elitefts™ Sunday Edition

I got back from the Learn to Train 6 (LTT6) seminar a couple of weeks ago. It was my first experience helping out with the LTT series of seminars, and it was an amazing event. It was incredible to be around the number and caliber of athletes and coaches. You would be hard pressed to find another seminar anywhere with the stacked deck in attendance at the LTT6. With so many other big names involved, I was honored to be a part of it, and I even learned a few new tricks, too.

One of the very special things about these seminars is that all the profits go to the Make-A-Wish® Foundation. This is actually my main motivation for donating my time to it. It's well-known that I'm not the biggest fan of most adults because I think there are many shitty people in the world, so I really like that they do so much for children. It's also well-known that I have issues with a few of the big charitable foundations because such small portions of the donated money actually make it into the hands of the people they claim to be helping. I like the Make-A-Wish® Foundation though and believe that what they do is awesome. Giving children and their families some happiness in such tough times is a very genuine thing that I'm happy to be a small part of.

So my journey back to Columbus started with the dreaded air travel. Even though I'm a lean and svelte 325 pounds, I still hate airplanes. Why do they have to be so damn small and hot? We can make a 100,000-pound hunk of steel fly, but we can’t get a decent air conditioning system in it? WTF! Then there are the seats. It's true that I no longer need the seat beat extender and actually have extra room in the belt now (I have to say that in a way, it's a bit disappointing not to have to ask for one anymore), but the seats are so damn narrow that my ass and thighs have to squish into that tiny space. Of course, this leaves little room for my boys if ya get what I'm saying. It's not my fault that the world is full of small people who choose not to be huge! LOL

It also seems like they're packing the planes full nowadays. When I was bigger, I always bought two seats and there always seemed to be lots of flight with empty seats. I've flown twice in the last couple months and I think every flight was full. Many times I've even heard that they were over capacity and offering discounted flights to people who would take the next flight. Also, where did the snacks go? You don't even get peanuts anymore. Soon enough, you'll have to pay for a soda or water. I will say that I'm thankful for layovers though. After a couple of hours, I need a break from being hit in the shoulder by people, stewardesses, and carts and a break from sweat running down my back and being cooped up in a small tin can. I think I would be fine if they would just let me fly the damn plane. I can guarantee that we would arrive a whole lot faster. I know those planes can go faster than they fly them!

I had a three-hour layover in Dallas. I didn't mind a bit because I was able to take a nice, relaxing dump, which helped me de-stress from too many uninvited people being in my circle of hate for too long. I got a bite to eat and downed some water. Jonathan Mike was also making the same connecting flight to Columbus, so we had some time to talk before boarding. Mike, I mean Jon, was a great guy and we got to talk a lot throughout the weekend. Strength coach Todd Hamer was driving in to coach at the seminar and offered to pick people up, so he picked up me and Mike. I mean Jon.

Once we got to the hotel, Ed Coan was in the lobby, and his first comment for me was that I'm almost normal sized! Before we knew it, Todd and Ed left. Apparently, when Ed Coan offers to buy dinner, you don't refuse. I can’t blame Todd though. It is Ed Coan! We got checked into the hotel and then called Todd to see if we could meet them for dinner. I haven’t seen Ed in some time and it was awesome to catch up and learn whatever I could from him. I actually ended up getting along with Todd really well. I think we have the same off-tilt sense of humor. He isn't too bad for a small guy who has a bike rack on his car. I mean what strength coach has a bike rack on his car?! LOL

Day one of the seminar was pretty much lecture day. In past years, they had it at the gym, which I can only imagine was as hot as hell and very noisy. This year they had a huge room at the hotel, which was set up nicely. I only got to hear a couple of people speak, but the ones I did see were very good. I got to listen to some of Buddy Morris. He has so much experience in the field of strength training that it's just crazy. I'm not sure how he keeps that information in his head. Of the people I got to listen to, John "Mountain Dog" Meadows was actually my favorite. He's a very intelligent guy but still understands that everyone is different. He has a nice combination of intelligence and keeping it simple.

I ended up doing a couple of videos for elitefts™ that day, too. The best part was getting a chance to hang out with some of the elitefts™  team members who I haven't seen in a while or have never met. I've talked to some over the net but never got to meet them in person until LTT6. Because I'm out on the west coast and have had some injuries, it has been a while since I've competed or seen many of the athletes. It was great to catch up on what everyone was doing and just talk with some of the strongest people around. When you train by yourself or with a small group, you end up seeing so much stupid, horrible training that it just makes you wonder what the hell people are thinking. Spending a weekend talking with guys who really know their shit is an awesome thing and really stokes up the fire. I must say though that being an antisocial type of person, the lecture day isn't really my favorite. There were times when I had to step outside to just be alone for a while. I even ended up sitting in the empty, dark restaurant for a while when Jason Pegg came by and commented on me sitting alone in a dark restaurant. Near the end of the day, I was feeling a bit useless and asked Dave if I could speak.

I'm probably not the best public speaker and rarely prepare a strict lecture. When it comes to that, I'm more of a "wing it" kind of guy. There are usually so many things going on in my head that it's just a matter of picking out what I want to talk about. In this case, I really thought it might help the attendees to know that I'm elitefts™ to the bone and that my true start in powerlifting was with an elitefts™ seminar. Basically, I just wanted them to know that they would leave this seminar with all the information they needed to become great lifters. Now, it was just up to them to decide how far they were going to take it. So Dave let me kind of close out the speakers and introduce him to close out the day. I had a few people thank me afterward for speaking and that was a pretty cool feeling.

Day two was more my speed because we were in the gym all day. We started the morning with our own training. It seemed like most of the guys were squatting, but I know that with my sleep and poor recovery rate, I wasn’t going to train two days in a row. So I chose to bench instead. It's just awesome to be training in a gym with that many aggressive guys all dedicated to their sport. I didn’t have a great day and missed 855 pounds off a three-board. I'm lifting heavy again and building things back up. I've been really picking it up the last couple months and it felt great to have some real weight in my hands. I'm still struggling with my torn triceps though. It's fully healed, but I just tore so much muscle that I'm having trouble getting it to keep up with my good arm. It's definitely the weak point of my bench right now.

Gabe Naspinski handed off for me but had a little trouble mostly because of his height. I really appreciated the help though. JL Holdsworth was helping more with coaching and commands (he's still recovering from his bicep). We talked, and he gave me some things to try to help get around the triceps. Oh yeah, Todd "the Sledge" Hamer did an amazing job holding the three-board. I couldn’t have done it without him. I know I had a pretty good sweat going and probably a smell going on after that. The joy of being back in the mid-west. The real fun was about to begin though.

It turned out that I was in the nasty group. I'm still not so hip on the nasty group name. There has to be something better than that! It reminds me of a stripper name. Now on stage...Nasty Nancy! I learned that the nasty group is a special group of guys and girls who ask to be in the group. They're more advanced lifters and want to go full gear or max effort on that day. Of course, this is straight up my alley and I was more than happy to be working with these people. Plus, it was an outstanding group of super smart great lifters like Josh McMillian, Mike Szudarek, Marshall Johnson and his wife, Brian Carroll, Zane Getting, and Mick Manley. I think I quickly ended up being the leader of this group. I get pretty amped up in the gym and have no problem taking charge of things. I really want everyone there to learn and get as much out of it as they can.

I quickly got pulled away in the beginning of the squats to do some video interviews. I don’t mind the interviews at all, especially because I don’t get out that way much. I admit that I really wanted to get back to helping with the squat though. By the time I got back, they were almost done, but I still had the chance to help with some of the last attempts. By then, it was time for a lunch break. I still had so much to tell the attendees about their squats though. I ended up spending a lot of time with a group of guys who all came from the same gym.

The guys from Low country Strength in Charleston, South Carolina, were great guys to coach. I was very pumped to see a whole team of guys show up together. They managed to listen to me rant so long that we all missed the catered lunch elitefts™ provided. We got some drinks, cornbread, and beans! Seems pretty similar to a prison meal now that I think about it. It was well worth missing lunch to help those guys out however I could. After lunch, we went to the bench where many guys put up some great PRs. By the deadlift, you could tell that people were getting tired, but everyone was still focused and working really hard. I think we even had a couple PRs there, too.

That part of the day was a lot of fun for me, and I feel it definitely was my strongest suit. I love coaching technique, and more than that, I love motivating people to push past and break through their barriers. One of the guys told me that I was a very intimidating person. It's hard to miss a lift when I'm in a lifter's face. But I'll do whatever it takes to motivate someone. I feel like we had some great guys and girls in the nasty group. They were all very coachable and all worked really hard. We had a great group of coaches who did a great job as well. It was awesome being a part of that and I would like to thank all the attendees and coaches.

After lifting came the Q&A part of the seminar. We must have done a great job because no one had questions at first. Everyone was probably so stuffed with new information that they couldn’t even think of questions. Finally, things got rolling and Steve Pulcinella completely took the spotlight. That guy is just flat-out hysterical, and I think he had everyone in the place laughing. He should be a stand-up comedian for strength athletes and lifters. I think elitefts™ should start a video segment titled "Story Time with Steve." I would never miss an episode for sure!

The day wrapped up with me sitting around with Dave, Steve Goggins, Jo Jordan, and a few other people, just talking and telling stories, which was great. Dave gave me a ride back to the airport and I proceeded to almost make him spit his drink all over his dashboard and windshield.

At the airport, I ran into Jo Jordan again waiting in line at the security checkpoint. I was pushing the time limit after getting through security but had to grab something to eat and some water. Shortly after, I heard my name being called over the speaker that it was the last call for me to get to my flight. As I arrived at the gate, the girl asked my name and said that they had been about to give away my seat. WTF? People were still boarding at that time. I guess the time on the ticket that says "boarding" means you had better be there by that time even though the fight leaves twenty or thirty minutes later.

The flight home sucked horribly. On the second leg of my trip, I got stuck by the window next to a rather large woman who thought that she deserved both armrests. I kept myself calm by using my imagination and picturing my elbow splitting her nose. That way she would relinquish the armrest.

Then a gentleman let his diabetes get out of control and passed out. The stewardesses asked if there were any doctors on board and the absolute last guy who I thought would be a doctor stood up. It's true what they say—never judge a book by its cover. Well, he got the guy back awake and straightened out. You could tell that he wanted to keep a low profile, but all these nosy ass women kept trying to ask him what was wrong with the guy. Maybe it was just too many people in my circle of hate, but that just pissed me off. I just wanted to scream out, "It's none of your damn business! The guy obviously doesn’t want to tell you, so leave him the hell alone and worry about you own damn nosy ass issues." Needless to say, I was so glad to get back to my nice, quiet home.

All in all, it was a great weekend and I was honored to be a part of it. I'm not sure about the final numbers, but I think there was a lot of money raised for the Make-A-Wish® Foundation. Many people put up PR lifts and now have the information to keep pushing it even further. That alone is a great thing to be a part of. I also got to see many great people who I haven’t seen in a while and I met some new ones. There are too many people to name, but everyone associated with elitefts™ is awesome.

It's great to be associated with them. It was amazing to be a part of LTT6 and hopefully I'm asked back for another one. My only disappointments were that I didn’t get a chance to eat at White Castle (I grew up a mid-west boy) and having a roommate kind of sucks for me. When I can’t sleep, I usually get up and try to do something and then try to sleep again. I didn’t want to make the poor guy suffer because I was watching television and making noise or something. Oh yeah, the airplanes sucked, too. But it was all totally worth the experience for sure!