Springtime Got Me Talking…About the NFL and the Browns

Well, it’s a nice wintry slash spring day in Eastern Ohio, Northern West Virginia, and Western Pennsylvania, as I tend to nomadically morph between the three areas. I may be visiting three different states over the span of a single day, but in this area, the wintry weather is, well, unpredictable. It was literally summertime on Friday, spring yesterday, winter today and tomorrow, spring again Tuesday and Wednesday, before winter returns Thursday and Friday. Then it’s supposed to be spring again after that. It’s really not that bad. Heck, it could be Boston, where winter lasts a good nine months. If you’re ever in my neck of the woods and you happen to get caught in a snow storm, just stop at a hotel and wait twelve hours. Trust me, it’ll likely be at least sixty degrees and sunny the following day, even if it’s mid-January. Winter up in this area is wild and unpredictable.

But with that being said, March 1st is right around the corner, the unofficial start of spring. I like to consider this unofficial start to spring today, as the Daytona 500 commences what will be an exciting NASCAR season. But enough NASCAR talk, let’s dive into my favorite time of the year of all things football. Why is that? If you’re a Browns fan, you understand the optimism that comes with the off-season. Coming off a 1-15 season, this off-season is a blessing, as we no longer need to look forward to guessing how our team will lose this week, and if it will exceed the one-in-a-million losing moment that only seems to happen to the Browns from the week prior. Again, if you’re a Browns fan, you know what I’m talking about.

Today, I want to talk about the current state of the team, and why things may not be as bad as they seem. Let’s start with the offensive line, which looked pretty bad last season, with the exception of future Hall of Fame tackle, Joe Thomas. I want to really dissect this, because things aren’t as bad as they appear. Joel Bitonio and John Greco were banged up. Austin Reiter, who looked good in his sole start last season, was lost with a torn ACL. Bitonio and Greco followed suit and were also lost for the season. Cam Erving struggled at center, but looked okay at right tackle. Also, Spencer Drango and Shon Coleman were two rookies adjusting to the speed and complexity of the NFL. All in all, the only major hole on the line is center, and there may be a person of interest in free agency in soon to be former Jet, Nick Mangold. Mangold is also a former Ohio State product. With the amount of cap space Cleveland has after literally overhauling the roster with rookies, rejects, and a few experienced veterans, Mangold may be a hot topic.

Let’s go to receiver, beginning with Terrelle Pryor. Pryor is slated to be a free agent this off-season, but has publicly stated he wants to remain in Cleveland. Pryor made a very smooth transition from quarterback to receiver last season and has potential to build upon 2016. He had his struggles, as all players who are making a position change will, but he was very sure handed. I want him back and so do the Browns. Corey Coleman only had 33 receptions and 3 touchdown receptions in 2016, and while Terry Pluto and Mary Kay Cabot are already writing him off, I’m not one to do so. Coleman played in only ten games last season after struggling with a pre-season hamstring issue and breaking his hand early in the 2016 season. If one calculates his averages, he would have had 53 receptions and 5 touchdown receptions had he been available all sixteen games. Not bad for a rookie playing in a gimmicky offense in college. The Browns also selected four more receivers in Ricardo Louis, Rashad Higgins, Jordan Payton, and Seth DeValve. Again, Pluto and Kabot grilled these selections, but dig deeper. Pryor and Coleman were going to be the top guys. Also, veteran Andrew Hawkins had experience playing in Hue Jackson’s offense down in Cincinnati and he knew the playbook. Given his veteran status and knowledge, he was going to get the nod while the others adjusted to the pro game. Louis showed flashes at times, with 16 receptions. A little newsflash to Pluto and Kabot: Antonio Brown also only had sixteen hauls his rookie season. Higgins and Payton may or may not develop, and it remains to be seen. DeValve lined up at tight-end and ended up with 10 catches, 2 for touchdowns. He remains one to watch.

It’s also worth noting that Robert Griffin III, Cody Kessler, Josh McCown, Charlie Whitehurst, and Kevin Hogan were throwing the football in 2016. Of the five, only Kessler showed promise. I don’t believe he’s a starter, but he’s a great, high-end back-up. Was he a reach? Put it this way: the guy didn’t look like Dak Prescott, but he looked better than Jared Goff. I hear a lot of fans complaining: why didn’t they pick Carson Wentz? Wentz would be lucky to know his name by now, since 60% of the starting offensive line was hurt in 2016 and a patchwork unit of back-ups were forced to fill in. Just ask Colts quarterback Andrew Luck how that feels.

I also hear a lot of “Why did they pick Corey Coleman over Michael Thomas?” First off, Michael Thomas had Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead, Coby Fleener, and Mark Ingram at his side. He was also catching the ball from Drew Brees and a high octane New Orleans Saints offense who had to score points due to the poor state of the defense. The Saints are also built to win the game on offense. Of course Thomas was going to pull better numbers!

Duke Johnson Jr. and Isaiah Crowell looked good at times. Crowell excelled between the tackles, especially early on, while Johnson remained the change-of-pace back. Fullback Dan Vitale was also a good find and reminds me of Lawrence Vickers as a jack-of-all-trades. Look for this duo to build on 2016. Some mock drafts say the Browns should go with a back in Round One. Honestly, unless Leonard Fournette drops, I wouldn’t go with one.

Let’s head over to the defense, which looked like a Division III high school team at times. Again, things aren’t as bad as they appear. First off, Ray Horton was always an overrated coordinator, and he wasn’t going to stick around. I love the pick up in Greg Williams, and the guy has a style that you need in the AFC North, even if he had gone a little overboard about it in year’s past, culminating with a year long suspension from the NFL. I like Williams, and I think he’s the guy. I believe he’ll also go with a 4-3 base, which is what the Browns need. Very few teams can pull of a 3-4 front. Sure, the 3-4 may be more effective than the 4-3 when run properly, but it can also backfire and set a defense back years.

Currently, Cleveland has Danny Shelton, Jamie Meder, Carl Nassib, and Emmanuel Ogbah as the starting defensive linemen. Are Myles Garrett or Jonathan Allen options? Of course! And I really believe they will take Garrett, who Mary Kay (again) drilled for his ESPN interview depicting him “begging” Jerry Jones to trade with Cleveland for the number one pick. Honestly, I really believe Mary Kay Cabot failed to watch the actual interview and drew conclusions from another source, because if you hadn’t done so yet, go to youtube.com and watch the video. You can clearly see Garrett wasn’t being serious. The guy, in all seriousness, went on record to say that on April 27th, at 8:00pm, whichever team has that first overall pick is the team he wants to end up with. Yeah, Garrett had a down year in the sack department, as Cabot has stated numerous times, recording half of them against an FCS opponent. Yet she clearly “forgot” to report the ankle injury Garrett played through in 2016. Take Myles Garret number one, and you have a solid defensive line. Shelton and Meder looked great. As bad as the run defense was, I encourage you to watch game film from last season. They ran the ball way from Shelton and when they did run it in his direction, Shelton either forced them to change direction or gobbled them up at the line. Ogbah led the team in sacks, and Nassib looked good until a broken hand derailed his season and was minimally effective in the sack department afterwards, as both Pluto and Cabot reported, clearly forgetting the amount of batted balls Nassib was responsible for.

Jamie Collins resigned and will be back, as will Chris Kirskey, who was a leader among all NFL linebackers in tackles in 2016. Sure, half of them were down field, but the guy was a sure tackler. He reminds me of D’Qwell Jackson and I’m happy to have him in Cleveland. They need someone on the weak side. Perhaps Jabrill Peppers? This is assuming they don’t trade for Jimmy Garoppolo or draft someone. Personally, I would trade that second first round pick for Jimmy G., but they may like DeShaun Watson or Mitch Trubisky. Put it this way: if they feel there’s a franchise quarterback in the draft, take them. If not, maybe they do trade that number twelve pick for Jimmy G. Better yet, they may continue to build on the defensive side of the ball. I’m also hearing a lot about Texas Tech’s Pat Mahomes, who I liked watching last season. Mahomes may be there at number thirty-three, which may allow the Browns to work on defense in the first round. This may be the way to go, but only time will tell.

The defensive backfield struggled mightily and was a main reason the Browns defense struggled so badly in 2016. Joe Haden is the oldest twenty-seven year old on Earth? Perhaps not, but he’s the oldest twenty-seven year old corner on Earth. However, I would love to see him at safety. Briean Boddy-Calhoun and Jamar Taylor looked strong last season and they’ll only get better. I’d love to see Cleveland bring in a nickel back and use Haden at safety. Derrick Kindred was a pick I fell in love with and he’s a hard hitter. If they try Haden at free safety and Kindred at strong safety, this may work. We shall see.

As the draft draws ever nearer at only two months away from today, I’ll be talking more draft. Also, more promos of Once will also be in in the near future as well, plus some summertime shred tips. Sports, Writing, Fitness…my own personal Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Divine Trinity of Todd Matthews. Keep it real, and until next time, stay fit and knowledgeable. Also, quit reading Terry Pluto and Mary Kay Cabot! Talk about negativity.

Once: Setting the Stage

Rule one: When we write, everything in our real-life comes to the forefront. Passions, influences, real-life interests, wants, hopes, dreams, our tastes in sports, music, where we come from, and most importantly, the people we come across all play a role in one way, shape, or form in our works. I’m no different than any other writer. This is seen extensively in Once, where I’ve covered my influences, passions, and real-life interests in previous writings. Today, I would like to expand on that.

First, I’d like to review everything I have covered up to this point. The NFL and College Football Saturday, obviously, played a huge role when designing the atmosphere covering the sport of shotball, my own personal creation. And if it weren’t for twelve NFL teams, my shotball teams wouldn’t have their own rivalries, color schemes, and even team personas. The same goes for the team nicknames. Matthews Knights (Sir David Mathew, look him up), Oiler Fighting Braves (Native American ancestry), Caldrone Sentinels (Italian ancestry), and so on. Matthews, Oiler, Caldrone, Wilson, they all have served as names of resident Apartment Complexes in the series, and each of the names (except Robinson, which replaced the name Robertson, as it serves of the last name of my character, Cain).

The fantasy, war genre, really taps into my kind of music, which involves groups such as Nightwish, DragonForce, and Xandria just to name a few, with much influence also coming from Disney and Two Steps From Hell. It allows me to dream my tales true, to fall into a world of fiction, and allow the to come to life. This is a definite when I’m working out or driving, as it’s these times of the day where I’m really into brainstorming mode, thinking, plotting, adjusting, and really creating my scenes, what will happen in them, and what will stem from them.

Yet today I want to dig deeper than this, as I’m really just scraping the tip of the iceberg. I want to carve that iceberg today, and really get in-depth with where many of my locations of based off.

For starters, nearly every territory, college and university mentioned in Once are taken after counties in Ohio, Northern West Virginia, and Western Pennsylvania. The viewing area in which many of the events take place are based off of small towns throughout the Ohio Valley. For instance, Richfield, the town in which Summit University is located, is a carbon copy of Wintersville, Ohio. Kettlewell Stadium, Cartwright Field, and Harding Stadium serve as the home of the Indian Creek Redskins, Edison Wildcats, and Steubenville Big Red, respectively. In Once, Kettlewell Stadium serves as the home to the fictional Cross Creek High School. Wintersville is located in Cross Creek Township in Ohio.

Summit State Forest, located outside of Summit University, is based off Fernwood State Forest, which is located outside Wintersville, Ohio. Muralville is based off Steubenville. Nightford is based off Mingo Junction, and New Alexandria is a real place. Many in the Matthews Family are actually buried in New Alexandria while even more reside close to the area. Hallsburg is based off Pittsburgh, and Forest City is based off Cleveland. The Columbian Colonies are named Columbia for the spirit of Columbia, which served as the symbol of guidance during the era of Manifest Destiny in American History. The Southpoint Empire is the one where I get a lot of questions, as it doesn’t necessarily sound like something that one would refer to as an actual country, but the name is actually a symbolism more than anything else. I’ll be vague, because I’m giving away information if I reveal what it really means, but I’ll just coin the phrase ‘Southernmost point,’ and leave it at that.

Now for the fun part. How and why exactly did I construct this fantastic war story? Well, Once really does one thing for me. It allows me to tell, from my perspective, my side of all the problems the world faces today. And I’ve touched up this in previous posts. For example, an empire tends to oppress a colony. We all know where that one started: Colonial America. But let’s expand beyond Colonial America. I want Southpoint to stand as a symbol for every single invasive empire that ever existed in recorded history of mankind. War, and the horrors associated with it will be a recurring theme. Midway through the first book in the series, the reader will have a firm grasp on what I’m saying here. Truth and lies are another theme. Never assume something because someone, or something, such as the TV or media for instance, said it’s true. And never allow a distraction (sports) sidetrack you from what is really going on in the world. Sports are a distraction, and many of us become oblivious to events such as the Syrian Conflict, the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Russia, China, Ezekiel 37-38 (read it), two overly powerful, big government political parties looking to spend YOUR tax dollars on special interests. Remember my post from a few weeks back. If you haven’t read it yet, please do so.

But do I really want to get across, other than a great story? I’m using symbols, from a political standpoint, to really express my own views on certain subjects. Sure, the story is definitely the story. But when people read Once, I want them to dig deep, and really pick up the underlying message of this epic tale. Really dig deep, and leave nothing at the superficial level. This is more, way more, than merely a story, or a tale like you’ve read so many times before. Something else must be explained and expressed, and I’m really talking about the way I personally feel about very important political issues. If you’re into epic tales, and potential exposition of the lies we’re told every single day through mass media, this is a work for you. Wow, under one-thousand words!

Where the Heart Is

I made the move to Pittsburgh a few weeks back, and to be honest, I’ve loved every second of being here. I can sit in a coffee shop and type up my blogs and to be honest, this is how one is supposed to blog. And people watching is a very fun, engaging hobby that tends to never get old. You see many interesting souls in Pittsburgh and the fact that I wear a raven necklace pendant, a white power band around my wrist symbolizing hope and peace, and love to write in the young adult, fantasy slash war genre while jamming to bands such as Nightwish and Xandria, I guess they see me as an odd, yet interesting soul. And a young soul at that who only wishes to get younger with age. Yep, you read that correctly.

What do I have going for me? Well, I’m one-quarter of the way through editing Once, as I posted last night, and hopefully be halfway there come the weekend. I want to send it out to as many publishers as possible who specialize in the genre, as long as they accept being non-exclusive. If they’re exclusive, then it may take a while. But no worries, no worries, someone will see the work and jump on it. Fitness-wise, I’ve steadily increased my calorie intake and have gotten leaner. Yes, leaner, off of increased calories. And I also run this budding fitness slash writing blog, which at the moment has become more geared towards writing, as it has become my new escape.

With that being said, I have spent a lot, and I mean a lot, of my time writing and morphing the misleading name of this blog site towards just that. But there is a lot of fitness out there, such as the sport of shotball, which would be a fun change of pace in the spring and summer in favor of basketball, soccer, and touch football among others. So, fitness is still involved, and in the summer, my awesome types of workouts and anything in between will make this feel like more of a fitness blog, but it’s been predominantly writing for the time being.

But hence my title, ‘Where the Heart Is.’ What exactly do I mean? Home is where the heart is? I’m happier in The 412, because I can finally just sit there and do my own thing, which is very rewarding to be honest. I’m way happier getting up and being all alone in my spare time. I’m a loner, so I’m actually very cool with being just that; all alone! But there is a void missing from my life, as I think I left my heart at my old gym (you people there made me hooked)!

So, what do I miss about my small box clubs? Group training, me being vocal, club culture, honesty, close knit atmosphere, wearing tank tops to work, people being friendly with each other, me looking forward to working with others, and everything in between. This is more than certainly something I crave, to be completely honest. And I seriously feel I made a big mistake moving to the larger box, where it appears everyone is their own person. It’s very disheartening and at one time, I looked more than forward to coming to work. Now, I wish I could wake up from the nightmare I’ve put myself in and head back to a place where everybody knows my name. Half the people at my current place know my face, and that’s about it. Is it because it’s the city? I’m not in the city! I’m in the suburbs, and there are some very nice houses within the suburbs. It’s a very nice area and I can’t wait until spring and summer. Oh, and I found a nice track to utilize in the summer!

I can only imagine if I could get back into my old company. Sure, I don’t want to be down in the Valley, as there is way more opportunity up this way in The 412. This is the Land of Opportunity, but I also need to be happy and stress free once more. So, unlike most, instead of venting my problems, I look to fix them, and I have taken some initial steps into doing so. It’s been a challenge, but it’s nothing I can’t conquer. None of our challenges can’t be conquered; they call can be conquered, and that’s the beauty of life.

I may very well have some great news on the way! Until then, I just wanted a nice, short post to update my loyal followers. Thank you all kindly!

Divine Intervention

You know, it’s so funny how God works at times. Have you ever made a very impulsive decision and wonder what the hell kind of situation you have put yourself in? Have you ever thought for a time that you made a very wrong decision? I know I have, and as motivated, determined, and inspired as I was in my move to The 412, I’ll have to admit that things just aren’t working the way I envisioned. Sure, I had only been up there for a little over two weeks but I’ll be the first to tell you that I am by no means a patient individual. In fact, I’m anything and everything but patient. So here I am, a college graduate, Magna Cum Laude, giving up his steady income job for something that pays as much as a McDonalds employee. That is beyond rough, but it’s what it takes in order to get to where I want to go.

The field of personal training is an odd one. Many of us begin at a franchise before we begin to market our own services. In fact, I’m actually working for my second franchise as of now, which is a rarity, as many of us will only work for one. So why am I at a second one? Well, I honestly asked myself that same question today. And to be honest, it’s all I know. I know nothing about doing things on my own or even the first thing on going about it. Sure, I have my blog site, my awesome novel that is now a quarter of the way through its final edit, and an upcoming website that will sell online personal training. And since I am a writer, I’ll probably be taking a stab at writing a book on my own approach to a better body. Oh, and I have a tank top with my face on it so when MatthewsFit needs a logo, that’s what it’s going to be! Yep, a picture of Yours Truly glaring right back at you! Of course I’m going to start a MatthewsFit clothing line with that logo upon it! Why? Because I have a very firm grasp on how to do things on my own. Yes, I just realized that.

Like I said before, the field of personal training is just so odd. We are entrepreneurs, and even if we work within a box club (sigh) for the time being, we’re still entrepreneurs. Of course I look to land in downtown Pittsburgh doing my own thing but on the side, I would love to be in a small box club such as an ATF or even a large, rec center type of club such as an L.A. But to be completely honest, I wish for the box franchises to be my extra money because I crave my club fix. Uh, that club being a gym, actually, but not a gym that specializes only in general fitness. I like a vibrant club atmosphere that is friendly, outgoing, and something I look forward to walking into each and every day. Man, I miss ATF. I feel like I lost a best friend, but I have to do things on my own, which is why I’m suffering as of now.

All day, I kept thinking to myself, why? Why did I make the move up to The 412? What possessed me to take a job at a local box that is not the friendliest of places and full of rather backward individuals making $8.00 an hour that has hardly any training department? In other words: what the hell was I thinking? Want to know what exactly I was thinking? How do I get out of my apartment lease that I signed one month ago? How do I find a wormhole to wind time back to September, when everything was still all good, although I was just disappointed to be in that small area, practically maxing out my paycheck? Heck, I literally argued with my parents for hours, debating on what I should do next. This is a struggle, and now I know just how real it is. $8.00 an hour, college degree, with no means to afford this lease I signed…..what did I do?

Then Extreme Weight Loss came on TLC earlier tonight and it all came back to me. I took a step back because I knew it was necessary to do so in order to move forward. I had to take it back in order to move forward, and to get to where I needed to go. Chris Powell is up there with the elite trainers, and he is one of my favorites to look up to in terms of being someone who did succeed in doing this on his own. You know, I’m sure Chris Powell had some rough times as well.

Even Frederick Douglas said something about nothing being worth having if a struggle doesn’t exist. Well, Frederick, that struggle that I’m going through does exist, and it’s not getting any easier. In fact, I’m at a depressing place in a depressing area where everyone is aloof, backward, and looking at me as if I have no clue why I’m there to make my $8.00 an hour. Notice how I never once mentioned I wanted a raise to $10.00 or $15.00 an hour. Why? Because I’m not one of those people who think the minimum wage should be raised. In fact, if I were President of this great nation I’d sign an executive order placing it under $6.00 an hour like it should be, even if I were in that crowd making minimum wage as I am now.

Why do I think that way? Because Extreme Weight Loss came on tonight and I suddenly remembered why I moved to The 412. I remembered why I saved up enough money in my savings account in order to  pay for an apartment over the course of a year while I built up my base. I remembered the potential cash flows I would need in order to succeed. I remembered how worth it all of the struggles up to this point really were. I finally remembered why I started MatthewsFit. I finally remembered exactly what kind of personality I needed to have in order to succeed. And last but not least, I realized that spring is right around the corner once this snow melts from last night’s storm, and people will be craving a springtime sweat.

It all came back to me. Oh, and maybe I’ll start making money off of a fitness blog one day. So, for a trainer who is sorely looking to doing their own thing, consider these multiple cash flows:

  1. In-Person Personal Training.
  2. Online Personal Training
  3. Clothing Line
  4. Fitness Articles/Blog
  5. Fitness Book discussing my own philiosophy
  6. Photo shoots (give me two weeks and I’ll be photo ready)
  7. Membership fitness site
  8. Train at a franchise
  9. Group train

I just laid out nine different cash flows. What is funny is that if I made only $5,000 from each, that’s $45,000 per year, which is more than enough to live off of. So it was almost like God himself put me in front of that TV tonight at my parents’ house in Steubenville, since I had a day off from what I’ll call The Ninth Level and washed some clothes, towels, and bedsheets. Needless to say, today is Thursday and though I’m nowhere near perfect, I haven’t been forgotten by the One in whose image I’m created, and that’s true love right there. Perfect in imperfection, and so are you.

Shotball in my Dreams

Hello, all!

Time for a fitness slash Once post! So last night I have this extremely vivid dream of a shotball game being played by my friends and I from back home in Weirton and by friends, I mean ATF Weirton members. I haven’t forgotten about you guys! Can’t wait until Mud on the Mountain for an epic reunion and obstacle course! But, we had a good reunion in my unconscious mind during the early morning hours as I didn’t get to sleep until well past midnight. I must be missing the small box feel more than I realize, but it is what it is! I’m in Pittsburgh, the Land of Opportunity, and there is A LOT of opportunity up this way, which is beyond freaking awesome.

Anyway, the game was just as I’d envisioned in Once. It was somewhat fast, rather violent, as we were smashing each other into the ground, men and women alike. I think it was something like Team Todd Time versus Team…..Team something, who knows! But the best part was looking at it through my own eyes in dream state and loving the fact this great game was actually going on. It’s definitely something my crew back home in Weirton and I need to try as soon as we can since it’s something that will not only get us conditioned, but keep us conditioned. Not to mention the overall simplicity of the game, which I would love to set in stone and change absolutely nothing, as we see how “well” that is working for the NFL these days. There’s a reason for the decline in TV ratings, people!

It was either that or I’m missing the old club culture, where we were more of a workout then hangout either before or after, while having a blast at the same time. These days, I’m full of making cold calls that go absolutely nowhere and I’m typically spending my time dwelling on the small box in favor of the mid to large box. I’ll admit wholeheartedly that while I build MatthewsFit into a dynasty in the 412, (thank you for those who have already committed to the campaign) I’m craving purple everything. Sure, any small box would do, but I’ve been seeing purple for the past two weeks. My crew down in Weirton would love that, as we’d invade any gym for the good up here in the 412 and that would be epica for both Weirton and…….who knows! This is how a dynasty is born, people!

The team training atmosphere is definitely something I’m missing at this point, and even those little outdoor things are even more voids I have yet to fill. Up here in the Land of Opportunity, they won’t only be filled but they will be absolutely epica, I know they will. It’s all about that chess game I’m currently playing of finding the right club first, which is a challenge but let’s keep our fingers crossed. I didn’t come all the way from Weirton to meet a lot of backward individuals secluded in these large boxes. Heck, I thought I was socially backward to be honest until I came to the municipality across from my own. Gut feeling said move to Bethel but I tuned out when it said move to and STAY IN Bethel!

Needless to say, I could have slept in this morning because it was one of those situations where I didn’t want the dream to end. It gave me hope, however, knowing that the dream was alive and well. This definitely isn’t homesickness, because Bethel is definitely vibrant, economically affluent, and friendly. Heck, every time I walk outside on a sunny day (and this winter in particular has been very friendly to us), I feel a sense of optimism as I look towards the HealthTrax, which would be an awesome place to be as well. Kind of like a larger box with a bunch of smaller compartments, giving a small box feel. Oh, Lord, are you reading this! So in that case, I’m gym sick, something I never thought I would ever be. But I guess after all of the time spent at the small box, I’m a small box kind of guy.

Why is it? For starters, the people are way friendlier in small boxes and much more interactive. There is a club culture before the term club culture even came to the forefront. And when I first walked into a small box all the way back in 2012 I felt like everyone there knew me. It was a community within a community, and that is what I crave. And if one goes, “Yeah, Todd, because it’s a smaller area,” I have to beg to differ. Why? Two words: Planet Fitness. It’s in a small area a good fifteen minutes across the river in neighboring Steubenville. However, we kept members at ATF because of that community feel, and many told us just how cold and aloof Planet was. Typical large box facility, especially when they follow that ten dollar per month model. You get what you pay for.

Sure, our prices for everything at the small box neighborhood gym I’m referring to as ATF may have been higher, but the atmosphere, training product, cleanliness (trust me), closeness of the members, positive vibes and relationships between the staff, clients, and members, and best yet, the midnight madness I so enjoyed and those events we all did is something I so want to bring to The 412. This isn’t going to happen if I stay stagnant where I’m at these days. But that small community within community feel is what I really need to get back to. It’ll come in this area, it’s just going to take some time, but it will get better. And ATF Weirton, I’m inviting you along for the ride!

Now, I know what Michael Jordan felt like when he ran off and played baseball. Sure, I’m building my dynasty here in the Land of Opportunity, the Steel City, the 412, but I’m praying that one of our Club Purples up here will allow me to utter two famous words, spoken by Jordan at a press conference: I’m Back.

United We Stand, Divided We Fall! Purple until death does it’s part.

The Journey

Sitting in the coffee shop today I overheard something very important: people who make money know how to make money through multiple cash flows. Okay, so put it this way: I have my blog site, a soon to be launched website that will cover both personal training and online training, as well as nutritional consultation, and I’m also a writer who is nearly finished editing his book called Once, which I have written a lot about lately. As a bonus, I had a lot, and I mean a lot, of gym members back at my former place in Weirton inquire on how to get a Todd Time shirt. In all honesty, launching a t-shirt and/or clothing line WOULD be at the top of my to do list in due time. Today, I would like to go over the epic timeline that led me from getting my first job as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor back in 2012 to today, in February, 2017. Each new paragraph covers a different year, so it will be nothing more than merely a brief overview of my journey from then until today, which has led me to pursue my ambition in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Back in 2012, I decided to get certified through ISSA, and within a month after receiving the cert I landed my first job in Weirton at Anytime Fitness. I met a lot of awesome people back in 2012 early on and little did I know that it was kicking off my actual career, which one year prior I had no idea what I wanted to do. Talk about destiny, right? I’ll be honest: I really wasn’t sure whether or not being a trainer full time was the right career for me. I can be stand-offish when I first meet others but that initial feeling typically dissipates after a few short weeks, which isn’t bad. So, I started working with my first clients of literally all different ages and fitness levels. I had young high school kids, a retired teacher, people who were middle-aged and those who had just hit thirty. All different genders and fitness levels and I was overwhelmed! But that feeling also disappeared quickly.

Enter, 2013. This year continues to be one of my favorite years in terms of being a trainer. I strongly consider it a breakout year, because my client base literally doubled early on and tripled by the middle of the year. At the time, I was on pace to make $17,000 and for a young twenty-two year old who wasn’t used to making that kind of money, it was a lot for me. These days, not so much, but at the time, it was gold. I worked with more people of more fitness levels and gained much, much more experience. At year’s end, I literally had seen many ages, fitness levels, and fitness goals. It was a learning experience and I passed the test.

Enter, 2014. This year continues to be my favorite year ever. In 2014, I had an awesome workout partner who had a completely different fitness philosophy than I did. Due to the fact that I had competed in four men’s physique shows that year, her training style really paid off and I had never looked better, even to this day. And that was definitely something. But not only that. Our gym took a nosedive that year financially but I continued to maintain the client base and was soon the number one guy at the place. Actually, I became the number one guy early on in the year but after sacrificing time, energy, and almost everything for the club, there was no debate. Despite our loss in membership, my client base remained intact, and it was awesome, as it allowed us to turn the tide. I also wished to make fitness my permanent career choice, so I enrolled in California University of Pennsylvania, and started working towards a Bachelor of Science in Wellness and Fitness.

Enter, 2015. This year was awesome in it’s own regard. At this point, my client base was full and I was teaching ten classes per week, bringing in more money than ever but more importantly, remaining a positive influence in the lives of members and training clients alike. That was rewarding. There was some stress as I believe I burned a couple of bridges, but that’s since become water under what was that bridge. 2015 was the year where I held steady. I maintained my entire client base, I continued with my classes, and for the first time in my life when it came to school, I actually maintained my grades, which I typically slacked with after a strong first half or strong year due to absolute laziness.

Enter, 2016. I knew 2016 would be my final year at Anytime Fitness in Weirton. It really was a rather bittersweet year because with school in its final two semesters and my own planning since I enrolled in 2014, I wanted to move to a larger area. Initially, I wanted to go to the southeast and I still desire to go there. Yet, after much thinking, planning, and prepping, I thought it would be better to try something closer to home first before branching out. As 2016 wore on, I counted down the days. I had excitement, but I also had that sense of uncertainty. Optimism, but uncertainty. At the very end of the year, I found an outpost and I found a front.

Enter, 2017. I feel like I’m back at square one, as I literally said good-bye and good luck to nearly three hundred gym regulars. I knew the time was coming and I knew the time was right. I always desired to run my own show and do my own thing from a fitness and training standpoint, and this is the prime opportunity to do just that. So here I am, making hardly anything right now, as is the norm for a trainer starting, or restarting, in a newer area. However, the area is a rather prosperous one and I know that by sticking with and standing by the decision, great things will be happening, and in a sense, they already are. They used to say America was the land of opportunity. Well, these days, certain demographic areas in America is the new land of opportunity, and a large, budding market like Pittsburgh certainly fits that description. So here I am, ready to make noise, take over, and help others become their best fitness-wise from both an online and in person standpoint.

As for Once, I’m literally a few pages away from completing my penultimate edit. I’ll finally be in my final edit. And after that, it’ll be time to send out to the big boys and see if anyone likes the work enough to put a stamp on it. I will say this: a lucky publisher out there will be making a lot of money, and I can’t wait to share it with the world. You will all understand that if you simply read my previous post. Until then, I’ll keep everyone updated!

Themes of Once

Every single epic work has a theme. You have a main theme in The Bible, a main theme in Harry Potter, a main theme in Star Wars, The Hunger Games, Lost, and anything and everything in between.Throughout Once, you will come across recurring themes, allegories, motifs, references, and metaphors. Once is definitely a tale in its own mold, but there are also going to be a lot, and I mean a lot, of points I wish to come across. I wish to forewarn my followers right now, as this is my very first post that may be a little bit edgy. You will read on and learn of a few sensitive topics I will be covering in the work, and I urge  you to proceed with great caution, as the upcoming paragraphs are going to be rather sensitive in nature.

Okay, so Once, in essence, very loosely follows the journey of an individual that has been told over the last several thousand years, as long as history had been recorded. You may have come across tales of such, as they are very rampant in many works throughout the history of mankind. What I have always found to be extremely fascinating about these stories is the fact that they are told, over and over again, in so many different ways, combinations, and versions. In fact, every single culture, society, and civilization who has walked this very Earth will always have their own version, ever-changing throughout the generations, centuries, and millenniums. That, in my opinion, is very fascinating, more fascinating than the fact that we are literally living on a planet that is floating in space, suspended by God’s cosmic laws of gravity. It is literally epic, that we live in a world where each and every story ever told, though unique and suspenseful in nature, follows a very identical path. Just amazing, from my perspective.

Alright, now on to the more sensitive information. We currently live in a divided nation, which as been divided since, in my personal opinion, 2003. As we all know, 2003 was the year former President George W. Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq, a very controversial decision that has since divided a country, which has remained divided since that year. I have a very, very vivid memory and I remember sitting in my sixth grade classroom watching Channel One News in the morning in the tiny town of Hammondsville, Ohio at Stanton Middle School (Edwin Middle School in Comeback Kid), and just knowing that I was watching something historical take place. Personally, I opposed the invasion and to this day I still voice opposition to the Iraqi Invasion, as the invasion sealed the status of America as the policemen of the world.

Now, before America held that status, the former British and French Empires were at the forefront. Before the British and French it was the Spanish, who were the first people to develop civilizations in the Americas (on U.S. soil, that is). The Southpoint Empire in Once is an amalgam of many of the Empires that have held what I like to refer to as a Superpower. For this reason, even the former Soviet Union can be mentioned in this group due to their roles during the Cold War Era from 1946 to 1991.

You can agree or disagree with my point of view of America’s role in the Iraq War, but one thing is for certain: America currently has bases in over 190 countries on the planet. We still have bases in Germany and Japan from World War II. In my opinion, that’s occupation of another land. It’s us spending our own tax dollars in order to maintain this and one day, it’s my own personal fear that we will expand our lines too far and soon begin enforcing taxation on other nations without their representation. Unconstitutional? Of course! But when was the last time our leaders paid any attention to the Constitution of the United States? The Patriot Act? Unconstitutional. The necessary and proper clause? Sorry, but it’s never necessary and proper to restrict the rights of others in the name of security. Spoiler alert: this is in Once and it is a recurring theme.

Again, we live in a very divided nation and what has been become the norm over the past thirty months? Violent protests, buildings and businesses being destroyed, people being beaten and battered just because they aren’t conforming to the new status quo. Well, guess what? This is in Once too. Trust me, you will see a lot of this in the book. This is a very powerful, very dramatic plot that isn’t for everyone. If you want something that is fantastical but touches on real life issues, then this is the book for you. It’s going to lean on the violent side and there is going to be violence not only on one side, but violence all around.

Mass shootings have also become rather commonplace in American society, and yep, there will be many of these in Once. I’m literally giving away spoiler alert after spoiler alert here, but I’m remaining vague, because this is a book anyone who is politically inclined one way or another just must read. It should be on President Trump’s desk in the Oval Office. If you want to spread true liberty in means of making America great again, Once is definitely a must read. Sure, America isn’t mentioned in Once because the book takes place in a fictional universe, but there are many, many symbols that link this work of fiction to real life. My views on how to cope with mass shootings are also mentioned in the text, and in my personal opinion, how they must end.

As you have probably figured out by now, I’m neither Democrat nor Republican, as I’ve been very nonchalant in my views of former Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, as well as the Incumbent, Donald Trump. I’ll say this about all of them: they have done things I like, and things I didn’t like. Our two most recent former Presidents I wasn’t too hot on. I’ve heard rather good reviews on Bill Clinton yet I was nine when Bush took office. I already criticized his Patriot Act, usurpation on rights to privacy on innocent Americans, wiretapping, and so on and so forth.

After reading the above paragraph, many of you may think of these new laws and restrictions as necessity. Yet I’d rather die on my feet than live on my knees. Remember that phrase. In any situation, but especially if I continue to be blessed by God as being an able-bodied American. I never want to be restricted in the name of safety. Ever. Under no circumstance could you convince me otherwise. So for that matter, this is also mentioned in Once. Die on the feet, standing tall, in favor of living on the knees, kneeling, just waiting to fall.

War is also mentioned, and the absolute sheer horrors that accompany it. There is nothing pretty about war. There is only suffering, divisiveness, pain, killing, and more animosity than anything else. When the war is over and a Peace Treaty is signed, there is still animosity. Look at the Treaty of Versailles which was signed to end World War I, the Great War, the War to End all Wars. Guess what the Treaty of Versailles led to? World War II and the creation of Nazi Germany, another empire. Nazi Germany didn’t last, but it was powerful, scary, and the people there, especially the Jewish population, was faced with more uncertainty than anything else. Want a very clear, vivid picture of the World War II era? Read Number the Stars, one of my favorite books ever. Read the Diary of Anne Frank. Read about what life was like not only in these occupied countries, but living in Nazi Germany itself opposed to the Nazi Party. Watch the movie Swing Kids, or watch The Sound of Music. Do you want a very vivid picture on just how bad, powerful, and dividing war really is? Study World War II. Talk to Vietnam War veterans, the ones who are willing to speak about it, because many of them can’t. I couldn’t do it if it were me.

Imagine being eighteen years old, drafted against your will, entering a strange land that you have never been to, where people over there not only want to see you go home, but go home in a casket, because they are out to kill you. Imagine being in a jungle, or in an unknown land, at age eighteen, if you had never, ever left home before in your life, unsure if you will ever make it home to see your family, friends, or significant other ever again. You just graduated high school and are looking forward to starting life afterwards when that draft card arrives, not only derailing your plans but cutting your life short in the name of defending an empire that has vastly overreached its boundaries. And we had people back here who were war hawks, wishing for this to happen? People who may have never seen the battlefield during the Vietnam War, who had never seen a battlefield, support mandatory selective service, to fight in a war thousands of miles away on another continent that the United States of America never should have fought. Followers, this is also mentioned in Once.

As powerful as these above paragraphs were, so powerful that I literally had to convince myself to write this piece, just remember that at this very moment, we have people in Congress, right now, who would love to bring a draft back in order to settle a conflict in Syria. We have people in Congress right now, lobbying to send your sons and daughters, who are full of life and have a life ahead of them, to a place they had never been before and never planned to see, but in the name of an empire, and to further secure our status as the policemen of the world, would be sent there tomorrow if they had their way. All in the name of “serving the country.” You aren’t serving the country, you are serving an empire that has far overreached it’s boundaries. Read Ron Paul’s manifesto, works by Ludwig von Mises, who fled Nazi occupied regions in order to escape an empire that at the time had far overreached it’s boundaries. And in Once, you are going to find just that.

And in closing, we’re all distracted by sports. Shotball is the premier sport in this universe and it’s equivalent to American football in the United States. And in Once, you will be distracted by the shotball season, in which are heroes are more than definitely a part of and are distracted themselves by the sport. It is mentioned so much throughout the text that you may even rather see who is going to come out victorious in the Summit Shotball League (SSL) than focusing on the true conflicts of the book. If you do, then good, it’s exactly what I wanted you to do because that’s exactly what the world government wants from us: to be distracted by a game tomorrow we all call the Super Bowl. Just keep in mind that there are far more important things to deal with than a football game in this world, just as there are far more important things to deal with than a shotball game in the world of Once. If those last two sentences mirror each other, then I’m glad you noticed it and had gotten distracted by the mirror images. Now, what was the point of this post again?