Monday, 23 January 2012

Interview with Terence Mitchell

I finally managed to get a few minutes alone with Terence, in between his busy training schedule, active lifestyle and devotion to his clients, as owner and strength and conditioning coach at Mitchell Strength in Ballito.

Terence hails from a background of old school training techniques, where his methodologies are based on styles that have always worked, no gimmicks and no fashion.  His no nonsense approach to training has earned him the respect of coaches across the country and continues to be an inspiration to students and athletes across the board.

Terence has worked with EFC pro fighters Neil Diesel and Stirling Shaw as well as pro boxer Zane Mundel, not only is his practice effective for sportsmen but the countries top strongman competitors Marc van der Haer and Gerhard van Staden found themselves working under Terence's direction and guidance.

Here is what the Mitchell had to say:

Mitchell Strength has been a part of Ballito for the last year and a half now, and in that time you have created quite a noise along the coastline with your old school methodologies and garage style training techniques.  Where does your experience draw from personally and how do you find your approach to training more effective to those of the commercial facilities?

Well firstly everything begins with the barbell, if we going to talk strength.  This simple tool has proven itself for decades.  The basic compound barbell lifts have built super human strength in lifters and athletes, lifts such as the overhead press, the deadlit, the squat and the bench press.  At MS I don't reinvent the wheel.  I guess my major influence is real warehouse/garage style gyms found in the USA and the Eastern block of Europe.  In these gyms all the shit and clutter of the modern world is stripped away and what is left is the flesh and bones, the stuff that gets the job done.

I literally started training guys in my garage in 2007 and even in those early days we lived on the basics, heavy kettlebell and barbell press, weighted pull-ups, deadlifts and squats.  When I didn't have enough actual weights we would just use very heavy sacks of grain and sand and large stones and anvils.  For conditioning we flipped heavy tires and dragged heavy sleds outside on the road.  People would drive past and think I was nuts, and basically tell me I'd never make a success of this craziness, yet I cared little for their thinking and knew my path.  Almost 5 years later, the results and success of my methods have been shown.

How do you feel about the current hype surrounding functional training methods and how do your styles differ from the commercial antics of today's training techniques?

I hate hype and I hate trendy!  All through my adult life I have kept as far away as possible from those very things, and right now it seems everything under the sun is hyped to be functional.  Look at it this way, if Joe X can deadlift over 200kg for reps, squat his body weight on a barbell for +20 reps, press heavy bars, bells etc, crank out reps with extra weight hanging around his waist on pull-ups and dips, sprint hills, hammer out heavy prowler and sled sprints and trains his wrists and grip for show stopping strength, is he functional?

Damn right!  Would you want him on your team? Would you want him on your side in a fight? Think about it?  All this 'functional' bullshit is a last minute ploy by all the globo gyms and wannabe trainers who are trying to cash in on a 'cool and trendy' term when REAL people have been doing legit functional training for the last 90 years.  

Walking is functional, breathing is functional, movement is functional.

You have inspired me to be a better coach and a better student, what is the greatest advise you could give an aspiring strength coach?

Wow, thank you, those are truly kind words.  Here goes:  Get respect before money.  It does not work the other way around.  Maybe for a short while but the fall will be hard and fast.  Your integrity as a trainer is and will always be your foundation.  People are not stupid, they will work you out sooner or later and see through any deception if you don't value yourself and live and die for what you believe in.  This is not a get rich quick game, be prepared to work and suffer and sacrifice.  

One word that nobody wants to hear is SACRIFICE.  I have not taken a holiday or break from my gym since 2009, when I went to the US to meet and learn from a top US strength coach, not live the dream in Thailand.  Early mornings, long days, always rushed AND always thinking about the performance of others.

Get used to investing in other people as you not only become their trainer but 90% of the time you become their friend, and they will start to trust you so don't blow that trust or abuse it.

You have worked with many renown coaches worldwide, and have earned yourself much respect within the industry locally, where to next for you?

I've been fortunate enough to get to know Andrew Durniat and since meeting him, we have become very good friends.  Andrew is everything I have explained in my previous answers and everything I hope to become as a world class strength and conditioning coach.  Over the many years I have followed the work of many top US strength coaches such as Joe Defranco, Eric Cressey, Chad Waterbury, Adam Glass, Jedd Johnson, Zach Even-Esh, Mike Bruce and last but not least Mike Mahler, whom Ill be fortunate enough to meet and work with later this year.

On a daily basis you work with people from beginners, to athletes to weekend warriors, what inspires you the most working with such a diverse group of people?

The unmotivated and unconditioned people need to be pushed BUT the elite and professional need to be held back to a degree and harnessed otherwise they end up going ape shit and completely wrecking themselves in the gym.  The balance of working with middle aged soccer moms and pro fighters is off the hook and this keeps me on my toes.  I truly get more pumped and inspired when my clients achieve a legit PR than when I get one myself.  In the videos of my clients you can always hear me going nuts in the background because I live for their continued progress and success in the gym.

Terence, thank you so much for your time, your encouragement and your ongoing support.  Your advice goes a long way.

1 comment:

  1. Terrence is a Champ- A legend!
    A truly exceptional strength coach.