The glare of the headlights off the wet road make for an early morning hallucination of sorts as I shuttle my way down Highway 14. With the city in my rear view, folks on the road at this hour are more of the hard-working, blue collar type. You see, we’re deep in the heart of the Pacific Northwest and smack in the middle of lumber country. With my wipers in overdrive, you can just smell the grit.
Our journey this morning takes us away from the city hustle to a small town located a rock's skip and a jump from the shores of the mighty Columbia River. Washougal, Washington, or “The Shoug” as it’s referred to by locals, is more commonly known for World Championship Motocross Racing, and tough people. Albeit warm and genuine, these folks are darn proud, and aren’t afraid to get in your face.
The audible rumble of the railroad tracks beneath my truck greet me as I pull into town. It’s time to connect with the Coach. Walking into the gym, my pulse instantly increases for the task at hand as if the body knows what’s about to go down, only I’m not here for a workout.
If I didn’t know better, I wouldn’t think much after my first glimpse. Coach is quick to welcome us into his domain. He stands about five foot seven inches and adorns a smile that warms your soul. I notice the ears; a little cauliflower going on. For those not familiar with this particular anatomical anomaly of sorts, I’d suggest not to get into a street brawl with anyone that looks like this. They may as well sport neck tattoos inscribed with “TRY ME”, and chances are, they’d get away with it. However, the thing I’ve come to know about this crowd is that for the large part, they’re cuddly as teddy bears, unless of course you’re facing off across from this individual. In that case, I hope you’ve made proper preparations and that your training is on-point.
You see, Coach, he’s a fighter. He’s spent his time duking it out amidst plenty of blood, sweat and tears, some of which were even his own.
Outside his prime fighting age and more focused on becoming a family man, Coach has taken a step back from fighting and has honed in on sharing his learned skillset and the components that enabled him to be successful during that chapter in life. I feel that nothing is more powerful than a silent example. Sure, Coach is going to be in your face; that’s their job. What I’m referring to is that ode of saltiness that exists — you can feel it. It’s that hardness beneath the surface of Coach that you can’t quite put a finger on, but it’s magical, it’s infectious. It’s their thing. It’s that tick that you as an athlete pick up on; it drives you. It’s that obsession you have. Coach, he has it too. So once you understand the experience under coach’s belt, you’ll welcome that face in your business.
About that coach, what is it that intrigues you? What’s the fascination with that coach? Is it their knowledge? Is it their own personal success story? Is it the way they encourage you? Is it their one-liners and never-ending Dad jokes? Maybe you despise them! Maybe you’re determined to show them a thing or two… whatever the case, we could all share some stories to fill plenty of pages.
We jumped into the ring with Coach to learn a few things. Well, not we… John.
Fifteen seconds into this man session, and I’m smiling like a kid watching two puppies play. Thing is, these two puppies are grown men. Do you enjoy rolling? That’s what these guys call it. If you’re a BJJ fan or enthusiast, you know just what I’m talking about. They use terms like: Professor, game, and gi. Well gi whiz.... (Dad Joke).
Thanks for coming out today, guys. I really appreciate your time and definitely the spotlight. I’ll take it. COVID’s been quite a bear and has certainly placed a hamper on our activities over the past year and change, but we’ve managed to maintain a certain level of fitness along with keeping our attitudes in check. That's a team thing, and best done with someone that’ll hold you accountable.
As a coach, I am often asked in hands-on Q&A sessions like this, if there’s a pinnacle of my profession, or some high-point that I’m working toward in some manner that, as you warriors put it, signifies mission accomplishment. That’s a tough question.
My sense of achievement comes from the success of the people I work with. Given the state of things, it has been very challenging to work with most folks. Then you’ve got the rules and what not to contend with. However, we could all sit and talk about the variety of ways that we cannot operate, or we can get on with operating in a manner that allows folks to train. We've managed to find that sweet spot in our operations, so here we are. We're working in the right direction. And definitely a massive shout out to all of my loyal clients, and the community of Washougal. Without the, we wouldn't be standing here. This town is my home, so I am stoked to be able to operate and provide something that gives back to the community in a way that also brings restoration and well-being.
As a fitness enthusiast, I feel responsible for promoting health and fitness, especially here in my hometown. It all starts with the base. I firmly believe that kids here in Washougal, the youth, they need more avenues for health and fitness. No hard feelings towards PR or gym teachers, they’re working with what they have and doing the best they can. However, as a gym owner and local, this is where I felt determined to step in and the reason why I launched our youth exercise program which ultimately replaced school PE during the thick of it last year, and also earlier this spring.
So you’re probably wondering: how’d I do all of this? What’s my support system?
Family! They're the most important thing in my life.
They’re my support system. They allow me to be better. They motivate me to do better everyday. They’re my WHY! Back when we all met to capture this story, I was expecting a child. My first. Today, I’m a Dad. As a dude, I’ve felt like I’ve been on the sidelines during this whole development period. I am trying not to say too much, or too little, but I am really excited, and this has been the most special ride of my life.
Now as a family guy, I’ve had ample time to think during the whole baby time about my values and what matters to me and my family most.
Evaluating this question from the perspective of where I've personally come from since childhood, it’s clear as day that we’re all proof of a system. What’s that system you ask? You know, be a good human. To me, it’s all about honesty and reliability, you know. If you do what you say and say what you do, you’re smashing most of the competition to begin with because most folks talk too much. I have my flaws. The family keeps me in check and so do you guys. I feel like, if you can look yourself in the mirror at the end of the day and you’re happy with what you see, you’re doing something right.
What would you say to someone who wants to make it as a professional athlete?
It’s all about the DRIVE. Anything is possible. If you can see that ‘click-over’ during training, you’ll know. For each athlete, it’s special, and different. The most challenging task for an aspiring athlete is mapping out the correct roadmap. You have to have an action plan, and a way to get there. It’s all about that knowledge, precision, and obsession with the process. Obsession is huge. You have to match work ethic for work ethic with that of your opponent. If the conversation scares them, then this life is not for them. If you're like me coming from a small town, you have to go above and beyond to get noticed. I figured it out. You can too. Maybe there's a solid coach with a door open for you to walk through.
My door, it's always open. The question is, are you ready to walk through it?