|6/21/2012 11:36:02 AM -
Travel, Redux (A tribute to Shelby Starnes)
When you get to a certain age, and stage of your career, you technically don't have "idols" anymore. You have guys you just have a shitload of respect for -- and ironically, the guys you have that measure of respect for are usually the ones you would have idolized, for want of a better word, when you were younger.
For me, Shelby Starnes is one of those guys.
One of my big prerequisites for really listening and learning from guys in this business is knowing they've had a life outside of it. Now, there's absolutely nothing wrong with going to college, getting multiple degrees in exercise science, then getting a job as a coach or a trainer. If you've managed to do this with your life, I'm honestly and sincerely happy for you. You found your goal early in life, you knew what you wanted to do and what you wanted to pursue, and you went after it and succeeded. That's f-ing awesome, and there's a shitload of value to your education, your knowledge, your experience, and the fact that you can teach other people how to go after a goal with a clear head like that (provided that's your experience).
I'm happy for those types of people, and I wish I could be like them -- or I could've been like them when I was younger. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), that wasn't me. After college, I had no idea this industry even existed, and it was the furthest thing from my mind. Anything I researched or studied, I did for the purpose of improving my own training. I really had no idea you could even get a job in fitness, much less turn it into a way to make a living -- and so I went in multiple other directions for the 90's and 2000's. That's why I think I identify better with other guys who did the same thing, and went out and got some seriously f-ed up life experience before they decided they wanted to get serious about this.
And again, both ways are good, and I respect anyone who's a good person with something to offer. All I'm saying is that I tend to have more in common with the mongrel-types in our group.
For years now, I've known Shelby in passing. I've done a few things with him online, sort of kind of, and we've exchanged the odd email or phone call once a year or so since he's been involved with EliteFTS. It wasn't until last year, when I had about a two hour conversation with him about his whole history, that I stared seriously thinking about him as someone who could get me motivated. I'm sure Shelby wouldn't tell you he's had a f-ed up life, because it's probably not f-ed up by his standards and because he's lived the life he has by choice. To me, however, Shelby's life has been insane. To start out where he started out and arrive at bodybuilding and nutrition makes no sense -- but then again, if you know his personality type, it makes perfect sense. You'd have to really talk to the guy to understand what that means.
The point here is that Shelby motivated me last week. I was supposed to travel to the Bay Area last week (kind of fell through), and I knew he'd lived there for a while, so I asked him if there were any gyms he knew about in downtown San Francisco that were good to train in. He told me he didn't know, and that the entire time he was out there, he was training in a "very commercial" 24 Hour Fitness.
Shelby isn't the strongest guy on this site, but he's f-ing strong, and he trains hard. We've all seen the guy's videos, so you all know this. Imagine that kind of shit going on in a 24 Hour Fitness -- the kinds of work-arounds you'd have to go through to get your work done. As a guy who does a good bit of training in commercial gyms, this hit home for me in a weird way. I mean, compared to many of the guys on this site, I'm not exactly strong -- but put me in a commercial gym and it's a different story. Put me in an UGSS, and I'm maxing with guys' warm-up sets. Put me in a 24 Hour Fitness, and guys are stopping what they're doing to say, "Holy shit."
Or at least I imagine. Then maybe I wake up, but whatever.
So, essentially, what motivated me out of all of this was picturing Shelby doing his thing in a place like that. It made me realize I'm not the only one who's obsessed with this shit that doesn't always have an ideal training situation. Only Shelby didn't piss and moan about it like I do. I had no idea the guy was even there until he got back.
Finding motivation in f-ed up places like that is one of the nice surprises in this business.