So this past week saw the opening of our beloved and let’s be honest: sometimes tedious venture of IRONMILL!
After the tornado that was the York Fair subsided we focused in our efforts on actually opening the facility. I dont write this lightly, because nothing good ever comes easy. But had I known..had I had a small inkling of the torturous hours of what may come I could’ve very easily decided to be a bartender in Jamaica.
You have no idea how close I came to that decision
One thing is for certain, without all of the amazing help and completely generous, great group of friends along with people that just BELIEVE in our cause as much as we do this whole thing could’ve never been done.
I told Magnus: If I ever kill somebody, your the first phone call. That’s a very twisted compliment I understand. But maybe you should ask yourself, “Who would I call if I intentionally or unintentionally off someone?” Maybe your answer will surprise yourself!
If you are lucky enough to have that special someone willing to assist in some sort of disposing of the deceased, please call them and tell them right now.
It’s like letting your Mom know you love her after a sweet commercial or tv show.
So our crew is in place. I’d go to war with these guys, gals and little red dog.
The workouts have been getting turned up. Tempo wise, this past week or two I have pushed myself back into a heavy limp by testing the limits on my damned feet. 960 Yoke picks, 300 + Push presses. Heavy deads. They are excruciating afterwards but its the moving events that leave my face contorted as I walk down the stairs backwards to save my knees in the morning.
(Strongman, Men in general and Women for that matter: If you haven’t learned that walking down the stairs backwards saves your knees: That’s a free one and the next tip will cost you!)
I did a 750lb yoke for 100 ft 10 days ago and I am just recovering from how severely it affected my gate and how long it took the throbbing deep in my foot to subside. I actually want to swear and throw something at Mike and Mike on the TV now thinking about how painful it was.
It sneaks into the back of my mind. Are you gonna be good enough ? Will you make the top 15 at nationals?
I was top 10 with my eyes closed in 2009 with EVERYONE now turned pro that was ahead AND behind me. Bracewell, Jenkins, Harrison, Sherr, Rodriquez, Robison, Urbank, Caruso and the list goes on.
Then; I was at the top of my game. Strong! Dedicated. Also I was huge at 315. Made a big difference in performance. Handling a log that is lighter than you is far easier than handling an axle that is 30 lbs heavier than you are for reps.
Now, I hope to be 85 % of that and sneak in a qualifying spot for the Arnold. In 2009 a bunch of guys including myself qualified to be in the first amateur arnold competition but many of us got hurt training for that contest. I still regret that injury.
This year when I was watching the guys in Columbus battle it out I felt this insane fire to compete and show the world what I was capable of. I get a little tired of hearing about this “new blood” coming up. It’s definitely conceited but I feel someone needs to step in and calm down all of these new LW and HW meteoric rises in the sport.
There is always something to be said for knowledge, wisdsom and just old ass gnarly strength. You think Ray Lewis still exists in the league because he’s the fastest or the strongest ? The guy knows how to win. He’s vicious. He’s a warrior. He survives. He’s overcome everything that gets put in his path.
If there is one thing that you can say about me, it is that I persevere. Well, that and I eat too much Mexican food.
I do not stay held down. I refuse to not think for myself.
Here’s an inside story about IRONMILL.
Me and Amanda were held up in our room creating this whole operation through a month of just posting content, philosophies, articles, teams ect. We were so proud of our initial slogan: ” IRONMILL: FORGING ELITE ATHLETES”
We actually printed it up on our first edition Tshirts that we wore out to Bro’s vs. Pro’s in Waterbury, Ct.
I was so freakin’ proud when Mark Lerch ended up beating Derek Poundstone on his own turf and was taking pictures launching Ironmill into the minds of strengh enthusiasts everywhere. It was a big deal. We watched the hits on our then tiny little website sky rocket as Dave Polumbo and RXmuscle.com were gracious enough to grant us interviews and plug the site.
Later that week, when we were putting together the Team Ironmill page I got a message from Craig Phisterer. It had 3 parts.
1. Saying that he was in as a team member. I was excited about that because Craig is a great resource.
2. He did not like the nicknames on the site. I think he just didn’t like his very mild nickname of “Phist.” (Hey. Its a lot better than Johnny Waz’s nickname of “Ishboo the Strongman Terrorist” Jenkins and Myself fashioned for him while the 3 of us cruised 100 mph down the Bayou crammed in a Chevy Aveo after Nationals in 2009 headed for a night of debauchery in New Orleans. )
3. Craig said, “You should rethink your slogan, it’s a lot like Crossfit.”
My freakin brain tricked me again! After a quick google search to confirm what I already knew to be the truth I felt a twinge of panic. I plagiarized the Crossfit slogan and thought we looked soooo cool in our T-shirts doing it. I laugh at how lame people probably thought we looked that caught the mistake.
Look at those assholes stealing the Crossfit slogan!
If there is one thing I pride myself on: It’s being original. And Sir, It couldn’t have gotten worse.
We went into crisis mode. I ran down to the local state store, turned on some sweet musics and told Amanda, “by tomorrow morning we need a new brand.”
Cut to about 3 AM, a cheap bag of red wine downed, somewhere between Counting Crows “Omaha” and Death Cab for Cutie “Grapevine Fires” ( Great tunes!) and long after little ‘Manders was sound asleep dreaming of creating strength code wonder; It hit me.
How much have we had to Overcome to get here? You wouldn’t believe it if I told you. Somethings need to stay sacred anyway.
This thought was even before breaking my feet. Before moving tons upon tons of equipment up stairs or hearing “NO” a thousand times. Before having a building to move into or having business papers signed and 2 weeks of painting to look forward to. It was daunting even before all of this and I knew I wanted to create a battle cry for our team and more importantly myself to rally around when things got hard.
I’m a quote guy. I like reading motivational things. Hearing motivational lyrics or songs. It hits me, much like it probably does for you also.
I wanted to create that.
It was simple after that. Overcome: Everything. I had a version of that tatoo’d on me 5 years ago across my heart in Italian to always reach into and remember. If you haven’t figured it out yet: Life is absolutely amazing and incredibly hard. We need little things like this to keep us grounded and reminded.
What I did not know is that life was going to be THIS hard. It’s an amazing journey. But man, this shit has not been easy! Nor should it be.
So I used to goof around with the SMBB guys when they would ask what my tattoo said as it’s in Italian. I would joke around and say it said “Subway Samich: 5 dollar footlong.”
It actually reads: “I will Conquer: Overcome every obstacle set in my path.” It’s my battle cry. First time I’ve divulged this semi kept secret.
If this big idea of ours is going to take off and fly I thought, “Were going to HAVE to be true to our beliefs. Our passions. Right or wrong.”
Born was Overcome: Everything. I loved it.
Now that my writers block was gone. Instantly came out of it our Philosophy.
Me and Amanda both have marketing backgrounds so we like commentating on advertising that we think works or doesn’t, certain copy that catches our eye or is really dumb and misguided. So we noticed that every new slogan is three words.
Wrangler, Real. Comfortable. Jeans. The book, Eat.Pray.Love. A local car company is Honesty. Integrity. Service. We always thought it was so very lame that everyone local and bigger would copy these ideas.
We challenged ourselves to come up with something bigger. THE FOUR WORD TAGLINE! ha.
Again. I’ve failed so many times in life it’s rediculous. But all I read about is how many times successful people have failed or been told no. The biggest key to success is continuing on. To have tough enough skin to believe in what you do. That is something we stand tall about.
Fail. Adapt. Succeed. Repeat.
Walla! Each word built off each other and to us was much bigger than preceding word. It felt like us. And if you drop all the deep mournful meanings that I think about in its meaning: It works simply for training and weight training programs as well, which is really more important.
So after my headache subsided the next morning I swear the flood gates opened. I wrote everyone’s Bio, Philosophy, Articles while Amanda started to churn out the graphics and visuals and it escaped both of us! The whole thing took off and opened itself up into a whole new set of challenges and failures and successes to get through before the next doors opened.
It’s been a magnificent ride. Hard.
Our philosophy born on a drunkard night of Death Cab For Cutie influence has gotten me through everything.
I stood in our gym heaving from exhaustion a month ago. Sweat dripping on the floor. Barely able to catch my breath in 100 degree weather and extreme humidity. I was only 4 weeks post breaking me feet. Just started walking. Looking over at my friend as he was exhausted, turning towards amanda as she shlepped weights up the stairs. There was a time I thought this is too much.
I thought to myself , “I’m taking on too much and I’m in danger of failing.” Or having a heart attack, I was so out of shape at that point.
“Look what I’m doing to the people around me. Killing them basically.”
I remember my boy Sam looked at me said “Lou, I dont know how you do it.” As I was gasping and in pain carrying an entire set of heavy dumbells up the stairs because no one else could pick them up.
I told them flatly, ” as long as you guys are moving and sweating and dying, no way am I going to stop.”
And that is the major principal I would like to instill into our readers.
My motivation is derived from the people around me. That is why I am so confident on the team, in the vision, in the execution of everything that we have planned!
There has been literally a thousand reasons to say, “look, we gave it a good shot and it’s just time to turn it in.”
Yet everytime we keep navigating through decisions, back breaking work and any obstacle that we find we grow stronger.
Literally stronger, my calves have grown just from carrying shit up stairs!
Two days ago I wanted to hit a circus dumbell and some yoke picks. I felt god awful terrible from lack of sleep, stress, bad diet you name it. JT walks in and starts hammering out the dumbell like a Boss! Second time he picks the thing up and he hits 165 for 4 clean and press.
I hadn’t worked up to that weight in nearly 4 months and with my feet I have been super non explosive with any weight over my head. It was that motivation to see him just striving for it that I pushed myself to. To see him miss it the first two times, then come back and drill it for that many reps made ME step my game up.
Same with Yoke picks. I can’t just hammer my feet with yoke and farmers runs every week so I have found a fantastic compromise by doing static picks and holds to save my knees, hips, feet until I can get my body acclimated to the heavy weight.
JT just kept hanging, hanging. hanging up into weights he really had no business doing and it was so incredibly motivating.
It reminded me how I used to feel. It made me smile at how well everything is turning out as I looked around IRONMILL and saw another step completed and battling it out on OUR equipment in OUR own space. It kept me hungry to stay one step ahead of the pupils.
Watching JT and our team: It reminds me there is something special out there waiting to happen because the right person is magnetized by what we do!
So I think to myself everytime something gets hard instead of trying to find a shortcut. Overcome…Everything. It works. Try it and see.
Prowler pushes and drags today. Every fiber in my body says no. Give your body rest. Now in crunch time, we have no time to rest. Only to succeed. I challenge you to do the same. The rewards are unbelievable.