If you’ve been wondering why I’ve been MIA lately . . . well . . . I’ve been a little bit busy.  I’m starting my own business.  The team and I have moved locations and we are now officially under the moniker “Occam Athletics.”  We’re still in the heart of Midtown; located inside of Cap City Strength and Performance on 23rd and S.  I was planning on making a move like this eventually but sometimes life happens and you need to take an opportunity when you see it.

Opportunity.

Opportunity.

It’s going to be a long road.  The bulk of my equipment will arrive in a couple weeks. I’ll be getting a few more essentials in the months to follow.  We’re eventually going to be set up with a 1200 square foot room dedicated to platform space; Our very own weightlifting dungeon.  Starting this week it’s back to business as usual. I’ll be running team practices and doing one evening strength and conditioning class on MWF at 5:30.  I’ve got more info for those interested.

But man . . . let me tell you, Shiah was right.  Nothing can hold you back.  Seriously if you want to do something, just do it. DO IT.

Me after I locked up at the new spot tonight.  Ok, maybe a slight exaggeration.

Me after I locked up at the new spot tonight. Ok, maybe a slight exaggeration.

Get a Hammock.

June 28, 2015

Lake Margaret.

Lake Margaret.

Life takes you to some pretty interesting places sometimes; “interesting” being a loaded descriptor.  You might go for months or years on end living every day exactly the same.  Maybe it was one day, maybe it was one moment and everything got turned on it’s head.  You’ve got the choice to either deal with it or let it overcome you.  Maybe it’s a little of both.

Both.

Both.

Sometimes the easiest thing to do is to put your head down and press forward. It takes confidence to look inward and ask where do I want to go from here.  One thing that I know through experience is that it’s a difficult task to be strong if you have no purpose.

Let us find it and be thankful.

As I sat in the Kansas City Airport eating what must assuredly be the worst pastrami sandwich of my adult life, I finely found time for some self reflection; time to understand what a transformative experience I had just went through. As I sat in the Kansas city Airport eating the the worst pastrami sandwich I’ve had since 4th grade, I began to understand the depth of what I’ve been missing in my life and what I have to look forward to once this sandwich is eaten; banished to the depths so that it can no longer infect the world with it’s presence. It was a poor excuse for sandwich if I’ve ever seen one; possessing the minimum requirements of what could be considered a hand held vessel for meat consumption but without the soul required to satisfy discerning palettes.

I’m 28 now. Young enough to be at a station where it’s ok to still not have a finite plan together but old enough to know that there are consequences to every decision we make in this life; old enough to know that the cost of every decision is far too great to quantify. Time isn’t money. Time is life. It’s the only thing we really own before we return as dust. My sister just had a kid. I’m flying home from a wedding I was graciously invited to be in as a groomsman. Sitting in the Kansas City airport eating a vile excuse for a sandwich is somehow personally significant. It’s the first time since 2012 I’ve taken 4 consecutive days off from work for a non-work related trip; Not for the sandwich of course but for the wedding.

That in itself was a hard realization. The past 3 years have taught me much. But they’ve cost me just as much. If you re-read the paragraph above and interpret time as the only true currency, then consider me bankrupt. I’ve spent it all chasing dreams and unicorns. I’ve spent it turning this thing from a hobby to an obsession to a bonafide job. My church is now my office. In the past I’ve looked to nature for short jaunts away from my day to day. Self reflection had become a top priority. In my mind, it was the only legitimate reason I would need an escape. I am an exceptionally brief person by nature, so the last thing I considered as a means of self refection would be to surround myself with other people. People I don’t know. People who are not the gym. I never thought that my buddy’s wedding in Kansas City and the sandwich that followed would be the catalyst that would allow me to truly look inward.

What do you get when you try and photograph one collegiate strength coach, one private strength and conditioning coach and one weightlifting coach?  Not a lot of room for anything else.

What do you get when you try and photograph one collegiate strength coach, one private strength and conditioning coach and one weightlifting coach? Not a lot of room for anything else.

I learned a few things this weekend:

1) The longer I chase this thing, and by “this thing” I mean the last 2-3 years of my high level athletic career, the more it will “cost” me personally.

2) I have a profound need for self validation at the end of all this. No one will truly care how far I get, at least as much as I do. But still I NEED to get to the end and tell myself it was worth it. In my mind, I think that’s getting a medal at Nationals or the American Open. I’ll know for sure after one of those things happen.

3) After it’s over, I’m going to be ok. I shove a lot of my basic needs on the back burner so I can focus on the day to day grind. I love it. I thrive on it. It completes me. But someday soon, I’m going to go on that extra long hike or that trip across Europe or pick up martial arts and rock climbing again or get a dog or move in with a girl. I see the light at the end of the tunnel and honestly it looks pretty good.

4) Weightlifting will always be a part of my life. After all, I’ve always identified more with Obi Wan Kenobi than Luke Skywalker . . . Han Solo too but that’s a different story.

5) I don’t have an excuse to not succeed. Neither do you if you think about it.

6) One day, I’m going to buy my own cat. In 2014, I realized that I spent my entire life not knowing that I liked them. He’s going to be a fat, furry, gnarly looking asshole.

My fellow man taught me a lot this weekend. I met the families and I was accepted as one of their own for a whole weekend, all because I love Nate. A few closing thoughts before I get on this plane: visit Kansas City if you get the chance, go to Arthur Bryants and order the burnt ends. Follow your bliss but never forget that you need at least a few other people to share that bliss with. If you set your eyes on a goal, go forth and fucking destroy it. If it’s worth your time, it’s worth your effort too.

This post is dedicated to Nate and Ryann and the awful, self reflective sandwich that followed a wonderful weekend with your family. For reference, Nate and I are exactly the same age, we have similar jobs but for as many similarities we share, we share just as many differences. I’ve learned a lot about myself from our friendship as you can probably gather.

Burnt Ends.

April 27, 2015

Saturday wrapped up the longest stretch of consecutive coaching/work days of my career.  4 weeks by my estimation.  Worth it?  Most certainly.  I started lifting weights as a sport 10 years ago.  I never thought it would take me here.  That being said, If you know and are friends with me on a personal level, I owe you both a congratulations and an apology.  I don’t think I’ve willingly or been happy about answering my phone for at least the last 3 weeks.

Young strength coaches or trainers,  find balance.  Like me, you might find yourself with a few hours of actual free time on your hands only to find that you have no one to spend it with.  All your friends will have given up.

I’d now like to share with you a picture of personal significance to me.

I spent MANY years trying to find my way out of the classroom.  It looks a lot different from this angle.

I spent MANY years trying to find my way out of the classroom. It looks a lot different from this angle.

One thing that they don’t tell you about getting into the strength and conditioning or general fitness field is the amount of time that you will be spending doing work related things OTHER than coaching at the gym.  More often than not, training will be the first thing to suffer.  You’d think that working at a gym means unlimited gym time with your mental state complexly focused on your sport goals.  That might be true for the first couple years while you’re building your base (and are poor) but when you finely find yourself with your feet underneath you, you will also find your church has been turned into your office; albeit the COOLEST office ever.

The photo pictured above is taken from the NSCA Norcal State Clinic.  I was lucky enough to be one of the featured speakers.  For me, this represented a personal milestone.  This is the first crowd that I came in contact with in 2005 that actually KNEW about Olympic weightlifting.  I can remember eagerly walking into the CSUS weight room and some of the masters kinesiology students were in there practicing their lifts or getting ready for competition.  These were my first weightlifting heroes.  Some of those people were actually present this day when I spoke and it gave me a special feeling of closure re-meeting these people; this time on the professional level.

A final closing thought: The grind IS worth it.  Just make sure that by the time you’re done grinding, you have a plan for the future and people to spend it with.

The Only Guarantee.

April 5, 2015

The feeling of excitement after breaking through a long time barrier.  Never gets old.

The feeling of excitement after breaking through a long time barrier. Never gets old.

Sometimes breakthroughs come when you need them the most.  Maybe you need a personal “win” in your life and snatching 152 is exactly what you needed.

Maybe it doesn’t come at all.

The point is, nothing is guaranteed.  You need to make your own way in this life inside the gym and out. Hopefully, you’ve found people that share the same goals as you.  Hopefully, you’ve found a process that works for your group.  Trust in it.  Trust in your group.  And don’t forget to have FUN.

Follow Your Bliss.

March 10, 2015

Pre-contest.

Pre-contest.

Spotlight on Steiner.

March 9, 2015

Recent additions to the weightlifting family might not remember this one.  I’ll always be a Chiggy fan but Steiner’s road to his weightlifting gold is one that tugs at my heartstrings and will go down in history as one of the most memorable Olympic performances.

152kg.

February 21, 2015

It’s been a long three weeks  . . . Month? I don’t know.  Hard to keep track.  But every now and then something happens that will surprise me.

Finally making some progress after a long dryspell with the snatch.  Also I'm lighter.

Finally making some progress after a long dryspell with the snatch. Also I’m lighter.

Trust the process.

JC.

February 14, 2015

“Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging.”-Joseph Campbell

“Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging.”-Joseph Campbell

It’s a story about ideology.  When the yamdancers had trust in their process, the whole community would benefit.

There’s a whole plethora of information available concerning the training of the weightlifter.  Learn.  But also have trust in your process.  Weightlifting is a journey and sometimes trusting the process means snatching 147 for the first time in 2011 and not being able to snatch 150 until 2013.  Find strength in the group.  And most importantly, have fun.