I believe that I am an accessible guy, meaning that I reply to pretty much every e-mails, Facebook messages or questions posted on Instagram and I pride myself in doing so. It sometimes take me a few days to reply, given that I coach pretty much everyday and also have trainees that I train online, but I always reply. People write to ask all type of questions, from very technical questions to more personal questions about their lifts or about my private life. I have put a lot of time and effort into First Pull to make it what I believe is a worthy read (At least, make it something I like) and also a reference in the sport of weightlifting. I’m proud of what I have accomplished and I am also proud of having stayed true to my convictions and mission with this”FP project”, meaning that the site offers well researched content for free and that I can only write when I have some free time. First Pull is, and will always be, content driven. Anyhow, people still write me to know who is ”The First Pull guy” (as they call me apparently) and what is my background. To those interested, this is longer version than my short bio posted on here.
First Pull’s anniversary
Not many people may have noticed that First Pull just turned 1 year old. I indeed published my first article on here on August 31th 2013 and a few days later, I wrote my first guest post which was for All things gym. Gregor (ATG’s owner) was helpful in getting me noticed at first. As of this day, I have published a total of 63 posts (this one is the 64th) which means that on average I have published about 5 posts a month which exceeds what I originally planned to do when I got started. Indeed, I planned to write once or twice a month…but then I guess I got carried away.
Number wise and according to WordPress’ stats, First Pull has had over 420 000 views in the last year which is arguably very good for a text based website (medias like photos and videos drive up more traffic, obviously). Moreover, I have not done any marketing for First Pull whatsoever which means that all those views are due to readers sharing the articles with their friends. Thank you all. Many of my posts have been shared by coaches and top coaches, federations (either in North America or abroad) and other lifting sites. I am very thankful to be read as it makes the whole process worthwhile. Many good discussions have come out of this, allowing me to discuss, argue and learn some more.
It would also be disrespectful of me to forget to mention the help I received from Nat (Hookgrip), Kari (Wonderlifter) and Clance (Lifter’s life). I use a lot of pictures in my posts, either to make points or just to make the articles more interesting to read. These three photographers have given me their permission to use their photos in my articles and they are the reason the site is looking that good.
The First Pull guy
It amazes me that people want to know more about me, especially since I have published interviews with people who have far more interesting interesting stories (Here are a few good examples Al Haddad, Kobaladze, Rigert). May be I’m too modest or may be I just don’t like bragging, but I certainly do what I do here for weightlifting as a whole, rather than for me. This is the reason that I have not written much about me in the last year. You can imagine my laugh when I saw people nicknamed me ”The First Pull guy” because people just find me mysterious (apparently..)
People always ask me where I learned the stuff that I write about. I have been into weightlifting – or attracted towards the sports- since I was 12 years old but only committed to it around 20 years old. I bought my first olympic style book around 16 years old though. I am an average weightlifter really, so I did not learn that stuff from being an awesome lifter….but rather from exploring ideas and concept on how to improve. I always tell people that ”I make it look good because I get and understand weightlifting and its principles, but I don’t lift heavy enough”. I’m fine with being an average athlete because my ambitions are coaching and promotional ones. I am involved with many lifters, some as young as 9 years old and some 30+ years old. I am also involved with athletes of others sports as well (Rowing and Crossfit). I also coach a top level (top 5 at the games) Crossfit athlete on a regular basis.
So here is me. I have a bachelor degree in Kinesiology and that’s where I learned some more about biomechanics, neuroscience, anatomy and exercises physiology. I was already familiar with those sciences, it did however allow me to push further my understanding of movements, biomechanics and sports. During that bachelor degree, I took up three research internships in a neuroscience lab, which ended up being my part time job year round for 3 years. I started a Master Degree in Neurosciences as well which I got funding for, but later stopped to focus on coaching.
I credit my writing style and my written communication skills to that time I spent in the lab reading science papers and doing experiments. To me, science is all about integrity, rationality, logic and getting to the point in the most clear way. Those internships also allowed me to better understand what I am reading and how to ask the right questions. People picture scientists as old geeky people in lab coats doing mad experiments but the reality is that the scientific approach is an approach of problem solving and solutions finding. Such an ability to acknowledge the problem and to find solutions to fix it is a good skill to have when you are coaching the sport of weightlifting. The science approach also teaches you to pay attention to small details.
So, having coached for a few years, I still consider myself a new comer. I am certainly a new comer with lots of background from different fields and this is why it is working well for me. I don’t believe I know it all, nor do I want to get to the point in my life where I feel like I do. Consequently, I was attracted to (Neuro)science because of my teacher who after I asked him a very difficult and technical question, replied that ”to the best of his knowledge, he did not know but that we can look into it”. I liked the humility and integrity, as well as the curiosity to know the answer. I have preached that approach ever since in my coaching. This is why, at least to me, the teacher and his teaching skills matter more than his athletic background. This is especially true in weightlifting and you will also notice that in my writing as well.
It would be a lie to pretend that First Pull has not opened up many venues for me, although it was not my motive. I credit and thank Mr. Chouinard, former weightlifter and a very high ranked official in Canada, who helped me get my current job at Les Geants de Montreal and I thank Pierre and Michel for giving me a chance. I coach 4 days a week there and Friday is George Kobaladze’s day (who is an impressive lifter and who I have lots of respect for). I am grateful to be able to work in such a club. I also train a small weightlifting team composed of talented and hard working trainees and I love it. I have done some demonstrations in schools, held summer camps (A few videos of that on our Facebook), given seminars at other clubs and more. Hopefully readers have a better grasp of who ”The First Pull guy” is and that my intentions are to keep on going with First Pull and keep learning, sharing and, of course, coaching.