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Alex Uslar: Overcoming Addiction and Creating Opportunity (Podcast)

Alex Uslar wears a lot of different hats with Hybrid Performance Method. At Hybrid, Alex serves as the General Manager, Director of Operations, run Hybrid Apparel, and per Instagram is also Stefi Cohen’s official 24/7 hype-man. Over the course of his career, Alex has coached thousands of athletes and competes and judges in the sport of powerlifting.

In today’s episode, I sit down with Alex to discuss his road from addiction to now playing so many critical roles at Hybrid. We also talk about hyping, and what it really takes to do it right.

In this episode of the BarBend Podcast, guest host Jake Boly talks to Alex Uslar about:

  • Alex Uslar’s story and background in the world of strength & conditioning (2:25)
  • The foundation and growth of Hybrid Apparel (6:00)
  • How Alex manages his day-to-day and finds time to get it all done (7:40)
  • The hierarchy of Alex’s day and how he’s figured out what he loves doing most (9:00)
  • Cool stress is still stress despite how much you love your role (11:20)
  • Alex’s origin story and how he landed where he did with Hybrid (12:40)
  • What Alex’s driving factor was when transitioning from addiction to sobriety (18:20)
  • When and how Alex found his rock to help push and support him in sobriety (20:00)
  • The moment Alex met Stefi and what then followed their initial friendship (26:00)
  • Why Alex and Stefi hated each other when they first met (27:20)
  • Hayden and Stefi’s first interaction and what really got Hybrid moving (29:50)
  • The exact moment when Alex made the switch to work for Hybrid Performance Method (33:00)
  • Separating friendship and business and why it’s essential (35:00)
  • Why people neglect to recognize that CrossFit is a great feeder for powerlifting (36:40)
  • What tips Alex has to offer for others looking to find their mentor in the world of strength (38:30)
  • Discussing the state of in-person and online training (44:00)
  • Alex’s number one tip for being a great hype-man (46:45)

Relevant links and further reading:

Transcription

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

Something’s got to give. It was just from hearing it over and over, and seeing friendships, relationships, everything growing further and further apart. Me being alone in this fucking room I was like, “Something’s got to change.”

 

That’s why I started trying to get things together, but nothing could get my foot fully through the door. Until I found something new to fill my void with essentially. Which was what? Fitness, exercise, and a good community to be around.

Jake BolyJake Boly

Welcome to the “BarBend Podcast,” where we talk to the smartest athletes, coaches, and minds from around the world of strength. I’m your guest host, Jake Boly. This podcast is presented by barbend.com.

 

Alex Uslar wears a lot of different hats at Hybrid Performance Method. At Hybrid, Alex serves as the general manager, the director of operations, he runs Hybrid Apparel, and per his Instagram page, is Stefi’s official 24/7 hype-man.

 

Alex has coached thousands of athletes over the course of his career, and competes and judges regularly in the sport of powerlifting. In today’s episode, I sat down with Alex, discuss his road from addiction to now wearing so many different hats at Hybrid, and competing regularly in the sport of powerlifting. We also talk about hyping and what it takes to do it right.

 

As always, we’re incredibly thankful that you listen to this podcast. If you haven’t already, be sure to leave a rating and review of the BarBend podcast in your app of choice. Every month, we give away a box full of BarBend swag to one of our listeners who leaves a rating and review.

 

We are back on the BarBend Podcast. Today, I am joined with Alex Uslar, who is the manager, director of operations at Hybrid Performance Method. He pretty much has his hands in almost everything that goes on here to some degree.

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

Hold on. You have an objection. That’s not true. I am strictly Stefi Cohen’s hype-man.

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

That’s what Instagram sees and that’s what it is.

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

 

That’s all I am. They’re like, “That’s his full-time me job.” It requires 80 hours a week, 23 out of 24 hours a day. I’m just there yelling. The hype, maybe, has been a little bit on the back burner right now because I’m practicing new material, but that’s all it is.

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

Hey, pay sounds pretty good.

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

 

Pretty good. I got a house. Who would’ve thought you could buy a house on a hype-man’s salary? Boys and girls, you can do it. [laughs]

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

All right. Besides hype-man, which takes up 23 out of 24 hours a day.

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

Yeah, I got that one extra hour of work.

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

What do you do here in that extra hour?

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

I manage the gym. That was my initial role when I came in for Hybrid. How Stefi and Hayden brought me on from the old facility that I worked at, we’ll get into it in a little bit.

 

I managed the gym, the day-to-day operations here. I am the sole staff member here at the gym. Even though we’re 24 hours, we’re not staffed 24 hours.

 

Guests when they come in out of town, they have to email me, make appointments like that. I make sure that our members aren’t fucking shoot up. I’m off the Christmas podcast, right?

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

Yeah.

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

OK, great. That our members are respectful of the gym, make sure the gym isn’t completely falling apart, handle memberships. Anything that has to be done in a gym, I’m the only person that gets that done. That was my initial role.

 

Then after a year or so with Hybrid, they brought me on to be the director of operations for the online company. I sit under Stefi and Hayden, as far as pretty much everything goes. Day-to-day operations, helping manage our employees, back-end billing, customer service, anything that had to do with the company, I have my feet in that.

 

This year, in January, I came to them with the proposal of starting an apparel company, and so we launched Hybrid Apparel. I don’t even know what my title would be for that. I do everything with that.

 

Chances are if you ordered a shirt, I packaged it, I helped figure out the design. I’m not the designer, but I communicate with the designer. Set the quantities, do all the online stuff, help coordinate the photo shoots, etc. We’re really excited about how Hybrid Apparel has grown into its own business.

 

Of course, I’m a coach. I always forget that because that’s where I started. I actually did a two-hour personal training session today that was crazy.

 

That was my roots. That’s what I did for years and years, personal training. I do a little bit of it when people come into town, and they want to either work with me or they want to work with Stefi.

 

Someone came into town, and he only had one day and he wanted to work on a bunch of stuff. He has to book two hours. I’m like, “Whoa, that’s crazy,” but sure, let’s do it.

 

Besides that, I am one of the Hybrid powerlifting coaches. I write most of the Hybrid powerlifting online phases. Then I have my own separate business on top of that. I do individualized one-on-one powerlifting programming, primarily for competitive powerlifters.

 

Hybrid, we don’t offer one-on-one training, we offer one-on-one nutrition. That’s something that I take on my own on a case-to-case basis. I’m a little picky about who I work with just because I can’t have my time spread thin.

 

23 of those hours are spent hyping. One hour a day I do everything I just told you. How crazy is that?

Jake BolyJake Boly

That’s more impressive than “The Tim Ferriss 4-Hour Workweek.”

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

 

Yeah, I know. It’s wow.

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

You do it in less time. Fuck it, you don’t need four hours. You need one.

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

 

One hour to do all those things and that’s it.

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

Congrats coming up on that one-year anniversary of the Hybrid Apparel. It looks like it’s taken off really well and you seem to have a lot of passion for it. Everyone else seems to be very passionate about it here. Congrats on that, man.

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

Thanks, man. It’s super fun. It’s something super different. I come from a music background. You can call me creative in a lot of aspects. I’m able to use my creativity in that and I’m a big visual person. Visualizing things and then seeing them all unfold and seeing how people react to them and how much they love it.

 

It’s super exciting and gives me a lot of gratification in a different way from coaching and training people running back in operation. That’s been a whole bunch of fun and it’s crazy how much it’s grown. We’re really excited about it, we’re expanding. We mainly do screen printing items, we’re getting into some custom cut-and-sew items.

 

The reaction of all the items, we decided to start taking screen printing into our own hands. We’re getting a second facility, not for training, not for the gym or anything like that. The primary purpose of that facility was to have our own screen printing area so that we can just pump out things on our own time.

 

Having to deal with a designer, having to deal with printers, having to deal with so many different moving parts that I don’t have control of. Me as a control freak, it drives me crazy. We’re going to be able to in-house print everything, mess around with colors, different color-ways, all kinds of stuff. That should elevate what we’re offering even more, which is exciting.

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

My question for you is because I’m similar in the sense of liking the control of everything. Have you found a cap yet of what you can do in your one hour?

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

No, [laughs] it was shit. How many job duties are we at right now? The other thing that I as well do is I’m also a meet director, where we host Hybrid powerlifting meets. We’re going to also start hosting Hybrid weightlifting meets at my old gym that I worked at for six years before I came over to Hybrid.

 

We hosted two annual weightlifting meets, which gave me a lot of knowledge on how to do that. I worked for USPA as a state judge. I saw the back-end stuff. This will be our third meet coming up on February, the Hybrid showdown. That takes a lot out of time, a lot of planning.

 

The week up leading to the meet, I will probably be bald from all the hair that I pull out. But no, I wonder when I’ll finally find a cap because I’m always looking for more.

 

On top of the Hybrid Apparel, our next step, we are putting our feet into the supplement world. We have a supplement that I won’t talk about what it is, but it’s already in production. We should have our first round of samples really soon. That was an idea that me and Stefi had.

 

Literally, the next day I was already on phone calls to get it done and get deposits in and get a first round of samples for something.

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

That’s amazing.

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

 

Never ends.

Jake BolyJake Boly

Shoot, I hope that all goes well for you and it goes pretty smooth. I have a question. You start with training. Now you have all these different roles. Do you ever miss training more? How does that flow? You have many different roles on a day-to-day basis. What do you like the most and why?

 

I feel you have a really good idea right now of what you like, what you don’t like. What you might be a little bit more into. What have you found?

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

From when I worked at a gym for six years, where all I did was personal training and group classes. I found that even though I was handling and managing a lot less things. It was literally me managing my clients and managing the classes that they do. It was walk in, be personable do this and the other, walk out. I was constantly super burned out from that because you train people.

 

It’s draining having to engage with clients five hours in a row. Be present with them and talking with them and encouraging them, listening to their problems and all that stuff. It was really draining and when I came into a completely flipped role where I’m behind the scenes and not having to deal with people all the time, it was something super different.

 

Now, I do miss it though. When I do do those occasional personal training sessions, if someone who comes into town or whatever it is, I get a lot of gratification from that.

 

It reminds me of everything I used to do. But as far as all the different roles that I do, my favorite, I don’t know, it’s because you get the gratification when you’re training someone of seeing their progress in them getting stronger and doing well in a meet or if there’s a general population person them getting into shape and whatever it is all.

 

Also at the end of the day with like the apparel, I have a vision, I see it all unfolding. I see it all coming together. I see people wearing it. I see people loving it. It’s so tough because I’m so lucky that I love everything that I do in every piece of it.

 

Even though people say it doesn’t feel like work, hell, yeah, it feels like work because you’re putting a lot of time and energy and stress and losing sleep over things. It’s work that I love to do.

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

Yeah.

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

 

I don’t know I love it all.

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

 I think that’s a really good point. I feel like a lot of folks who see others and let’s call them glamorous roles where their passion-filled roles like, “Oh you’re…It’s not that hard, but it burns you the fuck out in some respects.” It’s not burning you out and sense of where you want to quit. It’s just like it takes time.

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

 

It’s mentally taxing. It’s taxing your body. Even if it’s cool stress or because it’s something cool that you’re doing, it’s still stressed, still strenuous on your body.

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

Yeah, 100 percent and I love what you said about training folks, especially full time. That’s exhausting because I don’t think trainers and coaches who do that full time at work with a ton of athletes get enough credit, especially from the pop who doesn’t understand maybe that side of the industry. It takes a lot to work with people, man. It really does especially if you are…

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

 

Bro, we are practically therapists that don’t have the degree because it’s like look how much therapists get paid. Trainers don’t get paid that much. You’re literally there besides teaching people your craft and correcting their movement. You are listening and taking on their problems in a lot of ways.

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

Yeah, 100 percent. It’s a mental and physical challenge as a coach I think, and a trainer just to adapt, to learn and always be ready because everybody’s different. You have to have a full mindset shift I think before you interact with somebody, especially if you want to get the most out of them. And that’s a fucking skill.

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

 

Yeah.

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

Man, you do a lot here. I would love to hear a story in the lead up of how you got here. Let’s go. Origin story. Let’s go. Don’t pull back any punches. Let’s fuck get at it.

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

We’re just going to fucking roll with it, man. I just turned 27 on Monday. I have been working out only since I was 19. I had zero athletic background. It’s funny because we’re talking Stefi, wants to do some fucking YouTube video of a bunch of powerlifters running a mile.

 

We were just talking about our knee issue so you can only imagine how my knees started crying when she told me that. I told her that I literally don’t think I have ever even run a full mile in my life. In elementary school, we see turkey trots and stuff like that. Yet boy walked in, pee and shit like that.

 

High school, I dropped out of high school and we’ll get to that in a second and didn’t do anything until I started going to a gym at 19 to get sober. So pretty much from when I was 13 till I was 19, I was a completely different person than I am today. I find myself pretty extroverted.

 

Pretty social and have pretty good people skills and a people person now. Back then I was the most introverted, antisocial, full of anger and hatred, an angsty teenager in the freaking world. I grew up in the punk rock scene going to shows and very quickly got into like drugs and alcohol and pills and everything terrible for you.

 

I was pretty much my entire teenage years so I dropped out of school practically in ninth grade, sold drugs, worked at a grocery store, fucking like just nothing good, nothing positive, no future lined up, no direction on where I wanted to go, what I wanted to do. I was just taking it day-by-day living.

 

I played in a couple of bands, going to shows. The punk rock hardcore scene is a big part of my life. Back then, powerlifting wasn’t mainstream, lifting was mainstream. It’s funny because now the powerlifting scene, because there’s so much that goes hand in hand with powerlifting in the music scene, now a bunch of people in the music scene, all lifts.

 

Back then, no one lifted except there was this one dude who I used to always see at shows who was covered in tattoos. I had a couple of tattoos back then, super jacked, and I knew that he owned a gym.

 

I knew it was a straight edge. I’m like, “Damn, that guy’s fucking Jack bro.” I want to be Jack like that. I would just get high and drunk and fight people and be an idiot.

 

From when I was 18 till I was 19 like for a year or so, I had been trying to get sober on my own by any means necessary. I would stop smoking weed and I would keep drinking alcohol or I would quit drinking and I would just smoke, take pills, etc.

 

Then like I’d have a period of one or two months where it almost do nothing and then I’d fuck up again. In February of 2012, I had actually that had one of those periods where it’d been almost two full months and I hadn’t done anything. I was fucking killing it.

 

At that point. I was going into like a Globo gym, I had a Globo gym membership for probably four or five months now. I’d go three times a week, do arms and leg press, side note, I was 170 pounds then and I am 265 now. You can imagine what I looked like back then. I was literally skin and bones on a twig.

 

I won 70, but I was 6’3″ so I was tiny and I was working out this, that and the other.

 

February 26th, I think 2012 I go to a show. I hadn’t drink or done anything in probably two months and I see a bunch of my friends. They’re like, “Yo, you want a fucking Xanax?” I’m like, damn dog, fuck it. [laughs] I take it, we started drinking.

 

I get the most messed up I had been in a really long time, did a bunch of stupid things and that dude who I was just referencing to was at that show. He was hanging out with one of my old band mates and I go up to him and I’m like, “Yo man, like you own a gym, huh?” He looks at me like, who the hell is this fucked up kid right now?

 

He’s like, “Yeah, man.” I tried talking to him, but there’s a bunch of people. Conversation ended. That night, I go home, I wake up the next morning, super hung over, super messed up. A couple of hours later I have a Facebook friend request from him and a Facebook message.

 

He’s like, “Hey, man. Sorry, we couldn’t chat that much. You want to come by my gym? I’d love to talk to you a little bit more.” Like, “Cool, sick.” I go to his gym and I’m talking to him for fucking hours. He was like an ex-heroin addict had been clean for like seven or eight years.

 

Got clean through working out and eventually opened up his own gym, a CrossFit gym, blah, blah, blah, blah.

 

Me and him had a ton in common. I looked up to this guy. He was probably five, six years older than me. I was like, “Dude, I’m trying to get sober,” this, that, and the other. He’s like, “Dude, you need to be in a good environment. Let’s do this.”

 

I signed up at his gym and I never turned back. I never got high, never drank, never smoked, nothing ever again.

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

During those times of trying to get sober, what was your driving factor then? I know you say you never looked back, but it sounds like you had a couple months here and there where you were really trying.

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

I feel like my driving factor was I knew I was someone who I wasn’t truly. I knew I wasn’t truly, truly full of hatred for everyone and hatred for the world. I knew that I didn’t actually hate being around my family. I knew I didn’t hate being around everyone.

 

I knew that I didn’t really, truly want to be high all the time. I was addicted to that feeling because I didn’t know anything else. I didn’t know how to function sober. People who were my friends for years, and years, and years saw how darker, and darker, and darker I was getting.

 

We were parting ways and people telling me, “Dude, something’s got to give.” You know what I mean? It was from hearing it over and over and seeing it. Seeing friendships, relationships, everything growing further and further apart and me being alone in this fucking room. I was like, “Something’s got to change.”

 

That’s why I started trying to get things together. Nothing could get my foot fully through the door until I found something new to fill my void with, essentially, which was what? Fitness, exercise, and a good community to be around.

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

I guess when you were going through those times, did you ever reach out to anybody for help? Was it something fully intrinsic, where you were like, “I need to do this for me. I’m going to figure this out and do it.” Did you ever have times where you were like, “Hey, I need help from a friend or a family member and so forth.”?

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

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.

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

How did that interaction go, and how did that whole meeting happen?

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

 

I just got a notification on Facebook a couple of days ago, that was me and Stefi’s six-year friendiversary.

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

Wow. That’s official.

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

 It’s a long time dude. Yeah, it’s crazy. Six years, that was like 2013, 2014. She came over to the gym around the time that I had started becoming an actual coach there. Around the time that I was about to start my powerlifting club.

 

She came over while she was doing her undergrad. She had to do a small internship at a gym. She was at first at Peak, and then she came over to our gym. She was 105-110 lbs. Had just started CrossFitting from being a marathon runner.

 

This little small girl who was super athletic. Had only been CrossFitting for a super short period of time. We see her move, and we’re like, “Damn, you move really well. You should do Olympic weightlifting.” Because the gym that I was at at the time, had a huge Olympic weightlifting club. Our Olympic weightlifting club was almost bigger than our CrossFit.

 

We had this old Cuban weightlifting coach, he saw her and starts talking to her in Spanish. He’s just, “OK. You have to lift here.” She starts lifting for our weightlifting club. It’s funny man, me and her hated each other at the beginning.

Jake BolyJake Boly

Really?

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

We hated each other, because we’re so similar in so many ways. We would butt heads so hard. I’d start blasting my music, “Ah, turn that shit off.” Then I’m like, “Girl, you’re in my gym.” [indecipherable 27:38] I’m like, “Yes ma’am.” It’s funny because I remember seeing her back then.

 

I’m ranting going from thing to thing, but she was snatching 50 kilos. Back then that was a pretty big deal for a 110-pound chick to snatch 50 kilos. Weightlifting was on the up and up then but it wasn’t nearly what it is right now. Then I remember seeing her snatch 55 kilos, and then snatch 60 kilos, and then snatching fricking reps.

 

For a girl, that’s crazy! It was just crazy and cool seeing her transformation as we both grew together in that space.

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

Yeah, I got you. You guys hated each other. You guys grew together. How did the formulation of your role here in the Hybrid start and how did that transition?

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

She kept training at that gym, like I said she probably started 2013, 2014. 2015, she was still training there and still competing in Olympic weightlifting. This was about four years ago. I think in 2015 is when she met Hayden, and I remember they actually met at one of my old gym’s Olympic weightlifting competitions.

 

She was competing and he came down from Canada. He was on team Ash at the time and he competed as well and I guess you could say it was love at first sight for them. [laughs] I remember he then flew down at a later time and we all met him at the gym and he was this super strong dude. I had my powerlifting club but we were all kind of weenies.

 

He was squatting 600 pounds like, “Whoa! Look at this hunk of a man! This is crazy!” At the time Stefi had no followers on Instagram and Hayden had 10,000 which was crazy back then. I’m like “Wow, Stefi! You’re dating a celebrity! Jesus!”

 

They started dating and he sold and left his old company, and he’s the one who around this time then started telling Stefi, “Yo, yeah, dude, you’re a sick Olympic weightlifter! I do Olympic weightlifting also but I also do powerlifting.” I remember he had Stefi pull sumo one day and she pulled 315 the first time ever.

 

It’s like whoa she had never even dead lifted before. Her conventional was not very good and still isn’t to this day. She’s a sumo puller because she’s had back issues but she went from clean pulling 90 kilos — it’s all she could pull — to then dead lifting 145 kilos. It was crazy.

 

Hayden’s like, “Yo, you’ve got to do this. You’ve got to stick with it.” Then they started developing Hybrid. Hayden was living in Miami. They were both training at that gym. At this point we were butting heads less, we had grown a little bit together me and Stefi. We still to this day butt heads to an extent but not nearly like back then.

 

Me and Hayden got along really well. We loved having them at that gym, we loved having them in that environment and having these strong lifters there. They’re both competing in weightlifting, they’re both competing in powerlifting.

 

In the beginning of 2016, a little over three years ago now, they launched Hybrid and my old boss was not very happy about that. He let them do photo shoots at the gym and a lot of the Hybrid promotional material was shot at the gym, even though they were paying members and stuff like that.

 

He saw it as a little bit of a conflict and they’ve butted heads a bit, this, that and the other, and they left that gym because the owner didn’t really want them just because of the conflicts of Hybrid and this, that and the other. We stayed good friends. We stayed in good terms. They actually approached me after they left the gym.

 

They’re like, “Hey, do you want to help write some powerlifting Hybrid programming for us?” I’m like, “Yeah, totally!” I was a ghost writer at the time because I didn’t work for Hybrid and I ghost wrote some of their programs and this, that and the other.

 

We stayed in contact. We’d see each other every so often. They train at another gym in Miami and sometimes I’d go train with them. In June 2017, Hayden hit me up and we’re chatting and he’s like “Dude, how have you been? We’re opening a gym.” I’m like, “Dude, I saw that! That’s fricking crazy. That’s awesome!”

 

He’s like, “We need someone to run it. Are you happy over there?” I’m like, “Well, I mean, yeah,” but he knew what my schedule was like. Getting there at 7:00, 8:00 AM, staying at the gym until almost 9:00 PM. This gym was a metal warehouse with no AC in it, like it was a sweat box.

 

My powerlifters had a small corner in the back of this gym and he’s opening a powerlifting paradise. So what do I do? I get some boneage. [laughs]

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

You’ve got to go.

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

I’m like, “Well, I don’t know.” He’s like, “Well, how much are you getting paid right now?” I’m like, “Well, it’s on a case-to-case basis. It depends on how many clients I have right now. It depends on how many classes I’m doing but roughly it’s like X.

 

He’s like, “Well, we can pay you X and you’ll be expected to work half the hours.” I’m like “Oh shit.” Then I was faced with one of the most difficult things that I had to do. I had to talk to my old boss who was like my mentor for years and years and years.

 

Before I talked to him, the owner, I talked to this woman who was the manager of our gym who had a lot of experience in the corporate world. She was a high ranking manager at American Express and she just helped us manage the gym as a friend.

 

I told her, “Look, I have this job opportunity with a company that has tremendous room for growth and I’m here in this position making X, my hours are stretched so thin. There’s no more hours in the day for me to program more clients and to do anything else. I feel like I’m at a standstill here, I can’t grow anymore from what I’ve been doing.”

 

“I’ve been making this amount of money for this many years and I’ve come this far, I’ve grown this club, but what else can I do here? I don’t know.” She’s like, “Alex, this is an amazing offer. You have to take it. He’s going to be so angry.” I’m like “Man.”

 

I talked to Stefi and Hayden. I’m like, “What if I still worked at that other gym sometimes since you don’t need me that much?” They’re like, “You can do it! Totally! But I don’t think he’s going to let you.” I’m like, “Oh man, oh man, oh man.”

 

I go. I have the conversation and of course it went the direction that we thought. He saw it as a conflict of interest which even though the gyms are on complete opposites of town, very different markets and this, that and the other. I respect his points of view and stuff like that, but we weren’t able to come to a general consensus of anything that would work and I had to leave.

 

Unfortunately, it was not on the best terms either. To some extent I think he took things pretty personal even though they shouldn’t have been personal. It was a thousand percent a business decision and as you can see it was the best business decision I could have made in my fucking life.

 

It’s a shame to lose someone who was such a close friend and someone who helped get you to where you were, but I 100 percent always give credit and I’m always so thankful that he did take me under his wing and taught me everything that I knew and helped me grow to the place that I was where I had maximized what I could do there and now I’m in a fucking butterfly position where I can just flap my wings, baby. [laughs]

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

I hear you. That had to have been tough though. Especially since he’s a mentor but also it’s business, man. That’s how it goes.

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

It is. It was nothing personal. 100 percent. You have to look at dollar signs. You can only look at friendship so much but you have to be able to separate friendship and business, which is something that everyone encounters problems. At the end of the day, Stefi and Hayden were hiring me, and they were very good friends of mine.

 

We’re still friends, but we also know how to tote that line of understanding what’s business, what’s friendship, not taking reprimanding personally, not being able to reprimand because we’re friends. That is my insane story in a nutshell [laughs] .

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

Oh, goddamn. That was quite the narrative.

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

Yeah, man. I’m a good story teller, huh?

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

Pretty good, pretty good. I do want to talk on one thing that you discussed in there that I thought was pretty interesting, and something that I don’t think people give enough credit to. That’s that powerlifting somewhat grew because of CrossFit.

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

 

A thousand percent.

Jake BolyJake Boly

 Most people are like, “Oh, weightlifting is growing because of CrossFit.” Yeah, a hundred percent. Also, powerlifting because CrossFit has been such a good gateway to just get people into trying different strength sports niches, different movements that I appreciate that you say that.

 

I would love to hear a little bit more the “why” behind why you say that because I don’t think a lot of people give enough credit to CrossFit. For also benefiting and growing powerlifting, and giving more depth to the talent.

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

I feel CrossFit back at this point, 7, 8 to maybe even 10 years ago, started showing that going to the gym can be something different than just walking into an LA Fitness, and doing arms, and doing curls, and doing legs. It started mainstreaming different means of working out.

 

Big pieces of CrossFit are weightlifting, strength training, and all the gymnastics all those different components. A lot of people started out and were like, “OK, you know what? Maybe I don’t like all this cardio stuff, this, that and the other.” Sure, maybe more of those people who started that gravitated towards doing Olympic weightlifting.

 

There are so many. That was why my powerlifting club was so successful. So many of them were like, “I’m kind of tired of cardio all the time. I want to be bigger, I want to be more jacked” Blah, blah, blah, whatever it is.

 

Maybe they weren’t mobile enough, or they didn’t feel they were athletic enough, or they moved well enough to do Olympic weightlifting so they do the easiest sport known to mankind. Powerlifting. [laughs] Do you know what I mean?

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

Yeah. I get it, man. That’s really cool. On the topic of having a mentor that guided you through all this, how important…and this is kind of rhetorical, but I also just want you to elaborate a little bit. I think having a mentor, especially in this space of strength training specifically, is so goddamn important because…

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

You’re about to maybe go off on a rant.

 

Jake BolyJake Boly

[laughs] Oh man. In any professional setting, we know mentors are important, right? But with strength training, I think there’s just so much depth to it because it can be taken in so many different angles and ways that there’s not just one way to do it.

 

What kind of tips could you offer anyone who might be wanting to find a mentor or look for a mentor? What are some tips on finding a great mentor, and what should you look for?

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

First off, I am proud and I want to shake the hands of those people who actually want to go those steps and do it the right way. On top of [indecipherable 38:58] when I’m thinking back 16 years ago, and how CrossFit started making a big gateway for powerlifting then where’s the continued growth now come from? Social media, Instagram, right?

 

That’s what’s been the last, four to six years since then. My god, that gets me so fired up how easy it is nowadays for someone just to put coach in their bio, and call themselves a coach. They didn’t have all these steps that I had to go through along the way.

 

All these different things, and all these different hurdles to cross, and to earn my stripes, and to earn everything. To have someone with experience and knowledge will overcome all these other things pass that down to you. There’s people who don’t deserve it.

 

I’m not trying to sound like an asshole but shouldn’t be doing what they’re doing, and making a living off of it when they didn’t take steps that should have been done. Like, you want to be a doctor, you don’t just decide you’re going to put “Doctor” in your Instagram bio and do it. You have to go through steps to do that.

 

Sure, there’s no way to say you have to have a degree and I’m not saying…I don’t have a degree personally. You should be able to see someone’s what qualifies them to be able to tell you what to do. Can they be telling you that? Should they be telling you that?

 

It’s just way too easy for anyone to just now decide, “All right, I want to be in this path. No, I’m not going to do an internship. I’m not going to have a mentor. I’m not going to read more than one book. Do you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to hire a coach, and I’m just going to copy their frickin programming, and sell it as my own.”

 

Look at this, “I’m making sick money.” I see these kids who are making way more money than I made for years, and years and years, sweating and busting my ass, and learning and growing. They’re on a quick get-rich-quick scheme.

 

I’m very happy when I see people…I have friends here in the gym, hopefully, you don’t hear this. Don’t reach out to me on Instagram if you want me to be your mentor. Remember, [laughs] I only have one minute left to this point. You’re taking up my one hour of the day to do work. This is crazy.

 

I had people in the gym who come and want to sit down with me, and pick my brain about things when it comes to training and anything in general. Management, whatever it is. They’re eager to learn, and they know that they need to take those necessary steps before they just jump and do something.

 

There’s a couple of kids in the gym like, “You know, I think I want to get into programming. Look, look.” They show me what they wrote. I’m like, “Let me see your program that you’re following from your coach.” I look at it, and I’m like, “Why does it look so similar?” Do you know that there’s more than one different way to program, right?

 

Just because you follow our PE with your coach, and you’re doing these progressions, doesn’t mean that’s what you’re going to give to your athletes. You have to understand there’s many different styles of programming, of periodization.

 

They’re just so much more that goes. On top of that, I preach all the time how it’s not just numbers in a spreadsheet. So much of coaching, what we just talked about when it comes to personal training, also applies to whether it’s an online coaching. So much of it is psychological.

 

So many people are paying coaches — online coaches — a super high premium, and those coaches don’t even talk to them. I charge quite a bit for Individualized programming but I give an experience.

 

I tell my clients. I’m like, “You can literally follow anything. You don’t have to follow what’s in my sheet. You’re probably going to get better. You’re probably going to get stronger.” You have to understand how to relay a message to someone. You have to understand how to communicate.

 

You have to understand each person is different, each person moves different, each person responds so different, style of coaching, of talking, of communication, of support, of reprimanding. All that comes with lots and lots of experience. Lots and lots of hours of learning, of testing, of trial and error.

 

Should you charge for trial and error? Probably not. You should probably give back a little bit, and earn your stripes by working for free, and trying out things. You shouldn’t just go on Instagram and be like, “All right, you all going to pay me $150 a month. I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’ll figure it out eventually.”

 

How about you just go coach some people for free? How about you reach out to some people who are experienced in it, and pick 10 different brains instead of just seeing one brain and copying that brain.

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

Dude, I get it. I think that’s frustrating from every coach and trainer’s point of view when they’ve interacted and done enough in the industry, and they’re continually taking on more and trying to learn more, and they see folks come up and it’s that entitlement kind of mindset, I think it is. That you’re trying to allude, you’re alluding to or more directly, just saying.

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

 

Just saying. [laughs]

Jake BolyJake Boly

 It’s that idea that, “Oh, I have this so I’m entitled to this.” It’s frustrating as fuck especially when you see some of the programs that just get ripped, and then it’s funny. I take on a very finite amount of clients because it’s all I have time for. I’m very clear.

 

“Look, I kept my list here because I physically don’t have time to give to…” I’m open 24/7 everybody. That’s on top of…

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

 

Same, man.

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

On top of everything else I’m doing on the side and stuff. I don’t want to take on more because I can’t give you the full experience.

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

 

Exactly.

Jake BolyJake Boly

I want to relay messages to you that are going to fucking help you. I did all my 2019 phone calls, wrap-ups and whatnot.

 

The biggest thing has always been it’s never like, “Yeah, your program is great. It’s good and I progressed.” You’re going to progress almost doing anything if you go to the gym consistently, and you’re just not maxing out. It’s the communication.

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

100 percen

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

That right there is something that’s built through experience, through working with different people, working with different folks, and doing a lot…

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

 

Also, working hands-on with people.

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

Exactly.

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

 

You do personal training and stuff as well, right?

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

Yeah, I train in the evenings after work.

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

 

 Exactly. That’s another missed. That piece that is so missing in the online training world today. Half these kids they just got into it, they lifted their own, and they just started working from behind a computer. So much of that component from hands-on one-on-one, face-to-face interactions is going to transfer so much to that virtual interaction, you know?

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

Yeah.

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

If you don’t have that, I feel like you’re missing such a huge key component. Learning how to correct and tell people things on the fly…now, sure, you watch a video on the phone, you can slow it down, adjust it, this, that and the other. Doing it in person is we get you prepared to be able to do that so much easier.

Jake BolyJake Boly

100 percent. I think doing it in person shares the mindset of somebody in the moment. With technical breakdown, it could be just purely technical, but a lot of it is the mindset and can lead up to the movement execution.

 

If you’re not working with people in person, that’s tough to do. For me personally, as a person who writes about this shit all day and is on video, working with people keeps me sharp. I could not feel good about writing about training, and exercising, and so forth, if I wasn’t interacting with people regularly.

 

I totally get where you’re coming from. I love that tangent personally. I know it’s going to piss off some people…

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

Good.

Jake BolyJake Boly

…and quite honestly, if you’re getting pissed off…

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

 

If you’ve listened this far, you probably won’t get pissed off. Come one, you know me already at this point.

Jake BolyJake Boly

Hopefully not. Final question before we wrap this up. This is probably the most in-depth question I could ask you. What is your number one tip for being a hype man?

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

You know, I don’t know if I can give this information out quite honestly.

Jake BolyJake Boly

If I sign up for premium content, can I get your Snap Chat Premium?

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

The amount of DMs that I’ve gotten from people, like “Please send me a video of you hyping me up before my lift.” Do I look like a cheap street whore? Excuse me, I’m insulted. For a hundred bucks, maybe I’ll do that thing? [laughs] You know what I mean?

 

Jesus, man. People. Honestly, this unfortunately, is one of those things that you can’t mentor, you can’t learn, you can’t buy. You’re born with it.

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

You got it, or you don’t.

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

 

That’s it.

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

 It’s like when the rappers come to my school for our Fall Fest, and they have their hype men out there. You either got it, or you don’t.

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

 

I’ve seen like this new era of people getting influenced by my hype, and trying to imitate my “Let’s go,” and all that kind of stuff. I just see them doing, and I’m like, “Brother, that’s not genuine, brother. It’s not from your soul, it’s not from your heart.”

Jake BolyJake Boly

I think that has to do with the punk background.

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

 

Oh, yeah. Absolutely.

Jake BolyJake Boly

Who’s your favorite punk band of all time?

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

 

I think AFI.

Jake BolyJake Boly

Ooh. Favorite song?

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

I don’t have a single favorite song.

Jake BolyJake Boly

 Damn. I think my favorite song, and this is probably cliché, is “Leaving Song, Part II.” That one gets me going every day.

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

 There’s so much good stuff. “Sing the Sorrow” is such an amazing album, but then their super-early albums, like “Stay Fashionable” and stuff like that’s super, super punk rock. There’s just so many ways.

 

Then I even love their stuff like “December Underground”. All the sudden these people are like, “They sold out.” I’m like, “Bro, it’s good music.” That’s why I think they’re one of my favorite bands because they start as a punk band. They’re definitely not a punk band anymore. I love every evolution of it.

Jake BolyJake Boly

Yeah, it’s like people get pissed off for bands progressing on. “Oh, I’m sorry, I’m developing and growing my skill-set. Who the fuck are you?”

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

Exactly.

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

 To wrap this up before we go on another tangent, and probably piss off a little pocket of people, where can we find you? Where can we follow you? Yeah, it’s great having you.

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

If you don’t know already, you don’t probably deserve to know. I mean, I thought I was pretty famous, but OK, fine, fine, fine. If you don’t know of my fame just yet, @AlexUslar, we had to actually film the intro about four or five times, because Jake couldn’t get my last name correct.

 

So it’s @AlexU-S-L-A-R, U-S-L-A-R, U-S-L-A-R, Uslar. On the Hybrid Performance Method website, the Hybrid Apparel. The frigging, the gym, if you come to the gym, if you ever want to come by the gym, you’re going to be emailing me, [email protected]

 

My cell phone number is beep. Actually, shit man, you want to know what’s messed up? The gym line is my phone number.

Jake BolyJake Boly

Really?

 

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

Yeah.

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

Oh, man.

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

 

If you guys want to send me wiener pictures or whatever, just send it to the gym line.

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

Don’t, don’t do that. Don’t do that. Man, thanks so much for the time. It’s a pleasure.

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

 

I had a great time. I hope you don’t have to bleep out too many things that I said.

 

I think there’s only one or two we’re going to have to bleep out throughout there. There was one or two that I’m like, in my head, my Head Editor’s not going for that one.

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

 

You guys will see if you miss some content, I apologize, but there was some good stuff in there, I promise.

Jake BolyJake Boly

 

Any cut-out of content, you can assume…

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

 

I took it too far……it was pretty bad.

Jake BolyJake Boly

…it was pretty bad.

Alex UslarAlex Uslar

…and this is actually me being taped. Well, thanks for having me, man.

Jake BolyJake Boly

Thank you.

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