You never know who around you leads another life. Your neighbors, coworkers, and even your friends could be leading rich lives when you aren’t around, unless you take the time to ask.
Take Eddie for example. You might see Eddie picking up your garbage can one morning… but even though a quick talk with Eddie would reveal he’s one of the hardest working and nicest people you’ll ever meet, you’d never know that he’s also a Strongman competitor. And Eddie has a message: confront your demons if you ever want to be stronger.
Eddie grew up in North Carolina with a mother and a stepfather who competed in NPC bodybuilding competitions, trained in their basement “dungeon gyms,” and constantly motivated each other. Eddie distinctly remembers being at gyms when he wasn’t at school, the feel of chalk flying through the air, and pictures of their fitness idols lining the walls.
Years later, in 2000, Eddie met his current wife. He describes these early years as a learning experience: drug use, drug dealing, jail time, and many stupid choices. He eventually overcame these and settled down into a new life. This new life included a passion for martial arts, where he modeled his training after Bruce Lee (in fact, he still keeps a Bruce Lee picture frame in his garage today).
Having grown up around two physically determined parents, he quickly snapped into focus and pursued his martial arts by spending hours training and in the gym with weight training. When he wasn’t doing that, he was at the book store learning everything he could about exercise science, anatomy, and nutrition.
In 2003, his daughter was born and his instructor moved. With these training setbacks, he needed something new to train for, so he decided to prepare for a bodybuilding show for two years. He gained 40 pounds of muscle. Five months out from the show, he received a job offer which set him back in pay and hours, forcing him out of being able to afford everything he needed. Once he got on his feet again by finding a better paying job, it took up too much time – 80 hours a week. This meant that even though he had the money, he didn’t have the time to train.
Several job changes later, in 2008, Eddie began to drink. A lot. He described his drinking as a something that “quickly became a habit and then became a strong addiction.” He tried to find his way back to his passion of lifting, but the alcoholism kept pulling him back, and holding him back. He says it got to the point that he was drinking a fifth of whiskey a night.
Eddie had a better paying job, enough time to train, and the resources to do so. The bottle was the only thing in his way. Every other excuse was gone.
Finally, Eddie hit a point where he decided enough was enough.
In May of 2014, he stopped drinking all together.
An old martial arts friend at the gym sat and talked with him, and pushed him to train and compete in Strongman. Eddie put in the work, stayed sober, and won 2nd Place in the 2015 Washington’s Strongest Apple and has been working even harder since. I should know. I train with him in his “dungeon gym” with his Bruce Lee picture hanging behind the squat rack 1-2 times a month, time permitting.
Now, Eddie has set his sights higher. He will compete at the Strongman Nationals and has decided he will make it to the Arnold World Amateur Championships… in 6 years or less.
Eddie had his obstacles, and overcame them so he could move onto the obstacles that matter: Atlas Stones, tire flips, yoke carries and sled pushes.
Eddie’s story is powerful and personal in many ways, but specifically to BSF and myself for two reasons. First, of all the people highlighted in these stories, he’s one of the people I’ve been fortunate enough to train alongside, sweat with, curse the air with, and share stories with in person. Second, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard most of this story. He’s told it to me before, and for those who will listen, he’ll gladly share. He’s not only faced his demons head on, he’s sharing what he’s learned.
According to Eddie, “if my struggles can help anyone, they weren’t in vain.”
Pulling yourself up off the ground isn’t easy. But you’re never alone and even when you feel like you are, the power of fitness, of the iron, of a dusty running trail, or a bike through the city can elevate the darkest of moments.
Work hard like Eddie, break free of your chains and live free like Eddie, and stay hungry for the next goal like Eddie.