Over at World’s Strongest Librarian, Josh Hanagarne has been chatting with none other than ‘Unbreakable‘ Adam Glass – and yes, it’s a brilliant interview.
I was first introduced to Adam’s astonishing feats a couple of years ago, and can honestly say that I’ve learnt more about strength training from him than anyone else. He’s an amazing guy.
Josh: Let’s talk about Unbreakable Fitness. I imagine that in the gym you run, you teach the principles you’re talking about right now. When did you start the gym and why did you start it?
Adam: I officially opened doors on the 30th of August, 2008. I’m coming up on my year mark. Prior to that, I had been training a variety of people. I trained people at my house. What’s funny is that when you guys see that equipment in my gym, all that s***was in my garage.
The only thing that wasn’t there was most of my little kettlebells. But all the rest of that stuff, I owned that previously.
Josh: So when I see the room in the videos, the gym where the wall says “Want Respect, Pay Here“, any equipment in that room used to be in a garage?
Josh: I’ve seen your older videos on Straight to the Bar in a garage. Is that the garage?
Adam: That’s the garage. I’m actually in my garage right now. There’s still equipment in here that I’ve got to bring over. The reason I specifically set up the gym is because my garage is detached from my house. In North Dakota during the winter, it is quite routine to have days where the high is negative 20 and the low can be in the negative 50s or 60s.
In the winter of 2007-2008, I had workouts where I came outside and the warmest the garage would get, with two heaters running, would be ten degrees. I’m out here bending steel and lifting things, and with the garage that cold, I said “This can’t be good for me“.
Obviously nobody wants to come work out in a place where it’s only ten degrees, and that’s on a good day.
I located a space where I could set it up. When I first opened, I said, “I’m only going to bring in people who are very serious“. Basically I was looking to make rent so that I could have my own gym.
People ask: “How do you have time to do active military duty and run a gym?” You can, if you’re very smart with your timelines.
Josh: I saw on your blog that it says “Contact me and we’ll see if you’re ready“. What does it mean to be ready, and do you actually turn people away?”
Adam: Unfortunately, I do have to turn some people away. Because of my limited time, I can’t spend a lot of my days trying to coach people who are not that serious yet. Two examples:
Number one: you tell a person, “I want you to snatch 150 reps in 10 minutes with a 24kg kettlebell“. They say “I’m not strong enough to do that yet. I tried and the other day I hit 120“. I can train that person. They just indicated to me that they have a desire to do it. They just have not been physically prepared to do it.
Versus someone who says, “Well, you know, that sounds really heavy, and I don’t know if I can ever do that, and that just doesn’t sound like something that would be for me“. There may be some problems with that person.
Some people just want the attention of the online coaching. There are trainers out there who coach people, who have no problem spending a lot of time working on somebody who doesn’t really want to do it. They collect their paycheck, they send some kind of training program. At the end of the day, most people will never admit how they’re paying for a trainer, but they don’t do the work.
I do not want to put my name on somebody who does not want to do the work. Their progress will be a direct reflection on my coaching ability. If they tell me they want to press a certain size bell, I will give them all the tools, all the information, and a proper template to obtain that press. It only works if they work…if they apply.
Josh: You also do a lot of this same stuff online. For example, on the forums. Why not encourage the people you help for free, like myself, just to pay you for online training?
Adam: I probably could have said “I’m going to train people 100% by pay“. The problem you run into right off the bat is:
Number One: Regardless of anyone’s opinion on why I do it, I enjoy taking 20 minutes to jump on different forums and see what people are up to. I enjoy seeing other people’s progress. So for me, it is almost painful to see how someone is very close to the breakthrough but they don’t understand how to connect the dots between B and C to hit D. If there’s one thing I can say…it’s that if I can point them in the right direction and help them progress, it makes me happy.
But why not charge everybody? Because some people don’t have the means to pay, and some people don’t need the complete system. Some people only need a hint. You, for example. You do not need…with the direction you’re heading in, to have it where we’re setting up phone consultations several times a week…explaining very simple things…you kind of have your own path going…you might just need a nudge now and then.
Some people want to make tremendous gains, and they want to make them very quick. If they’re willing to put in the time and the resources to get me on the line to get them through it, I will.
I definitely have people I consider my personal coaches. They set time aside for me to be able to get online with them and we work through certain things I cannot figure out for myself. This brings up another good point:
Every person is an athlete. Whether they choose to acknowledge that or not, that’s their problem. But if you think that only professional athletes need coaching, or that you can always just figure your own way out…maybe you can, but isn’t it easier to get there with someone’s help? Someone could find their way from Boston to Los Angeles just driving, but it would be a lot faster to talk to someone who’s made the trip before. It comes down to how important someone’s gains are to them.
For me, the next PR (personal record) is something that I highly value. Because of that, I am willing to put in an effort, do whatever it takes to figure out how to get there. There are people like that. They are highly interested in making progress, they just need a push.
Josh: Speaking of the Internet and making it easier for people to get together online for any reason…I was doing some research on you to prepare for the interview. Two things became evident if you Google the name Adam T. Glass. One: you have a lot of devoted followers. And two, there are a lot of people out there who seem to hate your guts. What would anybody have against you?
Adam: There are people in this world…the only thing they can contribute to society is negativity. It doesn’t matter who someone is, there seems to be someone who dislikes that person. I’m sure you have people and you’re like, “Hey, that person is great, they’re always so happy“, but then another person turns around and says, “I can’t stand that person“.
I’m no different. People get jealous. People get afraid. Some people are very close-minded so they may not like that I am direct with what I say. For some people, if you do anything that disrupts their world, they become very defensive. The people who dislike it: I don’t care. I honestly don’t.
Josh: I know that’s true.
Adam: The bad news for them is that, if they are unhappy with me for something today, or yesterday, or six months ago that I said, they’re really not going to like what happens tomorrow, maybe tonight, next month, because I continue to improve. I continue to improve my mind, I continue to improve my body. I continue to learn. I don’t shut out things. I keep moving forward. If they don’t like the things they see from me, well then, it’s just like TV…move along.
The world is a pretty big place, and more and more people are in it. They really just need to get on with whatever they’re trying to do.
Josh: The Internet is making the world smaller in some ways. How is the Internet helping the strength community, and how does it hurt it, if it does?
Adam: It definitely does both. In the United States of America, the predominant fitness activity in America was some kind of bodybuilding. So a person’s immediate connection to “I want to lift weights” was a bodybuilding format. Many people did not know very much about powerlifting or Olympic lifting, even though they’re both domestic sports. If you wanted to get to something more exotic, you pretty much had to know somebody who does it. It wasn’t going to be covered in any of the magazines, which is how most people got their information.
The Internet allows crazy people to find each other and do better things. Like the Gripboard, for example. There are not a lot of people in the world who have a serious interest in hand strength. Most of the people in that forum, without that Internet, would just be going along, doing what they do. Maybe they know somebody with an interest in it and between the two of them they talk out ideas and they eventually make breakthroughs.
With the Internet, we all get together. You can disseminate six years worth of advice in six minutes. We find all the common links between information and then we move on to a higher level. It’s very much what the first telephones did for the way that world leaders could influence each other, versus having to send a courier.
The bad part about that…if someone is a coward or mean-spirited the Internet is where they can run free, because people operate without a name and without a face. They don’t have to put their reputation on the line because they have their little screen name. It allows people to say and do things they wouldn’t normally be able to do. You look at the amount of hateful speech on the Internet and it is staggering…these people can operate with no consequence because nobody knows it’s them.
I’ve no doubts that there are people on the Internet spreading different hateful messages and then get off the computer and go play with their kids or go to church or do whatever…and nobody knows. It’s kind of their own little secret world.
Anyone who’s ever said anything bad to me has been on the Internet. I’ve never had anybody say anything with a negative connotation, face to face in a context where there may be real world consequences for those words.
Josh Hanagarne has an undeniable obsession passion for training at work. When not re-adjusting his bun and telling people to shush, you’ll find him over at World’s Strongest Librarian.
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