‘Soldier of Steel’ campaign: Gym Jones shows what real men are made of

Mark Twight Gym Jones

Years ago I met a friend who was heavily influenced by the Gym Jones training philosophy. I had always thought I was a pretty fit guy — and then I met Mike. Those workouts broke me. They were truly a humbling experience, but I wouldn’t trade them for the world. They taught me a lot about myself, as well as just how much more was possible if I was willing to venture deeper into the realm of pain and anguish than I ever had before. Some of our greatest moments of mental, physical and spiritual growth are born out of pain and suffering, and in a bizarre way the person who realizes this truth comes to love and appreciate such feelings in proper doses. And that is why I highly suggest watching the “Solider of Steel” video for the new ‘Man of Steel’ movie by Zack Snyder.

When I was in the military, there was a joke that was made during our morning PT or in the middle of road marches: “Pain is weakness leaving the body!” Gym Jones offers plenty of pain, but there is so much more. It’s the kind of philosophy that turns boys into men.

Mark Twight, Gym Jones trainer, explains:

For me in the mountains, fitness was often the difference between life and death. In a military environment, it can be the same thing — you never  never want to come up short due to a lack of conditioning. When we talk about training one of the most important characteristics I believe, is functional training. And by functional I mean “transferable.” The training that you do in the gym should be transferable to the actual task, which means that if I have to sprint forward to grab a buddy who might be injured and drag him back to a point of cover, then sitting on the a bench wearing a little seat belt doing  quad extensions is not transferable. When you’re training for your military tasks you should be training to develop functional fitness, not the appearance of fitness.

Point number one in our training philosophy in the gym is that the mind is primary. And one of the outcomes of training the mind in the gym is the development of values. Values that are very similar to military values. One of the things for me that is important in the gym is that you always do what you say you’re going to do. You show up every single day. What we practice in here becomes  a habit, and if my habit is always to do less that’s how I’m going to behave in the field. So get in the habit of doing more than you’re asked to do.

Respect starts with self respect. If you respect yourself, you prove to others that you are worthy of their respect. One of the things I like to do is to set up a tag-team type of workout, where one guy has to accomplish a particular task all the while his teammate is suffering. And the faster he does it the less his teammate suffers. These types of workouts really cause a person to digger deeper than they would to save themselves because we will always work harder in the service of someone else.

In the gym context we always know when people are telling the truth and when they are not telling the truth. If you do what you say you’re doing when in comes to diet, then the result is going to be obvious. If you do what you say that you’re doing in terms training, then the result will be obvious. When we make that honor, that honesty, part of our daily life, then it becomes automatic.

A lot of times we assign homework to people outside of the gym because I need to know how they’re going to behave on their own. Does that person have the integrity to do what they said they were going to do? In the training environment, if we practice on a daily basis confronting the things that we’re afraid of and confront our fear — if we get in that habit — then we’ll be to express that in an automatic way once we get outside into the real world.

Wow. Mr. Twight’s passage is a thing of beauty. If all Americans were exposed to this philosophy, let’s just say that the political landscape would change dramatically within a single generation.

Gym Jones is not for everyone. It should be, but it’s not. The reason is because it doesn’t accept excuses, and the modern world is filled with people who live to make excuses for their failures, be it with their diet, love life, personal finances, physical fitness or any number of things.

Regardless, check out the other videos if you get a chance. If you’re interested in taking the first step in transforming you mind, body and spirit they’re a great place to start.

Editor’s note: The image of that guy falling off the rowing machine into a lump on the ground in Episode 3 just gave me a flashback. Sometimes hitting the floor is the best way to motivate someone to reach for the stars.

Here I am doing a workout inspired by Gym Jones, 2009. Pain never felt so good.
Here I am doing a workout inspired by Gym Jones, 2009. Pain never felt so good.