How the military helped Stew carve out his niche in the fitness industry.
I realized in high school I was actually good at writing or maybe just enjoyed it as I do not really consider myself a good writer. I am just able to get my point across better in written word vs other methods.
Having a Father who was a journalist/newspaper publisher and a Mom who was an English teacher, maybe it was more of a gifted skill or constant pushing in the projects that required writing that helped develop my passion for writing.
I was a little intense in high school, played sports every semester (football, power lifting, track, baseball, wrestled) lettering in three of them but I also focused on working hard academically to make A’s and B’s. I grew up in a great, small town called Live Oak, FL in the heart of the Suwannee River country where I enjoyed my time with friends fishing, hunting in the woods/swamps of FL, water skiing, swimming in lakes and rivers and working out for sports.
After visiting some older friends at their colleges (University of FL and Florida State), I realized I needed a little more structure after high school, so I started looking into military professions and training. It just so happened around the same time, I started getting recruited for football from West Point and the Naval Academy.
I was now focused on going to military college and becoming an officer in the military and maybe even get to play football as well. Seemed perfect! I quickly looked into where I would live when I graduated from the service academies while I served in either the Army or Navy. Growing up in FL, I liked living close to the beach and quickly noted that Naval Bases had to have a beach nearby.
After visiting family members in Fort Benning and Fort Bragg, though I liked the remoteness of the bases, I still liked the beach. However, I will say I have been to fantastic Army bases such at Fort Carson in the beautiful mountains of Colorado, Schofield Barracks in Hawaii and a variety in Germany, so there are some great places to live in the Army. I just preferred Naval Bases on the coast.
In the 80s, times were different. There was no internet, popular books/movies, or workouts for military preparation. There was however, TOP GUN! My first mainstream look at the Navy.
My first goal was to go to the Naval Academy and become a pilot. But after meeting the Midshipmen wanting to become Navy SEALs and then the Navy SEALs stationed at the Naval Academy, I had a change of plans. I learned all I could about SEAL Training for the next 2-3 years.
My last two years of preparation for SEALs:
My last two years at the Naval Academy were spent busting my butt preparing for SEAL training. My 1991 USNA classmates who wanted to go to BUDS (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training) totaled about 50, yet there were only 20 slots. We trained together during those years prior to graduation. After hearing stories from the USNA class of 1989 and 1990 BUD/S students as they progressed through BUD/S, we got excited to challenge ourselves like our mentors did.
Then one day, we heard four Academy grads quit during Hell Week. This sent shock waves through the community as the Academy grads get pre-screened to go to BUD/S quite thoroughly for two years prior to graduation and not many ever quit!. Many of my classmates changed their minds about going to BUD/S as it rattled the Class of 1991 midshipmen who were seeking to go to BUD/S too. We knew the guys in 1990 who quit were tough as nails. “What was it that got them?” “Is this possibly our future too?” We all asked, “How do we better prepare ourselves for Hell Week?”
We kicked around getting colder during our workouts, staying up later and sleeping less, getting under the log more in our workouts for log pt. We did this for a while and then our SEAL chief stationed at the Academy – Rick Black said. “Hell Week is like a kick in the nuts – you can’t really train for that wisely.”
We laughed and agreed, but we made our workouts harder and prepared well that last year. We sent 20 strong SEAL candidates to BUD/s in 1991, all ready for the challenges of BUD/S and wanting to prove ourselves worthy as Academy Ensigns at SEAL training. All 20 of us made it. See my Hell Week Story for more details:
After BUD/S, I went on to spend a short time in the SEAL Teams (7.5 yrs total). There are many reasons for resigning my officer commission, but the main reason was I lacked the personal commitment to make the military a 20 year career. After getting married and having children, my priorities changed in the late 1990’s.
Our military makes personal sacrifices no matter how long they serve, so I am always honored to meet and thank people who served a full 20+ years for their personal sacrifices.
I also had a stronger desire pulling on me to write.
I did not know what I wanted to write about but I knew I wanted to write for a living if I could.
So where do you go when you have no clue what you want to do? I woke up one Sunday morning and rushed to church. I typically go to church but rarely do I feel the urge that I cannot miss a particular sermon. Sure enough, I found guidance. The reading was from 1 Peter: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” I took that as – I was given some gifts. I liked to write. I liked to workout.
Were these my gifts? My strengths? I had a lot of experiences with athletic training and military special ops training – maybe I could share my experiences and create programs to help others serve. So I started writing my first book, The Complete Guide to Navy SEAL Fitness.
After some moderate success with the SEAL book, my publisher wanted to write more military, law enforcement related fitness books. I realized I needed to diversify my training skills and started training men and women who wanted to become anything in the military, law enforcement, or fire fighting communities. That meant focusing on beginner level / weight loss fitness to those Americans who were overweight but still wanted to serve.
I started group training kids for free who wanted to serve their country in any profession. I found my niche. I formed the Heroes of Tomorrow non-profit organization. See www.heroesoftomorrow.org. But this gave me access to training for specific goals. If I was going to write about training for a living, I needed to train people to pass fitness tests and follow on training programs.! These workouts still inspire me to develop new programs and continue to write daily.
I created an online personal training program for non-local clients that quickly grew to an international business training hundreds of people all over the world for various goals. More books and training specific ebooks followed like the Maximum Fitness – 52 Week Program for Cross-training, The SWAT Workout, The Special Ops Workout and over 40 different ebooks. All were simply successful programs recorded for each group I trained personally or online.
The trick if you become a trainer, is to write down or even video ALL the workouts you ever do personally or with clients. One day, you will be sitting on a data base of workouts that helped someone achieve a personal goal such as military service, massive weight loss, or compete in a race. All of these are very marketable items that can become generic resources for people to buy or you can advertise with it and give it out for FREE.
I have now been writing workouts that prepare people for serving in the military, special operations, police, SWAT teams, and fire fighting units since 1998. Heroes of Tomorrow organization is growing each year with trainers now in over 40 cities volunteering to train local kids for serving our country and communities. For more information on our programs and training ideas see:
Be sure to “like” thePTDC’s Facebook page and join our movement.