- Please tell us something about yourself: where and when were you born and places you lived. Where do you live now?
Many people are always intrigued by my name or what it stands for. I get a balance of good reactions and bad reactions for example, “your parents should have never named you that because it belongs to Jesus”, “that’s a weird name”, “that must make you feel Holy”. I was born in a Naval Hospital in Long Beach, CA and a few months later my father was stationed in Germany and then transferred to England where I lived till I was 5yrs old. I attended kindergarten at a private Catholic school where the School Master banned my name from being pronounced. One day I said my name so I had to report to the School Master for punishment and Nunn told me to stick out my hand so she could swat the back of my hand with a wooden ruler. From that moment on I never used my first name until I attended High School.
I was told my name honors my Great Grandmothers wishes. Since my family is from Guam and the Philippines my ancestors were King and Queen of the village in the Philippines. Lord is my given title name and appears on my birth certificate. My sister’s given title name is Lady.
- How would you describe yourself as a child? Very active? What types of activity interested you the most? Did you get involved with sports at an early age?
After England I moved to Las Vegas, Nevada and then to Huntington Beach, California where I Graduated High School. As a child I was a very happy kid but I did have a lot of separation issues with my father serving in the Marine Corps so I remember there were very troubling times I had. Food was my comfort and as a kid I was obese until I was talked into playing tackle football in fifth grade and lost over 30lbs in one season. Then I started wrestling and lost more weight.
- Was any athlete your hero as a kid? If so, who?
I remember watching G.I. Joe cartoons and my favorite hero was Sgt. Slaughter, a Marine. I actually still have a Sgt. Slaughter G.I. Joe and I will probably always keep it. It kind of got me through the times my father was always gone. I learned my father started powerlifting while being gone on his 3 year tour and when he came home to visit for 2 weeks he started taking me to the gym at 12yrs old. He bought me a DP 30lb barbell set and it came with a set of instructions to exercise. I would sometimes workout in front of my mother’s bedroom closet mirrors just like my dad did in the mirrors. I started to workout in my friend’s house whose father had a garage gym. I remember squatting 135lbs at 12 years old and feeling the muscle rip like a guitar string breaking. I stood up and laughed at myself because I remembered it actually kinda tickled. I saw a jug of powder and ended up taking Joe Weider powder supplements that tasted like swallowing globs of dough.
- Were you involved in sports during Highschool? How was that experience? At that age, did you already entertain the idea of becoming professionally involved with sports/training?
My Freshman year in High School I wrestled on the Varsity team but lacked the skills to be good enough so I hung it up and went back to powerlifting finishing a great High School Powerlifting Career being undefeated winning three National Championships, broke World, American, State, and till this day hold an America record I broke when I was 16yrs old. In the 148lb weight class at 16yrs old I squatted 448lbs, bench pressed 254lbs, and deadlifted 485lbs.
- When and how did you decide to become a coach? Can you tell us a little about that choice and what it involved? Did your family support your decision?
My senior year I was 17yrs old I enlisted into the US Army Reserves and after graduating High School I went to Basic Training. After Basic Training I came back home and was offered a job at Family Fitness Center at the gym I trained at in Huntington Beach, CA. A year later I attended a 1 week course to become a Certified Personal Trainer. I was fortunate to have worked at the facility that became the headquarters of 24 Hour Fitness University with the Directors of the program there for me to always ask questions. Through my nine year career with 24 Hour Fitness I was promoted to management level and developed a highly trained staff to break many fitness sales records as well as being recognized for my service to the community. The highest sales was about $8000 and I set the new highest record with $44,000 in a month in a club that was not rated at the level of clubs producing the revenue I did. In 2004 I ventured as an independent contractor personal trainer working at another gym which I was also hired as a manager. After six years I opened up my own training studio as owner of trainingbylord.com at my home where I was surprisingly very successful. At the same time I was completing my Bachelor Degree in Business and attempted my Masters to earn a MBA. I decided I wasn’t going to continue with my Graduate Degree because I felt I wasn’t passionate about earning my MBA.
- What is your educational background? Do you think school provided you with good tools for the profession you chose? You are a powerlifting leader, meet organizer and Director of Coaches Certification with the USPA. Do these two roles overlap? Do you transfer to your organizational roles some of what you learned as a coach? Is a coach a better sports leader?
In 2010 I realized I needed to improve my position in the fitness industry and enrolled into a Graduate program to earn a Master’s of Science Degree in Exercise Science. During this course I remembered as a teen my father’s passion for Olympic Weightlifting so I enrolled into a USA Weightlifting course to become certified as an Olympic Weightlifting Coach. A week later I had an idea to give back to the Sport of Powerlifting and started working towards becoming a State Referee with the United States Powerlifting Association (USPA). After I earned my Graduate Degree I was refereeing at an event and analyzed each athlete’s movements and concluded our sport needs to learn how to move biomechanically better. After a discussion with the President I began writing a manual for a Coaches Certification and came to recognize my limitations of knowledge and began searching for an expert in Biomechanics. I came across Tom DeLong who happened to be a Powerlifter in the USPA and a professor teaching exercise science specializing in biomechanics. In 2013 I founded National Academy of Strength and Power (NASPOWER) specializing in certifying powerlifting coaches for sports performance online education system.
I must state that school only laid a foundation of knowledge and an increased level of discipline towards work ethic. I always continue to challenge myself and put myself in situations I must learn from, endure, and persevere. I take risks and I lose often but at least I never fail from not even trying or making an attempt. I have been known to quit only because I must take a step back and reanalyze the situation, come up with a plan and execute it.
In the summer of 2014 Tom and I met with the USPA to discuss creating a certification designed to instruct a live two-day training seminar certifying coaches for the USPA. In one year Tom and I traveled California and Las Vegas, Nevada to instruct the USPA courses to over 200 participants.
My father was the California State Chairman for the USPF and I was ready to develop my skills in the sport. With the aid of my father’s guidance I put together a proposal to the President and he accepted it. My goal was to grow the sport of Powerlifting in Bakersfield, California. To do this I scheduled my first event in and made appointments with CrossFit Gyms to offer free clinics for Bench Pressing and Deadlifting for Competition and invited them to compete. I was hoping to get at least 50 enrollments and ended up having 61 for my first Push/Pull Championship. One of my objectives to grow the sport is to develop coaches and seek personal trainers to attend a USPA Coaches Course in my town. The class was a success and coaches were ready to train athletes for the next event 12 weeks later. I had 75 competitors signed up to compete in my second meet. Bakersfield had 11 members in the organization and grew to over 50 members in a few months proving the objectives I set in my proposal to achieve my goal is working.
Am I a leader of the sport? I believe a true leader is someone who has a dream to achieve greatness and touch, moves, and inspires others to get involved to achieve greatness themselves. Only those I have done this will be able to tell you if I am a leader. Other than that I am a 225lb, 5’4” man who’s married with 5 kids that is just living the dream and I continue to work hard so I can live this dream.
When and how did you decide to become a coach? Can you tell us a little about that choice and what it involved? Did your family support your decision?
When I was 16 and being trained by my father, he also was the Marine Corps Powerlifting Coach at El Toro Marine Corps Base in California. In my career I have used many of my father’s style of coaching to help friends but I becoming a trainer was never a dream. At the time I was offered a position at the gym, I was attending college taking food science courses because I wanted to be a Chef. My job as an Army Reservist was a Cook and I loved every bit of being a cook because in the military, increasing moral begins with a well cooked meal. I remember when I was approached with the job offer in the gym I was going to make an extra $.75 per hour and feeling like I was going to finally get rich. My father taught me many disciplines and I learned how to be coached which was an important characteristic because I was able to learn from highly experienced and educated trainers in the field.
- How would you describe yourself as a child? Very active? What types of activity interested you the most? Did you get involved with sports at an early age? Did you / are you involved in sports as an athlete? If so, how is your experience as an athlete influence your decisions in coaching?
Growing up I loved watching my Saturday and Sunday morning cartoons eating my G.I. Joe cereal or favorite donuts with my sister and father. I was never very good with earning satisfactory grades in school, I was emotionally distressed, very insecure because I was teased for being fat and short, I was shy because I felt too ugly, ashamed to say my name, and I was not very smart because I had a very difficult time reading and comprehending. In seventh grade I was tested for learning disabilities and dyslexia and had to wear glasses along with colored plastic sheets to lay over the pages of the books which helped very much but still very difficult and frustrating. In 8th grade I was put into a remedial class to learn how to think critically at the same time being teased for being in Special Ed. It was only a few years ago I learned from my friend we were in an experimental course put together by the district to help more kids like myself. One lesson I learned from watching cartoons such as Care Bears, He-Man, Smurfs, etc. was that there was always a learning lesson of how-to-be a better person and to always keep trying. I was very creative and a dreamer growing up. I wanted to be a heroic Soldier, I wanted to be fit and strong like my father, I wanted to be accomplished, I wanted to feel confident, and I wanted to be proud of who I am. I had a poster on my wall that said, “I know I am Somebody because GOD makes no Nobody’s”.
My mother and her boyfriend were very successful with a business they owned together. He always taught me the value of money and the work ethic it takes to earn it. At the age of 9yrs old at Christmas time he handed me a very large and heavy present. As I excitedly ripped off the Christmas wrapper I read on the box, Craftsman Orbital Car Waxing Buffer Machine. I was so confused and he looked at me and said, “You can make a lot of money going into business for yourself.” He also said, “If you want to know how to make money then you must learn about money, which is one quote that was a reason to earn my Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. That summer he took me around the neighborhood and taught me how to be very disciplined and detailed in my work when detailing cars and making sure I deliver a great product to my customer.
Through sports with playing football, wrestling, and powerlifting I learned disciplines, work ethics, listening skills, team cohesion, self-motivation, pier encouragement, positive influences, and a willingness to keep open minded to grow and develop myself which was all part of growing my maturity. Through sports I began to physically develop, I worked hard and was recognized for my performance, I was part of a winning team, earned medals in wrestling, and won championships in powerlifting. I have had many learned lessons in life and acknowledge these were all necessary for me to be where I am today.
- The golden question: what is your approach to training (your “training philosophy”, meaning the way to organize exercises in a program, progression, principles to observe, whatever you think defines YOUR approach)?
When I started training at 12yrs old and seriously coached by my father at 13, I learned the discipline of technique and form. Marines always stood at attention lock-in-tight and every move I made in powerlifting must be synchronized to my father’s standards. If not, I would repeat the movement patterns till I leaned it correctly. It is no different than being in martial arts and no different than a baseball coach making an athlete throw over a hundred pitches while practicing. My father was excellent at analyzing movement and adjusting to improve mine with powerlifting exercises to accessories.
I believe I stood out from the rest of my peers in the fitness industry because I knew how to properly perform the 3 main compound exercises. My peers often taught machine exercises, dumbbell exercises, and 15 minutes of abs. I would make clients squat for 30-45 minutes, same goes for bench and deadlifts. Then they would perform accessories on their own. After three weeks my clients were accelerating in strength performance and physical performance compared to my peers clients.
My foundations of training has always been built upon my clients goals and needs. They tell me what they want, I tell them what they need, then I discuss the program, in my opinion, the plan and direction they should take to achieve their goal and needs. The foundation has always been a strength foundation performing squat, bench, and deadlifts in various forms or altered forms to teach proper motor patterns and first level of strength building.
My contribution to the sport is never enough. I have been helping one person at a time and I just hope I can make a difference. I have learned if I ever want to know what my future will be like then just read the books of those who were successful in taking those journeys and learn from them. My father and mother have given me the tools to be successful and it is up to me to honor them and make it a better world for others. As I age and continue to mature, I thought I knew everything at 19yrs old when I earned my first certification. I will tell you that it has been a career of learning and there are coaches that I follow and continue to learn from. There are young coaches I have met who are indoctrinated into a single system and are set in their ways. I personally try to adopt many proven systems and grow my tool box to offer the right tool to fit the right person at the right time. There is no movement, no single tool, and no single system to fit everyone all the time and every time. Become very versatile in your tools because there is always someone that knows much more than you do about some things that you will want to learn from.
Did you / are you involved in sports as an athlete? If so, how is your experience as an athlete influence your decisions in coaching?
I am involved in the sport of Powerlifting. I haven’t competed since 2012 for various reasons of injuries and have been going through career transitions that have kept me away from training intensely in preparation to compete. I will step on the platform again in the near future. I have actually contemplated never competing again because after 26 years it becomes an emotional grind. But that’s just silly because others who have been competing over 26 years overcome and persevere so that means I can too.
I was in discussion with a psychologist about children who suffer from sexual abuse. She explained to me she is a certified specialist with children being sexually abused. I mentioned she looked 25yrs old and she discussed her degrees, certifications, and amount of education. I asked her if she has ever been a victim and she said, “no”. How much of an expert could she be, how much compassion she can feel if she has never been a victim of it as well as bedside manners to comfort the victim? No doubt she can recite the manual, terms, and definitions but she lacks human compassion.
I honestly feel the same way about a coach teaching football that’s never played before. I will agree many coaches have excellent ability to properly analyze and individual improve an athlete’s mechanical movement. It is the experience I have been fortunate with and the journey I have traveled that influence my decision in coaching.
If you feel comfortable, I’d like to know your thoughts about the educational background for coaches in your country: are the programs available adequate for your needs? What do you think makes a strong basis for coaching? How did you obtain this?
There are many resources of exercise education available in the Unites States. In college I learned a great deal about the body. When you study biomechanics you learn a great deal of how the body moves.
The gap between science and practice: in your experience, how much does current scientific knowledge on exercise physiology, kinesiology, biomechanics, etc contribute to your daily decisions in coaching and how much does it fail to?
Science is what allows me to teach the program design and movement patterns with a client, athlete, and to students. Science evolves from one theory to another and science is the process to discovery that is continually improving the original theory. For example, somatotype was a psychological theory and it evolved into a biomechanical theory. To teach, instruct, and train an individual without the knowledge of science, I will be doing them a disservice and be liable for my actions.
- What were your biggest challenges as a coach? Can you give us some examples (stories)? What do you think contributed for you to make the best call?
I work with a variety of personalities every day and figuring out the type of response I should give is always challenging. How one individual will take a comment, another individual may receive the comment with an entirely different interpretation. Often times I listen to my friends arguing who are married. They both agree and see the subject the same but it’s about one person not validating the others response.
- Some professionals in the health care fields become so traumatized when making a bad call with a patient/client that they give up. Did you ever make a bad call? How did you handle that? What advice would you give to younger people starting their coaching career?
I make bad calls all the time and it’s a learning experience. My coaching partner is 19 years of greater experience than me and I listen to his coaching. For a new coach coming aboard, my #1 suggestions is to be coachable.
- How do you handle special groups, such as the elderly, pregnant women and the disabled? How is the communication with their primary health care professionals? Is it necessary and is it easy? What advice would you have for younger coaches when they are contacted by their first “special” client?
Through my career I have the ability to pick and choose my clientele. I’d honestly rather not risk the liability but I do and I have the patience to see their goals through. Most of my experiences with health care professionals has been negative. Many of the physicians have an opinion of personal trainers not being educated enough to care for a pregnant woman and the risk factors that are present.
- What is your clientele today? (types of people and their needs) Do you have a preference for one or another type?
I specialize with strength and power athletes but most of my clients are weight loss and general fitness. I have always had a ratio of 70% general fitness/weight loss to 30% specialty.
- Athletes: in which way are they different (or not) from other clients?
Athletes are on a different motivation and psychological level than general fitness individuals.
- Emotional / psychological aspects of coaching: if you had to instruct a group of young coaches, what would you say is the best professional attitude a coach must have concerning the emotional burden clients bring into the coach-client relationship? Besides a general approach, do you think some types of clients demand extra emotional work? Examples: anorexic young females, low self-esteem people in general, depressed or other psychiatric condition patients, over-stressed business people, etc.
I often have dealt with these cases and the best role I could play is to stay within my training scope of practice. I am not a psychologist, I can’t help them and I don’t have solution or treatment prescriptions to help them. What I can do is be very supportive.
- Non-presencial coaching (online programming and/or coaching): what are the challenges? What to you require from clients to conduct a successful program?
I am a very technical type of coach. I understand it takes a golfer 11 years to perfect their style of swing technique. Then another coach makes an adjustment and then another adjustment. You cannot perform technical online coaching. Coaching a program design online is different than coaching technique online. I do believe it can be done but there is a significant amount of technicality that is minimized.
- You have your own facility. How did your training approach guide the construction of this training center (as in choice of equipment, special organization, etc)? If you had to offer advice to someone opening their first gym (suppose a tight budget and not-so-tight), what would you say are the most important structural and organizational elements in such a place?
I started in the global gyms and went on my own. Then ended up 5 years training in my garage. After writing the Powerlifting Certification Manual with Tom DeLong, I launched National Academy of Strength and Power (NASPOWER). The first year was a flop. I was an unknown name and I realized I had to change my strategy for marketing. We started to prepare the manual as CEU Approved manual for accredited personal training organizations and then the USPA approached us to create a live seminar program to certify coaches instructing the academics and hands-on portion of the material. After a very successful year, this set me up to grow NASPOWER and open a training center. AS I am typing this, I am day 1 into presales of the gym.
First suggestion will be to design a business plan. This will help to ensure there is a plan in place along with contingencies. Take a survey to find if there is a need for the product and if there was a product, how can it be made better. Third suggestion is budgeting because once it starts to add you, you may not like the cost. Lastly, don’t involve your emotions in order to stay clear minded.
Contact information for Lord Elliott:
E-mail: [email protected]