Hey everyone. Thought I would take some time now to recap my weekend competing in “Newfoundland and Labrador’s Strongest Man/Woman”. This was a great contest that was very well run. The volunteers were excellent with getting everything set-up, the events chosen were an interesting mix, and the competitors were all fantastic. 

After winning the novice category of “Battle of the Beasts” in November of 2020, I moved up to the open category for this competition which means all the weights got heavier and the competitors much more experienced. In addition, the open category of strongman allows one to compete at whatever bodyweight they would like. At this competition, there were six of us in the open division. That’s enough background information now I’ll dig into my recap of events. 

First up was the axle clean and press for max reps in 60 seconds. The weight here was 250lbs. Going into this event, my goal was to not zero the event (get at least one rep) and I did. I finished with one rep, which tied me for 5th place.

The Axle Press. Photo Credit Nick Ditka

Next up was the max frame deadlift. This event allowed competitors 3 attempts to set a max weight. For my first attempt I hit a comfortable 700lbs. Feeling good after this attempt, I went for 750lbs on my next attempt. Not quite as comfortable but I managed the rep (and a new PB!). For my last attempt I said “screw it” and went for 800lbs. Unfortunately this wasn’t meant to be as the weight remained firmly glued to the floor! I was happy with my new PB and took another 5th place. 

The Frame Deadlift. Photo Credit Nick Ditka

The next event was by far the toughest for me from an endurance standpoint. It was a 2 part event. First was 4 flips of a 550lb tire. Once that was completed, there was a 315lbs/hand farmer’s walk for 60 total feet (30 up and 30 back). I was excited coming into this event, I’d never flipped a tire and was eager to see how I would do. It was tough but I did manage the 4 flips. I think technique was a big factor here, I didn’t get low enough into the tire to maximally use my legs. The farmer’s walk was heavy! I managed to get all 30 feet up in one go and then picked the handles up to come back and made it about 10 feet before my legs quit on me. Overall though I was very pleased with this event and I finished 4th.

The fourth event was a grip strength event, an axle bar deadlift. This is tougher than a standard deadlift because the bar is almost 2” in diameter. This was a rising bar event meaning the weight went up until only one person was left. I managed to hit the 275 and 295 but failed on the 315 which put me in a 4 way tie for 2nd place.

Next up was an event I had never tried before, an atlas stone to shoulder series. This event involved attempting to lift 3 atlas stones of weights ranging from 215-270 from the floor to the shoulder. Never having lifted an atlas stone I was very excited to try this. Thanks to some last minute tips from my fellow competitors, I successfully lifted the 215lb stone to my shoulder. I was happy to successfully “lap” the 240lb stone and give a hard fight attempting to bring it to my shoulder but it wasn’t there on this day. In this event I finished 5th.

The last event of the day was the one everyone seemed to be looking forward to, the dump truck pull. This was a very visually impressive event watching my fellow competitors pull a full sized dump truck! When my turn came I was pretty nervous, however, once I was harnessed in I got out to the fastest start I could manage. At about the 35 foot mark there seemed to be a slight incline which made things very difficult and I finished the event with about 38 feet pulled placing in 6th place here. 

Overall, I had a fantastic time competing against some great competitors. My goal going into this contest was to not zero any of the events and I achieved my goal. Now it’s time to start planning my training for the next contest in the fall and setting some goals for that one!

~Thomas

I’ve always struggled with both my weight and anxiety throughout my life. As a writer you live a pretty sedentary lifestyle filled with both realistic and unrealistic deadlines, so I needed something to get me off my butt and to get me moving. JK has been a godsend during this past year and a half in particular. The pandemic has been tough, but workouts with both Thomas and Jon have really helped reduce the stress and strain of a global pandemic, and added an anchor of normalcy back into my life — which has been worth its weight in gold.

JKC has created an incredibly inclusive environment that’s filled with all kinds of supportive folks from all kinds of different backgrounds. For folks like myself, being surrounded by people with such athletic ability can be intimidating in most gyms. It can actually be a deterrent, and it sometimes has been for me. But, at JKC it’s far from that — it’s inspirational. Everyone supports one another. Which is something that’s not easily found in this day and age, inside of a gym or out. Not to sound like a total cheeseball here, but it really feels like a family.

The people and the training set JKC apart from other gyms or programs I’ve tried in the past. Truly Jon and Thomas meet you where are and help you get to where you want to be. There are no expectations and never any judgement. You can go there having the worst day and you always leave feeling better. Truly JKC has given me a level of strength and confidence I would not have had otherwise ❤️.

Tara Rector-Whelan

Personal Strength Training by Thomas King

I started at JKC after a good friend recommended it to me. She had been coming for about a year and I was envious of her great results. I felt sluggish after failing to motivate myself with various home workout routines. I love the fun and relaxed atmosphere at JKC. It’s such a comfortable gym space and I enjoy knowing so many of the people I work out with. Jon and Thomas make an effort to introduce everyone to each other and with all the joking around,  it starts to feel like a family. Not to mention the awesome results. I’ve always liked to run on a treadmill but I’ve never had the drive to lift weights on my own. Going to JKC makes me accountable which was what I really needed. I feel so much stronger and healthier than I did 4 years ago when I started.

I chose JKC because I row/coach teams in the St. John’s Regatta and was looking to add strength training to our program. My wife is also running friends with Julia, so I got to meet Jon a few times and heard lots of good things. I like JKC over other gyms because of the level coaching I receive and the gym atmosphere. The energy in the gym helps me through the tough workouts.

I saw an article in Men’s Journal that quoted Jon in about 2018 while traveling and was impressed that someone in St. John’s made that international magazine.  Jon spoke about an exercise called the Farmer’s Walk and I started working that into my routine at the YMCA. I tore that article out of the magazine and kept it, meaning to make contact, but got busy. Then I had lunch with an old friend Bruce Dyke. I hadn’t seen Bruce for a while and I remarked that he looked super healthy and fit. He told me about his, and his son Cas’, experience at JKC and then I remembered the Men’s Journal article! No coincidences!

The experience is unique on many levels – great people, camaraderie, passion, purpose, and dedication. Jon and Thomas are attentive, precise and understanding.  Their teaching has unlocked a new perspective for me with what our bodies are capable of. I still appreciate the YMCA, wonderful place, but I can’t imagine working out without Jon and Thomas now.

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