These Four Walls

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The other day I had the opportunity to record an episode of The Iron Life Podcast with the guy who taught me everything I know about training, John Alvino.

John is also a mentor of mine who’s helped me overcome a lot of shit in my life.

He’s been working in the fitness industry for the last 27 years and is one of the most knowledgeable people I know when it comes to anything strength-, nutrition-, and fitness-related. He also happens to be my cousin.
After our conversation last week, it made me think a lot about life and the pivotal role training has played in mine. Quite frankly, without it, I don’t know where I’d be.

Training has been the one constant my life has had.

It’s the way I make my living.

It has been my therapy, my drug, and to steal this one from The Rock, my anchor.

Training has taught me to overcome adversity, face my fears, and do “one more” when I didn’t believe I could, inside and out of the gym.

Training helped me free myself of my demons.

It has dried up my pain, anger, and rage.

The day after I lost a dear friend of mine, the squat rack was there to help me mourn the loss of a great human being.

Pain is a great teacher, both physically and mentally.

The mental, emotional, and physical pain we experience can teach us to adapt and grow.

If you let them, that is.

The pain you’ve felt, the tears you’ve cried, the anger in your heart, and the rage in your eyes all have their place when you’re under the bar.

Instead of letting them break you, use it all to work harder. The hard work enables us to heal.

It conditions us to understand that when you think you can’t do another set, you absolutely fucking can.

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Character then gets stronger.

Your mission becomes clearer.

Your purpose in this world becomes prominent.

If you only view training as sets and reps, without focus, without real effort, you’re doing an incredible disservice not only to yourself but also to the people around you.

There are so many lessons to be learned within these four walls, and without grit, without true focus, and without relentless effort, you will miss out on them.


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However, if you do the required work, the end result can be life-changing.

Do not miss out on that opportunity.

Within these four walls, I’ve found myself, as well as many others who have found themselves.

I’ve found my passion, my career, and the ability to help others.

Henry Rollins was quoted:

“The material you work with is that which you will come to resemble. That which you work against will always work against you, including yourself.”

Which is why you must choose iron.

It can help you recognize the common themes and patterns in other areas of your life that will hold you back if they go unaddressed.

Your struggles can be your greatest strength. Training will teach you that.

You’ll see that using your pain for fuel is no bullshit. The circumstances you were dealt can either strangle you to submission or bring you life. It’s a choice. But hard training will make you aware of that.

It sure as hell has for me.

Don’t hold yourself back. Don’t avoid one of the greatest teachers life has to offer.

Open your eyes, open your mind, chalk up your hands, and go to fucking work.

See your body transform, then watch your mind follow.

In the end, you’ll be a different creature than you are at this very moment.

But you’ll have to find that out within those four walls containing the sweat, blood, puke, and hearts of the other men and women who have already learned these valuable lessons.

Hard training is an art that should never be lost. It’s a beautiful expression of yourself in a way that can open your mind to the endless possibilities of this life.

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Before I found it, I was consumed by the drug addiction in my family, fear, worry, and self-doubt.


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But my commitment to it has changed all of that. It allowed me to break free of the shackles holding me back.

That’s the power it has, and it can do the same for you.

Life has provided us with a set of circumstances that we can either accept or work like hell to change.

I prefer the latter.

Unfortunately, most people don’t see turning their circumstances around as a possibility. They see it as something life has cursed them with and so there’s no way to get out of it.

I empathize with those who feel that way because I was once in that place.

But through the work and sweat, I realized that things can change, but in order for them to change, I needed to change first.

So I kept going.

First, my body changed, followed by my mind, which allowed me to look at things objectively. I recognized my patterns and did whatever I could to recreate myself.

Today, people will tell you that I am unrecognizable.

And I share that with you because you need to truly accept that you have the potential to change anything you want about yourself and your life.

Viewing the gym as a place to make your chest and biceps bigger is a tremendous disservice to you. You’re leaving an opportunity to slay the demons that reside in your soul on the table.

This isn’t the article to talk about overtraining and adrenal fatigue. This is an article to help you find yourself and transform your spirit.

This is an article that was written in hopes to help you become the person you have the potential to be.

In my 14 years in this industry, I’ve witnessed countless people hold themselves back, quit, and live life going through the motions due to self-limiting beliefs and a past that was never acknowledged.

You’re not going to be another one.

As you read this, I hope that you recognize the power that hard training has to offer you.


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I hope you see that in order to see your self-worth and to develop self-respect, you must work your balls off in their pursuit.

Along with those who did not succeed are those who came out the other side; people who I’ve worked with who did a complete 180 in their lives. These people are living, breathing examples of the possibilities this world has to offer you.

So what’s holding you back? What’s the pattern in your life that keeps stopping you from becoming your best self?

Start challenging yourself and answering these questions, and within them, you will see the light.

But first, you must express what lives in your soul with the hard, physical work that can only be done within these four walls.

Thanks for reading.

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