THE MIND OF A CHAMPION
Understand that everyday you are in a competition against the person you were yesterday. Understand that failure will happen. it’s inevitable for any one in any walk of life. But The failure is not fatal, just as our successes are not permanent. And you should use that failure, that setback to set you up for your biggest win.
You have the potential, you have the ability. you don’t need a pat on the back everyday, you don’t need a special pair of shoes from Nike. you don’t need that certain pre-workout or barbell to accomplish the things in life you want too.
We all have some amazing power inside of us. we always under estimate ourselves. So if you focus on doing just a little bit more than yesterday, serving a little bit more, loving a little bit more, pushing yourself a little bit harder, you are going to discover that best you, and find success in all facets of your life.
Without further ado, I present to you The Caveman Athlete Of The Month June, Shawn Powers AKA Forza.
Name: Shawn Powers
AKA: Forza (Power)
Age: in my 50’s
Specialty: Unconventional Bodybuilding
Weight: 195 lbs / 88.45kg
Personal best: 500lb bench press, 465lb Squat, 500lb Dead lift, 245lb curl, 177 push-ups in 2 minutes, 1 mile run 4:53, 145 single jump rope revolutions in 30 seconds using a leather boxers jump rope not a speed rope
“What starts here changes the world”
You’ve gone through an awesome transformation, what made you change, what was it that made you change your lifestyle?
In my youth I was very active and through my 20’s I was still lifting up to 7 days a week. My job at the time was a Casino GM in Las Vegas. I was extremely active as I ran the entire casino floor for a major casino in the mid 80’s to the mid 90’s. It was around 34, I changed careers and pursued a career in the new field of websites. I was a behind the desk worker bee now. Working 80hrs plus a week in a technical job that required little movement and no time for training. Within 2 years of that new job, I ballooned from a healthy 195lbs to 260lbs.
I now was 36, and was considered clinically obese. My doctor had me on 8 different medications. Every visit to my physician had him increase my dosages as I didn’t get better. I started getting bad side effects from being over medicated. I mentioned my issues to my doctor and he added 2 more medications to counter act the side effects. An opioid and an anti depressant. At that moment as he was speaking and writing that new prescription, I thought to myself wtf is this. I just realized my Doctors was on the take with big pharma and didn’t have my health in his best interest, just medicate me. I later found out he was getting paid per prescription from the drugs companies. It was the 90’s and medicate this with that was ok with society. I knew I was more like his monthly Mercedes payment or country club membership than I need to get this guy healthy. So I left his office took my prescription and never went to have them filled or returned to his office. Instead, I chose to go back to my roots of strength and conditioning and dig myself out of the hell I put myself in.
Step one was to find out the real cause of my critical health issues. I had to be totally honest with myself, and I found that it wasn’t all about stress and being over worked. It was food choices, a lack of self control, and a sedentary lifestyle that were the culprits. I desperately needed a lifestyle change.
Step two was educating myself on proper nutrition. I knew the current lifestyle I was living took years to accomplish, and to undo all those years of self taught bad choices and habits, it would take me years to retrain my mind.
I didn’t seek out easy or quick solutions. I started to educate myself through many trials and errors on proper food choices and portion control. As a kid, I was told to eat everything on my plate and not waste food. How many times have we heard from our parents, “There are starving people in the world that would beg for the food you just wasted.” Changing this ingrained mindset was a challenge. I had to dig deep and retrain my mind not to think that way, plus not put so much food on my plate.
Step three, was how do I tackle weight loss using food as the source. No fad diets or starvation was going to get me to lose weight and permanently keep it off. Through research and self tests, I learned that better ingredients and food choices would benefit my body, help me lose pounds and keep me healthy. So in short, Organics, Non-GMO foods plus proper meal portions got me to my first 20lbs loss!
A major struggle in 1990’s was that Organic, Non- GMO, Gluten Free, Free Range, and all of the other terms associated with today’s packaging did not exist. Learning to read nutrition labels showed me what food to stay away from. Also, your normal food chain store didn’t carry any of these healthy items. It wasn’t until I accidentally walked into Whole Foods Market that I found a whole new shopping experience.
There I learned about “farm to fork” shopping, but as you can imagine eating this way in the 90’s was super expensive. Even so, this was a life or death choice I had to make. In time, I figured out that with proper meal portioning and ingredient measuring that I could control how much food I needed to purchase weekly. With a small budget, I didn’t shop middle isles and kept my meals very basic.
Step four was learning weekly food prepping. I discovered that I could now pre-make my meals, stay within budget AND not eat outside my meal plan. Now that I lost 20 pounds, kept it off, had my food and portioning under control and meal prepping set, I was ready to hit the gym and start training once again.
Even with my 20 pounds of weight loss I was at 240 pounds and very out of shape. I started out just walking on the treadmill 30 minutes at a time to get my body used to moving again and get my heart stronger. I did this for one month. Month two, I started jogging and a few weeks later started running. I knew through experience that I shouldn’t over do training. I had to hang my ego at the door and take it day by day. Within three months I started lifting again.
Now that I was back in the gym, healthy enough to lift, I dusted off my old notes and workouts and went back into training mode. My mental state was strong and determined. It was the start of the new millennium, and being 30 years older, I started seeing the 18 year old me taking shape before my eyes.
Now I had everything going for me, proper nutrition, portion control, and I was back to training daily. Every 10 pounds I lost I went back to the drawing board and reinvented my eating habits and training techniques to accommodate the next 10 pounds to lose.
My transformation took years, not days, to achieve. I did this with no fad diets, meds, surgeries or drugs. I just went back to the basics, was patient, and stayed the course.
Did I miraculously see results overnight? No! Did I expect that within 90 days I would be competing in bodybuilding? No! But I didn’t let that stop the drive to be the best I could be. I just kept going and I’m still going to this day, years later. Even to this day, I still educate myself on proper eating habits and training. It’s a never ending lesson that anyone can learn from daily. You just have to be resilient.
Do you struggle to maintain your healthy lifestyle?
I’m very conscious of the foods I eat. I’m not afraid of food, but I only demand the highest quality ingredients to be consumed. My methods are so ingrained in me, it’s my life and how it’s done. Eating the outside of those perimeters is now weird or unimaginable.
Here is my guideline for food
- Highest quality organic, grass fed, raw milk dairy and cheese, free range, wild caught, nutrient dense
- 5 ingredients or less
- use only fresh herbs and spices and use Himalayan pink salt
- ingredients are minimally processed if at all.
Tell us about some of the achievements you’ve reached?
In my bodybuilding career, I have competed in stage at Mr. Olympia. I have also competed in 3 IFBB competitions and taken home 5 trophies, from 1st places to 5th place. I’ve never taken any posing lessons or had coaches. I just walk out there, flex my stuff and show the judges what Unconventional training gets you. I have never lost any competition I have entered.
Everything I have won and or accomplished in any physical activity, was from training methods I invented. Not bragging, but I think that’s why I’ve been so successful. I don’t train like anyone else, so I don’t look like or move like anyone else. So I’m basically my own brand. That to me is my biggest accomplishment, to say I created this, and it’s done wonders for me. It’s now time to share with the world my methods and see if I can’t make someone else successful at what ever their goal is.
Do you train like most bodybuilders, or would you say you train the unconventional way?
From my humble beginnings, I was born from what we call unconventional training today. So I’m going to have to answer that yes, I train the unconventional way. In my 40’s, I actually started as a Muay Thai fighter before I got into “bodybuilding”. I’ve always been a weight lifter at heart, but my Kru would advise us fighters to not lift weights as it would slow us down. But I still wanted to lift. I knew, traditional lifting wasn’t going to cut it as a fighter. So I explored other avenues and found the Kettlebell to be the perfect match of lifting and conditioning. I purchased a pair of 24kg kettlebells and started using them. I wanted to learn more and start about this tool so I started with the foundation of the movement and went for my RKC cert.
that opened up a whole new world of whoop ass to me. CrossFit had not been invented so this was it. My new tool to make me harder to kill. when I returned to my Fight gym, I introduced my skills to the others.
Before you knew it I was holding classes of my newly invented training, “Convict Kettlebell Conditioning” I was holding classes 5 days a week. I couldn’t name my workouts weight lifting because fighters would frown on it. So I added the conditioning to the name and made sure conditioning was just as prevalent and hard as the lifting portion.
MMA was now huge and the thing to learn. So my fight gym incorporated that into our training. So I seen an opportunity to lift weight again. I went back to my roots, I created an obstacle course type training using the skills learned from “The Yard” and “1000lb club” from my youth. Within this training, I added unconventional tools like kettlebells, tires, the prowler, chains, thick, ropes, stones or any inanimate object useable. I called this training blunt force trauma. It was lifting, conditioning and fighting combined. In the obstacle course, where You Lifted a multitude of different inanimate objects while either punching or kicking bags, lying down on your back, crawling, all the way up to running while fighting your way through the course in a 3 or 5 minute round. All With trainers and coaches waiting to strike you, hold you down or block you from leaving the course. It was like the old tv show, American gladiators but with actual fighting strategies involved in place of the football methods. You had to be offensive and defensive at a monuments notice, just like a street fight. Anything and everything could happen. It was up to you to manage your way out. That was very fun and all enjoyed those training days.
When and what got you into unconventional training?
In the early 70’s I was slender, quick on my feet, into sports and a very active kid. At age 13, I was introduced to lifting by four older cousins and a neighbour. These guys had old school ideologies and I looked up to them.
From where I stood, they were older, wiser and serious minded athletes. They even demanded that I call them coach during workouts. The coaches backgrounds were wrestling, boxing, tactical athletics, strongman lifting and bodybuilding. I was opened up to a whole new world of badass.
As these guys trained, my coaches took turns working me, the kid, with their own brutal (but fun) fighter strongman/obstacle coarse/bodybuilding regimen training. As I look back, This would be considered Unconventional, CrossFit and Spartan-type training all wrapped up in one. The training regimen was so serious that my house was nicknamed “The Yard” by the neighborhood kids. The garage and the backyard of my house was converted into a gym and then a lifting club named the 1000lb Club.
Back in those days, there were two type of lifters in the 1000lb Club. A full fledge membership, that required 3 lifts Squat/Deadlift/Bench to equal 1000lbs or more. Anyone lifting under that weight was considered an apprentice and could not wear the club jacket, tshirt and colors (Black and Blue), until you made those 3 lifts at 1000lbs. The 1000lb Club was an All unconventional pig iron weight room made from homemade barbells, dumbbells, and weight collections from the 1950’s, and 60’s, purchased from swapmeets and yard sales.. The Yard of the gym was an obstacle course made for footballers, wrestlers and fighters. My older cousin (pro football player) created the 1000lb club training grounds to better my strength, conditioning and football skills. The other kids in the neighborhood also participated. We all trained to compete against other blocks and or neighborhoods in full contact street ball, fights and later on high school sports.
As cousins/coaches left home one by one, my neighbor (“Coach #5”), continued my training. He was a bodybuilder from the late 60’s through the early 70’s. He gave me the secrets and the ways of the old world bodybuilding lifters. By the time I was 18, I was a solid 200 pounds and had a classic physique and the strength to back it up.
My coaches always made me write down workouts and take notes. For next 10 years I kept up my rigorous training, and never forgetting the hard lessons that I learned from my coaches, now etched into my soul.
What is your favorite exercise and why?
If I had to narrow this down, I would say for body weight, the push up. With the push up, you can always make variations of exercises with a change of hand position, feet position, off the floor or elevated. Push ups make for a great upper body workout.
If it’s a weighted exercise, I would say squats are my favorite. Just like the push up, the squat gives you a great all lower body workout. You can vary feet positions, elevate feet, switch up movements and rep timing to keep the legs on fire and build a plenty of strength.
Favorite exercise tool(s) of choice and why?
The Kettlebell is my choice. I can carry, travel with, and use this versatile tool almost anywhere and turnout a great full body workout at home, in a gym and or outdoors.
How many days a week do you train?
This varies, but I usually train anywhere from 5 to 7 days a week, depending on how I’m feeling physically. I might train all 7 consecutively then take a 3 day break. But those days I’m resting, it’s active rest. I might use that time to take a hike, ride a bike or go swimming.
What do you eat for performance and recovery?
I have recovery in mind when choosing foods. But my foods are extremely nutrient dense, so performance is enhanced as well. In my experience, as I age, my body’s natural ability to continually build muscle or stave injury become harder to maintain. So in stating that, my recovery has been put forefront with my eating regimen. My diet is 98% whole food based and an occasional protein shake here and there. I feel at any age, eating for recovery should be priority. If your body is 100%, performance is at its maximum potential.
Who inspires you?
My inspiration comes from anyone with creativity and a deep rooted passion for their skills. I’m that type of person and enjoy seeing someone else have it. It might be listening to an orchestra live, or even from a club Dj, all the way to training videos. I grab inspiration from everywhere in life. Watching, and feeling that passion, gets my creativity going and I start jotting down notes on my phone in real time. I later revisit those notes sometimes months later and that regenerates inspiration if I’m at a creative standstill.
Any sport brands, gyms, coaches, events etc. that require some more coverage and exposure?
I’d like to see obstacle course sports like “train to hunt” get more exposure. This is not only a strength based race but also mentally skill based. You have a difficult physical obstacle course challenge, but in the midst of all that, you also have to be a skilled marksman. You run the course but stop in intervals to hit targets using a bow. You Cary and 80lb rucksack and your bow and arrows. What takes this to another level is that you have to hold your shooters position for 2 minutes before firing your arrow at marked spots. If you miss you get time deducted from you overall course time. An individual can be quick on the run, but falter at targets. Letting the marksman gain time. It’s crazy and hard!
Because of my in depth training experience at the Onnit Academy and with the staff, I would like to push Onnits brand as much as possible. The experience you get from their certification program is unmatched from any other I’ve taken thus far. The coaches speak from the heart and are unbelievably knowledgeable with that particular tool. The craftsmanship Onnit gear is incredible. Onnit takes pride in everything they offer from supplements, clothing all the way to the gear.
I would also like to see more exposure to Mad Fit Mag. This is a publication pertaining to the Unconventional Movement, led by Mark de Grasse. This magazine is a blossomed version Marks original publication My Mad Methods magazine, which helped propel vast interest unconventional training and put it on the world stage.
I do like the Vintage strength games. I’ve been to a few competitions and appreciate the hard work and effort of contests to max reps in a certain amount of time. You really get into the reps and watching the time lapse. But most of all the strength and endurance it takes to continuously maintain a stride isn’t for the weak. Rik Brown, Valerie Pawlowski, and Don Giafardino introduced me to these games.
Who would you nominate for Caveman Athlete of the month and why?
Leo Urquides (Savage Mace)… Leo has a huge passion of Mace and a talent for Mace movement/flow that is incredible. I’ve spent time with Leo on a one on one basis and his love for training is the same as mine. He handles and flows his Mace like a samurai warriors sword. I’ve never seen anything like it. He has deep knowledge of Mace movement and combines his workouts with Kettlebell as well. I think his personality and experience would be a great addition to Cavemantraining.
Favorite video on youtube?
Actually Anything Matt Winchlinski and the strength Shop inspires me. I’ve been following Matt on YouTube for almost 8 years now. But to be precise it’s this one video link included that gave me hope on the unconventional training future I wanted. It’s basic, and straight forward and in that, it inspired me to reach my dream. I would watch this over and over again. The video was bringing me back to those days my cousin and I would scour the neighborhoods relentlessly to find gear and ideas that we forged in to the proving grounds we called “The Yard”, way back in the day. This small video also inspired me to plot and plan my new variation of that original dream the unconventional training grounds I would recreate.
“Evolution of a warehouse gym”
Is it ever too late to make a change?
I would have to say No but with caution.. change requires a brand new sense of thinking and you would need to be open to anything mentally to make it happen physically. Sometimes we get so engulfed in our own ways and training methods, we actually put blinders over our thoughts as to a new way of presenting or doing exercise. I’m very open to new training tools and workouts. Not all fit my needs but I’m not afraid to explore those possibilities. And being that way I was able to develop my Unconventional Muscle 360 training.
The one thing you would say to someone who needs to make a change but struggles to get going, struggles to find the motivation, struggles to put in the effort …
We all start from the beginning. Don’t hesitate to pursue your passion or dreams or start something new. It might take a while, but you will catch on or further your knowledge in time. Even if it’s months or years away in your head, every step you take gets you closer to that goal.
Your future goals and business?
I’ve recently have been able to talk with Onnit Academy on a professional level. My unconventional approach to a bodybuilders physique has peaked interests at Onnit. Nothing thus far, but stay tuned as my goal is to continually pursue and develop a relationship with Onnit and make it grow. Hopefully you will see more of me with the onnit academy in the near future….
I’m currently creating an online and live training site. My personal workout creation from all my years of experience will be involved. I created a workout system named “The Unconventional Muscle 360”. This training system uses all tools available from commercial gyms to unconventional tools. You can choose your approach and train everywhere.
I was also involved with Silver Wolf Nutrition as their Alpha Wolf Pro. This is a unconventional exercise and all natural pea protein/natural supplement company. Silverwolfnutrition.com has over 800 pages of articles pertaining to diet and workouts with unconventional tools. I have written numerous workout plans, recipes and diets. I’ve made videos with some of my exercises that are Unconventional Muscle 360 related.
I own and operate a Mobile Unconventional Training Company named “Pro Training” and a health and wellness company named “Better Source Nutrition” Catering. Pro Training is hired by several property management companies within the Las Vegas valley to group train residents in all there gated communities. In class, I’ll use gear from Onnit.com including kettlebells, steel bells, medicine balls, steel mace and Steel clubs. This is a great way to introduce new training practices to individuals that wouldn’t regularly use these types of tools for exercises.
On Saturday mornings, after a 1 hour unconventional group training class, Better Source Nutrition will host a 1 hour class To discuss organics, local farm shopping, healthier food choices, supplementation, and we watch documentaries about health and wellness. I work with local businesses and bring in their products, my own natural supplements, all for sampling and open discussion. During my nutrition class, I’ll make organic smoothies and prepare easy to cook heathy dishes and offer healthy finger foods. This is a great way for me to meet great people from all walks of life, and spread the word about healthier food choices. It’s also a meet and great and Resident attendees get to know each other, and build a stronger community. My unconventional training and nutrition classes are a community amenity, given to all property residents.
Last but not least, in your own words, your own feelings, what comes to mind when hearing/reading:
Lifestyle and potential chronic illness. This person might not live a sedentary lifestyle, but live a life with poor eating habits or food quality choices. Food these days play a role on not just your waistline but also with your hormones. As crazy as this will seem, I’m reading that poor food choices can also lead to illnesses with newborn babies. Not because the mother ate bad during pregnancy, but sperm from the father could have been damaged because of his poor food choices.
“Parents feeding their children crap”
This one is difficult as there are potentially many reasons. Parents might not have been educated on proper food choices. Or crap food might be their only means of food for economic reasons. But the one that raises a red flag for me are the parents that let the kids make their own food choices to keep them satisfied.
“Parents letting their children play games day in day out”
Video games and social media is part of culture now. We can’t avoid games being played. If kids aren’t playing at home, they are at a friends house playing them. Sometimes though, within the inner city staying indoors playing video games could keep kids safe as the neighborhood is a dangerous place. Video games are being played over the internet and that also poses issues because you could be in a match with someone that’s playing at a 14hr time difference. That means your kid could’ve playing someone at 3am our time zone and it’s 5pm his or her time zone. All we can do it try to limit the hours played and the times it’s being played.
This isn’t the first time society has been presented with an issue like this. When TV was invented I’m sure parents were alarmed that kids would spend hours sitting in front of the TV doing nothing. So every generation has this issue at some point. It’s up to us parents to understand this isn’t going away and you cannot avoid it, but you can control certain aspects of the technology to assure your child isn’t abusing the system.
“Automation, online, the cloud”
From a business stand point, the online world is a double edged sword. Because of information overload, lines are blurred with facts or fiction when is comes to health, diet and exercise. I find that clients often refer to internet research as a means to perform an exercise seen on a video, or try to crazy method to lose 20lbs in days not weeks. Sadly and usually, the individual they are watching perform exercises does the movement with poor form, and now clients are repeating the same thing.
I’m not to worried about automation and or the cloud being a bad thing in the terms of big brother watching. If you have an ID, ever filled out an application, you are already in the system per say. I do see it as a blessing. We can carry gigs of information in our pockets, and retrieve data from anywhere at anytime. This I find adds to business and personal experience.
Check out all other Caveman Athletes of the Month:
- May Jessica Huttig
- April Kirsten Tulloch
- March Henk Bakker
- February Rik Brown
- January Kelly Manzone
- View all