No. A lot of people go through AA, NA, or rehab programs. I never even looked at one of those as an option. I never did any of those. I never asked for any of that help along the way when I was doing it on my own.
Then when I met that person, that was kind of the person and the thing that I needed.
To continue that story, he became a mentor to me. I spent a lot of time with him. Even though I had fucking been working out for five or six months, I literally knew nothing about working out.
I was like, “Fuck, dude. That seems pretty sick.” Like, “I think I want to do this with my life.” I’m starting to…My first month at that CrossFit gym, I spent all my time there. I’d go into the classes and just fucking post up, I’d hang out. If I didn’t have to go to work. I was trying to be around positive people.
I was looking at the other coaches and looking at everyone like, “Man, this is fucking…This is pretty sick.” He just helped me better my life. They’re helping all these people better their lives. I would love to do this for a living.
I told him that, and — literally after I’d been a member for a month, like I said, I hadn’t been working out for a year — he’s like, “Well, let’s see. Maybe we can revisit that down the line.”
Like I said up until this point, I’m 19 years old, I really have no direction, no structure, no anything in my life. I just kept training, kept training, kept training. It was a CrossFit gym. It’s started becoming counterproductive to my goals. I was trying to get jacked. Meanwhile, just I’m a skinny dude, so it’s getting smaller and smaller, and smaller.
Money started getting a little tighter, so I told him, “Hey, man, I really can’t afford to be here as a member much anymore. I’ll probably come back in a couple months.” I had already been a member there for a few months. I was already, boom, on the straight and narrow. I wasn’t looking back, nothing. Everything was going fucking good.
I canceled my membership. We stayed in contact. I’d still go see him sometimes. We’d go to shows. This, that, and the other. I’m still just trying to figure out my life. At this point, I was working. I was still working at the grocery store, not selling drugs anymore. Thankfully, even though now I’m broke. [laughs] Not the best way to make money though.
He, one day, comes into the grocery store that I’m working at. I hadn’t seen him in a couple weeks. He’s like, “So, bro. You’re still training?” I’m like, “Yeah, man, still sober, still training, everything’s really good.” He’s like, “So, when you get to intern?”
I’m like, “What?” He’s like, “Yeah, man, you said you wanted to do this. You wanted to intern, right?” I’m like, “Yes.” “So, all right, you start tomorrow.” I’m like, “What the fuck? Holy shit. OK.”
The next day I show up. Spend like fucking just six, seven hours hanging out. Watching all the coaches just like his fucking shadow, and just keep doing that for a couple months. All the other coaches were like, “Dude, what are you doing? This kid is 19 years old, knows nothing about training, has no background in anything. What are you doing?” He’s like, “I don’t know. I have faith in the kid.”
I’m just shadowing, shadowing, shadowing. All this is free. I didn’t start getting paid after that internship for about a year. He was giving me some ways to make money. I was helping with sales.
People would come in, I’d show them around the gym, explain membership prices, and he’d give me a small cut if people would sign up. I had a little bit of revenue coming in like that. Just shadowing, shadowing, shadowing.
After almost a full year of completely unpaid, I started then coaching boot camp classes. I remember after that year that I finally first started coaching the boot camp classes. The next step was when he let me start doing personal training, if I brought in personal training myself.
All the coaches were like, “Dude, you gotta be kidding me man. This kid again, still doesn’t know anything, blah blah blah.” He’s like, “No, no, no, no, no.” I was about 20 then, this was seven years ago.
Over the course of from 20 to 22, I went to being one of the most full-time coaches there, the most consistent coaches there. I went from coaching boot camp to coaching CrossFit as well.
I was doing Olympic weightlifting myself at the time. I would also help coach Olympic weightlifting. Probably about 2014, 2015, five years ago, after I’d been there for a couple of years, I started finding out about powerlifting. This was when powerlifting was starting to get a little more popular.
A lot of it was due to CrossFit. I saw the CrossFit Powerlifting certification. I took the CrossFit Powerlifting certification. That was all about Westside stuff, this and the other. I found out about the cube method, Brandon Lilly’s program. I start following that myself, and I’m like, “Wow, this is really cool. This is really cool.”
At the gym I’m like, “Hey man, we should start a power lifting club.” At this point I’m already a full-time coach there. Little by little started taking the steps to start a powerlifting club there.
This is like 2014, 2015. It was over the course of those first three years, I was just earning my footing to where I am. Once I had a little bit of respect, I was just trying to grow things, trying to grow things, trying to grow things.
I was in that gym all day doing personal training, my powerlifting club, coaching CrossFit classes. That’s around the time that I met Stefi.