Saturday, July 26, 2014

A little background

As we get things started with Barbell Strategy, Mike and I would both like to take the chance to introduce ourselves.  We'll tell you a little about our backgrounds and our own motivations for starting Barbell Strategy.  I'm up first, and you'll hear from Mike soon.

I grew up in Pennsylvania, went to a tiny college there, and came to the University of Colorado for grad school.  I fell in love with Boulder.  I liked what I was studying in grad school, but eventually fell out of love with academia and wanted to work on more applied, real-world problems, so I took a research job with a government contractor here in Boulder.  My background is in the crossroads of cognitive psychology, computational modeling, and neuroscience.  That sounds like a lot of things, but really it's an interdisciplinary field that requires talking to people from lots of different disciplines and backgrounds about hard-to-solve problems about human cognition and the brain.  The thing to know about that is that I am interested in how people think and experience things and solve problems.

This research job offered me a lot of interesting things to work on, but it still strayed far from any real-life application.  I kept longing for something less academic and detached, something that felt more relevant to the human condition.  About six years ago, I started strength training seriously for the first time in my life, just as a side interest.  I got stronger and healthier and faster and more athletic, and my perspective on the world changed.  I completely changed my diet and saw huge benefits, and I kept honing my skills.  I started spending much of my spare time reading, thinking, talking, and writing about issues related to health, nutrition, and training.  I developed a growing interest with Olympic weightlifting, to the point where I took a coaching course and got some coaching experience.  And over the period of those six years, I trained at a series of gyms in Boulder.

Each gym had its advantages, and I have respect for the people that run them and coach at them.  There is an abundance of passion for health and fitness in Boulder - we are a special place!  But I didn't find what I was looking for at any of these gyms.  My vision and priorities didn't align with theirs.  That meant that to follow my passion and do things the way I believed was best, I needed to create my own space.  Now you can create your own training space by just training on your own, and for a while I tried that.  But I got a taste for teaching and coaching and really loved it.  And I think that to truly stay motivated, you need a tribe.  You need a group of like-minded people to take the journney with you.  You need to give and receive support, and share in the fun of learning, progress, growth, and challenge.

Mike, though he did not gym hop like I did, felt the same way, and our discussions over the years converged on some ideas.  Foremost, in starting a gym from scratch, we wanted to build our tribe from the ground up.  Small groups operate differently from large groups.  Growing slowly and organically, you can forge very strong bonds between people.  Being there for your training partners creates an atmosphere of support and accountability that is rare in our modern, detached lives.

In addition, both Mike and I saw some practical things we wanted to implement.  These aren't just ideas, but a set of shared, strongly held principles.   We both wanted to stress efficiency of training, smart cyclical programming, injury prevention and progressive skill development, and a primary focus on strength.  We both believed in building an inclusive, egalitarian community that puts no one above anyone else.  We both wanted to reach out not just to strong, confident athletes but also to health-challenged and beginner populations, and to offer them real solutions and support.  We wanted to focus on the fundamentals of health to bring everyone in our tribe up to their human potential.

So here we are.  I'm so excited that we're building our vision, and we hope you can join us in our journey.