What does it mean when someone says to you, “I’ll do my best”? How many of you think that phrase has been poisoned? That the statement is inherently non-committal, lacks surety, and despite one’s good intentions, it simply may not be good enough? But does it really mean that? Does it really articulate one’s best abilities or only one’s half measures of accomplishment? I must admit that at least for one man, saying he’ll do his best has given the phrase new meaning and you might be surprised how.
Meet Dimitrios. He came to visit our gym this last January and told me how important it was to find a gym he felt comfortable with. He had looked at other gyms, namely Crossfit, and decided to come talk to us before making a final decision. I will never forget the deer in the headlights look he had when he walked in for the first time. He was full of doubt that he could actually do what he saw other members doing. His arms were crossed and appeared to be shut down before he had started. He was unsure of what he wanted for himself only that he wanted to get stronger. I told him we could help him. Regardless of his awkwardness and uncertainty, Dimitrios managed to utter a few words that still resonate with me today. He said, “I will do my best.” With that, his journey began.
January 5th, 2016
To help you understand the challenges that Dimitrios presented with, it may help you to appreciate where he started and how perplexing my job is as a Strength Coach. Just getting someone strong is a very small part of the bigger picture. Almost everyone is unique in the sense that they present with a certain degree of skeletal dysfunction, neuromuscular disconnect, weakness, range of motion limitations, stability problems, and so much more. I have to be prepared to handle those unique physical challenges. Each member that comes to us gets evaluated to determine what dysfunction they have (if any) and the priorities to which to attack them under. Here are my actual notes from Dimitrios’s first day, January 5th, 2016:
Assess Deep Squat 2-R Hip Inferior Tilt/Kyphotic Tspine/Protracted bilat Shoulders/limited bilat elbow Ext
Hurdle Step 2-R Knee Flex (hip related?)
In line lunge 2-R Hip Anterior Weakness
Shoulder IR/ER 3-hypermobility
Active Straight Leg Raise 3-Concern R>L Hip Stability
Plank FLR 1-Core/LS Spine Lag
What does all this mean? Put simply, Dimitrios presented with some obvious right-sided hip and upper back dysfunction and before I could get him to where he needed to, we would have to try to fix those areas of the body to work properly.
For his first 60 days or so, Dimitrios worked diligently to get stronger and correct his dysfunction through a variety of corrective exercises. I should note that he was also doing yoga and spin classes and that was complimenting his cardiovascular health so we could really focus on the strength and power components. When faced with a variety of ongoing challenges in the gym, he would always repeat to himself, “I’ll do my best”, and each time I would just cringe.
As we often do, we referred him out to work with a local Chiropractor. The Doctor’s assessment was consistent with ours and through several Chiro visits and his continuing corrective work in the gym, we were able to effectively repair his dysfunction to the point it where it was only mildly evident. We were making major progress one small step at a time.
April 1st, 2016
Dimitrios not only got astonishingly strong during his first 3 months, but his confidence was unwittingly growing. I don’t think he realized it but I knew it and his fellow members would often comment about it. He decided to take what he’s learned and apply it to something outside of the gym. Dimitrios decided to run his first Sprint Triathlon. A ¼ mile ocean swim, 15 mile bike, and a 3 mile run.
There was only one major problem. Dimitrios didn’t know how to swim.
This is what makes this man so amazing and determined. Probably more so than he would admit. He found a local swim instructor at the YMCA and learned the basics of freestyle, breast stroke, and side stroke. At least 2-3 times a week, he would leave work, get his ass handed to him in our gym, then leave to the pool to train again.
After some trial and error, he purchased a road bike and started cycle training on weekends. On other days, he would attend spin class in the morning and/or run at night. This is commitment at its best. Day after day, this man stayed on task and accomplished one of many turning points in his life.
October 9, 2016
Dimitrios has participated in and finished his first Sprint Triathlon this morning. What started out as an idea, has culminated into reality today. He finished his swim (without drowning ✓), finished his bike, and his run in good time. In 10 short months, Dimitrios has transformed himself from someone who didn’t know the difference between a barbell and a kettle bell to a formidable athlete very well capable of greatness. He has increased his deadlift and his back squat by more than 100lbs each in the last 6 months. That’s a huge feat. He’s learned hundreds of new movements and exercises. His performance in every evolution we challenge him with is stellar.
I can’t emphasize enough how far Dimitrios has come in such a short time. What he has accomplished in 10 months is evidence enough for anyone that great things can happen given consistently applied daily effort.
Dimitrios has become a man of unyielding hidden talents. Most of my time is spent teaching others how to be their best and challenge themselves everyday they walk into Wolf Den Strength. I can say, without a doubt, that for as much as I have taught Dimitrios, he has taught me the true definition of what it means to be one’s best. Those first few words he uttered to me 10 months ago have never rung truer than today. The Student has become the Coach, if at least for today. He did his best and his best is downright awesome. We are proud of you my friend.