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“Trophies Don’t Pay the Rent…”

One of my “gurus” shared a really cool story with me yesterday that really got me thinking.  The story was about an aspiring young cyclist whose perspective on winning was to become a professional and get paid rather than collecting trophies.  In the story he actually destroys one of his trophies in an attempt to entertain himself and 2 other young cyclists.  When one of the other cyclists asked him, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING???”, his response was “Trophies don’t pay the rent.”

Upon reading this story, I was immediately amused as I am not motivated or validated by trophies or prizes.  The quote stuck in my head and I continued thinking about it all day.  I started thinking about the deeper meaning to the quote and it’s applicability to the everyday athletes that I train.

I train “real people”.  I don’t train professional athletes that get paid to perform.  My clients consist of Billy who wants to make the middle school basketball team, Sally who wants to get a scholarship to play college soccer, Jason who needs to pass his PT test, Nancy that wants to compete in a local CrossFit competition, or Frank that needs to lose 100 lbs.  Trophies don’t pay the rent for these people, but the process will.

The process is a powerful thing.  Setting a goal.  Developing a plan.  Executing the plan to the best of your ability.  Learning from the outcome.  Moving forward.  The trophies will end up in storage, covered in dust – but the lessons learned from the process or preparation and competition will last a lifetime.

Thanks for your continued inspiration, Matt.



Competition Judging & Scoring: The Responsibilities of the Athlete

"Is this a good rep, Matt???"

“Is this a good rep, Matt???”

After watching several of my athletes compete over the past two weekends, I thought this post might be helpful for other competitive exercisers.

Competitions are meant to be fun, challenging, and an entertaining test of fitness.  Personally, I have competed in a dozen events and have hosted the “Gangs of the Mid-Atlantic” competition for the past 3 years.  As an event organizer, I can tell you whats most important to me:

  1. My number one priority is the safety of the participants.
  2. My second priority is that athletes, judges, and spectators have fun.
  3. My third priority is that the events include weightlifting, gymnastics, and monostructural movements and effectively evaluate the 10 skills of fitness.
  4. My fourth priority is that the events are consistently judged and scored so that the athletes’ efforts are accurately documented.

With all of that being said, I have yet to participate in an event where mistakes did not occur.  Every year that we have hosted “GANGS” we have had someone complain about something.  Humans make mistakes.  The key is to minimize the potential for mistakes through preparation.

Most judges and scorers at “Competitive Exercising Events” are volunteers.  Quite often it is their first time judging an event.  When they hear the 3,2,1..Go – they get nervous just like the athletes competing do.  They want to do a good job.  As athletes, we have the power to HELP them do a good job.  Here are a few simple tips to insure that your judge gets it right:

  1. Introduce yourself to your judge and shake their hand.  This signifies a mutual respect and partnership (if you will).
  2. Show the judge your movements to make sure they coincide with their understanding of the standards.  This is particularly important if you have range of motion issues or awkward technique.
  3. Ask them to count your reps out loud.
  4. Check your equipment.  Make sure that it is loaded properly and meets the prescribed standards of the event.
  5. Be a good mover.  If you try to get away with cheating the movement standards or if you have shitty form, don’t get pissed when the judge “no reps” you.  Like I tell my athletes, show them “no doubters”!
  6. After the event, double check your judges’ math before you sign your scorecard.
  7. Follow up by checking the scoreboard to insure that your score was entered correctly.
  8. If a mistake was made – don’t be an asshole about it.  It wasn’t intentional.  If you are a jerk to the event host, the score keeper, or your judge then they will be much less motivated to get your score corrected.
  9. Make sure to thank your judge, the volunteers, and the host.  Appreciation is a simple way to reward others for doing their job.

Give these tips a try at your next competition and I am confident that you will have an enjoyable, excuse-free experience!

Stay Hungry,


“Caring” vs “Being Nice”

I have been thinking a lot about the concept of “caring” lately.  What does it mean to me?  What does it mean to others?  Who do I care about?  Who genuinely cares about me?  How do I show others that I care?  How do others show me that they care?

What I have concluded is that people confuse “caring” and “being nice”.  Just because someone is bubbly, friendly, or kind to you does not mean that they care about you.  That is placating or appeasing someone.  You can be kind to someone as they drink, eat, or drug themselves to death, but if you do nothing to help them, then (in my opinion) you don’t care about them.

Caring is difficult.  It involves having tough conversations with the people.  It involves honesty.  It involves vulnerability.  It requires your time and effort.

Unfortunately, I think the majority of people would rather have an acquaintance that was “nice” rather than a friend who “cares”.  Personally, I have no need for people who tell me what I want to hear.  I value friends that “care” for me and are willing to tell me what I NEED to hear.





5 Reasons That You Should Train at Marmon Muscle

I was taught growing up to never “toot my own horn”.  It’s something that I have never been comfortable doing.  A former coach once told me, “Be humble.  Let other people talk about how great you are.”  It’s a philosophy that I have resided to my whole life.

A few weeks ago, I was meeting with a mentor of mine and we were discussing business and consumer trends.  He hit me with a simple question.  “Do your customers know/understand what makes your different from everyone else?  Do they understand the resources that they are paying for?”  I explained that I had our staff bios on the website, pictures of our facility, and some testimonials from our athletes, etc.  He stopped me mid-sentence and said, “You need to make it crystal clear.”  My initial reaction was “How do I do that without sounding like an arrogant douche bag?”  So after careful consideration I decided that a short, sweet, simple list was the way to go.

I present to you “5 Reasons That You Should Train at Marmon Muscle”…

1.  We CARE! 

There is a difference between being nice and caring.  Being nice to people does not mean that you care about them.  Caring about a person means telling them what they NEED to hear, when they NEED to hear it.  This could be words of encouragement or praise, instruction, criticism, or a simple “Thank you” or “I appreciate you”.  Telling people what they WANT to hear to make them happy is NOT caring.  It’s bullshitting them and we refuse to do it.  Our athletes are our top priority.

2.  Our Coaching Staff

  • David Marmon – I have 15 years of strength & conditioning experience beginning as an undergraduate volunteer in the Auburn University Athletics Department.  My undergraduate degree is Health Promotion with a Business minor from Auburn University.  I have my Master’s Degree in Kinesiology from Georgia Southern University.  I am credentialed through the National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA), the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA), the USA Weightlifting (USAW), and CrossFit HQ. I have programmed for and coached both male and female Division 1 collegiate athletes in a variety of sports.  I have worked at the University of Miami, Georgia Southern University, the College of William & Mary, the University of Iowa, Indiana State University, and the University of Washington.  That experience consisted of 12 hour days, supervising hundreds of athletes, and working directly with sport coaches and sports medicine professionals.  Following my experience in collegiate athletes, I worked for a physical therapist where I learned how to assess/evaluate human movement and prescribe corrective exercise programs to individuals or all ages and demographics.  I worked with a very diverse clientele that included competitive athletes, working professionals, and retirees.  Ultimately, I have over 20,000 hours of hands-on experience coaching athletes.  I spend a minimum of 1 hour per day on continuing education to provide our athletes with latest information on performance training and nutrition.  In addition to coaching, I am a competitive CrossFit athlete (who tries to train daily), a father, and a husband.
  • Britta Marmon – Britta is a former Division 1 Soccer coach & athlete.  She was an All Big-10 Goalkeeper from 2001-2004.  She coached at Indiana State and the College of William & Mary.  Her experience as a high level athlete and sport coach serves as an huge benefit to our community of athletes.  She understands the recruiting process, athlete development, and competition.  Her experience and knowledge is a huge benefit to our youth, prep, and college athletes.  Britta handles the administrative responsibilities at Marmon Muscle and coaches multiple CrossFit classes.  Britta is credentialed through CrossFit HQ.  She is a competitive CrossFit athlete who trains daily, a wife, and a mother.
  • Michelle Massie – Michelle holds the longest tenure on the coaching staff having been with us since we opened in 2010.  Michelle is our Director of CrossFit Kids and coaches several of our CrossFit classes.  Her professional background prior to strength & conditioning was in preschool education.  Her multiple years as an educator gave her a strong understanding of instructing children, handling behavior issues, and dealing with parents.  Her skill set is invaluable to our CrossFit Kids program.  Michelle trained under me as an athlete and intern for 3 years prior to becoming a member of our coaching staff.  She has strong understanding of our system of training and terminology.  Michelle is credentialed through CrossFit HQ.  She is a competitive CrossFit athlete who trains daily, a wife, and a mother.
  • Cat Law – Cat has been a coach at Marmon Muscle since 2011 after a short stint as an athlete here.  She is a former multi-sport athlete that found CrossFit after the birth of her two boys.  Cat possesses an incredible presence and attitude every day that she steps out onto the floor to coach.  Her strong faith serves as her motivation to lead and inspire others.  Cat is credentialed through CrossFit HQ.  She is a competitive CrossFit athlete who trains daily, a wife, and a mother.
  • Stephanie Toothaker – Stephanie (aka “Drago”) brings 10 years of experience as a Physical Therapist to the Marmon Muscle coaching staff.  Her background of evaluating and treating patients of all demographics is a huge asset to our community of athletes.  Her understanding of good human movement has made her skills as a strength & conditioning coach that much more effective.  Our athletes have access to Stephanie for any issues or injuries that they are experience.  That resource is invaluable.  Stephanie is credentialed through CrossFit HQ.  Arguably the best athlete in our box, Stephanie trains and competes regularly.  She is also married to Coach Tom Toothaker.
  • Tom Toothaker – Like Stephanie, Tom is also a full-time Physical Therapist.  Tom has exceptional personal skills which make him an incredibly effective communicator.  His ability to take complex anatomical & biomechanical jargon and present it to the athlete in simple, understandable context is a huge benefit to our athletes.  He constantly makes himself available to assist our athletes with ways to treat injuries, improve mobility, or enhance their performance.  Tom’s personality combined with his education and understanding of human movement make him one of the top coaches in the region.  Tom is credentialed through CrossFit HQ.  He is a competitive CrossFit athlete that trains daily and a husband to Coach Stephanie Toothaker.
  • Iwona Kakareko – Born and raised in Poland, Iwona is our “international delight”.  She brings over 10 years of experience as a personal trainer and health & wellness coach to the Marmon Muscle staff.  Iwona’s specialties are women’s health & fitness and nutrition.  She authored the Marmon Muscle nutrition manual, “Firebreather Nutrition”.  She is an avid reader of Dr. Mercola and provides a wealth of general health information to our staff and our athletes.  I am constantly impressed with her class preparation and organization skills.  She keeps our athletes safe and on schedule.  Iwona is credentialed through CrossFit HQ.  She is a competitive CrossFit athlete that trains daily and a wife.
  • Ellen Womeldorf – Ellen is our CrossFit 101 coordinator and our resident endurance sport guru.  Ellen brings multiple years of experience as a personal trainer and a high school cross country coach to the Marmon Muscle coaching staff.  She has her CrossFit Level 1 certificate, her CrossFit Endurance credential, and her rowing credential through Concept 2.  She is a competitive ultra endurance athlete having completed multiple 24 hour races and Ultra Marathons.  Her special skill set is an invaluable asset to our community of athletes, as the rest of our staff are not endurance athletes.  Ellen is the mother to two wonderful teenage boys.

Our coaches are passion-driven people with special skill sets who are living this lifestyle everyday.  They have the same stressors and obligations as most Americans, but they choose to be exceptional.

3.  The System

At Marmon Muscle, we have systemized the way we train athletes.  We evaluate and screen all new athletes via our “New Athlete Evaluation” or “CrossFit 101”.  There is a progression/regression system in place for each lift or movement that we use.  We have movements categorized to allow for balanced programming that allows us to focus on all of the 10 skills of fitness and avoid overuse injuries.  All of our athletes have access to nutritional counsel or resources.  We have a structured warm-up and movement prep, as well as a post workout stretching routine.  Our system is a living and breathing thing that we are constantly tweaking to make it the best program possible.

4.  The Facility

We started with 800 square feet and $5000 worth of equipment in 2010.  In November 2014, we will move into our brand new 10,000 square foot with approximately $100,000 worth of state-of-the-art equipment.  The facility will include coaching offices, a meeting room, an athlete/spectator lounge, a kid’s corner, 4,000 square feet of field turf, 5,000 square feet of rubberized floor, an overhead door leading out to a concrete patio for outdoor workouts, a 60 ft Rogue Rig, 5 – lifting platforms with adjustable racks, 2 – sets of jerk blocks, 7 – Assault Air Bikes, 7 – Concept 2 rowers, 7 – Glute-Ham Developers, slideboards, sleds, yokes, atlas stones, kettlebells, dumbbells, barbells, bumper plates, etc, etc, etc.  Our goal is to provide our community with the best, instruction-based training facility in the area.

5.  The Community

Our mission is simple… to serve our community by providing them with an environment that brings out the very best of them mentally and physically.  We take that responsibility very seriously.  Maintaining a positive, supportive environment becomes more and more challenging with growth, but we are committed to maintaining a staff and community of athletes that makes people feel welcome, safe, and nurtured.  A great community is a product of the wonderful people in it, as well as the values instilled from the leadership.  I have seen our amazing community in action: birthdays, competitions, Christmas parties, holidays, fundraisers, the Open, weddings, funerals, unemployment, or just when you are having a tough day.  This community does as much for the people in it as the training does.

Yours in Strength,


Parents: 10 Reasons Why Every Kid Needs a Strength Coach

By: David Marmon
April 23, 2014

Last month one of my teenage athletes turned 17 years old. While this might seem like an insignificant milestone to most of you reading this, it was quite significant to me. It marked our 7th year training together. 7 years! These aren’t just any 7 years; these are the most important developmental (socially, intellectually, and physically) years of this young man’s life.

I remember the day he started. He was a chubby, quiet, passive 10 year old who couldn’t jump rope. Today, he kicks my ass in the gym on a regular basis. He is incredibly confident, yet not cocky. Straight A student; varsity football; varsity baseball; has his pilot’s license… the resume is quite impressive. This is a very special young man.

What makes this 17 year old different from others? Where did he get his discipline and drive? Well before I try to take credit for any of it, let me brag on his mom and dad. These folks started teaching their kids about RESPONSIBILITY at a very young age. The ideals and expectations that they were teaching at home served as the foundation of all this young man’s achievements. They made my job easy and enjoyable.

Following some reflection on my time with this young man, I thought that I would put together a list for parents outlining the benefits of having your children work with a strength & conditioning professional. I used my experience with this young man and his family as the basis for my list.

1. Long-term Athletic Development: From the age of 10-18 years of age, there are lots of changes going on in kid’s bodies and the time table varies from kid to kid. Having a coaching professional that understands proper progression and correction of motor patterns, loading, and intensity can be a huge game changer in the long-term development of your child. There is no “quick fix” or “short cut” when dealing with the development of youth. It starts with teaching good fundamental movement and progresses from there. With so much misinformation available on the Internet, it is vital to have a resource that is experienced, credentialed, and trustworthy.

2. Confidence: There seems to be a direct correlation between confidence and accomplishment. Show kids what they are capable of and confidence immediately follows.

3. No Starting Line-up: With team sports, the best athletes play and the rest of the kids ride the bench. Quite often this can hurt the development of less talented youth athletes. In our setting, every kid gets coached and in most cases the kids that are less talented get coached harder! No one falls through the cracks.

4. Emphasis on Performance vs. Aesthetics: With so much pressure on kids to be thin and beautiful (subjective things), we focus on performance-based data (objective things). Example: You did 5 pull-ups last week, today you did 6. Congratulations, you got better!

5. It’s Contagious: Fit kids can motivate mom and dad to get fit! Parents see their kid’s success and happiness, which gives them the courage to get started. We have several families that train with us.

6. Having an Honest Critic: As coaches, we are paid to be critical. Parents and friends will tell kids what they want to hear. I will always tell kids what they need to hear. Criticism should always be followed with a plan of correction. Genuine encouragement provides kids with confirmation that the correction has been made.

7. Character Building: Show up on time, prepared. Give your very best. Take pride in your work and responsibility for your actions. Learn from your successes and failures. Meet or exceed expectations. Help and encourage others. Make the world a better place than it was when you got here.

8. Sport Injury Prevention & Management: Consistent year-round training under the supervision of a strength & conditioning professional will decrease the occurrence of sport-related injuries and other overuse issues.

9. Friendship: Every kid needs a trustworthy, experienced person (other than mom & dad) that they can turn to for advice and counsel. I have had kids approach me for advice about college, relationships, their future, dealing with conflict, etc.

10. Preparation for Life as a Healthy, Successful Adult: At the end of the day, we are really preparing kids for the “real world”. We are teaching them how to take care of their bodies through diet and exercise. We are teaching them the value of hard work and the pursuit of excellence. We are teaching them how to communicate and deal with people. Each workout is nothing more than an opportunity to prepare our kids for the game of LIFE.


Why I Compete?

By: David Marmon
April 14, 2014

I love competition. It gives me butterflies. It makes my palms sweat. It forces me to focus. It takes me to places that most people fear going. Competition (at any level) has motivated and inspired me since I was 9 years old. To this day, the efforts and actions of my peers have a powerful influence on my own performance. I make it a point to thank my competitors for constantly “making me better”. It’s not about winning or losing for me; it’s about the experience of giving my very best effort and learning from (and living with) the outcome. My love for competition extends into all areas of my life: athletics, coaching, business, friendship, family, and faith.

I will be 36 years old this year. I am good at a few things, but I am not great at anything in particular. I will probably never qualify for the CrossFit Games Regional. I am a mediocre strongman athlete. My Olympic Weightlifting technique is about as consistent as the Virginia weather. I finish each 5k road race in a sprint out with a soccer mom. So why do I continue to compete?

Let’s start with why I don’t compete.

I don’t compete for t-shirts. Britta is constantly cleaning out and giving away all of the CrossFit t-shirts that I don’t wear. I basically have a 5-10 t-shirt rotation. If you don’t make the rotation, then I will probably never wear you.

I don’t compete for prizes (supplements, money, gear, etc.). If I want or need any of that stuff I have the means of getting it for myself.

I don’t compete for the attention or the recognition. I will always be my own biggest fan and my own harshest critic. The only praise and criticism that I know is honest and well intended is from the people closest to me.

I don’t compete to win. There are way too many variables involved in winning that are out of my control (level of my competition, performance of my competition, number of competitors, etc.).

I compete for the experience. Every time I compete, I walk away with the 3 most valuable prizes that life has to offer.

Knowledge – I learn something new about myself. I might find out that I am capable of a new skill or a higher capacity or I might recognize a weakness or a flaw that I need to correct. I can also learn from my competition (strategies, preparation, etc.).

Fellowship – Camaraderie, community, whatever you want to call it! I get to enjoy being around others that share my love for competition. Competition has afforded me some of my most valuable relationships in life.

Memories – This is what you take with you when you die and what you leave for others to remember you by. Powerful stuff!