My personal journey
My journey in the strength and fitness industry began over 17 years ago, when I started working at a Fitness First club in Sydney, Australia. A lot of people think I only train elite athletes, which to be honest most of my clientele are now, but this hasn’t always been the case. In my early days of coaching and throughout my career, I have worked with a significant number of beginner lifters and general population clientele, especially when I first began coaching. My time working in a commercial fitness centre introduced me to some incredible people and taught me business skills and coaching skills that I probably wouldn’t have learnt otherwise, and I’m so grateful for these years because they laid the foundation for what I know, and who I coach today.
From the start of my career, I made it a priority to continuously learn and educate myself. It was no coincidence that at this time I was getting a lot stronger myself and my clients were also making amazing strength improvements. The reason we were all getting such great results was partly because of hard work and our shared passion for lifting, but also because we were prioritising good technique above all else, training to build a structurally balanced body, and being proactive about preventing injuries both in and out of training. I had originally started to educate myself on these particular topics to create a niche skillset and fill a gap that I had identified in the industry, but in doing so these lessons essentially directed the rest of my career, as they showed me that it is not only possible to get strong while staying healthy and injury free, but it’s actually the way we should be doing it. I’ve written about all of these lessons in my ‘Your Program Sucks’ article series, which you can read here, here and here.
At this early point in my career I was still training mostly general population clients, but I soon learned that these same principles apply to every single athlete of any background or goal, and over time in this role, I started to attract a range of athletes from different sports. In particular, I began teaching strength training to a lot of martial artists as I had a background in competitive fighting and as a result I had the privilege of training some of the best fighters in Australia. I am so grateful that my passion for Martial Arts lead to such an incredible opportunity. A lot of people believe that athletes and general population clients require dramatically different strength training strategies, but I discovered this was not the case. We stuck with the fundamental movements and fundamental training principles that I’d found to be so effective already, and it paid off with excellent results. As a strength coach, regardless of who I am training, my job is to get people strong, to teach them to move well, and to be free from injury.
Eventually my strength aspirations took me away from my Martial Arts training, when I decided that if I wanted to be really strong I should dedicate my time to doing what the really strong people do – and I started competing in powerlifting. One of the big turning points in my own career as a competitive powerlifter was when I met and trained with Eric Lillibridge and Ernie Lillibridge Sr, and they showed me a different programming methodology that opted for a low volume and low frequency approach to training, which was a little bit radical at a time when high volume and high frequency training were enormously popular (which they still are). Their goal-directed approach was all about getting the most adaptations from the least amount of stimulus and this really changed the way that I approached my training and my athletes’ training.