Athlete Spotlight: Thad Martin

This month we had a chance to catch up with Thad. We felt like is story is relate-able to for a lot of folks so we wanted to put it front and center this month. He’s our Nov Athlete. Check out his story below!

Also … Thad plugs his band at the bottom and I would highly recommend you give them a listen. We play them at the gym and I really dig their work!

When did you start training at Brentwood Barbell?

July 2018
Back in the early days of training!

How has training for strength changed your life?

I was diagnosed with a herniated (L5-S1) disc back in ’99/’00 after I had some sustained back pain.  This type of disc issue seems to run in my family with my father and two siblings having had a variety of herniated and/or degenerated disc issues in their lives, resulting in surgery for some of them.  Over the years since my initial diagnosis, I have had bouts of pain due to the herniation, resulting in weeks of physical therapy to get me pain free and back on my feet.  The results of the physical therapy have never been long term as every 2-5 years I found myself back in the therapists office doing McKenzie Stretches and various other familiar movements.  Throughout the time between therapy sessions and while in moments of being pain free I was not doing anything to make myself stronger or ward off future bouts with pain; this was clearly to my detriment.  In February of 2018 my pain sprung back to life with a vengeance as a result of merely lifting a stack of folded laundry. It sent me immediately to the floor and ultimately to the hospital for 3 days.  I was unable to put any vertical pressure on my spine until heavy doses of anti-inflammatories began to allow me some reprieve.  My herniated disc was now also degenerating and causing the most intense, severe, sustained pain of my entire life.  I started physical therapy in February and was in that office 3 days a week until June. The therapy was different this time.  Unlike times in the past where the therapy helped me feel better after 4-6 weeks and normal life could resume, this time, the recovery was like a roller coaster of improvement then pain and repeat up until April. From April onward there was no improvement from the therapy. Each day seemed to wipe away any improvements gained the day prior.  I was miserable. I often had to leave work due to inability to sit or stand.  I had been on a regimen of nerve pain blockers and anti-inflammatories as well as several epidurals.  The doctors told me that the only solution left was surgery.  The physical therapist told me that if I did not pursue surgery (which they suggested I avoid) I would have to just get accustomed to this glacially slow pace of improvement.  The pain was ruining my well being and so in July of 2018 I started at Brentwood Barbell in an effort to actually improve my well being and avoid surgery.  When I started I was unable to dead lift from the ground or even rack pull due to severe pain.  I started with Squat, Overhead Press, and Hinges.  Fast forward a few months and I was able to start rack pulling from a relatively high position with no discomfort. Fast forward a few months more and I was able to rack pull my body weight and was no longer in sustained pain.  Fast forward a few months more and I was able to dead lift from the ground.  It was apparent that strength training at Brentwood Barbell was impacting my body in the most positive way possible, in a way the physical therapy did not and in a way that surgery certainly could not.  I had begun to see actual improvement in my daily life and it was incredibly.  Currently I am 100% pain free and have never been stronger.  I continue to go to the gym 4-5 days each week to sustain this improvement.

What would you say to others considering beginning strength training?

If you are seriously considering it, whatever your motivation, you should do it.  Don’t make excuses about timing or money or anything.  If the interest is motivated by some desire to initiate change in one’s life and strength training will indeed usher in change, possibly even a total transformation in all the best ways possible.  Though, don’t expect the greatest of results without sustained commitment to showing up at least 3 days a week…..for-ev-er!
Getting stronger and now pulling off the floor!

What are some recent PRs (personal records) you’re proud of?

Given that one year ago right now I was only able to rack pull and several months prior I could not even touch the floor, I am most proud of my 325 lb. 1 rep max on Deadlift.
A recent squat PR in training!

What are some of your favorite things to do when you’re not training?

I am a drummer and play in an instrumental post-metal band, Ashes and Iron:  I am also a voracious reader of social and cultural critical theory mixed with a dose of philosophy.  When I’m not playing music or critiquing social relations I am designing microbreweries, workplaces, or some other such elements of the built environment as an architect with JEMA:

Each month our spotlight series will focus on an athlete that is putting in a great effort and making our gym a better place to train! Our hope is that you’ll share this post with your friends and family or someone that you think could benefit from resistance training.