I'm going to do this Kicking and Screaming.
This Saturday at 10AM I will be stepping on stage at the 2013 NPC Northern Kentucky Physique Championships. I don't want to.
For those who don't know me I am one of the two head Coaches at The Dirty Gym. Like Marcus Mucheck, I come to the table with a unique experience in competitive athletics. Though unlike Marcus and Combat/Barbell sports, the majority of my experiences are from a totally different world.
I spent almost 8-years as a sponsored Multi-Sport Ultra Endurance Athlete and winning Solo Adventure Racer. That means Multi-Day long Races, Maps, Compasses, Bikes, Boats, Mountains, Logistics, Massive Sleep Deprivation and constant Over-use Injuries. Although interesting, I don't really want to get into my background (and how I came to help build The Dirty Gym) -- I'll save that story for a rainy day.
What I really want to talk about is my motivation as a Coach to put myself out there on a stage and do something I seriously don't want to. Mainly, the motivation to "Lead by Example".
Here I was in 2012 making my serious transition into competition Strength Sports. I was moving up the Power-lifting weight classes from 165# to 198# and It was all going so well. Size gains were lean, strength gains were abundant and then BAM -- one misstep and my whole plan for a competitive 2013 season was Fucked.
I had been working one weekend with a yoke-walk loaded to 900#. After multiple passes I miss-loaded my back and ended up bulging and pinching my Spinal Thoracolumbar Junction (TLJ). I was lucky to not have broken it.
Psychologically I was crushed. I could barely walk and just breathing hurt. I spent over a week just lying on my floor at night staring at the ceiling to avoid pain. I was a wreck.
Well, this is where most intelligent people would expect the "take a step back, get all your ducks in a row, come back stronger" recovery article to start. Well I'm going to skip all that common sense stuff -- you do need to be active in your recovery planning. Though what most people won't do is stick a competition date and deadline right in your path for motivation. That's what we do here.
After talking it over with my coach (Yes, I have a coach, and if you call yourself one and don't have your own -- you are a fool), chiro and sports massage therapist we decided the best course of action would be to forego any spinal loaded movements and focus solely on Bodybuilding for several months.
Not only would this give my back time to heal, it would reinforce the size and strength gains we we're so desperately working towards. As an added benefit, it would give me a chance to refine and experience the Nutritional programs I was putting together for other Figure Athletes. Great, right!?
No, this was very tough for me.
I am a Lifter, not a Bodybuilder.
I don't want to go onstage. I don't want to primp, shave, and tan. I feel almost foolish posing in front of a mirror. I can't help but laugh at people who want to be part of a sport that actively avoids Legs (sorry Physique guys).
The Training to me was boring as hell. I wanted to lift heavy barbells fast. I wanted to throw Atlas stones around and slam shit. Instead, because of my injury, I was working with dumbbells, bands, Airdynes and eventually, lighter "sissy" barbells.
Even worse, I had to be dedicated to a Nutritional program that I had used with other Figure clients, but not on myself. My product was being put to a very personal and public test. Medals are on the line, and when something is on the line and you stick your neck out -- you can't help but begin to second guess yourself.
Before I started this I knew my Training and Nutrition programs worked across the board, even for rigorous Figure Sports -- but now I know how it feels to do it. I've experienced its results. I've felt the highs and lows. I know what kind of fear and discomfort can creep in, and the best thing is I now know its limitations.
As a Coach, I will never ask a Client to do something I would not do myself.
Here at The Dirty Gym, we "Lead by Example". Everyone competes, even the Coaches. Not just to Participate, but to Win. I can't help but believe this sets us apart from every other Training facility that doesn't have this at their core. New clients show up every day and tell us this same thing.
On a side note...
I know that this was a strange article. More of a rant. I know I wanted to talk about my experience recovering from my injury and preparing for this Show, but I wasn't sure what point I wanted to get across -- maybe this will help:
Do me a favor and ask your Coach or Trainer what they are training for right now, and how. Chances are if you're not at a gym like ours you will get a wide variety of answers that are likely just re-phrased excuses.
Next time your Coach or Trainer asks you to eat a certain way, or change something in your lifestyle -- ask them if they've ever done it that way themselves, and what they do now.
These details are only really important in the context of becoming an informed consumer, and building trust with your Coach. If you don't want either of those things, well, I can't help you.