Being A Simple Man VS A Great Man, Same Difference?



I came across a great post by Jim Wendler on Instagram and then I elaborated on how these words from actor, Tom Hardy hit home for me.

Now, I don't know anything about Tom Hardy. But, these words inspired me and I love to write.

Writing for me has always been something I love to do, even if no one is reading. It's a therapy of sorts so I just put this out there....

From Tom Hardy:

"A great man is largely forgotten by the public.

He doesn't stand on top of a mountain waving a flag saying,

"Look at me—I'm a great man."

A great man often disappears into the ether.

Hardly anyone notices that he was even there, apart from his family and close friends.

He was reliable.

He showed up.

He was there.

He was useful where he could be.

He made mistakes.

Tried to make better of those mistakes.

Doesn't mean you have to cure cancer or understand the theory of relativity.

It's not necessarily as rock-and-roll or as cool as you might think.

Part of being a great man is accepting that.

To dare to be average and normal is actually a pathway to becoming a great man.

To have more humility.

To accept responsibility more.

To just get on with what's in front of your face.

And to leave no fucking indelible mark of your ever being here, apart from the fact that you were there for your family to the best of your ability.

It's not an easy task. I'll probably f--k it up."


How simple & awesome is that?

MANY will misconstrue Hardy's term "average" for perhaps not achieving your potential or not trying to be great at all you do.

I see it as Hardy saying "average" is defined by society as some of the truly greatest people on earth, such as teachers, police men, etc. are not viewed as great people, they are viewed as average yet they are the ones most often truly changing lives.

These types of People putting in a hard days work with a "regular job" are viewed as average VS if they were trying to be a famous movie star or any other well known person, society sees them as "great".

Neither is right OR wrong. It depends what YOU believe in. The Only right thing to do is to be ethical at whatever you do. Don't hurt others on your journey. How simple yet very underutilized.

That's a lot about what I've been thinking of lately.

Just being A Simple Man trying to do good for his family & not caring who knows him or how popular he is, just a simple man doing his part in this world.

When I first began running The Underground Strength Gym I wanted to share with so many people what we were doing at The Underground. The growth of "Underground Strength Coach" was sort of an accident.

The first e book I wrote and my first articles were photographed with my parents digital camera.

Above, the original Gladiator Training Manual. This was my first ebook. It is inside The Underground Strength Academy.

That camera was the size of a brick and after a few photos I had to load the photos to my parents desk top computer because the memory card was full and I had ZERO clue what it meant to "change the picture  resolution."

I began writing articles for the NJ Chapter of USA Wrestling sharing photos of our wrestlers training with logs, climbing rope hung from a tree in my backyard and training with stones.

The feedback was tremendous so I became more inspired to share what I was doing with my athletes at a time when bosu balls and "personal trainers" sporting collared shirts were the norms. I just wanted to help athletes. It was a simple goal and mission.

I didn't fit in to the "fitness industry" and I wanted to share what I felt was the truth with regards to getting results from strength & conditioning. My inspiration to help athletes is what pushed me to put myself "out there" for all to see.

- To Share How we were changing lives through strength.

- To Share How the training was NOT fancy or filled with fads & gimmicks.

- To Share How 1 Man Defied The Haters and Built a Business Based On Honesty & Integrity, NO trickery involved, JUST results.

I was PROUD.

I took a LOT of pride and still take a TON of pride in what we do for athletes at the 2 Underground Strength Gym Locations as well as all other aspects of my business.

NO selling out. No back stabbing. No stepping on others to climb way up. Just delivering GREAT information. Honesty & Integrity. No Hyped up BS. ALL my teachings come through experience vs theory (i.e. - Coaches who teach others to do things they never did themselves).

And yes, there was a part of me that enjoyed the attention because I felt I was reaching more people around the world.

I didn't want to be a celebrity, BUT, I was loving the feedback I got about how I was inspiring other people all around the world to go and live their passion.

The feedback fired me UP and I wanted to change MORE lives. I could relate to ALL these e mails and phone calls from struggling athletes or aspiring coaches because I was once upon a time in their shoes.

I got phone calls every week and e mails on the daily from people who were gonna start helping others and  changing more lives through strength because they saw my videos and read my articles.

Hence, 1 year after moving into a small warehouse in Edison, NJ, The USC Cert was created because people all around the world DEMANDED it, not because I was trying to create a money maker to help me "quit my day job".

I wanted to change the world through strength. That was what I stood for. That is what I Still stand for!

Same goes for my first e book, which I called 'The Gladiator Training Manual'. It was an outline of how I trained athletes from my garage, my backyard and the local playground. We were flipping tires, carrying tree logs, training in the snow and dominating the competition by blending my inspiration from Rocky Films and basic bodybuilding and powerlifting methods.

As an athlete who didn't achieve success I was "pissed off for greatness" and a man on a mission. I wanted to share my training methods with everyone with hopes of helping others who were like me (coaches and combat athletes), a simple guy who was willing to work his ass off to succeed.

I didn't want athletes to experience the pain of working harder than everyone else and still not succeeding in athletics. I recall like it happened yesterday when that mission hit me, as I was being wheeled down the hallway on a hospital bed for my ACL surgery.

In my own mind, I was declaring war on the BS fitness information out there and I had a big vision of helping athletes avoid my painful mistakes.

I didn't know things would turn out the way they did as they are now. I had plans on being a teacher as I loved teaching. But, I also had plans to change the word with regards to the training of athletes. I figured I would just do my strength coaching on the side.

I LOVED teaching for the 11 years in the public schools but I felt I hit a wall when I wanted to help the teams with losing records and the admin didn't seem excited about the idea. That disappointed me big time. I was all about helping the kids and here I was being told every reason under the sun as to why I can't help the athletes in the town I grew up in AND now work for. I feared that by accepting this I would be playing it safe in life if I was not allowed to help the athletes in the town I worked for.

I wanted to help athletes. Period. That was THE goal. As a teacher back then and still today, my motto is simple, "If it doesn't benefit the kids then it's not good enough. The kids are the #1 priority."

Since I wasn't allowed to help those in the school district I worked in, I began teaching globally through the internet and through seminars. I recall calling my friend telling him, "Dude, there's this thing called youtube and 17 people saw my video!"

The sharing of my information on the web led to the first ever USC Cert , held in early June of 2008 at my Edison, NJ Underground Strength Gym.

When I opened my gym in 2007 (after the 5 years training athletes in garages) I held my first seminar on Kettlebell training just a few weeks after opening. It was amazing and there were almost 20 people crammed into my tiny gym. I taught them everything I knew about Kettlebells and the energy was off the wall.

The coaches were passionate and fired up. There were no egos in the room that day. In 2016, there are too many egos among coaches and too much drama for my liking.

Before owning a "real gym", I rented a hotel conference room and held a Sandbag and Kettlebell seminar  in a friggin' hotel. It was amazing. Same thing; passionate coaches. Fired up!

Since 2008, there have been well over 500 coaches traveling to NJ from all around the world and a few off site locations here and there. As much as I love helping coaches, my heart and gut instincts tells me to do otherwise.

No more certifications.

I've grown less and less connected to the "fitness industry" more and more the past few years and my passion remains what it has always been, the training and changing lives of younger athletes.

I'm feeling this March will be my last Live USC Cert.

I've been feeling this way for a while so to keep holding my cert goes against what I stand for.

So instead of denying my gut instincts I have leaned many times in life to never deny my gut instincts.

I heard a interview with Henry Winkler (The Fonz) and he was asked to share his biggest life lesson and he replied, "Every time I denied my gut instincts I got hit in the face with a 2 x 4!"

I STILL take pride in the fact that my Cert was built from the "grass roots" level. I never did any fancy marketing for it, never sold out and always kept it about being a Coach who stood for excellence and focused on changing lives first and foremost.

I built my cert myself.

Being lumped into the "fitness industry" isn't something that sets right with me. I have never been someone who wanted to be like "everybody else".

  • A Coach who teaches others to coach, yet that coach doesn't coach people himself.
  • A business coach teaching about business yet that coach never ran that type of business himself.
  • A lifestyle coach teaching about being a family man yet that person lives a shady life himself.

It's like weak people telling you how to be strong, Fat people telling you how to get ripped, A relationship coach telling you how to be a great partner or parent yet that person is fake and doesn't follow through himself.

There's a facade out there where people think that the guy with the biggest gym and the most clients has the best life. Pull back the curtain and the truth shows someone stressed out of their mind, not making much money and not happy.

My focus is where my heart has always been: changing the lives of young athletes. I feel GREAT doing that and having a greater focus is what I need and want.

Gary Vee always talks about doing a self audit and REALLY figuring out who and what you are. When I ask myself that question and dig deep as to when I am truly happy, it is when I am on the ground floor coaching my athletes.

It is NOT when I sit behind a computer screen and it is not being part of the "fitness industry". At the core of it all, I am a Strength Coach. That's where my passion lies and it's what I do every day.

You can still get the online cert.

Or just enjoy all the FR-EE stuff I am constantly sharing via youtube, iTunes and everywhere else.

My heart wants a Lot LESS of this "fitness industry".

I'm not a fan and although I am always being myself, my gut instincts tell me not to be part of it.

Those words on "being a great man"  by Tom Hardy hit home.

Words from Coach Ethan Reeve also hit home but I never understood them until recently.

Years ago, I was urging Coach Reeve to write an e book or create some product to share his training methods and he replied to me, "Zach I'm not worried about who knows me outside of this weight room here. My focus is on giving these athletes the best I can and being known by others doesn't inspire me."

I once thought that if you had a gift you HAD to share it. I'm not so sure I think that way any more.

There is also a tremendous power behind being more focused. Splitting my focus between educating coaches AND running my gyms isn't the best use of my time, energy and overall resources.

I like the idea of being less involved with the internet and more focused on being a "normal guy". Does that mean I am a "normal man" or a "great man"? Who knows? Who cares? Other coaches can judge and gossip all they want and that's what drives me to stand alone.

The things that count are my family and the athletes I train. Simple.

My gut instincts are telling me everyday, "Zach, Live Your Truth" (Great book, by the way).

It all sounds Simple. But of course, Not easy. I'm excited to focus more on my passion which has always served me best and I can't give my best unless I live my truth.

I love writing my regular e mails, my blogs, videos, etc and will continue to do so.

The coaching of coaches and whatever else is the "right thing" to do in the fitness industry isn't the right thing for me. Many consultants know that this is big money and hence exactly why they do it. That is not living my truth no matter how much money it makes me.

I'm sure this blog didn't come out perfectly and the message was somewhat confusing but hopefully 1 person understands.

I hope this blog inspires you to look a bit deeper into what you're doing. Is it your truth? That's what really counts. Live your truth.

Live The Code 365


15 Responses

  1. Zach – I can relate to many points you made in this great article. I had a outstanding experience attending your USC certification in October 2011. The Fonz – is right – follow your gut instinct.
    All the best. Al

  2. Dear Zach,
    I can totally relate to what you’re refering to. I think the most important thing is to be in sync with your own character. If you do things, which are out of your personality you can feel it deep down in your heart. It’s okay to strive for big things, but if the path doesn’t tick with your inner clock you won’t be happy, you will have to sell out at some point.

    That ticking can change through the years, you evolve – which is a natural thing. But the question at what rate you are in sync with your own clock will always be a simple, yet difficult task to accomplish. Simplicity is a way of life for many people out there. Yet most of us choose the out-of-sync way of life that a “modern” civilization ask from us. Fact.
    Cheers. Sven

    1. Sven, thanks, my brother.

      I wear my heart on my sleeve.

      I tell it how it is and many will have an issue with that, BUT, those who are part of the “many” never would understand what it means to live your truth, either.

      Feelin’ good, brotha. Thank you.

  3. Love it man. Always refreshing to read your words and feel your passion. As a strength coach in his first year I’ve had a ton of people tell me to go this way or that way or that’s not possible or you gotta train this kind of client or that won’t work in this area and on and on.. And I’m just gonna keep following my gut and my heart and peace on anyone who doesn’t get it. It’s not their dream anyway or their mission. It makes me think of Henry David Thoreaus “if you advance confidently in the direction of your dreams and endeavor to live the life you’ve imagined, you will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

    1. That quote is amazing and true. SOME can be GREAT doing things they are not meant to do….

      SOME are “successful” doing things unethically or things they aren’t even passion about….

      But, the best gift in life is to be YOU.

  4. Gary’s “Self Audit” is such a valuable idea, as in, it may be one of the most important ideas he’s shared I think. I try to remember to do it whenever things just aren’t going in the right direction and that plus gathering things I don’t need and donating them somewhere always seems to do the trick. It’s like clearing out the clutter… mental and otherwise and focusing on what needs to be focused on… I am so glad that you wrote the Encyclopedia of Underground Strength and Conditioning, by the way. It has become one of my regular references for training ideas, programs, and fun outdoors. Glad I could attend your cert in Orlando a little while ago, and am curious to see what awesome stuff you share online.

    As for “gyms to make money” and the whole “get rich quick” side of fitness business I always wondered if their point was just to make money, with no real passion towards fitness or athletics, they sure could have picked an easier route!

    1. Adrienne 🙂

      I have NO problems w/ making money, it is HOW we make the money and how many “coaches” become pawns and blindly follow other “gurus”

      It’s not something I want to be remotely associated with..

      My Encyclopedia will live on…… I am proud of that book and everything it took to make it happen and grateful you helped me finish it during some tough, tough times!

  5. this is fakin insane.
    as mentioned above i cheked some links on magnus. i havent followed him for a while as i cut down on internet drastically over the last 2 yrs. no more facebook, twitter, google etc. i have my 5-8 bookmarks i chek now and then – thats it. and zachs blog is one of them (lucky you hahaha, …. or i…)

    anyways, …
    i chek on magnus and find a brilliant interview with him on this english channel called “london real”.
    if your are into interviews with interesting, successful people – you gotta chek it out. by successful i mean successful in the sense of living a passionate, full life.
    cheers. sven

  6. Coach, im speechless. When you wrote about being not sure you think that way anymore about sharing the gift..

    All of this resonates with me in such a big way. . I dont even know if im in the right industry. How do you make a decent living doing what you love while at the very circle of what you love to do is poison . Keep writing things like this brother.

    Strength Coach Shawn

    1. For whatever reason the letter i did not appear in my previous comment. Haha the point was I loved the blog

    2. Sean,

      Don’t look at the “industry” in a general.

      Do YOUR thing.

      Create what you believe in & we’d all be better off if we did that.

      LOTS of followers and desperate coaches out there / confused coaches and so they fall into the trap of listening to some guru who steers them down a path that isn’t true to that coach.

      I am seeing myself as NOT in this industry anymore.

      I’m a Coach. I have always been a Coach and always strayed from following BUT here & there when I DID follow others or listened to some fake guru it f–ked me business bc I was NOT true to me.

      Changing lives. That’s what I do. Live The Code 365 and excellence is the standard.

      I’ve seen how some of the perceived best coaches in the world coach and YES, they talk smart or act smart but I see different.

      That’s it bro, end of rant….. stray from fakers and build your own world.

      Any time I stray from my own truth I feel it in my gut.

      You can quietly do your thing and have an awesome life 🙂

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