In what has now become a basically annual or semi-annual occurrence, I’m actually writing a blog entry! Granted I’m almost two weeks late on my annual birthday blog but I’m still going to count it. I’ve written about my birthday at 27, 28, 29, 30 and 31. A bit less than two weeks ago I turned 32. So I guess this is like a state of the union sort of thing at this point.
My last few birthday blogs I’ve written about some of my strength goals. Here’s the good news: I actually hit a major strength goal and then some! One of my life goals was to make a 227.kg/500lb deadlift. Which, for those of you unfamiliar with the movement, basically consists of grabbing a barbell sitting on the floor and standing up with it in your hands. It sounds simple and it is but with 500lbs in your hand it becomes difficult. So, on April 16th 2014, I did this:
And then a few weeks later on April 29th 2014, I did this!
The first one was 500lbs even. The second one was 529lbs (or 240kg). So not only did I meet my goal, I beat it! I was very happy to make that lift given that just five months earlier I was still struggling with a hip/back injury. Since that first 500lb deadlift, I’ve actually made that weight for a double (ie, two lifts in a row, much harder to do than a single one) and I’ve done at least 10 lifts of 500lbs or more. I’m hoping for a 250kg/550lb deadlift one of these days but my training has been minimal over the last six weeks because I spent 8 days in the Dominican Republic for Pan Ams and then I spent 12 days in Russia for Junior Worlds. So I’m not as strong as I was in mid May. But I will have the ability/opportunity to train consistently going forward so starting this week I’m going back on a program to get that 550lb deadlift.
Outside of training stuff, I am still working hard on hookgrip, my business/project related to Olympic-style weightlifting. Just one year ago, hookgrip’s facebook page was at 17k likes. Now it’s at almost 93k likes! That’s a huge year-over-year step, I’m really curious where it’ll be at next year! 200k, 300k? Who knows. I’m really not sure what’s even possible given that it’s kind of a niche market and there are only so many people who do this sort of weightlifting. Outside of facebook, I’ve also been working hard on growing the hookgrip reach on instagram and I’m happy to say that in under one year of regular posting, I’ve gone from a couple hundred followers to over 55k. Instagram posts routinely get over 1000 likes and a lot are hitting 1500+ at this point. Really encouraging!
And outside of just social media metrics, sales are really strong on the hookgrip store and I have two employees working for me full-time. They help with both content creation (ie, editing pics, selecting pics for albums, posting videos) and store management (counting stock, adding new items to inventory, photographing products, shipping items, emailing customers). I have a lot of new products in the works and I’m always on the lookout for cool new idea for products that no one else is doing. I’ve also entered into partnerships with a number of companies — including Rogue Fitness, the market leader for CrossFit-related products. Rogue now sells a couple of hookgrip items and we’re probably going to expand that partnership down the line.
So I’m really excited about hookgrip. Beyond the crapton of content that I have already gathered that I still have to post, I am about to embark on a month-long trip that takes me to Salt Lake City, Beijing and Las Vegas. Salt Lake City is for the US National Championships, Beijing is for a training camp at the Chinese National Training Center (the Chinese are basically the best weightlifting country/system in the world — along with the Russians) and then a bachelor party in Las Vegas combined with a couple extra days to hang out with my good friend John Broz (and some of his lifters who I am friends with as well). It should be a great trip! Not just because it’ll be fun but also because it should be great for hookgrip content. The content from the Chinese National Training Center will likely be the most popular content that I’ve even gathered for hookgrip. Although, until I see who is training there and what they’re doing, I won’t know exactly how good the content will be until I get there.
On the poker front, I’ve been seeing all of these posts from the WSOP on my facebook news feed and I have to say — it feels like a lifetime ago that I was out there in the hallways of the Rio. I think it was 2011 so it was only 3 years ago but I feel incredible far removed from it. I still see a lot of familiar faces winning bracelets and playing events though so that is nice — congrats to anyone who managed to pick up a bracelet in the prelim events this year. This past year I actually flirted with the possibility of returning to online poker in some form. A few of the new legal/regulated poker sites approached me and one got as far as making me an offer to come on board. But at the end of the day, it was not much money (under $100k/year) and I didn’t want to have to move to Atlantic City or Las Vegas unless it was a really compelling offer. I never really investigated the company and work environment because I knew that I was not going to take a job for that level of compensation. The job did sound interesting in the few phone calls that we had but at this point in my career I am already doing things that I find interesting. So I need more than just an interesting job to make a career switch. It would need to be a hard-to-resist combination of interesting, money, upside, work environment, coworkers, etc. I’m not so sure that sort of opportunity will ever come from poker so I think I may be permanently past that stage of my life. We will see though! For right now, hookgrip is my full-time work and I occupy my spare time with dating, weightlifting, friends, etc. I’m happy with how things are going, 32 should be a fun year.
I guess that’s it for awhile! Unless I find something compelling to write about in the meantime…