at life in general.


One thing he said that really stuck out to me was, “Girls don’t want guys with abs; girls want guys who kick ass.” I feel like this just kind of hit me at the right time, and I returned home with some great knowledge and a “f--k it, I got this shit” attitude. I was ready to kick some ass. Some have told me that this was unprofessional and that I couldn’t do it, but I've always just stuck to what I learned from Dave—have a passion for what you're doing, treat people right, and learn and teach every single day. If you can just stick to these principles, eventually you'll be the best. Elitefts™ was instrumental in helping me develop the confidence and tools that I needed to become a great coach.


By the time the third LTT rolled around, we saw many changes in what DarkSide Strength had become. A fortunate business opportunity resulted in our ownership and management of the gym (about five years before we had planned). After a kick ass summer of lifting heavy ass weights (relative) for a living, partying, getting a great tan, seducing women, shooting guns, and basically living the American dream, I had planned on chilling out, going to school, and working just a minimal amount to make some money. The next thing I know, I quit school and started some 15- and 17-hour days at the gym, coaching up to 11 classes and personal training. F--k it, right? Never let school get in the way of your education.

One of the great changes to the third LTT was the introduction of the conference table station, where you could just sit down and talk to some of the presenters or sponsored lifters. This came at a great time for Waylon and I because we accidentally just owned a business that we weren’t really ready for. Dave, through a lengthy conversation at this seminar and a two-hour interview with Waylon, helped us understand what we needed to do to grow our business. At the heart of it all remained that we have a passion for what we were doing and that we learn and teach every single day. (Also, Jen Keck and Molly Galbraith demonstrated the mobility exercises during that station, and I'm pretty sure they're both pretty into me. So that’s pretty cool, too.)

For some reason, it took long as shit for LTT four to roll around. Dave still added new content, new speakers, and a new format. LTT was constantly changing and getting better. This what what we've obviously come to expect from elitefts™ and the people associated with it. However, to be honest, I can’t say that it was a huge learning experience for me. As an Olympic weightlifter, I've already been taught the powerlifting squat, bench, and deadlift multiple times by some of the strongest guys in the world, and I had already talked to most of the guys who would be up there about training in general. I did enjoy Chad Wesley Smith’s presentation and I'm hoping to make it out to California to hear an unabridged version of his methods.

Regardless of what I thought I would learn or who the speakers were going to be, Waylon and I were going to be attending the LTTs (unless Waylon’s wife wouldn’t let him) partly because it's one of the only times I get to party with Waylon while his wife isn't around, but mostly because of all elitefts™ and Dave Tate have done for me.


I wanted to keep the recaps of the seminars themselves kinda brief because all that shit has been said before. The point of the article is this...

Empowerment: the giving or delegation of power or authority

After four f---ing T-shirts (when I specifically requested a tank top), I think I finally understand what all the 'Learn to Train' seminars have been about. It has been said that if you surround yourself with assholes, you will smell like shit, and if it hasn’t been said then, it has now. If that is true, the reverse must also be true. If you surround yourself with people who have a passion for what they're doing and the people that they do it for, you will smell…well…like the opposite of shit. You will be unstoppable.

Ever since I heard Dave Tate speak at the first seminar, I knew that I wanted to become the best. I recognized his passion in myself. I live, eat, breathe, and sleep this. Hell, I only have sex because Jeremy Frey told me that it would make me recover faster (just kidding…kind of).

Elitefts™ first gave me the resources to find the knowledge that I needed to become a great coach. Then, they gave me the confidence and helped me surround myself with the people to make shit happen. I had the opportunity to coach literally hundreds of people over the past few months, and we've been able to PR marathons, mountain bike races, state lacrosse championships, and triathlons. We've had elite powerlifting totals posted, had people qualify for USAW Nationals, corrected nagging back/knee/whatever pains, and finished 13 at the CrossFit regionals. I feel like I have a hot hand right now and anything I lay my hands on turns to f---ing gold. This confidence oozes throughout our whole gym. It doesn't just change people’s bodies, but it changes the way they interact with everyone in their life. That is empowerment. That other definition is bullshit.

I'll end this article with a text that I received last Christmas day and should have just forwarded to Dave Tate because, as he has pointed out many times, he only deals with people who consider training one of the top two or three priorities in their lives. This was a text from someone who spent several years not doing anything except getting fat and lazy. This is how far the empowerment from these seminars can reach.

“Merry Christmas. Thank you for giving me my fucking life back.”