My First Superhuman- War Machine’s Story

It's been almost four years now since I started my first gig working as a group fitness instructor at a local karate studio. I answered a Craigslist ad looking for a kickboxing instructor. The studio owner offered me 3 classes a week as well as the freedom to lead class however I wanted. This was a tremendous bonus in that it allowed me to design my own style of workouts. It also led me to shit bricks because now I have to put my education into action. Design workouts, lead class, market the class. Uh oh. Fear was screaming in my ear. “You're gonna fail!” I was terrified.

My first class I had three clients show up. (These same three individuals still train with me to this very day) I don't remember much detail from those early years. Plenty of trial and error, soul crushing failures, terrible workouts, missed opportunities are some of the things that stand out. However, it was also an amazing experience. I met some incredible people and forged some lifelong friendships.

It is said you can't get anywhere in life without help from others. This is certainly true for me, because many people helped me build my confidence as a trainer, in business, and life the past few years. As I perfected my craft as a group fitness trainer, I was fortunate to have an individual in my classes who was always willing (maybe willing is pushing it) to help me.

Melissa K was always in class, on time and grasped the form on all exercises almost immediately. I was blown away by her commitment to the class which became a powerful motivator to help others in class become better. As classes grew I began to have Melissa demo the exercises as I explained the form to the class. This was a tremendous help to my success. It allowed me to show proper form on exercises, without having to be the person doing it. Teamwork.

Early days me torturing Melissa in class

Melissa quickly became the girl who paced the class, she never quit, her form was always spot on, her strength was growing by leaps and bounds, she was becoming a leader wether she knew it or not.

Over the past few years I asked her to help me develop classes, experiment with different routines (some which were utter failures, and I'd like to forget) and various other fitness related business. She was always willing to help me become better. She became a War Machine, always ready to take on a new challenge. How do we increase intensity on these exercises? Experiment on Melissa and find out. I put her through a lot of torture in those early classes, but she rarely complained, and came back for more. She is the backbone of Team Superhuman.

The past few years I have come to value her opinion and advice in my classes and business. Without a doubt, I wouldn't be sitting here writing this today if it wasn't for her loyalty.

So I asked War Machine to give me a reflection of her side of this story that started with me so long ago. And of course, she said yes.

Tractor pull at Spartan Sprint

Melissa's side….

I can barely remember a time before Kirk and Team Superhuman. It is almost hard to imagine those first few classes, when my body weight alone felt impossible to lift, when 3 lb weights felt like boulders, when my cardio skills were just beginning to improve. I almost don't recognize that person I was in the beginning, physically and otherwise. That girl was afraid. Afraid of running any race, DEFINITELY afraid of running an obstacle race, and if I am being honest, that girl was afraid of a lot of things in life. But that girl only existed before Kirk and Team Superhuman. I have evolved, and it is just the beginning.

I could go on for ages about how much I love the workouts, how they are never boring, never routine, addicting despite being absolutely brutal, but that's only a small part of what makes Team Superhuman so wonderful. It's the support from the team, the faith that everyone has in you, the confidence that you can't help but gain by being a part of the team that really makes the difference. During the toughest of workouts, when you're feeling beat down, telling yourself you want to stop, that you can't go on, that's when the team steps in and keeps you going. Someone is there to say “one more!” Someone is there to cheer you on, remind you that “you got this!” And you carry on. You get through it. You try. After a while, you begin to see in yourself the strength that others see. You begin to tell yourself “one more!” You begin yelling at yourself that “you got this!” And you believe it. You know that it is true. That even if you fail that last rep, even if you don't beat your last time, you have it in you to try anything. You are not afraid.

That is the best thing Team Superhuman has given me.
I am not afraid to try my hardest and I am not afraid to fail.

I had never run a race before. To those seasoned runners out there, it may seem silly, but despite several team runs with the superhuman crew, I was still afraid of attempting an actual race with an actual time. After being persuaded to run a local 5k, the Towamencin Turkey Trot, and successfully finishing it, I was pumped. Next thing I knew, I was signed up for the Broad Street Run in Philadelphia, a ten miler. At the time, I was secretly hoping I wouldn't get picked- due to the popularity of the race there was a lottery system in order to select the runners. But when I found out I would actually be racing, Kirk and Team Superhuman had my back. On race day, they were there to cheer me on. They knew I could do it, and though I had never made it through the whole ten miles in my training runs, I ended up conquering each mile and beating my cheerleaders to the finish line! With the support of Team Superhuman, I made it through.

Philadelphia 10 miler

Then there was the Spartan Race. Kirk had tried to convince me to sign up the year before, but I had not yet conquered my fear. This time, I was ready. Still slightly apprehensive, I committed to give the Spartan Sprint a try, and began mentally preparing myself for the worst. Not just running, but running + mountains + obstacles + burpees if you fail an obstacle? Ughhh. Thankfully, I would not be running this race alone. More and more members of Team Superhuman signed up, and by the time race day came, I was nothing but excited. I knew I could depend on the team to get me through any obstacle. We were going to crush this race.

Team Superhuman Spartan Sprint 2013

That first Spartan Race was inspiring in so many ways. I watched my teammates push through the pain, never quit, keep going despite the seemingly never-ending onslaught of spartan torture. Kirk had prepared us well- each and every one of us made it across the fiery finish line. It was an amazing experience, and I knew that was the first of many Spartan Races to come.

Spartan Beast South Carolina 2013

Somehow, by the end of the year, I managed to earn my Trifecta by completing the Spartan Sprint, Super, and Beast. I failed obstacles. I did plenty of penalty burpees. I fell from near the top of the rope climb in front of spectators. But through it all, I wasn't afraid. I gave it my all. I knew that Team Superhuman had faith in me, and I had learned to have faith in myself.
In one racing season, the girl who had never ran a single race ever had defeated the Broad Street Run AND the Spartan Trifecta- all thanks to Team Superhuman. With my new-found confidence, this year I will attempt a double Trifecta. I know that Team Superhuman believes in me, and thanks to them, I believe in myself.

General bad-assery

I still workout with Kirk and Team Superhuman, and rarely miss a workout. It's what I love to do, and where I love to be. Some days are tough, and I might get down on myself a bit for not being fast enough or not being strong enough, but the team is always there to help me forget the negative thoughts, and to inspire me with their own greatness. I love watching others set personal records, master new skills, build their strength. And of course I can't complain about my own gains.
So here is my big shout out to Team Superhuman- thank you for all you have done for me, and I look forward to whatever challenges are in store! (*cough* Team Superhuman Hunger Games part 2 *cough*)

7 Work Outs To Conquer Your First Spartan Race


Spartan Races push you to the limit in a variety of ways. There are loads of training videos on YouTube as well as WOD's from Spartan to help you train. However after several years of Spartan Races and earning my trifecta medal last year, I've found these 10 exercises to be crucial in successfully navigating a Spartan Race.

1. Running

I personally hate running. However, it's a necessary evil. It not only keeps you in great shape, but is a crucial element in Spartan. Find some good apps to help you get started.


2. Pull Ups

You will be spending a lot of energy pulling yourself up and over walls, ropes and rocks. This takes considerable upper body strength. If you are not doing pull ups, start. As with all exercises, you will get better the more you do.


3. Carry heavy stuff

Start carrying heavy stuff, tires or logs do great. Carry a 20# log a mile a few times a week. It will help build your endurance and get you comfortable with being uncomfortable.


4. Sprints

Run some wind sprints. When I was a kid playing football we called them “suicides”. Whatever you call them, do them.

5. Squats

Air squats, front squats, back squats. Strengthen your legs. Squat.

6. Burpees

Fail an obstacle at Spartan and you are doing burpees. Add these horrible exercises to your routine, they suck, but the better you are at them the less of a toll they will take on race day.

7. Uphill marching

If you have the ability to march uphill in your town, take advantage of it. Another idea would be stairs at a local school sports complex. Some parks have hilly area that you can take advantage of.


If you cover these seven exercises in various ways in your Spartan training it will be a great race for you. Training doesn't need to be complicated, and if you need any other tips or have questions, don't hesitate to ask!




Week In Review “Chipper Work Outs”

The following workouts are just some of the WOD's we do at The Superhuman Barbell Club. I'm a big fan of the chipper style WOD and so are the athletes.

Chipper style workouts allow the athlete to work at their own pace to complete the set. Our sessions last one hour, and including warm up and stretch these WODS can be completed in 45 minutes or less.


We mix Olympic lifting with the TRX, rings as well as dumb bells. This style workout can offer a great amount of variety and target different muscles in many different ways.


These two workouts were staples at our first “Hunger Games” competition. Both WODS are for time. Pictured here is Katelyn, our first champion. All the athletes featured on these work outs are members of a Team Superhuman and are incredible athletes.


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Spartan Race Training With OCR Legend Jeff Cain


When it comes to training for a Spartan Race, there are many sound articles on the web giving advice on how to train for a Spartan or any other OCR race you may be interested in running. Several months ago, I posted an article on training you can view here.


However, I firmly believe that in order to grow in fitness as well as life in general, you need to seek out new teachers that may be able to help you expand your repertoire.

Jeff Cain is a legend in the OCR world and his blog has many awesome articles about everything OCR, including training. I highly recommend Jeff's blog.

Several years ago when I started running these events, information on training was scarce, but now thanks to people like Jeff, there is a wealth of great information on this growing sport. So, without further delay here is Jeff Cain's tips for Spartan Race Training.



Thanks for reading! If you need any tips or training advice for Spartan Race, a Tough Mudder or any other obstacle course/mud run, feel free to contact me!


Vera and Her Inspirational Transformation

I had the great pleasure of meeting Vera about 9 months ago after expanding the Superhuman Empire to another location. She presented a unique opportunity for me, in that I had never coached anyone over 50 years old.


Vera was already in great condition when we started together and I immediately recognized her potential to take her fitness to the next level. She was intense, confident and easily coachable. She had a desire to learn and become better, great qualities that coaches love to see in people.


It has been my pleasure to get to know Vera better over the past nine months and was floored when I saw her before picture. She has an amazing comeback story and has proven to all of us at Team Superhuman that age is just a number.


Meet Vera….


My Unexpected transformation

On my 50th birthday, I was happy but very stressed. Lots of family things going on, and being Italian, we are raised to take care of everyone else first and you last. So that is what I was doing, making sure my kids, mom,brothers and sister were all taken care of and that they were happy, but losing myself in the process.

August 2011


Meanwhile, I was dealing with stress by, what else, eating, afterall, I am Italian! I didn’t even realize that I was slowly putting on the pounds and not feeling welldue to the weight.

Then I experienced a break-up and I went into a deep depression. I felt lost. I didn’t know how to handle the unexpected break-up. I felt lonely and sad. It is hard when you think your life was all planned out for a happy future to one that just went topsy turvey on you overnight.

Fat Me

Thanks to my best friend who helped me snap out of it. She talked me into joining a gym and to channelmy saddness with exercise. We went everyday, seven days a week, I slowly saw the transformation happening as my clothes were now falling off me. I went out and was able to refresh my warddrobe, how exciting that is to see your clothes size go down!

My friend encouraged (more like bugged me) that the treadmill was not enough, that I needed to build muscle, since at my age we start losing muscle tone. To avoid boredomwe signed up for various classes, like belly dancing, zumba and then kickboxing which led me to meet Kirk while attending a kickboxing class.

Since I started to work out with Kirk and the fantastic group of people, I have seen the transformation, I see the staring signs of muscles that I didn’t think I would see. AlthoughI lost weight, I am now getting more toned due to the routines that I do in Kirk’s classes. Not only am I having fun with this team, I have made new friends. Being with Kirk and this team, I continue to get the support and encouragement to push myself.


Vera setting a PR of 120# dead lift

I participated in events (i.e timed runs, Color Run, signed up to do the Dirty Girl Mud Run, and finally my goal to do a Spartan Race, plus more future races! Once you start, you can’t stop!) that I would not have thought that I wanted to do or would be able to complete any of these races.Working with Kirk has given me the confidence that I so needed, that confidence where I can do anything, giving me that push and guidance to reach my goals.

I am in better health now then before I was 50 and loving the challenge that working out brings.
Looking forward to bigger and more challenging things in 2014.

 Color Run2014 Vera 2014



Vera is an amazing person and the entire Team at Superhuman HQ love having her with us. She’s always smiling, never complaining and certainly pushing herself to the limit. We are looking forward to more amazing things from Vera in 2014!



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How to find a Superhuman Mentor



One of the many painful lessons I learned in life is you need someone to guide you to your goals. It is impossible to succeed in in any endeavor by yourself. You need someone to assist you.

As a kid we idolize many people, celebrities, parents, athletes and even adopt some of their characteristics. However along the road of life sometimes we lose this trait and “grow up”.

Of course we idolize our parents, but sometimes, their lack of information, can be of no service to us in adulthood. My father always told me to graduate high school and get a good job with benefits. That was his life model. He knew no better. The desire to conquer the world wasn't a concern for him. Complacency and dependence on alcohol were his driving motivators.

So, I did as my father said, found that great job with benefits. Within a year I was left with a feeling of “now what?” Is this what you do for life? Work the same job for 45 years and retire? Screw that.


I craved more out of life. It became a fire that consumed me, I decided life would be more than a 45 year job with hopes I can retire and survive until I die. Over the next several years I looked for people who were doing the things in life I wanted to do, people who achieved great things and making the world a better place. I began a relentless search of people who lived a life I wanted.

One of the first books I read was by Robert Kiyosaki. Rich Dad Poor Dad. It changed my life. Even though I have never met Robert. He was a mentor. I learned something from him.


Napoleon Hill was another mentor in the early years I never met, but his philosophy greatly shaped the direction of my life. His book Think And Grow Rich is not only about financial riches, but riches on an emotional level.

Fast forward several years later and there have been dozens of other people who are mentors to me. Tony Horton, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rich Froning are just a few people who have helped me tremendously.


It may be crazy, but when I discover someone who interests me, I become consumed with them. Their journey to success, their mindset and their philosophy of life. It all feeds my mentality, it helps me to adopt ideas or characteristics to help propel me towards my ultimate goals in life.


Mentors are important. People to help spark you creativity, give you that one idea that changes the course of your life. They can be living or dead, authors, athletes, parents, teachers. Anyone you find amazing and interesting, learn about them, find something that can improve your life. Be inspired by them.


Here I am meeting Tony Horton.


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How To Overcome Fear and Conquer Life


Today I watched the movie After Earth. The beginning started off with the movie's star Will Smith describing fear. I found the quote to be the most accurate description of fear I have ever heard.


Being Crippled By Fear

Over three years ago I decided to take the plunge into being a personal trainer and struck out on my own. To say I was gripped with fear is an understatement. I was paralyzed at the thought of speaking in front of a group of others. Fear had begun to wrap its tentacles around me.

Doubts crept in and I began to question myself. Can I do this? What what will people think? Was my training sufficient? The fear monster was looming.



I began applying at various fitness facilities in my area. I didn't expect an overwhelming response from employers, but would certainly entertain any interview.

I was open to personal training but really had my heart set on group instruction, so that is where I focused my efforts.

Thankfully, after only a few days of searching I had my first interview as a kickboxing instructor. Confession. I was straight out of school with my cert, I was as green as they get. Kickboxing was certainly not my strong set. But, I interviewed, and the owner of the facility was looking for someone who could possibly lead classes that were more bodyweight oriented, and not kickboxing. He offered me the chance. It was exactly what I wanted.


However, at that moment, fear yelled in my ear, “You'll Fail!” All the reasons and excuses imaginable why I shouldn't/couldn't make the offer work flooded my mind. How did I kill fear that day. I accepted the offer.

How Do Yo Overcome Fear?

By taking it head on, and punching it in the face. That is how you overcome fear. You just slay it. I know, I know easier said than done. But, it truly is easy. And gets easier when you realize just how irrational fear really is. Life is meant to be conquered, I truly believe that with all my heart. Don't let fear ruin your life.



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