“Master and Apprentice: pitted up against each other for the fate of the greater Scranton area paper market… so it’s not exactly like Highlander, but still…” (-Dwight Schrute, The Office). In the nerdiest way possible, that’s pretty much how I looked at my summer. Obi Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker. Master and Apprentice. Only he didn’t cut my legs off on a lava planet when I turned to the Dark Side tried to take over the galaxy.
I first started working at Legacy Strength Systems as an Intern with Pete, but I did not realize what I was getting myself into. I did not realize how much I would learn, how much I would grow, and how lucky I was to be able to learn from him. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that I was not really an intern at all, but an apprentice.
As I studied under Pete over the months, I was with him every single day of the week. We worked early mornings, some days late into the night. Rather than punching in and out of the clock, I decided the best thing to do was to go all in. I took every opportunity to ask questions and listen to his answer. I turned myself into a sponge, absorbing every little detail I could. Under another mentor or company, I might have been placed with small tasks around the gym and not getting much out of each day. Pete runs the show by himself, so I was able to learn from him directly and not from someone else working under him. Interestingly enough, concurrent to my apprenticeship with Pete, I began training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Fascinated with the art, I began reading on the history of BJJ. Seeing how the lineage progressed and how each individual provided their own twist and take is how I look at my apprenticeship with Pete. He has exposed me to this sea of information and how he applies it. When I step off onto my own path, I will be able to approach all these from my own scope and apply it to whatever situation I find myself in.
I could write a book about all the things Pete has exposed me to. Just to name a few new concepts, I’ve learned about Reflexive Performance Reset, Body Tempering, Blood Flow Restriction/Occlusion, and that’s just scraping the tip of the iceberg. Perhaps the most important yet simple refinement from training under Pete was my approach to take when programming training for different athletes. Had I “interned” under any other mentor or company, I would never have even been exposed to the existence of these methods. Pete is always seeking to learn more, which makes him the best teacher in my opinion. No one knows everything, but the willingness to expand your mind and put more tools in the toolbox is what improves you. Him as the teacher, putting himself back into the student spot constantly is what makes him such a good teacher and example for me to follow. He’s shared his vast and growing library of books with me to further my knowledge on my own. On top of the self learning, Pete is always innovating and coming up with new ideas or inventions. The first time I walked into the gym, I looked around and saw all these strange contraptions and couldn’t figure out what they were used for. Over time, I learned that they were some of the most important tools that we incorporate for training our athletes. Soon I became a part of the building process and began helping put together new training tools.
Part of being a professional in this field is “walking the walk” and training yourself. Pete and I would workout in the downtimes between sessions. I distinctly remember one day working on my bench press (a weakness of mine). Pete with his powerlifting background, was observing. After a few sets he came over and said: “Your setup kinda sucks. Do this instead.” Ouch. But rather than putting me down, he took the opportunity to teach me. He stopped his own workout and coached me through every little detail of set up position alone, gave me a drill to practice, and continued coaching me through that. In the following weeks, while I still have a long way to go, I was able to improve my technique greatly. The opportunity to be coached directly by him and his detailed cues was a good perspective to have because I got to see how the cues and methods of coaching affected the athlete. Those little details were able to carry over and help me coach other athletes moving forward.
As Pete put it himself, this company is still in its infancy. There are many areas that could be expanded and improved, which will only happen with time. Some of the obstacles we came across lied in the scheduling of clients. We work when everyone else isn’t, so we are always at the mercy of others’ schedules. That makes it very difficult to keep a steady flow of income at times when people cancel last minute for who knows what. In attempts to make sessions flow better together, we would try to group the same sport athletes together so everyone would be working towards a similar training goal. However, many times people had other things going on and weren’t able to come until later and our perfect hour of group training turned into a scattered bunch of individual training sessions. Ideally, we would eventually be able to maximize every working hour to provide as many athletes with quality training as possible. Perhaps there is another training schedule model that we have not yet explored that would better lend itself to this. As the business grows and Pete is able to bring on more coaches, I am sure this will improve because he will not have to do everything himself.
Over the course of my apprenticeship, Pete and I have explored new endeavors together. We created a podcast together with another colleague called The Here, Now, and Forever Podcast discussing “Life, Strength, and The Pursuit of Fitness.” We’ve brought on a few people to talk already, and have covered a variety of training related topics. At the moment, we have a small following of people in our local community. We’ve received a lot of feedback on this and we are learning slowly but surely. This was a huge learning opportunity for both of us, from recording the audio, branding it, and attempting to gain more exposure. Aside from the business end of it, through the discussions I have learned a lot about training topics I would not have encountered otherwise.
What I’ve noticed is the thing about Pete’s coaching, is that within his scope of athlete development, he is extremely versatile in his ability to coach pretty much anyone. That’s something that can’t be said about a lot of people working in this field. People have their niches they work within, but Pete can effectively train a 300 pound collegiate offensive linemen just as well as he can coach an 8th grade 100 pound female swimmer, or a middle aged client that’s just looking to stay healthy. He understands the differences required in the approach to coaching that will make each individual successful in their goals, whether it be for athletics or just staying healthy in life. The time and effort he invests into ensuring this is very admirable. Each client gets their own personalized training card based on an evaluation that evolves with the client, which is not something that can be said about many other coaches.
If I could summarize my experience here in a sentence, I would say that I stumbled across a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow without even realizing I was looking for it. Just as important as it is to learn what to do and how to do it, I have learned just as much on what NOT to do. I have exponentially grown my ability to see much more clearly in a field that is severely oversaturated, learning to pick out the quality amongst the “fluff”. The perspective I have gained from my time here is invaluable and part of the Legacy that I will continue to carry forward.
Thanks for everything Pete, your guidance has been invaluable.