The following is the cover story feature article in this month’s issue of Austin All Natural magazine, by yours truly:
“Let me make you a paper weight.”
It was Dennis Rogers speaking. Many consider him the world’s strongest man. Celebrities call on him for advice on performing and getting strong. He’s performed over 2,600 feats of strength shows. He’s a legend.
We met over lunch. He wanted to give me a gift, or rather make one for me.
He wrapped his hands in a thin leather protective covering, and then began to bend a wrench before my eyes. I couldn’t comprehend how he did it. I had felt the wrench beforehand and it was a genuine metal tool, heavy and solid. But it bent like it was warm butter.
By now the kitchen staff had seen the bent wrench and saw the small lunch crowd forming around Dennis and me.
“Would you like me to roll a frying pan for you?” Dennis asked the cook and staff. “It can be a souvenir you can hang in the kitchen.”
They all agreed, their eyes bugged out and waiting.
Dennis pulled out a frying pan, put his fingers over the edge, and began to slowly roll it like it was a tortilla. It was astonishing to see. It was surreal. Dennis was clearly focused, breathing hard, putting his life force into his efforts.
He handed the completely rolled up pan, now of no practical use, to the chef.
None of us could believe it.
I had seen strongmen and feats of strength before. When I was in Russia, a man billed as the world’s strongest man – I guess there can be more than one – bent a heavy nail before my eyes. He, like Dennis, used sheer power and intense focus to get it done.
I admired it. I could see applications in other areas of life. I wanted to know more.
The origin of strongman feats of strength goes back to prehistory, maybe even back to caveman picking up boulders and protecting their caves.
The first of the recorded characters was probably Milo of Croton, an ancient Greek wrestler, circa 558 B.C.
His training was simple: find a young calf, lift it.
Next day, find a heavier calf, lift it.
Next day, find a heavier calf or cow, lift it.
It was an early exercise routine today named progressive overload. But that’s the ancient Greeks for you. They didn’t name it. They just knew the process made them stronger.
But feats of strength were performed throughout history, right into the circus and on the vaudeville stage throughout the 1800s.
As time went on, strength displays were broken into categories, such as power lifting and bodybuilding.
I admire men and women who use intention and strength to accomplish something the rest of us might consider virtually impossible.
Some of these early strongmen, most notably Joseph Greenstein, whose stage name was the Mighty Atom, also pursued strength as a means of mental and spiritual development.
Authentic strongman and strongwomen don’t use magic tricks to get their results. They want to impress themselves as well as you.
This is one reason I’m attending Dennis Rogers and Dave Whitley’s Oldetime Strongman University Training in Austin September 19-20. http://www.dennisrogers.net/oldetime-strongman-university-seminar/
I want to learn what it takes to be a modern walking Hercules, able to bend nails, wrenches, frying pans or your car keys, but doing it as a type of meditation. Using it to stretch myself into bigger possibility thinking.
Dennis told me, “The area of strength that David Whitley and I will be teaching is the artistic display of physical strength. I say this because you must certainly build your body, particularly your core and grip, but it also requires a creative mind and artful presentation.
“It is the art of the old vaudeville and Coney Island strength stars. Men like Eugen Sandow, Siegmund Brietbart, Warren Lincoln Travis, and ‘The Mighty Atom.’ “
According to author and strength historian David Willoughby, “It was Sandow who raised feats of strength out of the grunt-and groan category and made them spectacular and entertaining.”
But it’s not about the bent item, it’s about learning to use your mind and muscle to get results. That’s priceless anywhere.
David Whitley said, “It is the bodily expression of the mind’s power.”
And that’s why I trained with the “old school” bodybuilders, like multiple Olympia winner Frank Zane, who advised me, “Watch your thoughts. Most people let their mind talk themselves out of what their muscle can do. Push past the voice.”
And Steve Reeves, the legendary early bodybuilder who played Hercules in the original movie, said he would visualize his muscles growing as he worked them. Arnold does the same thing.
It’s mind over muscle.
Dennis Rogers once told me that most people give up in trying to bend a wrench right before the wrench is going to bend. “They let their minds talk themselves out of what they can achieve,” he explained.
David Whitley said, “We tend to think of the physical first, but being strong is something that goes beyond the physical performance of feats and encompasses the entire being. It is a means of discovering, unifying and expressing the True Self.
“The essence of being an old-time strong man in my opinion is recognizing and acknowledging the infinite potential of the human mind. The ability to bend steel, rip decks of cards, etc., has its roots in the same place as every great invention or work of art we have ever seen: The Imagination.”
You can see how relevant this is to all aspects of life, not just in the gym or on stage. It’s about using your mind and body to achieve your intentions. It’s about training in a way to exceed your own “personal best” and proving to yourself and others that virtually nothing is impossible.
Now, stand back, as I’m going to break that chain around my neck on the cover of the magazine…
PS – If you are in the Austin, Texas area, you can find the current issue of Austin All Natural at places like Central Market, Whole Foods, and leading edge book stores and yoga studios. You can read it online right here.
Reading as much as I do, it’s hard to narrow the stacks of great books down to a handful of memorable classics. Here are the top ten books that really stood out and made a difference in my life in 2014:
Best Books 2014
You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero. This may be my favorite book of the year. Yes, there are plenty of self-help books that say virtually the same thing as Sincero’s book, but almost none do it with attitude. I love the humor, honesty, intimacy, personality, and daring of the author. I love the book so much I reached out and interviewed Sincero for my podcast. She’s sincere, funny, open, and a living badass of the polite I-won’t-hurt-you but I’m-going-for-my-dreams-so-stand-back sort. Fun, wise, empowering. Read it.
Spartan Up! by Joe De Sena. This one lit a fire under my butt and made me want to get out and run up steep hills with my shoes on fire. Since I’m already working out intensely, thanks to personally training with Body-for-Life fitness legend Bill Phillips, I didn’t feel compelled to enter a Spartan endurance race. But I found this book inspiring, motivating, and heart pounding. I love his concept of “obstacle immunity,” which means hard core exercise builds inner strength to easily handle the stresses of normal life. He’s right. After intense exercise, traffic is nothing. Great book.
The Science of Living by Emmet Fox. This book clearly explains the teachings of New Thought pioneer Emmet Fox, most famous for his little books, such as The Mental Equivalent and Make Your Life Worthwhile. Though Fox taught and published in the 1930s, The Science of Living is a recent publication based on his private classes with metaphysical students. I love its clarity, plus it made me feel like I was in the room with him. This fully explains what the philosophy of Mind Science is all about. A true gem.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. I’ve read this 1937 classic before, of course, but after reading a recent biography of Carnegie (Self-Help Messiah), I decided to read it again. It is a masterpiece. I am in awe of Carnegie’s conversational writing style, powerful stories, and crisp message. I wish just one of my books was this good. The message, while simple, is as relevant today as it was over the last several decades. Priceless.
Making the American Body by Jonathan Black. I found this book hypnotic. It masterfully tells the story of the men and women who shaped fitness in the United States. That may sound boring to you but believe me, the feats, feuds, and fuss of the often egomaniac men and women who urge us to get fit is an entertaining, enlightening, and even appalling read. My only disappointment is the author somehow left out Bill Phillips, who is a living legend in fitness. Otherwise, riveting.
A Moment in Time: The Steve Reeves Story by George Helmer. I’m one of the biggest Reeves collectors in the world. I have the famous body builder/movie star’s gym, car, clothes, trophies, and more. My collection is impressive enough that Lou Ferrigno (The Hulk) came to see it. This long awaited biography, by Reeves’ personal friend and executor of his estate, is mesmerizing. The hundreds of photos are worth the price of admission alone. The stories are alive. It’s a loving tribute to a legend; the definitive biography of the original Hollywood Hercules.
The Devil’s Horn by Michael Segell. As you may know, I’m now a saxophone player. (Afflatus, my baritone sax album, came out last month.) This is the hands-down best book ever written on the dramatic roller-coaster history of the sax, an instrument once considered the “devil’s horn” by some while others swooned to its cool sound. It was once the most popular instrument in the world (until the guitar got plugged in). The man who invented the sax – named (no surprise) Adolphus Sax – went through business failure, ridicule, controversy, political manipulation, envy, and even a death threat. An astonishing book.
The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. Nicholas Herman, later known as Brother Lawrence, lived in France in the 1600’s as a kitchen working monk. He dedicated his life to constantly living, working, playing, and praying “as in His presence” at all times. “His” means God. If the God word pushes a button in you, exchange it for Divinity or something else. This little book of conversations with, and letters by, Brother Lawrence has been changing lives for centuries. It did mine, too, and deeply influenced the writing of my forthcoming book, The Secret Prayer. There are numerous editions of this holy work around, many published in English for the first time around 1895. Highly recommended.
Managing Thought: How Do Your Thoughts Rule Your World? by Mary J. Lore. I love the direct simplicity of this well crafted book. It helps you understand what your thoughts are doing, whether you are aware of them or not. Of course, once you are aware of your thoughts, you are now separate from them and more in control. A practical, inspiring guide.
Willpower: The Owner’s Manual by Frank Martela. This brief book surprised me with the 12 tools it describes for “doing the right thing.” I expected fluff, I got wisdom. People often resist will power, thinking it is pure ego or pure pain, when in reality will power is what you often need to align your desires, achieve your intentions, and attract what you want. Great book. Will yourself to read it.
And here’s a bonus title —
You Are the Placebo by Joe Dispenza. I’m not a fan of so-called scientifically based books describing how the world works, mostly because I can’t follow their terminology and the authors often disagree with each other, but this book is easy reading, easy to understand, and truly eye opening. Dispenza explains how it is possible to heal many “incurables” with thought alone, by detailing how the mind influences everything. In a way, this is a manual on how to create the placebo effect as needed. I read every word. Fascinating.
What about you?
What did you read this year that moved you?
Please post your comment below.
PS – My list of best books for 2013 is at http://blog.mrfire.com/best-books-of-2013/
I’m a friend and a fan of Body-for-Life Hall of Fame fitness legend Bill Phillips, author of Transformation and other bestselling books, but I’m not an affiliate for anything he offers or sells. I’m writing this to share my personal experience with his new supplement, GHX10, which is supposed to help increase your Human Growth Hormone.
Like you, I see ads for supplements daily.
I used to take a bucket of them (supplements, not ads) every morning.
For years, I spent thousands of dollars on a prescription to help increase Human Growth Hormone.
I was over 50 and approaching 60 (and am now over 60) and was seeking the Fountain of Youth.
Feeling frustrated by the lack of results, and disappointed by the misleading claims, and tired of paying all that money every month, I threw it all away.
Stopped the supplements.
Stopped the drug.
I decided I would simply eat clean, workout, pray, and hope for the best.
Of course, I rediscovered Bill Phillips two years ago, attended four of his fitness camps in Denver, and have been working his program daily.
I’ve released weight, added muscle, and feel great. (I’ve written about my experiences on previous posts. See PS below.)
Recently Bill announced a new supplement.
It’s called GH10X.
It was created to help you increase Human Growth Hormone, a major key to rebuilding your body, releasing excess weight, and feeling youthful.
Bill says it can help increase Growth Hormone up to ten times.
That’s a pretty noteworthy claim.
He adds, “GH10x is an all-new, scientifically designed, nutraceutical – a natural supplement with medicinal like effects.”
Because I trust Bill, I ordered enough GH10X to try for a month.
Since it’s simply a powder you add to a drink, it was easy to try.
The first night, I slept better than I had in years.
And my dreams became more vivid, colorful, and memorable.
The next morning my workout was stronger and more intense, with more endurance and less exhaustion.
I was impressed.
But I thought it might be a fluke, so I kept the experience to myself.
Three weeks later, I noticed that my muscles seemed bigger.
A month or so later, my wife said, “Look at your arms!”
And then when a service person came to the house to do a repair, and I saw him glance at my biceps (I had been in my gym and was wearing a sleeveless shirt), I knew something was working.
I went in the bathroom and took a selfie.
My muscles are bigger.
Better sleep, more energy, increased strength, and bulging biceps.
And yes, I ordered a lot more GH10X.
Bill is quick to point out that his supplements won’t work for you if you don’t exercise.
I already workout, using Bill’s methods.
Adding the new supplement seemed to turn on the after burners, push some sort of kick start nuclear blast button in my body, and engage my body-mind-spirit to fire up the back engines and sprint ahead.
I like GH10X.
Again, I’m not an affiliate for it and I don’t make a cent if you buy it or not.
I’m just sharing my personal experience of using it.
To learn more, go see http://eatingright.com/collections/gh10x
For the record, the only other supplement I take these days is Strongevity, also from Bill Phillips. It’s described at http://eatingright.com/collections/strongevity-rx ( I’m not an affiliate for it, either.)
To your health!
PS – My posts about training with Bill Phillips are at —
March 1 2013 http://blog.mrfire.com/transformation-on-demand/
May 16 2013 http://blog.mrfire.com/transformation-update/
October 22, 2013 http://blog.mrfire.com/transformation-part-three/
May 1, 2014: http://blog.mrfire.com/transformation-part-4/
July 25, 2014 http://blog.mrfire.com/transformation-part-5/
About four months ago I had breakfast with the incredible “Hulk,” actor Lou Ferrigno. We hit it off so well that we kept in touch, and had a three hour dinner when he returned to my area. That was the other night. And I’m still so excited and inspired that I still can’t sleep.
Lou is an inspiration. He looks better now at 61 years old than he did earlier in his life, when he was a three hundred pound bodybuilding giant who won awards and inspired millions. Today he is fit, healthy, and as gentle and loving as a kitten.
But don’t let that warm smile fool you. He’s iron willed, focused, dedicated and moving forward like a Mack truck stuck in high gear. He’s a force of nature.
Still, he took great interest in my life and work. He wanted to know about my current projects. I told him about my two books coming out in early 2013, my four music albums with two more on the way, the Wealth Trigger Live seminar planned for February in Austin, and my idea to end homelessness.
He loved it all, was impressed, and congratulated me.
Of course, he’s not sitting around. He’s been on 45 planes in three weeks. He’s traveling, speaking, meeting the fans, working on a new movie and possible television series, has his active website and fitness consulting going on, and plans a huge Ferrigno Fit movement he’ll be announcing in 2013.
Lou met me due to our mutual admiration for legendary bodybuilder and first action movie figure, Steve Reeves. So he came to my home to see my private gym, my Reeves collection, and more. He loved it all, but I think he was most impressed with my office and all the books and guitars. He sat in my office chair and surveyed the area. He looked right at home.
Lou asked surprisingly in-depth questions, such as, “What is your greatest fear?’
I spent so much time thinking about my answer that he nudged me by saying, “You know what it is.”
After I told him about fear of failure, he confessed he doesn’t know how to swim. He fears going down in a plane over water.
He also asked, “What’s your biggest dream?”
I told him about Operation YES, my idea to end homelessness, and the book on it coming out in a few weeks. I thought he would ridicule it, but instead he said, “That’s beautiful!”
He was very supportive of my health and fitness dreams, and said I was doing the right things. He watched what I ate and drank and complimented me on my choices. His references to my living past 100 years old made me feel I could live that long, or longer. When I told him about the five fitness contests I had been in, and showed him the certificates I got for each, he was as proud as me. He knows all so well what it takes to discipline yourself to win.
He asked me about my collections (guitars, books, Reeves, and more) and said he buys two of everything he loves as he fears losing one of them. And when he buys something, he buys the best.
This amazing man still works out several days a week, an hour a pop, and prefers lifting iron to anything else. He loves fitness equipment, though, and collects it. He had never seen The Burn Machine before, an exercise tool I love so much I bought several for myself and more to give as gifts to friends. He wants to buy one — probably two — for himself.
I’ve been around a lot of celebrities and movie stars, but have rarely met one so at ease with himself. He said he likes me because I “don’t have an ego.” Well, everyone does, but some of us keep it in check. Lou does.
Nerissa was a bit star struck to be with him. She’s met several celebrities, too, but Lou is so present with people, that you can feel him paying attention to you. She asked him for exercise advice. He said to take it easy and do what you enjoy. He got up and walked across the room, moving fast, with a determined stride, to demonstrate what he meant. She promised him to start walking more every day.
A truly emotional moment was when Bruce Collie – former NFL Super Bowl football star, father of 13 beautiful children, owner of Brewster’s Pizza and the Vitale Cigar Room where we met – met Lou and told him how the great actor had changed his life when he was young and troubled.
I can’t say enough great things about Lou Ferrigno. When you get a chance to meet him, you’ll know what I mean.
His website is right here.
PS — My breakfast with Lou Ferrigno was posted here on my blog on June 27th. You can read it at: http://blog.mrfire.com/breakfast-with-lou-ferrigno/
How did Hercules stay fit?
What did the greatest bodybuilder eat to stay healthy and win all those awards?
What can you and I learn from the nutrition secrets of the man who influenced more superheros than anyone else?
You may or may not know that I’m a fan of Steve Reeves, the actor who played Hercules, and the bodybuilder who won so many awards — Mr. Amercia, Mr. World, Mr. Universe — before steroids.
I have everything from Steve’s car (1976 Jaq XJS) to his home gym (commercial grade Universal).
Recently I teamed up with Reeves’ friend and business partner, George Helmer, and wrote an unusual cookbook about what Reeves ate as an actor and bodybuilder to live a long and healthy life.
It’s called The Hercules Cookbook: The Recipes and Nutrition Secrets of Steve Reeves.
This is far more than a cookbook. It’s packed with full-color photographs of Reeves on and off the movie set, and contains terrific stories about Reeves. It reveals what the world’s first film action hero ate to stay fit — before fitness was considered cool.
We are going to offer this collectible book as a downloadable e-book very soon. But I wanted you to know that if you wanted a limited-edition printed copy, signed by me and George Helmer, that we only have 250 available.
It’s just $29.95 (a screaming deal) but there are strictly only 250 copies being printed (and I’m keeping a box of them myself to give out as gifts).
This book has great stories from people who knew Steve best, great color photos, information on how he became an expert on nutrition, and what he ate during his years in bodybuilding, starring in films, and on his ranch. We have had this information for many years and now want to share it with you.
The book measures 8′ x 10′ inches and has 108 pages of little-known information and amazing color photos. You’ll love thumbing through the book, reading the stories, looking at the pictures, and trying out the recipes.
And don’t think Steve only ate nuts and bananas. He wasn’t a monkey. He enjoyed normal food made in special ways – including brownies!
We are now taking orders for this limited-edition printed book and will not charge your credit card until we ship your book. The books are due to ship on December 11, 2010, so you’ll get yours in time for the holiday season (assuming you order today).
Order by clicking right here. (If the link doesn’t work, go to http://www.stevereeves.com, click on the online store, and search under ‘books’.)
The book is a historic work, perfect for anyone interested in cooking, eating, nutrition, health, fitness, movies, classic bodybuilding or of course the great Steve Reeves.
PS – Remember, there are only 250 copies of the printed, collectible, signed book. To get yours, go to http://shop.stevereeves.com/store/viewItem.shop?idProduct=273 or go to http://www.stevereeves.com, click on the online store, and then search under ‘books’.
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