Why I wrote this Book?
Good question, one I get asked all the time. Trust me when I tell you it wasn’t to get rich. LOL. In the “About the Author” tab I lay out my basic background and the nuts and bolts of how I came to develop my physical fitness system. However the most important part of this story isn’t running or doing pull-ups, but a mindset, which I will explain here. I say right up front I am not in anyway trying to exploit a tragic event, but to simply explain how my own personal experience with it, helped shape some of my thought process about physical fitness.
In the summer of 2001 I was in between duty stations. I was on leave moving from MCAS Beaufort, SC to become the NCOIC of the Aviation Ordnance “A” school located in Pensacola, Fl. I spent most of my leave period in the month of August at my parents home in upstate NY. One day we decided to take our two young boys and do a day trip to New York City, which is about three hours south. We visited the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Times Square and the World Trade Center. Even though I had been to NYC probably 50 times in my life, this was only the second time I had made it to the World Trade Center. (I went once as a teenager right after it was built back in the 70’s.) It was a beautiful clear sunny day and you could see for miles. We had a nice visit on the roof of the South Tower for about an hour that morning. I didn’t think much of it again until about a month later when I was checking in to my new duty station at Pensacola. That date was Sept 11th 2001.
My sons Branden and Kyle. The South tower of the World Trade Center, August 2001
Same day view of the WTC towers from the ferry to Liberty Island
To be honest I’m not sure if it was actually August 1st. (I don’t even know who wrote that date on this pic?)
My guess it was somewhere closer to the middle of the month, but it was August 2001 for sure.
I was in a meeting with the Marine who I was going to replace when the Navy Chief from next store came in and told us that an airliner had just crashed into the World Trade Center. HUH? I was just there? We all went down to the duty hut where there was a small crowd gathered around the little TV there. As we were watching the fire, the second plane crashed in the South Tower. This was the tower that had the observation deck on the roof, where me and my family had been standing less than a month earlier.
We all know what happened after that. Since then I had some pretty bad nightmares about the whole thing. 9/11 was a bright sunny day just like the day we were there. When I saw the people trapped above the crash line, some falling (and some jumping) then many more dying as the buildings collapsed, it made me sick to my stomach. I couldn’t help think about what if the terrorists decided to launch their plan a few weeks earlier, when we were up there? The thought of that was hard to imagine. My stubborn Marine mindset (rightly or wrongly) is that I would have gotten my family down safely, somehow, some way. I would have just gotten it done, nobody or nothing could have stopped me, period. I still think that way, it was the only way to keep the nightmares from ending badly.
However as time went on I became somewhat obsessed with what my actual escape process would have been. As we all know very few people survived that were trapped above where the planes crashed. I watched many of the films, and read lots of material about the attack, and how some were able to escape. Would I have really been able to do this? Could I have climbed over burning wreckage, around the torn up steel beams, kick my way through walls and do all this while bringing my wife and two young boys along? Sometimes it would seem to be an impossible task. As I ran this horror film in my mind over the years, I realized that if I was to even have a prayer of surviving that situation, it would all come down to an extraordinary physical and mental effort (and lots of luck and God’s help). I was in pretty good shape at the time, but was I really up to this? Thank Christ I will never have to find out. But it made me start thinking about the type of physical condition you would have needed to at least have a fighting chance and it made realize how real world situations are so very different than playing sports, or your everyday physical fitness requirements.
While I always knew this, it was just in the back of my mind, rather than a real possibility. For most of my career as a Marine I was just more concerned about just keeping my weight down, and doing well on the physical fitness test than anything else. Those are things you must do, but it does take your focus off what counts when speaking about true physical readiness. The kind that is needed in the real world. For example how fast you could run in a pair of shorts and sneakers would have had very little to do with your chances in surviving a 9/11 situation. Nor would the definition of your “six-pack” help either.
Now this all may seem somewhat of an overly dramatic example. After all 9/11 was hopefully a one time catastrophe. However Firemen, Law Enforcement and Military personnel have to be ready for these types of events at anytime. The bottom line is your never know when, where or what could happen and you have to be ready 24/7. From this mindset (awareness) I developed my system, a system to help prepare you for the real world challenges that are waiting out there for all of us. I relate this experience here, as it had a big influence on my ideas on physical training, the system I developed from it and one big reason that lead me to write this book.