MDLP: Against the Current

Man, I wish I could tell you this is all easy. That one day you’re going to wake up and absolutely smash your lifting goals, that you wont feel pain, and that you’re going to wake up the next day and feel right as rain. In fact, I wish I didn’t have to start so many write ups this way but then I would be sugar coating the reality of the process. As much as our online heroes and old war hounds appear to have never dealt with these demons, they would be the first to tell you how absolutely hard it is to move forward.

It’s a rainy day and maybe I am feeling chatty and into my feelings but I can tell you that swimming against the current is the only life I know. I won’t preach and trust me, I highly advise people not to live the life I lead but rather to learn from it. I can sit here and tell you that the character, hardships and ability you develop to overcome pain, loss and challenges in the gym will ABSOLUTELY build you into the warrior you need to be in LIFE. The callus, cuts and blood you shed overcoming those lonely nights in the gym, while your favorite song plays, will build the backbone of your courage to face life’s battles. Don’t believe me? Talk to a champion … ask them how many barriers and trenches they had to crawl out of to even walk into the gym. Ask them how many heart breaks they suffered after REAL injuries, that would BURIED the average person. Listen to them the next time they tell you what it feels like to raise that medal or trophy in air. Look into their eyes and tell me that you don’t instinctually know what kind of will their spirits has. Tell me you don’t FEEL the absolute passion in their soul.

I am a man full of demons. I wish I could tell you that I fall asleep as easy as my dog into some long and restful sleep. That I drift into dreams without the bitter stab of regrets and lost opportunities. I wish I could tell you I don’t find a dive bar in the middle of the week, take control of the jukebox, and wash down the reality that my body feels like its falling apart. Honestly, I wish I could tell you that every time I picked up a bar I didn’t feel that visceral sting of fear that strikes me like a cold chill. After 34 years of life I have danced with the devil so many times that I’ve lost count and lost ideas for tattoos to represent these struggles. Just exactly why I am the way I am and when it started to drift this way is really not for the faint of heart nor for anyone that isn’t my family, but I digress. Somewhere along the way I decided to be the man I am today and during this journey I found sports…

Musashi wrote that to know your enemy and those around you is The Way to know yourself. After 600 years between his writing and my current post you are reading on your iPhone, these words ring as true as ever. If you’re anything like me, the enemy is not trying to burn down my home, beat my lifts or waiting for me around the bend. If you’re anything like me, the biggest enemy is with me the moment I wake, every time I lift the bar and every time I close my eyes. My biggest enemy has been and will always be Michael De La Pava and as I face him again on my 34th year of life, I couldn’t be more grateful. As I realize that I have so many strength goals left undone I have come to the real conclusion that I am discovering more of myself than I ever have. Every session is one decision away from being my last, my body aches and it whispers it’s age to me every day. The youth and much less broken down lifters are knocking on my door and my over bearing life as a coach has aged me beyond my outside looks.

But here we are aren’t we? Here we are striving to walk into that gym, onto that platform, onto that competitive battle field and push beyond our limits. Not because the weight is hard to move but because life is fucking HARD. Because showing up every day to challenge, overcome and dream is what life is about! Because taking days, weeks, months, YEARS off of training to let your spirit recover takes courage! Because pain is not always a badge of honor but a very real reminder that you have shit left to do! Dig deep, follow your heart in these sports and I promise you it will be the gears and glue that hold the sinews and joints of your soul together. I wish I could tell you  life get’s easier but it doesn’t and neither does the strength world. Facing this reality head on with the idea of building and evolving who you are as a PERSON is the only absolute truth in this world. Honing your craft and following your courage in sport is the backbone of your very being.. it is THE WAY. No it is not for everyone, no not everyone will grow at the same pace and there are some demons you will die with but I am here to tell you…this is the only absolute truth in our world and I hope you see it as I do one day.

Action Items:

  • Mindfulness comes in many ways, find a way and train it every day
  • Follow a single path, despite there being many detours and changes in direction, there is only One Way there
  • Identify your courage and remind yourself daily that it’s yours and yours alone
  • Find the training path that challenges you to become a greater person, that is the absolute truth of this world

As the world wakes up and dusts off its daily dew, be weary of an Old Man in a young mans sport.

Never Stray from The Way


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Michael “MDLP” De La Pava is currently a competitive Strongman and owner of The Battle Axe Gym. Born in Miami, Florida into a Colombian household, Michael finished his schooling by attending Penn State University where he graduated with a Degree in Psychology. Having his roots in martial arts, he would go on to compete in various sports as a Muay Thai fighter, Powerlifter, and rugby player before committing himself fully to Strongman. During this time, he opened Miami’s first Strongman gym, The Battle Axe, where he currently coaches athletes from various disciplines including powerlifting, MMA fighters, Strongman, officers of multiple authorities and enlisted and active military operators. Competing in Strongman for over 6 years has given Michael the opportunity to rank as high as 15th in the nation (105kg), won Florida’s Strongest man (1st in 2014 and 2nd in 2015 in the 105kg class), lift and load a 420 pound Atlas stone, log press 335, pull 700, and most importantly, share the competitive battlefield with some of the best in the game. During this journey, Michael suffered what some would consider a potentially career-ending spine injury. It was at this time that Brian and Michael would begin working together to not only rehab his spine, allowing him to return to Strongman but also develop a new Strongman training program revolving around the 10/20 philosophy. Strongman and coaching have given Michael the opportunity to travel around the nation and the world to train, coach and be coached, as well as share ideas with various leaders in the strength community. Michael’s experience and network in strongman brings a welcome connection with the ever-growing sport of Strongman to the 10/20 team and PRS family.

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