I’ve become a bit of a stoic in my recent years so when Mari Ann asked me to write about an area of fitness I am passionate about; it seemed like more of an exercise in philosophy than writing. I had meant to be more specific, but as I was writing, it just turned into a personal history of my health and fitness journey. So here it is…
The Health and Fitness History of Cale Schultz.
I was a bit of a fat kid in middle school and well into my high school years. My mother is a phenomenal cook and baker and I was a “growing boy.”
Eventually it caught up to me.
Luckily I started to grow taller instead of wider and I was a decent football player, so I didn’t get too much harassment. However, after high school ended I decided the extra weight had overstayed it’s welcome.
The decision was simple for me and the process was as well. I lost about 50lbs over the course of three months.
I said it was simple, I didn’t say it was easy.
I did everything wrong, everything they tell you not to do. I mostly lived off diet pills and pretzels. If there was an over the counter weight loss pill, I tried it. I put on three layers of clothing and ran countless miles in the midday heat. I was so hungry, so tired, so unhappy. Despite my ignorance, my discipline prevailed and my program worked, flawlessly. So there I was, skinny and…weak. I went from a phenomenal senior year as an All County Strong Guard to an energy-sapped graduate who couldn’t bench press his bodyweight, all in just 90 days.
I knew I had to start “working out.”
It was 1997. The Internet was just an infant. The only resource I knew of was the countless bodybuilding magazines hanging around the gyms I belonged to. If you’ve ever read one of the hardcore bodybuilding mags, you know they are a mix of about 90% supplement ads and 10% professional bodybuilder workouts. Neither one are a good fit for a young, inexperienced, and impressionable young adult looking to “get jacked”. I didn’t even realize I wanted to “get ripped” and “shredded” until picking up one of these literary abominations.
Not being able to see the forest for the trees I embraced these as gospel. I tried every supplement, every workout, every ridiculous program they had to offer. With both the workouts and the supplements, some worked, some didn’t, and some just came with too high of a cost.
Fortunately, I wasn’t a complete moron and, surprising to some, I was quite well educated. My parents raised me to think and my engineering background provided the analytic tools to somewhat manage the physical (and mental) fiasco I was putting myself through.
Although having no formal physical fitness training or education, I learned more than most people that do this for a living, specifically about my own body and how it functions.
There’s a great quote from Jim Wendler that really hit home and I realized that I wouldn’t trade my experience for any amount of formal education on the subject:
(partially edited for explicit language)
“I’m no expert on training books, but I can tell you how to get a built-in Bullshit Detector. Are you ready for this pearl of wisdom?
Train for 10 years, no breaks, no bullshit, nothing but you and the bar, the rack and some chalk.
Once you do this, you’ll be able to read most things about training and realize if they’re full of shit or not. You’ll see people widely regarded as experts as the charlatans that they really are. Without ever meeting the author, you’ll be able to tell if he or she actually has calluses or if they just hide behind a keyboard. It’s like this amazing veil of shit will be lifted from your eyes and everything will be clear.
Every once in awhile you’ll lose track, but all you have to do look at someone’s shins and hands; do they look messed up? Then listen to them.” – Jim Wendler
Despite my unorthodox approach to all of this, I was doing pretty well on my road to getting “jacked.” I was big, lean, and fairly strong. However, it was taking its toll on body.
- My joints were in rough shape.
- I couldn’t sit for more than 30 minutes without my knees feeling like they were going to explode.
- My elbows and shoulders were always sore.
- No that I think back, my whole body was sore, all day, every day.
On average I was taking 400-800mg of ibuprofen per day, every day. Injuries were prevalent, but nothing I couldn’t work through with more caffeine and more painkillers.
I don’t know how long I could have kept that up, but when you’re in your 20’s the human body is amazingly tolerant.
Then, through the right combination of luck, experience, and hard work, I landed a dream job in California: Managing the businesses, equipment and training facility for a couple of crazy stuntmen who were on their way to being well known directors. I now had the keys to a gym and fortunately I also had access to some amazing people that know a whole hell of a lot about physical fitness.
The current trainer at our facility was/is a Navy SEAL who had become somewhat of a “celebrity trainer” after moving to California. He wasn’t your typical celebrity trainer though; there was no “toning”, no 5lb weights, no cheerleading, no pandering, no excuses. There was only serious training.
He was and remains to this day, the most straightforward no nonsense person I’ve ever known. He is one of the main reasons I have been able to survive in Hollywood. He was a mentor to me in many ways, and maybe his biggest contribution (specifically relevant to this post) was to point me in the right direction on topics like health and fitness.
I started reading books about nutrition, lifestyle, strength training, etc. Real books, not 50 page supplement ads on the bottom row of the magazine rack. I started reading authors like Robb Wolf, Nora Gedgaudas, and Gary Taubes and following guys like Jim Wendler, Mark Rippetoe and Dave Tate. These are people that know how to be truly healthy and truly strong.
Things were coming together.
My diet was improving. I had dropped most of the supplements and preferred whole food instead. I cut back the ibuprofen to “only when needed” status. Training was more focused on strength and functionality rather than body esthetics.
I had the opportunity to train with the some of the best martial artists and the premiere martial arts choreography team in the business. These performers are so passionate about their craft. It was amazingly inspiring and fascinating.
One small problem, I’m not a martial artist, I’m a meathead.
Flying elbows and spinning hook kicks are just not my thing. Deadlifts and squats are.
Finding My People
I was in California for almost 4 years and I still had yet to find my people. I had the keys to a fully functional training facility, yet I kept a membership at a commercial gym near my house. My 5 year membership at 24HR Fitness Hermosa Beach is still something I ironically laugh to myself about.
Even more ironic, I have this stereotypical globo gym to thank for the two most inspirational lifting partners I’ve ever had.
I was squatting (by myself) one day and a short, unassuming old man walks over and asks “When is your next competition?” I politely replied, “I don’t compete.” He confidently said, “I know that, but when is your next competition?” with a clever smile.
He handed me his card and said that he and a few friends deadlift in his garage on Wednesdays and I should come and that “we could talk more about when I’m going to compete.” I laughed a bit and said “sure thing.”
I almost threw the card out.
I can be an arrogant asshole. This guy was like 65 years old and probably weighted about 140lbs. What could he possibly know about lifting? So I got home, pulled out the card and Googled “Gordon Santee.” First video was his world record setting +3X bodyweight deadlift he did at the age of 62! It was then I realized how much I still had to learn.
So three days later I showed up at his garage. There was Gordon and my now permanent lifting partner, Javier. Inside this garage were two perfectly constructed deadlift platforms, competition Texas Deadlift bars, and about 1000kg of competition powerlifting plates. Javier refers to it as the Iron Palace. It was beautifully simple.
I was actually nervous.
What if these guys think I’m just another cocky SoCal jackass? I thought the best plan of action was to just shut up and lift.
Javier asked what I wanted on the bar and I openly admitted I don’t deadlift that often and was unsure about programming. He asked what my max deadlift was. Again, crickets. I honestly had no idea what my max deadlift was. He didn’t look concerned and just said we’d do sets of three until things get heavy and then assess from there.
I don’t remember what my “estimated” max was that day, but the next week when I showed up Gordon and Javier had a plan for me. That was over 4 years ago and although my schedule doesn’t always permit, I still look forward to Wednesdays at the Iron Palace and still faithfully squat with Javier on Saturdays. Javier is the type of old school lifter that would tell the Grim Reaper to come back tomorrow if he showed up on squat day.
Somewhere there was a point to this rambling.
Oh yeah, what am I passionate about? Is there an answer in one of those paragraphs? Maybe it’s the word that is throwing me off.
Squats, deadlifts, overhead press, bench press, sweat, struggle, blood, pain, consistency, dedication…These are things that are a part of who I am, my lifeblood, my very being.
At this point, in my stoic mind, it goes way beyond passion.
Plenty of people ask me why I want to train so much? Why do I lift so heavy? What’s the point?
It’s sounds cliché, but ask anyone that is serious about it and they’ll probably say the same thing. I lift heavy things in the gym because it makes everything else in life a whole lot lighter.
By: Cale Schultz
87eleven Action Design, Director of Operations
Stuntman, Stoic and Meathead
Cale’s Favorite MariGold Bar
“My new/old/sometimes/still can’t decide favorite MariGold Bar is Pure Joy“.
*Photos Credit: Scott Hirano