Friday, November 16, 2007

The Big Seminar Recap

Unlike my last trip to Boston a few years earlier, this one would prove to be easy and painless. As I approached the exit, I called CJ Murphy on his cell phone for directions. He mentioned three rotaries. I’m from New Jersey so I wondered, “What the f*ck is a rotary?” I finally figured it out and arrived at the new home of Total Performance Sports a few minutes later. I walked in to hear the sounds of weights clanging, men 100 pounds bigger than me yelling and screaming, and heavy metal blasting. I felt right at home.

After saying my hellos, I went to grab some food with my good buddies, Jim “Smitty” Smith from the Diesel Crew and Alwyn Cosgrove. At dinner I told Smitty that I had hit 765 lbs on the power squat on Wednesday and was pretty happy with that because my leg training had been very haphazard over the last few months. I felt like my strength was starting to come back.

“That’s pretty good,” he said.

“Is it?” I asked, hoping to get his approval of my lower body strength.

“Not really. I’m just trying to make you feel better.”

“Right, that’s what I figured. Thanks buddy.”

When we returned, Matt Rhodes was squatting somewhere in the neighborhood of a million pounds, under the watchful eye of Jim Wendler and Dave Tate. Suddenly my power squat seemed even more pathetic.

Across the room, Vincent Dizenzo was benching somewhere around the same weight. It was all very impressive and motivating to say the least. Even though I had only slept a combined total of seven hours in the previous two nights and had barely eaten all day on the ride up, I was extremely motivated by my surroundings and had to move some weight.

Smitty and I trained together and worked up to 130s on dumbbell floor presses and one arm rows. I beat him on the floor presses and he did 21 reps to my 20 on the rows. Under most circumstances, I would think that I did pretty well in the gym that day and would have been happy with myself. I can routinely walk into most public gyms and out lift just about everyone, including guys who outweigh me by fifty pounds. However, that’s not really the least bit of an impressive feat.

It’s not until you see and surround yourself with guys who are truly strong that you will ever get truly strong. Even if you can only do it on occasion, you need to get out of your comfort zone and train with guys who are far stronger than you. In fact, whenever I spend time with Dave or Jim, I always come home and make better strength gains in the next month than I had in the previous three because my whole idea of what is strong has been renewed. I realize just how far I have to go.

After training on Friday night, we all went to dinner where, among other things, I learned that there are internet forums filled with guys who hate me, Alwyn, and anyone else who is successful in this business. Although it’s sad to think about people having such a lack of fulfillment and success in their own lives, it did give me great pleasure and cause Alwyn much frustration to learn that I receive more attention than he does on some of these boards.

“How the f*ck are you getting more hatred than me? I’m pissed!”

Apparently these incredibly successful, super strong, jacked up forum posters also have problems with Jim Wendler and James Smith. However, according to at least one source, they like to discuss their disdain for me the most. For that I must thank them and say that I truly appreciate how much attention they pay to what I say. It means a lot to me.

After a great night of story telling and drinking beer, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the Big Seminar the next morning. But first we made a pit stop at the bar for a few more beers and stories. It was here that I had the pleasure of talking to Rhodes and Vinny for the first time that night. I also learned that apparently they don’t serve more than one beer per person in Boston…or something like that. That’s wicked retahded.

After about an hour or so of hilarious stories provided by Dave, Rhodes, and Vinny, I decided that it was time to head up to my room and get ready for the morning.

The Seminar

Because I participated in the seminar, I won’t be giving a fully detailed review. I will say that Cosgrove, Wendler, and Murph are three of the guys in this entire industry that I would go to first for training and business advice, and I think they proved exactly why. Whenever I hear any of these three speak, I always learn something. This weekend proved to be no different.

There was a great group of attendees, and it was a pleasure to meet each and every one of them. Hopefully, they all got everything out of the seminar that they were hoping for. Personally, I think watching any of those three guys speak or coach is worth the price of admission alone, especially when Jim gets fired up and starts yelling and cursing. There’s not much better than that.

Jim is fond of saying that you will never learn a ton at a seminar and that all the real knowledge comes from training and experience. I agree 100 percent, but I also know that just being around certain individuals, especially those who are stronger and more experienced and/or more successful than you, can teach you quite a bit and really improve your training or business.

This weekend was the first time that I had the pleasure of meeting Vincent Dizenzo, who is an 800-lb bench presser and absolutely enormous by the way. I must say that not only is he an incredibly nice, smart, and funny individual, but he taught me a lot whether he knows it or not. Just being with people like that rubs off on you and motivates you to be better at what you do whether it’s your hobby, job, or whatever. I had several conversations with Vinny over the weekend, and while I was usually laughing my ass off at one of his stories, I was also incredibly impressed with him and that only served to motivate me.

Many times powerlifters are stereotyped as people who never listen to anything that anyone weaker and smaller than them has to say about anything. However, Vinny told Alwyn and me that he learned a lot from listening to us speak about business. He later told Alwyn how much he respects all the hard work that Alwyn has put into his business and all the training knowledge he has acquired over the years. That meant a lot to Alwyn and to me and shows what kind of person Vinny is.

We all can, and should, learn from each other. It’s how you get better at everything you do. And we should all be constantly striving to get better in every aspect of our life. If you aren’t progressing, you’re regressing. There can be no standing still.

One of the attendees summed it up perfectly at the end of the day Saturday. As an outsider to the whole thing and having met all those guys for the first time this weekend, he explained how he thought it was incredibly cool to see a bunch of guys who are so different and have many different areas of expertise yet are so similar. He said that he had learned something different from each speaker but also saw the underlying similarities among all of us. People always want to look for the differences between training programs and coaches and what successful people do. In reality, they should look for the similarities.

Jim explained this during his presentation, and I believe he really hit the nail on the head. Don’t look at what the top lifters in the world do differently because there are, in fact, numerous differences. Instead, look at what they all have in common. This applies to every aspect of your life that you’re trying to improve.

Hopefully, everyone in attendance learned something from each of the speakers and realized that while their approaches to training or business may differ slightly, it’s really their similarities and the common characteristics they share that really matter in the end.

Thanks again to all the attendees and to CJ Murphy for being such a great host.