In my training career, one of my goals has been to become a StrongFirst Iron Maiden. The StrongFirst Iron Maiden/Beast Tamer is a challenge composed of three events: the strict military press, a strict tactical pull up, and a pistol squat. Challenging, yet the task becomes even more difficult when a kettlebell added into the equation. To attain this accolade of Iron Maiden/Beast Tamer, each gender must do all 3 movements with a heavy kettlebell, women must use a 24kg bell (53 lbs) and men must do each movement with a 48kg (106 lbs) bell. To note the difficulty of this feat, only 60 men and 31 women have succeeded since the challenge was created in 2005.
I began my journey towards becoming an Iron Maiden in November of 2015 with the help and programming of my coach, Karen Smith, Master SFG/Chief SFB. Throughout a short window of training, I was able to develop my strength in each of the three movements to meet the challenge standards. The plan was to test in March as testing must be done at a StrongFirst Certification. Plans changed in February of 2016 when, armed with only a shovel, I lost a fight with the snow, leading to an injury that sidelined me for 4 months. This unwanted four month vacation from training messed with not only my mind but also my body. Upon returning to training, I was frustrated with my loss of strength.
Instead I chose to distract myself and opted to prepare for my upcoming StrongFirst Barbell (SFL) Certification in Italy. By prioritizing the certification over Iron Maiden, my skills slipped a bit. Luckily I was able to maintain my overhead pressing ability and pistol squat strength. Even with the lapse in my specific training for the event, I chose to test in order to know the feeling associated with performing these skills in front of a big crowd at the certification.
On test day, I began with the pull-up, failing my first attempt out of the 2 attempts allowed. Moving to the other two movements, I was successful. Pistol? Done! Press? Nailed it! Then it was back to the pull-up. Although I came close, I did not earn the title that day of Iron Maiden. What did earn was the confidence needed to perform in front of the crowd. It gave me the energy and the “in-the-zone” feeling I’ve missed from my collegiate soccer days. My desire to train was renewed once again. Upon returning to the US, illness caused another snag on my quest for the Iron Maiden title. I was sick for 10 days, lost 10 lbs, and once again my training was put on a hiatus. Being a busy business owner, instructor and head coach of Kennett High School Girls Soccer; my Iron Maiden training fell even lower on the list.
Now as I sit here on this cold December day, realizing just how many setbacks I have had, which I have come back from, I feel the fire reigniting. For the past 8 weeks, I have combined a strict Iron Maiden program with my powerlifting routine, in hopes to reach this goal by the end of 2018. Through this process, I am reminded of the key component of the philosophy I have created at ANCHOR: strength is a journey. It's not going to appear overnight, but rather with months, if not years, of training and consistency. My training helps me with life inside and outside of the gym, so for now I roll with the punches of training- the good days and the bad, the strong days and the less strong- persevering through whatever life may throw in the path of my strength journey. I must practice what I preach, and hopefully such habits will help me achieve my goal of becoming an Iron Maiden.
So many members come in despite crazy work schedules and lives that can throw many curveballs along the way. There will be great days, worse days, and days where you simply do not want to step foot in the gym. To you all, I ask that you do your best to keep your strength journey consistent, for it will benefit you both inside and outside of the ANCHOR walls. As Winston Churchill explained, “continuous effort- not strength or intelligence- is the key to unlocking our potential.”