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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Cal Strengths YouTube Channel

The gravel crunches under my feet as I take a stroll down a once operating machine factory I once called home, that now lays in ruins full of old cameras and scattered shoes.  Swinging swings squeak as the the wind swirls through the empty abandoned park, creating a false reality of life, as newspapers dance across the dirt, and kilo plates fall over from the wooded blocks the weights have gotten to know and love.  A rustic world where memories live and dreams were made.  Old Cal Strength. The original, and the place where it all started.  The longer I walk under this dark yellow sky, the deeper the Cal Strength YouTube channel goes.  Faces that bring a smile to my face, and some a tear, as the memories are only the start, for the surface has cracks, and deep within those cracks lie the feeling that each person left upon me.  Each person has unknowingly formed me into the man I am today.  Each video has branded me a home sick feeling that pounds deep within my stomach.  The more I write, the more I walk, the deeper I go, the more the home sick feeling grows, leaving me wanting to re-live each video, each laugh, each joke, each miss, and each struggle.  Adopted from what I loved most, a shoulder to lean on, and a family to call my own.  I walk with my head down, for seeing too much makes it too hard to continue the YouTube stroll down this graveyard of old school.  The graveyard of the very beginning.

Glenn's nicely shaved face and nervous ticks while being filmed runs a tear down my eye as I write this blog that has already shown itself as one of the hardest blogs to write to date.  Max Aita performing a no belt, no wraps and no hands 250kg back squat, then afterward joking around about our little pyramid scheme, inside joke we created after always getting approached constantly at Costco, made my home sick feeling grow to the point of pain. Donny Shankle telling his famous war stories on a hot summer day while we all sat around drinking our energy drinks as if the platform was a camp fire, and the resting chairs were our tent. Mullet jokes with Enderton, while Spencer danced on top of the jerk blocks.  Kevin Cornell and his wise philosophy made every one's hard training day become a little bit better, while Rob's loud skipping laugh echoed throughout the gyms walls for all to hear.

At this point of the journey I have found myself resting on an old white pick up truck that Max must have forgotten to drive away with before the new school Cal Strength came through.  It is no longer white and alive, now dead and brown from the constant slashing of the wind and dirt that never seems to let up.  Sunny skies and rolling hills have turned into forgotten paths and cow pastures full of bones. A deserted world that once bloomed colors and energy, now quiet and calm it sleeps.  I mustered up the strength to drag my legs down the Cal Strength channel even deeper, on the hunt for what started everything.....the very first video.

The gravel road turned a few sharp corners as it led me down its windy hill.  The yellow sky is brighter than earlier, as black clouds splattered throughout like spilled paint.  The dirt world is a desert waste land, but off in the distance there stands life, tall and proud, green and alive, beautiful and fulfilling.  A tree, a single tree that my eyes followed while my feet stepped blindly.  My hands out to the side to better balance myself from my feet stepping in all the wrong places.  The wind seemed to die down, as true silence rang throughout the waste land.  A broken wall that laid half in ruins tried desperately to stand in front of the tree.  It looked as if the wall had been defeated, as the tree stood in victory.  Was this wall once a part of the old Cal Strength?  I mumbled to myself as my hand brushed the sad wall.  Sad it truly was, I felt like at any minute the wall was going to ask me if it could be tall and sturdy like the tree in front of it.  My heart rang out, smothering my home sick stomach, with now a stinging pain in my heart.  My other hand grabbed the bark from the tree while my eyes stared down on the small path that ran between my legs, now finding myself resting and relying on both objects after a long and emotional journey.  I then knew where I was.  Lightning went off and the grey clouds darkened the yellow sky.  Both my hands became free as my back hit the wall and my body slid down into the dirt that grew so familiar.  My eyes closed with a fallen tear, as my fingers dug deep into the dirt creating a sharp pain from my finger nails being pushed back.  The tree might as well have smiled at me and told me it has been too long.  The wall had my back like it always had, and the little path that ran between both the tree and wall was the same, it was just without water running down and green grass surrounding it.  My hands beneath the dirt felt a long piece of medal.  My head turned to the hand that captured this treasure, and then my arm began to pick up speed moving back and forth trying to wrestle the dry dirt away to view what my hand was holding.  A stubborn thing this piece of medal was, so stubborn I found myself standing up heaving with all my might.  Soon after about 10 minutes of battle, the object uplifted from the graveyard of dirt, and showed itself.  It was a medal chair.  Bent and broken, used and then forgotten, lonely and left behind.  I new I had to continue on my path down to the bottom of the deepest Cal Strength video.  I must leave this memory behind me always keeping it deep down inside of me never to be forgotten.  I must walk away from the once beautiful and magical place Donny and I once called our smoke break behind the gym. 

I soon found myself down deep, deep where the landscape became blurry and out of focus from the small little camera Glenn used to film with.  Before the beard, before the exposure, before the medals, before everything.  Broken bars and broken straps that were once shinning stars of this time period.  Old shoes with no laces, and echos from past lifts as screams and yells whistled with the wind.  Dirt hitting empty coffee cups that made sounds of chatter about possibly putting a blog together, and the excited talk about coaching and clients, gold medal goals, and maybe one day the chance to be able to represent the Country.  Dreams that were boiling like water on the stove.  Videos that were mostly clips of single lifts that bloomed into multiple clips that soon became training videos.  Retired YouTube views begged for more hits on the side of the gravel road like homeless bum's begging for drug money.  A single number 1, was telling stories and bragging about how he was the first viewer ever, the first YouTube hit ever.  He sat up high on a broken platform as he took credit for the start of the thousands and thousands hits to come.  For he was the original hit, the first hit ever that created a wave of something that no one at the time ever thought possible.  I broke a smile and waved at number one as I passed by, raising my head to show my respect and appreciation.  I stumbled upon a blackberry that the dirt had not fully swallowed.  Not the fruit, but the phone.  I picked it up and then blew the dirt off the screen to get a better look.  I knew right away that this was the phone of  Dave Spitz.  Keys completely worn out from the fast typing of exciting numbers his athletes just hit.  Fast texting from the work he constantly put in to grow the life of his baby.  The owner of Cal Strength, the boss man, the godfather, the leader, the man that made it all possible.  The man that gave me a chance when I was a young troubled kid.  The man that breathed air into my lungs and gave me a purpose.  Memories of him yelling at me while front squatting, "There is no crying in weightlifting, Jon!" I wonder what he would yell at me now if he saw my face.  Because right now I am not weightlifting.  Maybe I will travel high up to the very top of the channel where a world of unknown and new faces live and return his phone.  Maybe he dropped it while moving forward away from the old school waste land.  I put it in my pocket, and traveled down deeper to where the videos became even more blurry, shaky, and innocent.  I walked deeper down to the place where I was born. 

Muscle Driver and the Attitude Nation seemed a million miles away.  I started to miss my present life, but was too driven by the good old days to stop now.  Martin Pashov told stories of how he wanted to be a soccer player in Bulgaria, but was never allowed to because they forced him to become a weightlifter.  This always broke my heart.  Anthony Grule was just a baby experiencing high school, and Caleb Ward was still a 105 plus.  Coach Glenn only wore these gladiator sandals, or what we called, Jesus slippers.  I picked them up from the curve of an empty tire, and put them in my bag to give to him once our paths ran into each other again.  I was close to the bottom, I could feel it in the change of the air.  The temperature started to drop dramatically, and the sky was now pitch black.  The dirt scurried past my feet as every step I took crunched the gravel of moving rocks below me.  I was far away from Donny's and my smoke break tree, and at this point it would be nice to have one with him from the nervous wreck I was under.

My feet met water, as a distant light house cast its light far in the distance.  The wind was heavy, but the water was glass. My feet became bare as my hands became smooth.  The dark only showed its face for the last hour, and now the sun was rising making the nighttime light house fade.  The sun crept up my body warming my cold heart while the dirt turned into green grass.  A boat was heading my way, but I couldn't make out who it was.  It looked like two big people from one side of the boat almost completely tipped one way.  How the boat didn't fall over was nothing but a miracle.  I was startled from the out of no where comment by Pete standing beside me.  I was startled, but more baffled on how he got there.  Pete's Asian eyes lit up as he waved the boat down as if he was the kid in school begging to be called on.  I looked over at Pete with an excited look on my face and asked him "Who is that Pete?"  He replied with a look of confusion because of the fact I didn't know.  "That's your new coach Glenn Pendlay and his athlete Caleb Ward!"  He went on to tell me they made a long journey from Texas to get here, and how excited they were to be a part of the team.  At this point I was waving with Pete, even jumping up and down.  I looked over to Pete while half laughing - half yelling "Over here!" then asking "What team?"  Pete looked back at me as his face became blank and more Asian than ever.  "Team Cal Strength"  Pete looked away while still keeping one eye on me as if he was unsure I was not losing my mind.  I then realized I was home, back to the start, the very bottom of Cal Strength's YouTube channel.  I made it, my journey was a success.  I drew many tears, laughed many memories, and walked many lonely paths, but I made it.  I looked back with a smile ear to ear at Donny sitting on the brand new chair behind the tall proud gym wall and yelled to him with everything I had, "Donny......Coach is here"!!   Donny took a drag from his smoke while looking up into the bright green tree and then back at me, "Good brother, now tell em to hurry it's almost time to train brother".  I waved my head back and forth while shooing him away with my hand as if to say that could wait 'til later, Donny.  He chuckled while wiping some moss away from his white tank top.  "Max!  Come fast, coach is here!" To my surprise Max was already right next to me, beard and glasses in full affect, and responded with just a look beyond out to the boat.  My chest became warm from my wife Jessica leaning up against me as my arms wrapped around her body, as if we were watching the sunset, but instead we were waiting upon two heavy set men that were almost drowning the boat.  Caleb with a barbell, and coach with a small silver camera.  Dave Spitz welcomed them both.  I then startled in excitement to show both coach and Dave that I found their belongings on my journey to now.  I held out the blackberry phone in one hand, and the Gladiator sandals in another, awaiting their good praises.  But instead, getting funny looks in return as I soon noticed they already had these objects with them.  I almost forgot that this interaction was only a memory, and that the only place to go from here is forward, back through the rolling grassy hills of San Ramon, tall tree of smoke breaks behind the gym, back past Max's bright white Chevy truck, brand new barbells and new shoes, and upgraded cameras to capture all of the memories and success that happened throughout the beginning of the Cal Strength days.  All soon to one day turn back into the waste land of forgotten times and rustic memories.  At this point view number one was not bragging on top of the broken platform, because view number one was not alive yet. 

Coach Pendlay and Dave looked at the new and improved team with Donny off in the distance wrapping his knees with his famous knee wraps, and they both said at the same time......."Well....shall we train...?".  

The rest is history.

A forgotten video from the old and original waste land

Cal Strength 2016

Monday, May 27, 2013

Silent Owl

Four gentlemen.  Four scholars.  Four men captivated by the bar, sailing the gym with empty guts filled with swirling waves of energy drinks.  Their caffeinated adventure and their midnight chatter sways them along the distant and never ending ocean made up of sugar, and birds that circle their ship of chairs and coaches tied together by the strings from each men's shoes.  Knots that pull tight just like the grip they use to hold their shaker cups, keep the boat attached, while the men roll deeper into dreams and goals they didn't even know where there.  Hands move with their mouths, while body language follows the rhythm of the conversation.  Laughter rings out throughout the empty sea as one of the men ask for another shot of energy.  "Hell yea!" Matt says to Ryan, as powder starts to pour like sand from a shoe.  Powder that dances as it enters the cup.... a cup that will soon be shaken.  Pink powder that is legal, how this is possible makes the men burst with laughter even louder than before. A drug that allows the men to feel comfortable around each other, like a beer at a business meeting, or coffee on a first date. An ice breaker, a conversation starter, a counselor of some sort, constantly begging for more truth, more discussion, more of you.  Body building magazines that lay scattered on the wet deck, only to be glanced upon and then thrown to the side, leaving the magazine empty and unfulfilled.

When lost at sea the only thing to do is chug powder, crack monsters, and feel the smooth face of miss brown eyes against the palm of your hand. The yellow birds occasionally swoop down to catch a better view of the on board barrels that reek of motivation and wide eyed emotion.  The gusts of wind from the splashing whales and rolling kilo plates made miss brown eyes' hair find peace above her head, blocking out the sight of the birds as if a slide show was being played above all for men's heads.  A slide show of blue ski for miles, and clouds that made shapes of Dimas on a unicorn jumping over caffeinated waterfalls.  It became quiet for a moment as all four scholars of their respected career choices drew from their rich and inviting drinks.  A smack of the lips and a shake from the head was only the start of the after drink ritual.  The classic look of the cup from a stretched out arm like something was wrong, meant that everything in the world was right.  Chatter laid still in peace, as the sound of the boat slapping the water gave each man a moment of tranquility.  Chunks of energy powder found its way on the back of each mans throat and behind the gums that always seemed to bleed when brushed.  A fast chew as their eyes pinned wide, but the sight could not make out what laid in front of them from the pure concentration of the task at hand.  Rocks exploded as the supplements taste and high powered electricity punched them in the face, followed this time around - by a fast and violent sip to wash the left overs down deep into the belly of the beast.

Another topic popped up like the silence was never there.  The silence grabbed its doctor bag and medical kit and flew away.  He was glad to leave, for he was an owl, and owls had no business being out in the middle of a ocean made up of sugar and yellow birds.  The silent owl was always known for being realistic, and this situation was far from anything that lingered on making a bit of sense.  To the four men reality couldn't be more real. The spray of the ocean tasted like sugar, and the circling birds drew a certain shade that they could feel upon their skin.  How could this not be reality?  A reality they could taste with every sip of their mixed multi-colored contraptions they were drinking, like a pirate to his alcohol.  The front room boat stayed swaying as the lobby squeezed the shoe string boat closer and closer to the tiny door that was becoming bigger and bigger.  A door that became land, and land that lead to the land called gym.

Jokes and ball breaking would be soon rudely interrupted by a heavy reality.  Ideas were the reflections that the men saw when they pierced through the depth of the water, as the boat swayed closer and closer to the growing door.  Looking back at them was the what if's and the how comes.  Whales that rolled in circles with giant smiles upon their faces.  Fish that spoke English sang songs from the 90's, and the outer banks of the ocean came to a stop, as if the water and sea life had no where else to go.  All roads led to one destination.  All the whales were swimming to one location, and the birds were flying to help guide the four men home.  Soon the men realized their ocean journey was over, and the front door leading out from the gym lobby and into the gym was 10 feet high and partially cracked open.  Chalk dust fell like snow from the cracked door, as the music bumped through the dead end ocean walls meeting their feet and carrying up through their bodies.  The energy drinks were gone, empty, now living inside them.  The door flew open as the owl of silence made its way to the front of the boat, grabbing the rope with his wing and tying the boat to the long wooded post that the yellow birds momentarily made their new resting spot.  "Let's go's time to train."  - Silent owl.

Energy Drinks 2016

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Level II Camp

The Level II Camp
Skeletons of the Dark Orchestra! We are astatic to announce our Attitude Nation Level 2 Camp!
The Camp will be a 3-day event focusing on authentic Weightlifting, Powerlifting, Gymnastics and Endurance. The Camp will include technique, video analyzation, Q & A, demonstrations, and workouts at the end of each day, including a controlled Weightlifting meet on the final day!
The Weightlifting will be coached by yours truly - National Champion and USA Team Member, Jon North, with assistance of Nationally Ranked Weightlifter, Jessica North. The Powerlifting will be coached by World Champion Powerlifter, Travis Mash of Mash Elite Performance. The Gymnastics and Endurance will be coached by Attitude Nation’s Head CrossFit Coach, Ryan Grady. For the schedual and all of the details visit our site and Register NOW at !! Limited spots open.
3 Days of battle 2016

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Training Without Ritalin

I am Traveling conducting the 40th & 41st AN Certs in Massachusetts this weekend.  Don't have time to write, so here is the new training video from Max Out Friday.  Plus, I re-posted one of my favorite and close to home blogs below called Ritalin.  I will be back in the Orchestra with coffee and skeletons monday morning writing whatever the song and caffeine has for me.  Tell then.......Keep slamming Bars my friends.


I should have ripped the test up right there and then.  Ha! You son of a bitch you can't catch me!  I should have threw all the tiny pieces of medal shackles in the air like chalk before lifting.  I should have rubbed the black coal from my face and painted him a picture of reality with my shaky bare fucken hands.  They would have probably done me a favor and put me on even more Ritalin than I was already on.  That would have been great, considering the fact I would have just kept selling those little pink pills of joy all over the black market for more party money.  Thanks Doc for supporting the whole football team with kegs, pizza and gas money.  Yea, I am crazy buddy, but then again you are the one telling me "what I am going to be when I grow up" from this A B C D or E test.  I didn't see BAMF Athlete on any of the test results, why not Mr?  He then laughs with his brown elbow patch coat and probably a Subaru outside in the parking lot with his name on the curb.  He thinks he is original and self made, but in my eyes, by him telling me what I will be when I grow up, and his best answer for me is more drugs, just means he himself has been told what to do his whole life, and he is 100 percent unoriginal and full of bullshit.  His coat is not brown but white, white a fluffy.  Bad ass mother fucken Athlete is what that means Doc.  Can I be that when I grow up?  Or do I have to pick from these 20 options, because honestly Doc, I really don't want to be a post office worker like you are telling me to be, with your eyes still gazed upon your notebook.  I don't think he has even looked at me once.  He then responded by telling me that sometimes in life we don't always have control, and we are what we are son.  Followed by upping my dosage of Ritalin and extending my stay in the resource rooms, (aka) Room 2.  I then took his clip board and shoved it in his mouth followed by wrapping duck tape all over  his body, so he could never bring down another kid again.  A kick to his chest rolled him and his rolly chair into a closet that I bolted shut, then proceeded to screamed "Shankle" at the top of my lungs!  Odd moment for I didn't even know this man named Shankle back then in high school, also known as the lion Killer.

The Attitude Nation was pumping through my blood before I even knew what it was.  You knew when this happened, even if you didn't, you felt a shift in the air this long while ago.  The shift was a giant boat called the Titanic that I drove around the world visiting every room 2 class there was, rescuing kids from their low ceilings and no window rooms, full of Safeway applications and community college forms.  I burned those jail cells down with my ship.  I watched the room 2 burn to the ground as the kids broke free from their enclosed life, and set foot on a boat of freedom and opportunity.  Now their anger can be controlled in the right way, meaning their way. A wanderlust boat that could end up anywhere.  I was captain freedom, captain hook a kid in the back and bring 'em a board.  I was robin hood that told the kids they could be anything they want, not just a Pro Football player.  And even if you fall short of becoming the football player they always wanted to become, it doesn't mean you have to give up on athletics!  GET INTO ANOTHER SPORT! Don't surrender to football.  Football and the other big sports kill more dreams than they give out, understand this and move on.   You can be a Pro Weightlifter, why not?  You can invent the next Facebook, or open your own gym!  You can be a coach, personal trainer, or yes, you can be a postal worker if you want!  It's a great job!

We are different, we are unique, self Made, self achievers.  Some self taught, and some taught by others of the same unique flavor.  Black fur that is constantly attacked by white paint thrown from others.  Freedom is always envied by others, sometimes even our closest friends.  Go getters we are, go getters who attack our goals while helping others in the mean time.  We are no captain, we are no champagne toasters.  We don't have cigar time after dinner with the gentlemen while talking politics.  We are the coal shoveling, fire burning, bottom of the boat black faced working, sweat dripping, strong armed, banned from society, out casted sheep who didn't listen to our fucken guidance councelors.  Rebels of some sort, who wash their hands with blood, not soap.  Eat with their hands not forks.  Who get a high off strength in the gym and even more importantly... out.

This never happened though. My face was not black from the coal I shoveled into the Titanic with my fellow weightlifters. I did not save my fellow room 2ians. I did not cast a ship of freedom and duck tape my counselor's mouth shut.  All these things I wanted to do, and thought about while my therapists were showing me black shadows on card stalk paper, while being asked what came to mind.  I listened to all my counselors, therapists, tutors, and teachers.  I took the Pills that gave me little emotion, and seemed to numb my feelings so I could read at a faster rate.  Even though my senior year I was only reading at a 7th grade level, and I still couldn't pass pre-algebra.  This came with tears and embarrassment.  That's why seeing my blog near 200,000 hits makes me check my alarm clock to see when it will go off.  All my subjects were in one classroom, one teacher, and only a few classmates.  My odds of becoming who I am today were against me big time.  I said red and people laughed while black always hit.  Black, black, black, black.  Pills, pills, pills, pills.  Talk, talk, talk, talk.

It was the day some of my teachers laughed when I said I wanted to play ball at a four year out of state, when I threw my desk and walked out of the classroom in tears and frustration.  Fuck you Football, you left me all alone, but guess what you son of a bitch, a family called Weightlifting picked me up on the side of the road, and took me in as one of their own.  Fuck you Room 2,  I rose high above your low bar, and never surrendered to your 20 options and your "poor me I need help" pink little liberal pills.  Fuck you weird looking black shadows on card stalk, that only mean one thing, and thats a waste of tax payer money.  Fuck you math, for we have never got along, even though I still admire your genius.  Fuck you reading, I am in love with your brother writing, not you.  Fuck you Oregon, you can keep the suckers who stayed in your trap, I escaped and have never looked back.  Fuck you Ritalin, I will no longer be your zombie.  And Fuck you councilor, for we are two different species, and you are NOT apart of the Nation we call Attitude.  Now I really do have a ship called the Titanic and it's this blog.  A place I can reach out to people and tell my story.  I have thought and talked this new idea over for the last few months, and I have come to the conclusion that I am going to go around and speak words of motivation to the kids of room 2 at middle schools and high schools all over.  Don't worry, it will be a little more PG than this blog post.  I am not necessarily knocking the public school system, I am more reaching out to kids like me who I have seen surrender to the tests, pills, and hometown life after school.  The kids who need a little wanderlust in their life, a boat of freedom.  Kids in my opinion who sometimes need to buy a bus ticket and get the hell out of dodge, and find themselves, and what they want to do on their own.  Have the kids scrape their knee, get burned by life and even hit rock bottom, stop catching their every fall!!!   

I stopped taking Ritalin after high school, and it's the best thing I ever did.

Boat of Freedom 2016

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Horses Out Of Gate

Horses Out Of Gate

A Dynamic Start Tutorial

This is one type of Dynamic start out of many.  I thought I would share this one with you because its not only my favorite, but its the one I have been using for the last year or so.  I hope it helps! 

 Superman Pull 2016 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Sweat Bank

His sweat has turned from warm to cold as the cool air turned his skin into a leopard like coat of goose bumps that shot up his spine and down his arms.  The drastic change in weather from inside the gym to out has made the once river of sweat die in its tracks and stick to his body like a hook grip to a bar.  The wind left him breathless as he began to walk to his humble apartment that rested just a few blocks from the gym that he has been training at for the last year.  His walk brought him an awkward silence, but a well needed time to himself he valued deeply.  Echoes of yelling, cheering, and bar slamming played over and over in his head every step he took.  The echoes and recent memories began to drown turning into vapor as the mist of the cold day and car horns took over a new reality, a peaceful one that every athlete must have at least once a day.  Boston was his home, and Boston would always be his home.  He knew the back streets like a champ, cutting at least 10 minutes off his walk home, where only a native of this empty, but huge town would know.  The bottom half of his long black coat rested over his gym bag as it occasionally hit his right knee, causing him to switch hands from time to time.  The collar on his coat was popped up past his ears while his chin stayed tucked downward.  A place where deep thoughts are born and then thought about.  Church bells rang aloud off in the distance, and a light rain met him half way home.  The cars' break lights started to stand out more, as they became not only brighter but more blurry.  The sounds of the street only intrigued him, just like the sounds of the gym. "Ears and eyes always open," his dad would preach to him before being tucked into bed. "See, hear, understand, and then create," his dad would say before turning off the lights and cracking the door just slightly so the monsters wouldn't come out to play. The Boston native never forgot, one memory that stuck with him, and so many other memories he wished he could forget.  The walking signal flashed go, and before he knew it, he was stopped by the first step leading up to his apartment.  He was home after a long day of training. 

The hot water burned his skin like squats to his legs.  Long days call for an extra long shower, and the harder the training, the more the small arrow leans to the H on the shower knob. Every workout has to go somewhere, right?  He thought to himself while watching the water by his feet swirl in circles down the drain.  His shoulders hurt from missing too many snatches in front, so he turned the shower head to a more powerful setting, giving his shoulders a light massage.  He has been training for three months straight, preparing for his first local meet in weightlifting.  His coach has been proud of him as he has been making great gains.  His boss on the other hand, has a different take in his awesome job, his marketing boss that pays him a very nice salary every month wants him at the office more rather than taking time to rep curls at 24 Hour Fitness.  Little did his boss know what he was really doing, or little did he care.  The Boston native was baited and hooked to weightlifting, and the disease was too late and deep to try and leave this great sport he stumbled across on YouTube months ago.  His shower door was cracked open, maybe from child hood stability, or just because the baseball game was playing in the background, and a few peeks out the shower door was part of his cleaning process.  The confusing thought of when he would get all of his training back plus more for a reward, grabbed his attention from the ball game, and swirled his head back under the hot water.  A Weightlifter's Bank is what he needed and wished he could walk into it.  A Sweat Bank that allowed an athlete to deposit and withdraw every drop of sweat he or she worked for.  A place where an athlete can see how much sweat he or she has put into any sport.  His forehead started to wrinkle, as his eyebrows drew down like window drapes. If our bodies lie to us and play tricks on us as athletes.....then how do we really know how much better we are getting.  Where does all the sweat go?  He thought to himself while now brushing his teeth dramatically like he was playing the violin as the hot water now came punching down upon his back.  He then froze in complete stillness.  The water from the shower head became motionless while the baseball game was put on pause mid pitch.  All of Boston stopped.

Let me, as the writer, stop the story for just a sec and talk to you, the reader, about the Sweat Bank before we pick back up on the story about the man from Boston.  Don't worry he will be fine.  He is not dead or alive right now.  The world he knows has just stopped for a brief while, while we chat about his interesting idea and theory.  Let's face it, I can stop his world anytime I want, because I am the one making the world he is living in real.  I am the writer, the creator.  Without me he wouldn't exist.  He wouldn't be in the shower nor a weightlifter.  He only knows Boston because I placed him there.  His whole life has been created with a single cup of coffee.  A Sweat Bank does exist!  When you wash your cloths in the washing machine, all of the sweat accumulated in your clothes drains down deep into a factory run and managed by your Ego.  There is an entrance to this factory in every one's home.  You just have to look for it.  You have to believe in your sweat one hundred percent.  Your ego lives under your feet while taking a hot shower.  The sweat living on your body from a hard day's work runs down your body hitting the shower floor and finding its way in the drain only to be met by your ego wearing a bright see through poker hat while smoking a cigar.  Your ego is tall and lanky, slimy and multi-colored.  Three arms, two for your ego, and one for your ego's ego.  An ego has many egos in itself which make the factory of your hard work sweat run efficient and fast.  So many workers working hard on your hard work makes this land down under your feet confident and prideful.  Your ego is not always confident, it takes much support and encouragement from hundreds of your egos egos egos and so forth to stay secure.  Your ego is insecure, that's why it is an ego in the first place.  Giving off the impression of confidence when not being confident at all.  The more sweat the ego contains from your hard work in the life above, the better your ego feels down under.  Down under in the dark the egos work.  A small light reflecting green from their see through visors swing back and forth from your movement above.  But your ego stays hard at work preparing for the day you want to cash out.  Or what they call, sweat out.  You don't know your ego at all, you know it's there, you know how it acts, but you and I and this character that we created all have no idea who it is or what it is.  All we know is that its presence is known.  But what we didn't know, is that our ego is our sweat's undertaker, our sweat's master.  Character from Boston......come back alive my friend.

The baseball game didn't skip a beat, but something was off.  He got out of the shower butt naked and walked out into his room where the TV now showed a monster home run and the crowd going crazy.  The TV was loud, but he was quiet.  His eyes traveled the room as if someone was watching his every move.  Something wasn't right.  He threw his covers off his bed looking for his alarm clock that would show him the time.  He felt as if there was a sudden pause or black out that occurred from the point of entering the shower and getting out.  The time was correct, therefore putting his theory in doubt.  His body was freezing from the water building little dots and villages from his head to toe.  The cool air reminded him of walking back from the gym as he preformed the naked scurry back to the shower that we all do from time to time.  He started to think about the Sweat Bank again, and how cool it would be to cash out a hard week's work in sweat dollars.  He became nervous about his first meet coming up, as his mind became focused on normalcy again.  What numbers should I open with, and what kind of jumps should I take?  All these, questions that clustered his mind, steering away his odd thoughts of Sweat Banks and watching eyes.

He dried off in his room with his dark green and red towel covered in swirls and stars.  It was a present from his parents that he never liked, but one of those gifts that he ended up putting to good use.  He dried himself off the same way as always, how that ritual came about he never knew.  One of those mysteries of life he guessed.  He smiled at all the pictures in his college-like room filled with friends and family.  He took pride in one thing that the people in the pictures always said about him.  "Jason doesn't have an ego, he is such a humble man".  He loved that about himself, and how others took him for it.

"Hey, Jason!"  He looked all around the room in panic as if someone just broke in wearing a scream mask.  "My name is Jon North, and I am writing about you."  He grabbed the phone as if he was about to eat a piece of food for the first time in 10 days.  His back hunched over as the outline of his spine came pointing out his back.  "Stop, its ok my friend.  I will not write anything bad about you, you will be ok.  I just want you to know that you do have an ego, a very big ego at that.  Your ego has not come out yet, for it waits for you in the Sweat Bank under your feet and behind your washer for the day you compete. The day you do compete your ego will shoot out of your last shower before competition covering you with all your built up sweat from the past three months.  Your sweat is your ego, Jason.  Your ego will soak into your skin and help you achieve your goals in your first meet.  All of your sweat has been accounted for my very good character friend.  Your ego has not lost your hard work.  It works long hours just as you do."

"Jason, are you there?"  "Yes I am, what is happening?"  "You are a creation from my keyboard covered in coffee.  You are a mix of emotion from my past splashed with thousands of readers all from different outlooks on you.  I view you one way, but the person reading this might see you in a different way."  "So then who am I really?"  "You are a 28 year old guy from Boston that loves his family, the gym, the community you train in, and the peaceful time you spend alone.  But I must end this blog now because I myself have to go train,  for you will one day live again."  "But how?  If you stop typing this blog, then I will die!"   "No Jason, you will only be on pause, because I will come back later and write you again, picking right back up where we left off.  You won't even know what happened, or that time was paused.  Say 'hi' to the readers Jason, they have gotten to know you well over the last 10 minutes."  "Hello, readers please don't leave me, I have a meet to compete in, and I have been training for three solid months."  "I promise on everything Jason that the readers and I will be back to watch your lifting soon!  We will cheer you on and root for you all the way!  I know you won't remember any of this, but ego is in all of us.  Learn how to find it, then use it to your benefit.  Ego is a scary thing, and can't be taken lightly.  You can use it in a wrong way, just like anything in life.  Next time I write you, we will both train crazy hard getting closer to your first meet.  We will slam bars!"

"Good bye, Jason."  "Good bye, Jon."  "Oh wait, Jon! " "Yea, what's up?"  "Will you tell Shankle that I am a big fan and that I say, hi."  "Hell yea, I will.  I will write Shankle into your reality next time.  I will have him train with you before your weightlifting meet.  Salute."


I am speechless.  Thank you Aaron Landes & everyone at CrossFit Lando

Sweat 2016

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Midnight Train

His thoughts rambled in his head with the swaying of the train.  Side to side as the train slid his duffel bag across the floor with every turn, as his forehead stayed stuck to the window looking out. The window was now warm against his head from the small ten minute naps he would take before being woken from his new found reality.  A reality that went against everything he has been working for over the years. A stable and successful career, wife and kids, a dog and a hobby, all that would make him come alive again like his first year in college. None of what his teachers told him when he graduated from college ever came true, just empty dreams and a piece of paper that says "your ready for the world young man".  He was, he truly was ready, but the world didn't seem ready for him.  His parents pushed old fashioned, as his friends pushed a more outgoing night life than he had wished for.  A girl wearing a bright red coat across the isle, seemed to be writing with the night light on above her head.  What was she writing about, he thought to himself, as he turned back to the midnight adventure that could end anywhere, or start somewhere.  A midnight train ride after an 11 hour flight across the world made his eyes heavy, and his thoughts blurry.  How he ended up flipping burgers for Wendy's he didn't know, or couldn't get to in his head.  His hand washed over his face as if he was getting out of the shower in the early morning while truly realizing that a big day awaited him.  He felt empty and broke, lonely and lost, confused and weak.  Hunched over in his hard but fuzzy seat that had now turned into his own apartment from boredom and lack of people traveling to a place called I don't know.  50 bucks, a pack of cigarettes, and a duffel bag of clothes to his name as the train whistled down the tracks guiding him to what he had been looking for for so many years now......him.

He guessed she was 23 years old, getting a better look at the side of her face from him leaning forward while staring out from the corner of his eye.  He thought he was safe from sight as his long hair waterfalled over his eyes. Her face was bright and glowing, maybe from the reading light above her head, but most likely from her bright red lip stick that matched her coat. She reminded him of the girl he always had a crush on, but never gained the courage to introduce himself to, as he sat on a train in Europe introducing himself to the world.....odd how life works.  Odd how courage only shows itself when your never expect it.  Her eyes flickered to the side catching his, as he threw his back against his seat while ducking his chin downward for shelter and comfort, all while still keeping an eye on hers.  Her eyes moved back to her book that laid over her crossed legs.  He was caught red handed, and felt so much like a moron that he felt like moving seats away from hers.  She was the most beautiful girl in the world, and he was the jobless stalker that had no plans nor goals.  Right before he grabbed his army style bag with more pockets than he would ever need, she broke a small smile and soon after started biting her right index fingers nail that of course was painted bright red.  She never glanced over this time, but a body language that made his heart race for the first time in a while.  His eyes stared forward as if a weight just lifted from his back.  His breathing relaxed, and his hands began to stop twitching from bad thoughts.  He soon closed his eyes, and fell asleep. 

Small chatter swept the train car, as a smell of coffee and buttered bread made its way to his little apartment bench he called home.  His forehead hurt from resting it against the window of the train.  He missed the sunset which was fine with him, he knew a few good hours of sleep was much needed.  The sun blasted through the window making all the lint and dust in front of his face appear clearly.  His squinted eyes moved around with his hands feeling his pockets, bag, and passport, yep, everything was intact and still with him.  There was one thing he wish he could look for and then touch, the girl.  He almost forgot.  Before looking over he wiped his eyes and pulled down his wrinkled sweatshirt before the rude realization that she was gone.   His hand turned white from him leaning against the seat looking up and down the isles.  In an odd way he felt good.  He felt they knew each other perfectly, and understood each other better than any.  He thought how amazing it was just to have that moment that rang friction between them both.  She would from that point on never leave his thoughts. 

"Hello.....Sir, are you awake?"  The train conductor asked as she leaned over like she was a volleyball player preparing herself for a serve. She had to be at least 6' 2", red hair, and with teeth as long as his travels so far.  "Yes, I'm awake," he said snapping out of a day dream of relaxation.  Something he was not used to feeling.  "We are at our final stop Sir, you must exit the train now".  She said with a smile, that ended with more of a hurry up kind of head nod.  His head fell back against the seat with such a careless motion.  "OK," he said quietly.  A street made of rocks met his feet, as the sun hugged his entire body.  No where to go, no job to get to, no burgers to flip, no judgmental friend and parents looking down upon him.  Just a cobbled street with people who had no idea where he came from, or who he is.  His degree no longer mattered, and his athletic ability meant nothing in this big world of compass chasing and soul searching.  He must have been in a small farming town.  The air was cold, but the sky was bright blue.  Green grass filled the hills that supported houses and farm animals. Children were playing tag with a bouncy ball, throwing it at each other to tag one another, he thought this was an odd game, as he hiked his bag up higher around his shoulder beginning to walk forward with nothing but possibility and land that layed in front of him.  He walked, thinking of the girl in the red coat, how tall the train conductor was, and how beautiful the landscape was he was walking in.  He didn't take the time to ask where he was, because frankly he didn't care.  This was the whole point of his journey, to get away from maps, roads, and time.  No more nine to five, no more opinions from others.  No more gambling on a life that was blocking happiness.  A full day of freedom stood in front of him.

The night closed in as he found himself settling down on a bench outside of an old shut down steel mill that looked as if the only life around the area was mold, plants and the occasional deer that would wind itself inside and out of the fallen posts and cracked open walls that once lived and gave a living to so many.  His bag as a pillow, and his clear mind as a nighttime song, cool air from the river below, as ringing bells from the fishing boats helped him close his eyes.  Some would call this being homeless, but he called it freedom. This is something that he wanted to do.  A necessary path in finding himself.  What would the next day bring, he asked himself out loud.  Who will I meet and what opportunity will I find?  How much better will I know myself tomorrow, he asked the bug crawling near his arm that rested under his bag he layed his head on.  He knees to his stomach, and his heart as open for the world to see.  He fell asleep with freedom by his side.

Freedom 2016

Monday, May 6, 2013


(Training Videos Below)

The Roots

The three white strips running up his legs and down his arms made my stomach hurt, as I leaned over in my resting bench while training at the Eleiko Sport Center in Chicago during the 37th AN Cert. A home sick feeling dripped down my throat as I wiped the sweat from my face while my eyes stayed locked and focused on the human size poster on the window beside me of Klokov snatching.  A wheel of memories spun in my head while smells, sounds, and faces truly woke and stood before me.  My roots lay deep underneath this gym, a weightlifter's gym, a world I understood all too well.  It's been too long since I had visited home, a place where I was born, raised, and loved.  Adidas jump suits pace the gym walls like forgotten dinosaurs that train in the dark.  Fanny packs that the old coaches wear proudly, always prepared with smelling salt, tape, or an old story for motivation for their beloved athletes.  A great sport, a beautiful sport.  A quiet family that stays hidden beneath the cracks of the iron games.  I am home, I thought to myself as the board short CrossFiters sat uncomfortably in this odd world they have never witnessed before.  Their eyes traveled from one end of the gym to the next, occasionally looking over at one another with high eye brows, as if saying, "Where the fuck are we?".  A warm feeling came over me, as I settled deeper into the old resting bench behind the platform I was lifting on.  The resting bench was cracked but sturdy, as rows of them as far as the eye could see stood proudly behind each platform as if having each other's back.  Chalk buckets formed like UFOs scattered throughout the gym like trees in a forest, and silver shiny bars that spun like Ferraris laid peacefully on each platform as if resting in a garage before a big race.  It felt good to be back home.  It felt good to finally welcome CrossFiters into my world, a weightlifter's world.

Pictures in my head took me back the first time I walked into the weightlifting gym, as I sat between reps.  My first coach telling me to grab the bar struck me hard, as I sat waiting to hopefully hit some sort of good weight for the audience before me.  I almost stood up and grabbed the bar, but then was reminded that it was only a memory of my coach yelling at me, not present time.  I remembered reaching down as if I was 9 years old opening my first Christmas present. As I picked that empty bar up off the ground, remarkable changes happened to me in a split second.  Three white stripes ran down the side of my body, like small rivers of blood splashed violently against the walls of my veins.  My baggy basketball shorts turned into black tights with ACE bandages wrapped around me knees.  My thumb nails grew 3 inches to better the hook grip, as my shirt disappeared into thin air leaving my pounding heart open and naked for all to see.  That day I became a weightlifter.  That day I was born into the weightlifting family.

No pull up bars in this bitch, I said to one of the CrossFiters who looked lost in this weightlifting gym.  He laughed as his eyes still scanned the gym walls looking for a glimpse of his tribe's battle weapons he knew so well.  Right off the bat I noticed his search for something that would make him feel more at ease, so I then responded by saying, "No swinging ring things hanging from the ceiling either, just bar and platform my friend".  He responded by saying, "Well....I guess that's all you need, right?".  My face went dark and blank, as my head tilted to the floor as my toes played with some left over chalk that must have broken off from when I was covering my chest and shoulders before clean and jerks.  I responded to the board short CrossFiter, "Well you need a lot more than just that.  You need a shrink, councilor, therapist, and at times a fucken straight-jacket in this world my friend".  He threw his head back and laughed out loud for all to hear, but he soon went silent as he noticed I was not laughing with him.  His face went dark like mine, and that's when I knew he wanted to get the hell out of this tribe called weightlifting, and back to his world ASAP.  I cracked a small smile to show I was just messing around with him, and then laughed it off after a few seconds went by.....I mean, come on, I am not an awkward person and I would never put anybody in that weird of a conversation.  But little did he know, my small smile and chuckle to ease the tension could have won a Grammy, for I truly meant what I said, and because of this truth, at times I have wondered about crossing over the other side of the greener and grassier world called CrossFit, or as it seems to me from the outside looking in.

5 fingered shoes and board shorts have surrounded me for the past few years.  It's almost as if I have forgotten where I came from, and where these roots connected to my feet end.  My roots have been tangled in a Paleo world of high reps and running bodies. Tribal tattoos cover these odd athletes as they double in numbers everyday, surrounding the weightlifting world as we spin in circles trying to look for a resting bench and a chalk bucket to take shelter upon.  The growth of the sport is beautiful, but the peaceful rhythm of a weightlifting gym will never die.  The small chatter amongst coaches shrugging their shoulders as if saying "good.......but needs a lot of work," gave me goose bumps as I sat staring out from the corner of the Eleiko gym in a gaze of remembrance and reflections.  I have been traveling deep into the world and lifestyle of CrossFit for so long now teaching the weightlifter's methods and mind set, that it's almost like I have become lost from the world I grew up in.  I have found myself eating, laughing, and fighting with this new tribe as my old tribe peacefully paces in a empty gym at 8pm at night, slapping their legs before squatting, and rubbing icy hot on every part of their broken bodies.  I am a weightlifter, not a CrossFiter.  I do not belong in their world.  I must understand that I am a visitor amongst these citizens, and once my duty is filled, I must travel back to the three stripes and fanny pack village I was raised in.  I must rest my head at night in the camp of one rep and resting benches.  A village where coaches coach with only their eyes, while sitting in a lonely chair as if they were on an empty island making smoke signals for their athletes to see.  A world where the coach's feedback mostly comes from a small shrug of the shoulders or a thumbs up for more weight.  Yes the sport of weightlifting is growing and always will,  but the sound of rain outside as coughs and moans echo the quiet gym will never change.   Adidas sweat suits and fanny packs will never die.

I am and always will be a weightlifter.  Thank you Eleiko for having us out, and for hosting a great AN Seminar.  Thank you for inspiring me to write this blog that really hit home for me.

Plus:  Max out Friday's Video Below!  This beast of a man tried to walk in the Champ's gym and win.  Can you believe this guy! Ha!

Fanny Pack 2016

Friday, May 3, 2013

Fight Club

Never ever, ever,.....listen to your body. 

Devin In A Red Dress 2016