Back in 1996, I remember hearing the news that Olympic champion Dave Schultz was murdered by some guy named du Pont in Pennsylvania. I had no idea what Team Foxcatcher was, but as an 11 year old kid who wrestled, I was taken aback by hearing this news. The movie Foxcatcher introduced me to a few things related to the story but it did not compare to the ESPN 30 for 30 titled The Prince of Pennsylvania.
I had no idea that Foxcatcher became a national power, and then an international power in the wrestling world. John du Pont gave American wrestlers an opportunity to train for a living, and the result, equaled tremendous success for USA wrestling. He basically financed USA wrestling and gave them tremendous facilities, tons of cash, a place for their families to live, basically in exchange for friendship. But then things started to get a little weird around the training compound. As early as 1987, du Pont began showing signs he might be a little bit off his rocker. It eventually led to Olympic champ Mark Schultz leaving the training center and never wrestling again. At the time, Mark was the most accomplished wrestler there and du Pont had a weird admiration for him. The other guys decided to stay, life was too good and eventually, du Pont brought out Dave Schultz, Mark's older brother to train and prepare for competition. Mark told Dave that he didn't think it was a great idea but at the time, Dave was an assistant college wrestling coach and didn't want to pass up the opportunity. Dave and du Pont developed a friendship and things were going well as Foxcatcher was the premier training facility in the world.
And then the paranoia began. Foxcatcher Farm began as family friendly environment for the athletes to train. But then it turned into a military-esque compound with security guards and chain linked fences. John du Pont believed someone was out to get him. This led to some of the guys leaving. For the others, they knew they should probably leave, but the Olympics were around the corner and they didn't want to leave John in the state he was currently in. Afterall, John gave these guys a tremendous opportunity to compete and to be compensated for it. All this eventually led to incident that occurred in January of 1996.
John du Pont's paranoia led to him shooting Dave Schultz three times, with the third shot being the fatal one. It was tough for me to watch the closing scenes of this documentary. The 911 call was hard to listen to. It was from a wife who just saw her husband get shot down in their driveway. Then Mark talks about those final moments in his brothers life. The different thoughts that must have been going through his head. How Dave knew he was going to die and leave a wife and two children behind. It shows a mother who feels like she let her child down. How somehow she is at fault for Dave never leaving the training compound. It shows a father who is at a loss for words because of his son being gunned down on a cold day while working on his car. Almost 20 years after this terrible event occurred, these thoughts and emotions are still there for the family.
This documentary had me on the edge of my seat for the 60 minutes that it aired.
I had the tremendous opportunity to meet with Diane Morris from Alliance Counseling Center this week. The office is located at 1422 Main Street in Hellertown, which is almost directly across the street from Crossroads Hotel. This office provides therapy for teens & adults; individuals, couples and groups. They offer a variety of services and have assembled a team that specializes in certain therapies. Just to name a few, they offer grief counseling, couples counseling, anger management, and what I wanted to seek more information about, drug counseling.
Like many other areas in the United States, Hellertown has been hit pretty hard with what some are calling a “drug epidemic”. In regards to drug treatment, Alliance Counseling Center is an outpatient treatment facility. Often times, this is the final step in the process. An individual should have gone through detox, inpatient, and intensive outpatient before walking through Alliance’s door. Diane and I touched on an array of topics. It seems that the conversation always came back to these two points: environment and fixing the underlying problem.
Environment plays a huge role in recovery. A great example of this occurred during the Vietnam War. Before the War, the typical soldier had only casual experience with hard drugs, and less than 1% had ever been addicted to narcotics. But once in Vietnam, those number soared to about half of the soldiers tried narcotics, and 20% became addicted. A follow-up 8-12 months later showed that the numbers reverted back to the norm, only 1%. What changed? The environment. People are incredibly sensitive to the environment and the culture- to the norms and expectations of the communities they are in. Remove them from that and the individual could potentially flourish.
The second topic that we discussed at length was improving the underlying problem. People get addicted to drugs for a wide range of reasons. Some people have psychiatric illnesses that contribute to their drug addiction. For an issue like depression, if an individual does not have a sense of purpose in life or positive relationships, they may never be fully recovered. Other people may get addicted because they have limited responsibilities and that’s the best option available to them. If they had a better option available, they may go ahead and choose that option. After speaking with Diane and getting a sense of what her business is about, it all finally clicked. If you look up the word alliance in the dictionary, you will see that it means “a relationship based on an affinity in interests, nature, or qualities”. That is exactly what they set out to do here, build relationships with their clients that will better those involved. When you use drugs, you disconnect from the rest of the world. Here at alliance, they focus on the opposite: re-connecting you with your loved one and the rest of world!
Drug abuse has hit extremely close to home for me. A few years ago I was waiting for a childhood friend to arrive at the gym I was working at. He was training for an adventure race and needed a little guidance. I saw I had a missed call from my mother and listened to the voicemail. She didn’t say what was going on but, judging by her voice, I knew something was not right. A terrible feeling overcame me. My heart literally sunk. My mind went immediately to my brother. I called her back and then heard these terrible words: "he's gone Chris. Ryan is gone". My older brother was found dead at the age of 29. The cause of death: apparent drug overdose.
Today, October 16th, my older brother would have been 32 years old. Happy Birthday Ryan!
These past few weeks have been taking a toll on me. Two weeks ago, I came down with an illness. It was nothing serious, a little coughing here and some sneezing there. I thought to myself, I am going to take a few days off until I get healthy. So after taking the week off, I was looking forward to training when Monday rolled around. I took it easy for a few sessions to knock a little rust off. The plan was to crank it up the following week. Monday finally came around and I was ready to go. After a few warm up sets, I started cranking the weight up. All was well until I felt something in my lower back, on the left side. All my big plans for that session for thrown out the window. I decided to shut it down...once again.
After the pain occurred, I did not want to sit down and do nothing. I wanted to keep a little blood flow going so the back wouldn't totally tense up. With that being said, I was scrambling to find some relief for the back. I dug deep in the memory bank and came up with three moves: The first, "legs up the wall" (sorry, I don't have a better name); the second, child's pose; and the third, hanging from a pull-up bar. Here is a brief description and benefits of each move
In the end, I think the most important thing about all these drills is that it allows you to relax and breathe. When I first felt tightness in the back, my body almost immediately tensed up. My left leg had limited range of motion around the hip and my stride was effected while walking. After performing these relaxation drills, it offered some relief not only physically but mentally. What's good for the body is also good for the brain!
Do you have any drills or exercises that offers you back relief? Leave a message in the comment box and tell us all about them!
“Well, you’re not 16 years old anymore Chris”. The first time I heard that, I couldn’t believe my ears. I still felt like I was but the body was beginning to tell me otherwise. Aches and pains have always been a part of my life. Playing a variety of sports growing up and then living a pretty active lifestyle as an adult, there always seems to be an issue somewhere on your body. Often times, I would try to find a solution on my own and just kind of deal with it. The problem with that is when you don’t find the right solution to the problem, you end up compensating for it elsewhere. For example, an issue at the ankle could work its way up your body and cause a knee problem. A knee problem could lead to a hip problem. A hip problem could lead to a low back problem…and so on. The body is one big chain. One weak link in the chain could cause serious problems down the road.
I have been experiencing tightness in the muscles surrounding the left hip for years. I had a sciatic nerve issue about 8 years ago, and since that point, the left side has always been a little bit tighter. I have tried tons of methods to feel better. Hot Yoga, Massage, Soft-Tissue work, etc. but nothing has seemed to work. It was time to find some alternative therapy. This led me to Saucon Valley Acupuncture located in Hellertown, Pennsylvania. As I was walking into this place, I have to admit, I was a bit nervous.
After checking out a few brochures and photos in the lobby, I met with owner Warren Miles. To put it simply, Warren is a man who takes his work serious and wants everyone moving and feeling better. He has years of learning and practice on how to make the body function to the best of its ability. He, himself, has suffered a series of injuries that led him to where he is today. Using a combination of Rolfing (which is a form of soft tissue work that reorganizes the fascia throughout your entire body) acupuncture, and a few other techniques, Warren went to work on my body.
After an initial screening procedure, he was able to identify a cause to my ailment. It was no more “band-aid” solutions, Warren was going to treat what was needed! I spent 25-35 minutes getting the surrounding area of my left hip worked on. There were muscles that needed to be “released” in areas that you just can’t do on your own. Sometimes, you just need to find yourself an expert in the field and take advantage of what they have to offer. That is what I did with Warren. To those who may be experiencing some pain or discomfort and you can’t seem to find the right treatment, I would highly recommend Saucon Valley Acupuncture. I will be back there again. Afterall, I am not 16 anymore!
Chris is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and member of the National Strength & Conditioning Association. He has recently served as a high school football and wrestling coach. Chris loves swinging kettlebells around, watching football and reading books!