Zach Even-Esh

Wow, I’m really excited about the response I’ve gotten from yesterday’s email/post.  It’s really driven home the importance of one of the big lessons from the conference.  In one way or another each one of the presenters taught us that you can’t let fear get in the way of expressing your true self.  Your success demands that you be nothing more than yourself.

It was a big risk for me to stop taking advantage of having your email and just sending you stuff and to ask you to choose me.  You could have said, “No.”  You could have decided that it was too much effort to pursue my writings.  I exchanged the false comfort of a list of eighty some odd names I’d compiled for the risk that no one really wanted to hear what I have to say.

I’m honored that you did choose me and will do my best to honor that choice by maintaining my integrity, first by staying true to myself, even as I continue to discover who I am and what really matters to me, and second by sharing both that process and the results of that process as honestly as I can.

I have taken my good friend and mentor Elliott Hulse’s advice of becoming the “strongest version” of myself to heart and made it my life’s mission not only to become my strongest self but to share that with you, offering you an eye in on one of many possible paths to making that journey yourself.  That you choose this mailing list tells me that you are a fellow traveller and I look forward to hearing your stories as well.

I promised yesterday that I would start by sharing the specific lessons I took away from each of the presenters from this past weekend and I want to start fulfilling that promise today.  The conference was the Underground Strength Conference hosted by Zach Even-Esh.  I’ve been a bit remiss not sharing enough about Zach and what this incredible man has done for me and my life.

Many of you have trained with me for several years now and those who have been with me longer may have an inkling of how Zach transformed both my business and my training style.  Early in my career I developed a fascination with kettlebells and their use as a training tool.  I would scour the Internet, especially YouTube, looking for videos and information regarding these funny looking cannon balls with handles.

I started by looking for all the free content I could find.  Kettlebell Athletics was extremely giving of their material and offered first rate material.  I then found an instructional DVD set, Kettlebell Training for Fitness & Sport, offered by Jason C. Brown of Kettlebell Athletics (more on Jason later) and some guy I’d never seen before.  Zach, was that guy.

The video was simple enough, shot in either Zach or Jason’s backyard, but the information was top notch.  The instruction was solid and their capacity for coming up with and delivering variations and progressions really got me excited.  Zach included a link to something he called Underground Strength Training and I looked into it.  Instantly, I was hooked.

Fast forward a few months and Zach was offering something he called an Inspiration Contest, where he was asking for short videos from followers explaining how strength training and particularly the Underground style of strength training had affected their lives.  Being a somewhat shy and modest person (read: insecure) I had no intention of entering, but I did feel an obligation of gratitude.  In the year prior to this my life had improved dramatically; I beat an addiction that had ridden me for over a decade, I’d moved my family out of a run down, crack infested neighborhood, where gunfire was becoming a nightly occurrence and bought a new house and car.  I owed all of these improvements to strength training and the changes they brought about not just in my body but in my character, as well.

Too insecure to make a video I wrote Zach an email just to thank him personally.  I thought that would be the end of it.  Surprisingly, he wrote me back.  He was gracious, told me how my email had touched him and challenged me to enter the contest.  I just couldn’t ignore that challenge and so over the next few days made this video.  And then I won.

The original prize was all of Zach’s material to date, which was not insignificant by the way, and then he added an invite to one of the first Underground Strength Coach Certifications.  I jumped at the chance and was in New Jersey the following spring.  I returned with a new passion and a new fire, with new tools for building my business and engaging my clients.

It was this experience that made me so eager to return to the Underground when I heard of the conference.  I was also a little scared.  Zach is intense and passionate and part of me worried that I hadn’t lived up to all that he had offered us four years ago.  Sure, I’d met and worked with Elliott and I expanded my own training, but my business had undergone some transformation in the last few years and wasn’t as strong as it once had been.

Once again, I am so glad I did not cave in to that fear.  In his presentation, Zach offered us the story of his business, from the moment when he turned down a job he really needed, just because deep down he new it wasn’t “right,” that he’d have to squash a vital part of himself in order to do it, to getting his honest start training clients for $5 an hour in his parents’ backyard.  He shared the importance of understanding your true passion and harnessing the energy of that passion to propel you to greater deeds and greater work.

“Something to prove, nothing to lose.”

He shared with us his code of honesty, integrity, commitment, and work ethic and admonished us to “Live by the Code.”  All four of these qualities are vital to your success and form the foundation of how you go about being your truest self.  I’ve taken this code and made it my own.  I invite you to do the same.

Finally, he spoke about the importance of a team, that he wouldn’t be the man he was without the support of his team, that he gave as much as he got, sometimes more and that this is what sustained him and allowed him to reach the heights he has.

The “action items” I take from Zach are two fold.  First, Zach’s code is now my code.  That was easy for me.  It was part of me before I even knew what it was, but to have it codified, set clearly before me, I can draw strength from it.  The second lesson I take from Zach is teamwork.  I’ve tried, for the last eight or so years to run all of what I do by myself.  I can’t do it.  There’s too much I don’t know how to do and my efforts to learn take away from the time I need to be spending with you, my clients and my family.

So, I’m building a team.  It’s already starting, the beginnings were coalescing before I even became aware of it, but to bring it to full fruition requires my conscious effort and intention.  Look for bigger things from Agoge Fitness Systems.  We will be growing, pushing limits and striving to offer more and more value wherever we can.  We will stumble, there will be false starts but our general direction will always be forward.  Not only am I becoming the “strongest version” of myself, so is Agoge Fitness Systems.


Filed under Fitness, Motivation, Movement, Personal Development, Personal Training, Recovery, Strength, Strength Training

2 responses to “Zach Even-Esh

  1. I sense so much promise in what you’ve said in this post. I feel happy for you and fortunate to be in proximity to you during these transformative days. I also feel like I’m reeling right now — in the midst of my own transformation, which I barely understand. As I struggle to develop new routines, you are proving yourself an excellent guide. I’m grateful to you and to all the guides that have brought you to this point.

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