My fitness journey began at the age of 12. I was raised on a small farm in southern Alberta, Canada. Initially, I was born and raised in an unhealthy environment not fit for a child, spending my formative years in foster care. Just short of my fifth birthday, I was luckily adopted by an amazing family, leaving behind city life to be raised on the farm. Naturally, I was skinny and looked like the cliché “nerd”, with glasses and a pirate-like eyepatch over one eye. Being the only adopted, lazy-eyed kid in a town of a few hundred people, got me off to a rough start in school. I was an easy target for daily bullying.
It was through my love of comics and bodybuilding magazines where I found inspiration to begin bodybuilding. I idolized the overly muscular figures in those publications, thinking if I was that strong and muscular, no one would mess with me. When I was 12, my mother purchased a set of bright pink 10lb York dumbbells for me. I spent countless hours in my room, training my body and reaffirming a positive mindset.
I’ve lived quite the wild life. I graduated high school with good grades before going to university for Engineering Design and Drafting Technology, only to eventually drop out and enter into the booming Alberta oilpatch. I squandered the next decade of my life working on the oil rigs, regularly abusing drugs and alcohol, and partying like a rockstar.
When the oil and gas industry slowed down, I began to traffic the drugs I was regularly using, to both support my habit and supplement my income. This new venture proved lucrative, and I gradually became fully entrenched in a criminal lifestyle over the following years, until reality eventually caught up to me. I was charged with a number of trafficking related charges, to which I eventually pled guilty to and was sentenced to 9.5 years of incarceration.
I went to prison at the age of 29, and served a total of seven years in prison before being granted parole for good behavior. Throughout all of the chaos, bodybuilding and the pursuit of an elite level of fitness has always been my passion. During my youth, I chose to allow past trauma to dictate most of my careless actions. Although I would workout religiously, the rest of my life was chaotic and out of control. I realized during the darkest moments of my life, the impetus keeping me alive and striving forward was my commitment to bodybuilding and fitness.
Roughly a year into my initial incarceration I had managed to take myself from a bad situation in a medium security prison, into a worse situation. While incarcerated I chose to continue getting into trouble and was eventually sent to the hole (solitary confinement), before being transferred to a maximum security prison. Being a GP (general population) inmate I went to one of the only two GP units which both happened to be gang units. I was not a gang member, but had associates on both units. The units couldn’t co-mingle, as they housed opposing gangs that would attempt to kill each other given the opportunity. This caused issues with my allies on the opposing unit, making the remainder of my sentence nerve wrecking to say the least.
After another targeted stabbing and the following week long lockdown/search of the prison, I had an epiphany. I looked into my future, and all I could see and smell was death. I was sick of the empty life I was living and knew it was time for a change.
From the inside of a maximum security prison, confined to a cell no larger the average bathroom for 22.5 hours per day, I took the steps to begin changing my life. I decided to make the most out of a bad situation and use my time as an opportunity for self-growth. I planned on getting released from prison to follow my passion and become a personal trainer.
I first allowed myself to be open minded and willing to change.
I began to pray and build a relationship with my higher power, and now attribute both my life and success to this change.
I abstained from as much of the subculture and prison politics that I could.
I started talking to a psychologist and working on my mental health, looking deep within myself to understand why I had been living such an empty existence.
I continuously read and educated myself, taking multiple correspondence courses from the International Sports Sciences Association (I.S.S.A.), certifying me as a Master Trainer.
I forged a strong foundation through my developed calisthenics prison training. I was able to train every muscle group with nothing other than some jailhouse ingenuity and motivation. To mimic free-weights, we constructed water bags out of garbage bags, water, and t-shirts tied to broomsticks with shoe laces. The guards would eventually confiscate or pop them, as they were considered contraband, causing our cells to be flooded with water.
To stay lean and conditioned I did strength and conditioning training, boxed, and practiced other fighting styles with experienced inmates. You never know when things are going to “pop off” in prison, so you need to stay on point and be ready for anything.
After years of practicing yoga in prison, I was eventually able to run a biweekly yoga group for select inmates. We used the meditation and poses to help negate the negative energy and to feel more at peace in the hostile environment.
Throughout my sentence, every day was structured around my training regiment. My adapted style of training allowed me to not only maintain most of my existing muscle mass, but I was able to increase the strength of my joints, core, and cardiovascular endurance capacity.
In prison, the most significant limiting factor regarding training is the inability to get enough essential nutrients and vitamins, as prison food is calorie-dense, low in nutrients, and there is never enough. You have to hustle to eat well and live comfortably.
For me, going to prison was a blessing in disguise, that likely saved my life. I was stripped of all the material things I thought I valued so much. Within weeks of being locked up, most of my assets and friends quickly dissipated, leaving with me with nothing other what I came into this world with, along with a handful of trusted true friends and family. The mental fortitude I built during my sentence completely reconstructed my character. I used my time productively, staying positive and lived with a sense of purpose.
I was eventually granted early release from prison on day parole, and was immediately hired as a personal trainer by a local big box gym franchise. I spent the next year building a clientele base and competing in a few bodybuilding shows. When the gyms all closed due to COVID, I took my business primarily online. I now coach clients from all over the globe, and helping them better themselves is what gives me purpose in life.
Not specializing in one niche of fitness, is the foundation of my training philosophy. My 25+ years of resistance training has taught me a wealth of knowledge from legitimate studies, schooling, bodybuilding gurus, and regular Joes. I respect every niche of training, so I’ve always had a hard time specializing and focusing on just one.
I started out bodybuilding as a preteen, then eventually got into powerlifting, strength and conditioning sports training, and eventually calisthenics and yoga in prison.
I’ve combined all of my lifelong fitness experience to create what I call my “FitCon” style of training. It’s a combination of powerlifting exercises (to build power and strength), bodybuilding resistance training (to induce muscular hypertrophy), calisthenics (to increase joint and core strength), athletic strength and conditioning training (to stay as conditioned and heart healthy), and yoga (to optimize range of motion of joints, and mobility).
Cumulatively, these combined niches helps build a symmetrical, functional, and impressive physique. True strength, that you can’t get from practicing just one style of training. I train clients dependent on their individual goals, taking exercises and modalities from my collective experience to forge the strongest version of themselves.