Updated: Jun 14
Two weeks ago, we hosted the StrongFirst Tactical Strength Challenge (TSC). For those of you who don’t know, this is an international competition hosted by StrongFirst Certified Instructors who compete in a Max Deadlift, Max Pull-ups and Max Snatches in 5 minutes. There are different categories depending on age, kettlebell weight, etc. One of our members, Michael Goudy, decided to sign up for the TSC a couple days before the event and chose to focus only on his deadlift.
For those of you who don’t know, every morning Michael will show up 15–20 minutes before class and sit in his truck drinking his coffee, scrolling through his phone until he finally comes in for class. (Which, I always ask him why he doesn’t just sleep for an extra 15 minutes;)
It was Michael’s turn and he went and easily pulled his first deadlift. He then tells us the next number that he wants on the bar and I’m pretty sure I looked at the other coaches like he had 10 heads and we asked him, "Are you sure you want to make that big of a jump?". Without any hesitation, he said, "Of course." He wanted 170KG/375# on the bar and he knew he had it. As I was watching his deadlift and saw the bar come off the ground, things stood still for a few seconds (I felt like a kid on Christmas morning). It was in that moment (almost, that oh sh*t moment) that I flashed back to where Michael was.
Just 1 year and 7 months ago, he was in the hospital, undergoing surgery from a stroke that he suffered right before the world had shut down from the pandemic. He was in ANCHOR that morning for a class and our coach reached out to all of us letting us know that something wasn’t right with him and he wasn’t feeling well and didn't finish the cardio part of the workout. (Which, if anyone knows Michael, he pushes it every single day and gives 110%). . Fortunately, he got home just in time for his wife to get him to the hospital. That is when later the next day, we were contacted by his family and were updated on his condition.
Wednesday, October 21, 2021 is when Michael was cleared to lift weights again. I knew I was going to have to hold him back a bit from going 110%. We needed to make sure it was a gradual progression in his strength journey. I set guidelines for all of us coaches to make sure he wasn’t jumping ahead of schedule. I knew he was getting frustrated with the process, but I wanted to make sure things were gradual and that he felt fine during and after every single session. Sure enough, he continued to make progress each day and he got to a point where he was ready to compete in the TSC.
As Michael lowered the bar back to the ground, I looked at the other coaches and we knew he had just proven us all wrong. He wanted that big pull. He knew he had it too. A new PR. He had a new number that he previously didn’t hit with us before his stroke. To see where he was just a year and 7 months ago, to see where he is now, left me more inspired than ever. I had this extra energy on Saturday after the competition. To see what someone can do if they continue to move and work hard on their strength journey.
As StrongFirst puts it: Strength has a Greater Purpose.
I hope that if you are deciding to get up for class one day and you feel defeated, you can look back and remember this story. Get up and focus on just moving that day, putting one step in front of the other. As the American College of Sports Medicine puts it, “Exercise is Medicine.” It is amazing what consistent movement will do for our bodies. You only get one body and one shot to take care of it, make it count!
Until next time,
Remember… heavier is always better, except for when it's not ;)