2013 was a great year for me. I built a successful coaching business inside and outside a commercial facility where I was able to meet, help and continue to help some truly inspiring people. I was able to travel and learn from some great individuals. I started this blog (which can still use alot of improvements, admittedly). I celebrated a half of a decade with the woman I hope to spend the rest of my life with, among many other things. What I want to talk about, however, is the biggest change I made this past year.
As many of you already know, I played football for 8 years of my life. I began strength training when I first had the opportunity to play football in high school (late bloomer I know) and continued playing and training throughout my undergrad. Ever since I first picked up a barbell, my training had direction…a goal. I always did the best I could with what I knew and what I had to become the best I could be on the field. I also trained around those who shared the same goal. Teammates who were much stronger and much more talented then I ever was. At Cortland, I was fortunate enough to train in one of the greatest environments I could imagine, among some of the hardest working individuals I have ever met. It wasn’t until after I had graduated and stepped off the field forever, that I realized what I would be missing.
For the last two years, I tinkered with many programs and nutrition protocols. Seeing what worked and what didn’t so I could eventually use what I learned with my clients. Sure, I had fun and saw some results but my training had no real direction. I decided, with a little help from one of my best friends (and now training partner) to compete once again. While most of everyone else that I know trains for or competes in bodybuilding or powerlifting, I gravitated toward strongman. I sent the entry form in for my first show, wrote a program using The Cube for Strongman and began training at my commercial facility as well as one day at one of my studios for event day. I trained as hard and smart as I could with what I had and saw some results but it wasn’t enough. I just didn’t have the equipment to train how I needed to.
My now training partner had been pushing for me to train with him regularly at Gaglione Strength but my schedule only allowed for one day, event day. I had known John previously simply because of the work he has done for the Strength community on LI and even attended a bunch of his seminars but training there full time was never the plan. After training at Gags’ place one day a week as well as three on my own, competing in my first show where I took fourth in my division, I decided to commit to my training a bit more. Eventually, I was able to clear up my evenings and join the 7pm crew on a regular basis.
To most, Gaglione Strength, a 1k square foot garage packed to the brim with crazy equipment and even “crazier” people may seem daunting, but I never had any doubt I would get what I needed there. It wasn’t until one Thursday night in November while deadlifting, however, that I finally realized what had been missing from my training for almost 2 years, and what exactly I’ve had for the last 3 months. We were working up to a 1RM 2 weeks out from RPS Insurextion II. I had already hit a 40# bodyweight PR (personal record). It was tough so I decided to make a very conservative 10# jump. As I loading the bar, John nonchalantly walked passed and said “throw 20 on”. I then proceeded to pull 425# at 185# bodyweight as “easily” as I had pulled 405# while everyone else in the gym cheered me on. I can say with absolute certainty that if I had been lifting alone, in a commercial facility, with music in my ears and no one there to kick me in the ass, I would not have even attempted, let alone come away with, a 60# PR. In fact, since starting full time at Gaglione Strength, I’ve unofficially put 30# on my squat, 20# on my bench and 60# on my deadlift, not to mention the gains I have come to realize in stones, log, yolk and other events.
Yes, John writes me an awesome program every month (as a coach, I can tell you how much of a relief it is not to have to program for yourself). Having a goal and a plan to reach that goal is key, of course, but it pails in comparison to the intent with which you attack that goal and execute that plan. This is where John has really gotten it right. He has fostered an environment that leaves you with no other choice but to succeed. He has created a small, tight knit environment that not only includes some of the strongest men and women on Long Island, but some of the most caring individuals as well. Whether its John or Eric coaching, CT providing some ART, Vidal giving some much needed advice on some event training, Steve screaming some nonsense that may actually help, or myself giving some mobility/corrective advice, every person at Gaglione Strength is there for the same reason…to make each other better. It is the only place where, a 12 year old kid can learn everything he/she needs to remain strong for the rest of their life, right along side a housewife looking to improve body composition and a nationally ranked powerlifter squatting 6 something. I cannot speak highly enough about the environment and community John has created.
Do me a favor and take a look at your own environment. Whether it be during training, work or at home. Are you comfortable enough to perform but uncomfortable enough to better yourself? Are the stresses you deal with primarily eustress’? Do you have the ability to cope with distress? Most importantly, are the people you are surrounded by positive individuals that will not only not destroy your opportunities for success, but add to them?
I will leave you with one of my personal creeds, if you will. A quote from one of the most influential individuals in my life. One of my high school coaches and teachers, Rob Gewirtz. It was told to me early in high school when I showed potential to play football at the next level but was hanging with the wrong crowd, fighting and overall not living up to my potential. He said, “don’t surround yourself with people who aren’t catalysts for your own success”. Not only should you immediately cut ties with those who are detrimental to your success, you should also look to create a positive network of those who will help you reach them. John has done this exact thing, and I couldn’t be any happier to be a part of it.
So I ask you…How’s YOUR environment?