Chapter One: Discovering my Purpose | "I can be more than just a basketball player."

 In 2012 I left my basketball dreams behind to focus on a career as a fitness professional. These stories will take you through my journey as a fitness athlete, and it is the genesis of my fitness legacy.

Workout Mix #1 | The Beginning

It was 2011, my basketball career was over, and I had set my sights on becoming the best athlete in the world. I just signed up for my first Spartan Race, and I would try out for the CrossFit Games. I quit my job as a personal trainer at 24 Hour Fitness because the loss prevention specialist wrongfully investigated me for fraud. I was now a private trainer in control of my own business and my destiny. I was scared to death.

I didn't know how to make money, and I needed to find a way to provide for myself. Mentally I was in a state of uncertainty. One day I decide to go up to my old college and get a workout in. My gym membership was canceled since I was no longer an employee of 24 Hour Fitness.  Rob decided to accompany me in this workout, which was good news for me because now I didn't have to walk to the college. As we headed up to the gym, I decided I was going to document this workout.

I realized I didn't have the traditional fat to the skinny story as most fitness professionals, and for my story to be heard, I was going to have to tell it myself. The best way to say this story was to document all of my progress as I set out on a quest to create the greatest workout program in the world.

This routine was a blend of plyometrics, calisthenics, and agility. My mindset was set on extreme focus. I was more motivated than I had ever been in my life. During my basketball years, I always had a set goal, get to the NBA; in fitness, there was no NBA, so to be the best, I had to dominate every area o fitness. This meant my training had to cover all areas.

I realized this would be a long journey. I would experience many trials and tribulations.

Luckily,

The trials and tribulations of life do nothing but add lines to my victory speech.

 

Basketball Mix #1 | I'm a Show you how Great I AM

Basketball was still a part of my life, and since the NBA was no longer an option for me, Superstar Basketball League was my NBA. Before I left for Texas, my team had one of our first Superstar Basketball League championship. Now that I was back home, and my mind was not distracted by my professional basketball dream, I could now invest my time in becoming the best basketball player I could be.

I had begun listening to motivational speeches instead of music to workout to. Faster Stronger Wiser was alive, and now it was time to show the world how great I am.

Rest in Peace, Muhammed Ali.

Workout Mix #2 | What is Success?

On this day, I was in war mode. My boys Eric and Rob, came by the house to see how I was doing because I had been distant over the past month. I explained to them my workout journey and what I was trying to accomplished. As I was explaining this, I was heading out for a workout. Since I had no car, and my friends never let me walk alone, they drove me to the park to record this agility/basketball workout.

Rob helped me record my first workout, so he decided to give me a hand with the camera work while Eric suggested a location that had hills, which would add a new level of difficulty to my routine.

At this time, I had stop training to music and started listening to motivational speeches to get me through my long workouts. Eric Thomas had a speech about success that resonated with me, and I wanted to use it as the motivational; soundtrack for this workout.

 

Basketball Mix #2 | I'm Hungry

I needed something to obsess over. My life was always centered around my dream, and I needed something to take its place. Superstar Basketball was a great outlet, but knowing that other leagues in the city were the home to some of the best players in Los Angeles kept me up at night. I hate being mediocre, and I knew to set myself apart as one of the best to play against the best. I received a little taste of high-level competition in the Venice Beach Basketball League, but I needed to be better. I needed to be better than my best.

Spiritually I wanted to get closer to God, so I began listening to pastors to hear the word more in my workouts. The audio selection in this workout video compiles quotes from movies, speeches by inspirational figures such as Bill Russel and Michael Jordan, and pieces of sermons by Pastor Creflo Dollar.

Basketball Mix #3 | A Surge of Energy

A few good seasons in the Superstar Basketball league was a significant confidence boost for me. I had already played in the Venice Beach Basketball League. I was a two-time champion in the Superstar Basketball League. I was getting my jumping ability and first step back. I was approaching my third year as a personal trainer, and I wanted to make a statement in the fitness industry. The question was, how do I make this statement?

This period of my life is where I decided to combine fitness and basketball into my workouts, and I even wrote a workout program based on the drills I used called Basketball Strength.

Basketball Mix #4 | Finding My Motivation

I focused on training my body for basketball; I was working out twice a day and playing ball in leagues three days a week. My game was becoming inconsistent due to playing on multiple teams. I was winning championships in various recreational basketball leagues, but I was getting bored with basketball. My financial situation was killing my drive. I could barely afford to keep my phone line active because private personal training was too inconsistent, so communicating with my team was tough. Paying league fees was tougher. Every day was a struggle to find my motivation to play.

Basketball Mix #5 | Ball Up Streetball Tour Los Angeles Game 2012

I received an email one day that contains an invitation for streetball players to come to an open run. I was feeling good at the time; my knee was ultimately, but I still wore knee braces for protection, and my game was coming along great. AT this time, I was playing more confidently, and it showed. When I got to the open run, I realized it was a Ball Up streetball tryout. I didn't know how to feel. I told myself I quit basketball professionally, but an opportunity to play professional streetball was right in front of me. I couldn't turn it down. I did well in the open run and earned a spot in the big game. I didn't advance to the finals, but the experience was enough to reignite the fire of basketball in me.

 

Workout Mix #3 | Becoming A Spartan

I needed a job, and I decided to go to Golds Gym North Hollywood as a personal trainer. I thought this move would be better for me since it was in a city with more foot traffic. In my time at Gold's Gym, I met two brothers Jorge and Alex. I would train them every morning to help them increase their athletic performance. One day I was searching online for fitness competitions and came across the Spartan Race. After a little research, I immediately wanted to do one. I told Jorge and Alex about the race, and although they were reluctant at first, they agreed to run it with me. We then recruited Armando (Jorge and Alex's brother) and my boy Eric to join the squad.

I left Gold's Gym due to my car breaking down, and transportation would be too inflexible for me to maintain my training schedule. My car was a 1987 Nissan Altima, and the year was 2012, so I wasn't upset; hell, I was surprised the car made it that long.

I began private training at a gym called Asylum, and since it was a new gym with minimal foot traffic, so the owners allowed me and my team to train for the race free of charge every weekend.

This was the year I became a Spartan.

 

Workout Mix #4 | Confidence is Contagious

The first Spartan Race I ran started a new obsession. Obstacle Course Racing. I had something that I could focus on that gave me the same results as basketball used to. Spartan Races provided competition with the intensity of training, and now I could run with a team or without a team.

It had been a year since my first Spartan Race, and my team now included a new member. Yvette.

Yvette was becoming a surgeon at this time, and what she needed was the confidence to push herself past her insecurities. She was in good shape when she hired me as her trainer. She ran religiously, and all she needed was more upper body strength. She popped on a few workouts with Jorge and me; Alex and Armando were off to college, and Eric started a new job that made his schedule too demanding, so the team was pretty just Jorge and me. After watching her complete some of my insane workouts, Jorge and I knew she would be a great addition to our Spartan Team.

Based on how confident these two became over the time of their training. I adopted the motto. "Confidence is Contagious."

 

Workout Mix #5 | Spartan Squad Training

Around this is when my team and I were training intensely to receive our first Spartan Trifecta Medals when you complete a Spartan Sprint, Super, and Beast in one calendar year. We had stepped our training three times a week, and I began experimenting with new ways to train my body. These workouts were always random and usually organized the day of. I was coming into my third year as a personal trainer, and I was beginning to figure out what my training style was and how I could utilize it to separate myself from other trainers. Money was tight, and I had just proposed to my girlfriend, now wife, so I needed a job. Spartan Racing was fun but expensive. As much fun as I was having, I knew I would have to find a job. It was time to quit freelance training head back to the corporate gyms.

Workout Mix #6 | Outlast the Payne

 It was time to swallow my pride and go back to 24 Hour Fitness. My fiancé had moved to California, and I had to find a real job to pay some real bills. I got a taste of professional streetball and a taste of what it was like to run Spartan Races, but now I needed to become more steady in my personal life. For years I had been able to focus on whatever I wanted to do with the consequences only falling on me, but now I was responsible for myself and one other person.

Thankfully I was able to get my old job back at 24 Hour Fitness as a personal trainer. I decided to go work for the Hollywood location because they had the most people coming in and out of their doors. The opportunity to thrive was evident, so I felt like it would be an excellent decision to work there. My company, Faster Stronger Wiser Training, had to be put on hold. I couldn't afford the website fees anymore, and my business bank account was closed out due to an outstanding balance.

There was pain in my financial life, but I could outlast it.

There was pain in my business life, but I could outlast it.

 

Basketball Mix #6 | This is Why I Work

The same ole story. I tried out for the Ball Up Streetball Team in 2013, and I didn't get invited into the game. I was starting to see the same trends that had been occurring in my life since high school, favoritism, lack of respect for the game, and alternative agendas that had nothing to do with basketball. It took me a while to see it, but my fiancé was there to shine a light on the situation. Sadly, I thought I could break through these barriers again, although it didn't work for the last 20+ years up until this point.

All I knew was training. When times got rough, I tried to outwork them.

I trained harder every day.

I joined more basketball leagues.

I played in celebrity charity games. I did what I always did.

Work.

Basketball Mix #7 | Battlegrounds

Amid my training. I met a man named Gary Smith. He was a young athlete who got up earlier than me, trained harder than me, and was five years younger. We battled each other in a pick-up game one day, and after developing mutual respect for each other's athletic ability, we started to train together. We would come up we these crazy one on one basketball games designed to build mental and physical toughness.

For example, we would play a five-game one on one series. Every game was up to 3 points only, losers ball, no fouls, no getting your own rebound if you miss you give up the ball. We would play these games after a 2-hour workout to ensure no one had the upper hand.

This kid always tried to one-up me. When I had to train a client, he would get extra shots up. When I left for the gym to go home, he would run extra miles. For the first time in my life, someone was outworking me. Every day I would show up at the gym, which became my battlegrounds.

 

Basketball Mix #8 | Iron Man 1 on 1 Basketball

Here is a quick look at one of our intense one on games. This game was called Iron Man 1 on 1. Iron Man 1 on 1 is one on one basketball for hoop warriors. It is the perfect combination of cardiovascular and calisthenics workouts

Here are the rules:

  • 3 games series up to 3
  • Losers Ball (always)
  • Missed shot = 10 push up penalty
  • Your opponent scores on you = 15 Push up penalty
  • Fouls= 5 push-ups for both players
  • Turnovers steals or blocked shots= 20 push up penalty
  • Lose a game in the series= 20 push-ups
  • Lose the entire series= of 30 push-ups
  • Lose all three games in the series =50 push-ups
  • Getting skunked! (you are scoreless at the end of a game)= 50 push-ups

This game was about physical and mental toughness, focus, concentration, and execution. This game taught me how to perform while fatigued, and it pushed me to take my game to another level. Too bad basketball was over me. I had tried out for the Ball Up Streetball Team for the third time to be invited to the game as an "alternate player." This meant all I got was a free ticket to the game and a pat on the back. I was 27 years old at the time, and my wedding was in 2 months. It was time to let the dream go for good and focus on fitness. I let myself slip back into the basketball life, and it almost cost me, my fiancé. I was very negligent with her throughout this process. Although she forgave me, I knew I had to transform myself.