My first Strongman contest was back in 2006 when I was 19 years old. 'Back in the good ole days' there were no novice divisions, no sub-weight classes, and certainly no immediate access to equipment. I had made up my mind I was going to be a part of these competitions, but had no idea how other than to sign up and see what happened.
Living in the Inland Empire of Southern California (surrounded by millions of people) I was shocked that the closest event was 6 hours north in a tiny town called Clovis. I had my mom drive me up the night before the meet and I spent the entire night fighting back my nervous stomach as my imagination tried filling in all the unknowns.
The next day I arrived 2 hours early and, in warm-ups, had my first experience touching a log, a tire, a farmers handle, and a stone. With no expectations and fearing the very worst, every successful pick, press and flip was a win that day. I showed up just a chubby teenager from 24 Hour Fitness who thought a 405 deadlift for a few reps was worth something. I learned very quickly that the bar needed to be raised.
That contest sticks out to this day as my favorite. Nothing since has matched the nervousness and excitement of that first show where I came in blindfolded and unprepared. The next few contests were filled with plenty of uncertainty and lots of zeroes, but all of those zeroes set the groundwork that led to reps and, eventually, wins.
Since then, the sport has gained traction. Equipment is readily available, Youtube is flooded with endless tutorials (some from myself) and there is easy access to appropriate divisions for all skill levels. This wave of popularity has brought more business and attention to Strongman, and with it, new talent. Now, as owner and operator of Empire Barbell in Southern California, I have the distinct privilege of helping this new wave of talent conquer their own zeroes.
We are fortunate to be in an area that is dense with resources, scenery and people. There are nearly a dozen gyms in Southern California that are hubs for Strongman, endless contest venues that easily double as vacation spots, and plenty of sponsors willing to contribute to large spectator events. I look forward to working with United States Strongman to increase the number of quality contests in Southern California and once again set the bar higher, for the athletes and the moms that drive them there."
Owner Empire Barbell
1200 Arizona St, B7 Redlands, CA 92374