The Down and Dirty: Angel Jones, and How I Got Started at the DG...
Recently I was asked where I came from and how I got here, to the Dirty Gym, training athletes and competing as a strength athlete myself. And yes, I was also asked how I know so much about strength training. The story is so strange I usually cringe to tell people the reality of how long I've been doing this... hint, its not very long. I did not grow up playing sports, I did not swim or do gymnastics and I sure as hell didn't run. I did not have a team as a kid, I had medical bills. Almost every year from the age of 7 to 16 I broke some significantly large bone in my body, we're not talking fingers and toes here. As an adolescent I spent a total of three and a half years of my life in a cast and a wheel chair or a walker or in this torture device called a figure 8. So when I say that I had no experience with fitness until starting this journey less than two years ago... I fucking mean it.
Here it is babies, the story of how I got to the Dirty Gym and what it has taken for me to change my own body while helping others change their bodies as well.
Two winters ago, at 5'3” I weighed almost 200 pounds. I had been overweight and out of shape my whole life, but never like this. The damage I was doing to my body carried over into my mental health as well. I understand no one here wants to talk about the feels, fuck it, I'm talking about the feels. I felt sad, sad as shit. I was riddled with self esteem issues, abandonment issues and horrible anxiety; all of which I validated by saying to myself on a daily basis, “all of these horrible things are going to happen to you, you look like shit and you cant do shit... except read books and sit on the couch, so ya you suck.” Now this is the part where I'm supposed to tell you I had an epic awakening event of some kind that kick started my drive to transform myself from flab to fab... blah blah blah. It really did not happen like that for me, nothing happened, that's the point. Nothing was changing, I just got so fed up with the same struggle. I wanted to experience my life to the fullest, I wanted to dedicate myself to myself. The clearest path to that goal was to get off the fucking couch.
So, I did, I got off that couch. Went to a CrossFit class with a friend of mine, was instantly hooked and jumped right in. I drank the CrossFit cool aid hard friends. Went every day, then twice a day, bought the uniform, read the books, ate the food, lost 40 pounds in 8 months. In that time I also competed in my first local level crossfit competition and took 2nd in total weight moved. It was pretty clear from the get go that I loved to lift weight, it was the most natural and most fulfilling part of crossfit for me.
This is where we start to get a little weird, and a little dirty, and a lot strong.
I had heard about this place called The Dirty Gym through social media. They were hosting an all women's powerlifting seminar with World Record holder Caitlyn Trout and, I thought, ya that sounds interesting. But more importantly, its a way for me to check out this incredibly intimidating gym for competitive athletes without actually having to work out in front of these monsters. Clearly I was still battling some esteem issues. Owners and head coaches Matt and Marcus were not having any of that bullshit. As soon as I came in they were like, “hey, what do we have to do to get you to just try this for a week”. That was seven months ago, that was another 30 pounds ago, that was a miserable job ago... you get the idea. In 8 months at the DG I've put well over a hundred pounds on my back squat, 70 pounds on my bench and another 100 on my deadlift, all while getting leaner. The Dirty Gym is not just a place you go to get a work out in, its where you go to generate real change.
Here's a look at my last squat session:
5 rep max back squat
Front squat 15 total reps at 80%-90% of best
GHR 10x5 weighted
Back Extensions 10x5 weighted
Cable pull through x100
Upright fly x50
Lat Pulldown x50