Beast Training — The Seeds
“… with regard to the serious training, I don’t have much of a choice. It’s part of who I am.” –Erik James Eggers
I’m stuck in traffic on the Tappan Zee Bridge and I’m worried about being late for my Thursday night training session. I shift over to the E-Z Pass speed lane, making an aggressive move, but my passenger doesn’t seem to mind. After a long day he’s anxious to get home as well. The kicker is that I’ve been dreading the workout all week long, but relishing it at the same time. I know that statement has sort of an “oxymoron-ish” feel to it, and I don’t expect you to understand, but if you somehow do understand, then good for you.
When I workout hard, the stakes are high. I design it that way; I’m my own toughest critic. I already know the weights I “have to” move for the evening, I’ve known since my last squat workout and I’ve played the scenario over and over in my head — right down to where each spotter is positioned and how the weight will feel heavy when it’s draped across my rear deltoids. I know if I get the prescribed number of repetitions (my prescription, by the way) I will feel euphoria, but if I miss, it will be minimally a week, before I have another shot at redemption.
This is the heart of “Beast” — the willingness to ante up; to put your soul on the line to achieve something that you couldn’t do before — to do something that maybe only a handful of individuals are capable of doing.
In 1976, my Great Uncle John and second Cousin Stephen inadvertently planted the seeds that grew into Beast Training. I was six-years-old, living in Stratford, Connecticut; a frequent visitor to their house, a modest cape, also in Stratford. Uncle John, then fifty-five-years old, and Stephen, a young bodybuilder, were always in the basement. I had no idea what they were up to down there, but desperately wanted to find out.
Eventually I was permitted access. Either they figured I was at an age where I couldn’t get into too much trouble, or more likely, they weren’t given a choice (i.e., Great Aunt Helen probably had enough of me messing the upstairs). That moment was thirty-three years ago, and marked my initial introduction to the home gym.
I remember Uncle John was on a homemade bench, padded only with a thin carpet remnant. He was banging out the reps with a traditional bar and cement-filled plastic weights from Sears — the “Ted Williams Line” (which is ironic; though a fantastic hitter, Ted, long and lean, appeared as though he’d never touched a weight). Stephen was across the concrete floor, working through some high-rep squats with an Olympic set from the York Barbell Company in York, Pennsylvania, and homemade welded squat stands; two old wheels served as the base — no spotter or cage in sight (strictly old school — failure was not an option).
I didn’t fully understand what they were doing, but I knew on some level they were working to get stronger. They were doing things I couldn’t do, and though only six-years-old, I wanted to be part of the club. Their actions created irrevocable experiences that would forever change my life.
It’s now roughly thirty-three years later and I’m still training (myself and others). I’ve been training in my own basement gym with a core group for the last seven or so years. We are currently looking for the commercial location to open Beast Training — the vehicle to pass down what myself and others have learned under the bar, while training for most of our lives.
A good friend asked me how I still train so hard (i.e., at nearly forty years old, with working long hours, and having a wife and three children at home). I told him with regard to the serious training, I don’t have much of a choice. It’s part of who I am.