Next week I’m traveling to California for the bi-annual Mastermind Meeting hosted by Results Fitness. I love going to these and haven’t missed one since I joined the mentorship group run by the owners of Results Fitness, Alwyn and Rachel Cosgrove. This trip is particularly exciting for me and my wife because we’ve been chosen as a finalist for their Business Owner of the Year contest, something that we never would have guessed we’d be up for a few years ago.

In fact, looking back on the journey that we’ve been on over the last 5+ years it really amazes me where we are today. Back then I was working as the manager of a health club in Tyler Texas, making good money but hating where I was and where my career was headed. So, I quit my job and moved to Mountain Biking Heaven, a.k.a. Fruita Colorado. I had no job or prospects, just a dream to change the way riders look at strength training while being able to ride some sick trails whenever I wanted.

But this isn’t about me, this is about those “giants” on whose shoulders I have stood to get where I am today. I tell people that I am not the smartest guy in the world but I was smart enough to find those people and learn from them. So, in no particular order, here are the people to whom I owe a debt of gratitude I could never repay:

– Ian King: I’ve never met Ian and most people today have no idea who he is but he changed the face of strength training like few people have. Ian is an Australian strength coach who was one of the first in the business to talk about training movement patterns and not muscle groups and he is commonly credited with creating the 3 number “tempo” designation to describe the speed of a rep, giving us insight into the different results that different rep speeds produced. He helped bring us out of the knuckle dragging bodybuilder b.s. that poisoned strength training and through his works I discovered a world that would become my passion.

– Mike Boyle: Mike is beloved and loathed in the strength training industry, which means that he has strong opinions that are usually right but tend to piss off the mainstream and challenge the status quo. Mike turned me on to the use of rational exercise progressions instead of just randomly changing exercises, the importance of single leg exercises and the importance of using logic and experience to temper theory. The time I spent at his facility in his mentorship program was a great inspiration to me and where I want to take my facility some day.

– Alwyn Cosgrove: You know my “radical” stance against aerobic base training? You can blame this guy. Alwyn is a brilliant strength coach who melds science and experience like few in the industry can and his writings on the absurd notion that “running a bunch of 5 minute miles will miraculously make you run a 4 minute mile” was the start of my own personal thoughts on cardio training for mountain biking. I also ripped one of his combo drills articles off for my first DB Combos program which is my most popular and successful program to date. I probably owe him a check or something…

– Pavel Tsatsouline: The father of the modern day kettle bell movement, Pavel’s book Power to the People remains a “must read” over 10 years after it was published. Besides introducing my to those strange looking “cannonballs with a handle” he was also the first to really drive home how the strength is not about muscle size but about the ability to use the nervous system to maximally tap into what you already have. Getting strong and mobile are the hallmarks of his RKC training system and have a very heavy influence on the programs I use in my facility today.

– Gray Cook: The Functional Movement Screen flew right over my head the first time I came across it and it took years for me to really start to understand and appreciate it but now that I know how important the quality of your movement is I use it as the basis for every program I write. He has changed the paradigm of strength training for many coaches and his influence can not be overstated – his mantra of “move well first, then move often” is one I repeat often to new clients.

– Gene Hamilton: Gene is the owner of Better Ride Skills Camps and was the first guy in the mountain bike industry to give me the time of day. Gene’s love for mountain biking and passion for helping other riders is contagious and his willingness to share his knowledge with me and help promote my program to his skills camps has been invaluable. The two camps I’ve taken from him have helped my riding tremendously and given me insight into how to use my training programs to enhance riding skills, something that has helped me connect my world of strength training with the world of mountain biking.

– Lee McCormack: Lee literally wrote the book on skills training (well, actually two of them now). Mastering Mountain Bike Skills opened my eyes to the world of skills training and while he was, and still is, in the position to write his own strength training for mountain biking manual he was gracious enough to give me a platform through his website to promote my own programs. His website is one of the most popular mountain biking blogs in the world and he has developed a loyal following through his passion for spreading the religion of “braaap”. Keep pinning it to 11, Lee….

There are a lot of other people who I can put on this list as well, like Scott Hart (former editor at Decline Magazine who gave me my first training column), Tyler Main (editor at who gave me my first monthly website feature) and Rich Houseman (my first pro client and the guy who introduced me and Aaron Gwin).  The point is that I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without these guys being willing to share their knowledge and experience with the rest of the world. They are my inspiration and the greatest compliment I get is when someone tells me that they recognize their influence in my work.

While I may not do as good of a job acknowledging them as much as I should I wanted to share them with you. If you like what I have to say then you’ll gain a lot by also learning from my resources. Thanks again to everyone who has helped me along the way…

-James Wlson-

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