I had some time this Thanksgiving to really reflect on all the things I'm thankful for: family, health, friends, and of course I'm thankful for my gym/business. I am truly blessed to be able to provide for my family by doing something I love. But, although I love what I do, it sure as hell aint always easy!! I have had my fair share of sleepless nights, panic attacks, trouble paying the bills and plenty of doubt along the way. But, as Rocky Balboa once said, "It's not how hard you hit, but how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward." I'm proud of the fact that whenever my business has been "hit hard", I have always kept moving forward and persevered.
As I approach the 10 Year Anniversary of my business (est. February, 2003), I wanted to share 21 "game-changing" events and actions that were critical to its success. I feel these things have shaped the landscape of DeFranco's Gym. For them, I am truly grateful.
I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane as much as I enjoyed writing it.
DeFranco's Gym Timeline...
Joe DeFranco establishes DeFranco's Training Systems, LLC with no business background, no money in the bank and no clue what he was getting into. DeFranco's "gym" consisted of a 500 square foot storage closet located downstairs at a local health club.
July 18, 2003:
www.DeFrancosTraining.com was created and the first-ever "ASK JOE" was posted. The website received 51 hits that first month and 17 people subscribed to the website's e-newsletter.
Today, the website averages over 8 million hits per month with over 40,000 e-newsletter subscribers. There has been 250 (plus) blog posts and close to 1000 "ASK JOE" questions answered since that first blog post.
Joe DeFranco releases the first-ever VHS tape describing how to "beat" the football Combine tests. Mastering the Football Combine Tests shocks the football community and forever changes the way athletes prepare for football Combines.
January 22, 2004:
After hearing about the controversy behind Joe DeFranco's "Combine tape", the most popular training website on the internet - T-Nation.com - requests to do an interview with Joe. The Pro-Maker: An interview with Joe DeFranco is posted online and Joe's website and online presence sky-rockets.
Bergen Catholic's Brian Cushing becomes the first DeFranco-trained high school All-American. High school football players from all over New Jersey start calling DeFranco's Gym and inquiring about training because they "wanna be like Cush".
February 29, 2004:
Joe reveals the training program that he designed for Brian Cushing - as well as many other successful high school athletes - in an article entitled, Westside for Skinny Bastards: A modified lifting program for hardgainers. The article/program becomes one of the most popular training programs ever written.
DeFranco's Gym out-grows the storage closet and moves into it's very own location - a 2000 square foot warehouse in an industrial park in Wyckoff, NJ.
Joe DeFranco prepares an "unknown" small-school prospect named Miles Austin for the NFL Combine. Miles ends up "coming out of nowhere" and creates a huge buzz at the Combine with his jaw-dropping physique, speed, strength and jumping ability. After an amazing Combine performance, the Dallas Cowboys "take a chance" on Miles. After two years of "proving" himself, Miles Austin turns himself into an All-Pro wide receiver and the Cowboys sign him to a 6-year, $54 million contract.
Joe DeFranco releases his second product: Super Strength DVD. The first batch of these DVD's are ordered from people in all 50 states and 9 different countries, establishing an international following for DeFranco's Gym.
Joe DeFranco creates a youtube channel for DeFranco's Gym. The first video posted, Guadango 54 inch Box Jump, turns Mike Guadango into a youtube sensation...and DeFranco's youtube channel becomes an instant success.
Today, the channel boasts over 21,000 subscribers and over 16 million video views!
Mike Guadango went on to become a 2X All-American college baseball player and was featured in the documentary, STRONG. He is now a Physical Preparation coach at DeFranco's Gym, where he developed a baseball training program that attracts high school, college and professional players from across the country.
NY Giants offensive lineman Dave Diehl - one of the "original disciples" from the storage closet gym - becomes the first DeFranco-trained athlete to win a Superbowl.
STRONG: The Movie (a documentary about DeFranco's Gym) is finally released. The movie develops somewhat of a "cult" following worldwide and increases the amount of international athletes that travel to New Jersey to experience DeFranco's Gym.
DeFranco's Gym is featured on NFL Network's, Training for the Future - a show featuring Brian Cushing's preparation for the NFL Combine. Cush ends up being selected as the 15th overall pick in the 1st Round of the 2009 NFL Draft.
Three DeFranco-trained athletes (Miles Austin, Brian Cushing, Dave Diehl) are selected to the NFL Pro Bowl. This solidifies DeFranco's as a national power with regards to football preparation by earning the respect of the bigger, more "popular" multi-million dollar facilities.
DeFranco's Gym moves into a new, 5000 square foot facility.
Men's Health Magazine names DeFranco's Gym one of the Top 10 Gyms in America, increasing DeFranco's "mainstream" recognition.
Joe DeFranco collaborates with Jim Smith of Dieselsc.com to create their first product: Amped Warm-up DVD. The incredible success of this DVD leads to an entire production of international best-selling DVD's and manuals.
Tim Ferriss features Joe DeFranco's unique training techniques in two chapters of his NY Times best-selling book, The 4-Hour Body. This further introduces DeFranco's to the "mainstream" fitness world.
Paul Levesque (aka, WWE Superstar "Triple H") and Stephanie McMahon Levesque hire Joe DeFranco to revamp their entire training program. Joe is later featured on WWE.com preparing Triple H for his Wrestlemania 28 match against the Undertaker. During the match, WWE commentator Michael Cole gives DeFranco's Gym a shout-out to a pay-per-view audience that was watched in over 1.3 million homes.
Joe DeFranco is selected by Nike to be one of the elite trainers in their newly-formed SPARQ Performance Network.
Joe DeFranco and Jim Smith partner to form the CPPS certification course in an attempt to "change the game" in the strength & conditioning industry. The first three courses SELL OUT and 7 new dates for 2013 are already being planned.
I would like to conclude this blog post by saying "THANK YOU" to every single person who reads this website, trains at DeFranco's Gym, invests in our products, wears our t-shirts, or just generally supports what we do. Without YOUR support, the first 10 years wouldn't have been possible. For that, I am grateful.
Stay tuned to see what the next 10 years will bring ...
Ever wonder how a bunch of meatheads prepare for Valentine's Day? If so, here's a "behind the scenes" look at our 'softer' side. (Well, not really....)
Looking for a belated Valentine's gift for a loved one?
If so, show your love with one of these original gift ideas ...
RECORD-SETTING WEEK @ DeFranco's!
The video below shows Utah State running back, Michael Smith, breaking TWO of the most prestigious records in our gym!
That video reveals one of the more impressive displays of speed & strength you will ever see! Remember this kids name come Draft Day!
DeFranco's named one of the Top 5 Most Innovative Gyms in the USA!
I am truly honored and humbled to be named on such a prestigious list of gyms. Although I never really gave a sh#t what other people thought of us; it's nice to know that we're starting to be recognized as more than just a bunch of meatheads from New Jersey :)
This is a true testament to the entire gym staff, as well as every single athlete that has walked through our doors and busted their ass... while also trusting us to use them as our guinea pigs lol!
Check out Greatist.com to read the entire article.
Q: Coach Defranco,
I first learned of your work after reading your WS4SB series on Tnation. Once I actually tried the program and experienced the greatest gains of my life (in record time i might add) I became obsessed with everything about your gym and coaching style. Ive literally read every single one of your articles and ask joe q&a's twice over!! I just graduated college and aspire to model my career after you (without ripping you off i promise). One of your recent youtube videos got me thinking about a aspect of training that i havn't really ever read about, coaching cues. In your dynamic upper body workout you were yelling SPEED FAST EXPLODE at your athletes right as they were about to press the bar. At first i thought it was funny but then i thought if you were doing it there was probly a reason for it?? So my question is- what are your favorite coaching cues to improve strength in the main lifts as well as running speed,, etc? Is there anything i should or should not be yelling at my future clients when i train them?? If you don't have time to answer this i understand but if you can that would be amazing!!
Jordan, Oklahoma City OK
Thanks for the unique question. I actually started laughing as I read it because just last week Keith Williams was busting my balls about my favorite phrases and coaching cues that I tend to say over, and over, and over...
Although we joked about it, he also told me that they do "work" for him.
In the video you're referring to; I wanted to reinforce the point of pushing the barbell with maximal SPEED in order to increase their rate of force development (RFD) and minimize deceleration of the bar at the end-range of the rep. (This is why resistance bands were used.) It was only their second time performing dynamic bench presses with bands, so I wanted to "set off an alarm" in their head (as a reminder to EXPLODE) right before they pressed the bar. Hence, my choice of "alarm" words: FAST...EXPLODE...SPEED!!!
This brings me to my #1 RULE with regards to effective coaching cues: YOUR COACHING CUE SHOULD BE NO MORE THAN 2 WORDS!
An athlete isn't going to be able to register five different things at once while they're lifting or running. Too many cues at once = brain overload. Brain overload = confusing the hell out of your athletes! You should focus on ONE aspect of technique at a time and your "cue" to correct that specific technique flaw shouldn't be more than TWO WORDS! For example; we've all heard Louie Simmons screaming, "BACK, BACK, BACK!" when his guys squat. This cue reminds them to "push their hips back" with just one simple word. You may also hear, "KNEES OUT!", or, "ARCH!" These are all highly effective cues because they are quick and to-the-point. These phrases can easily be comprehended by the lifter during the course of a repetition.
Here's another example to hammer home my point...
For the past two weeks, I've been working with Alpine Snowboarder, Nevin Galmarini and his brother Arno. They came to New Jersey from Switzerland to learn more about my system of training, refine their technique on certain exercises, etc. During Arno's warm-up sets of box squats on Max-Effort Lower Body Day, I told him that he was getting "bent over" out of the hole because his elbows were way too far behind the bar. I told him to focus on tucking his elbows under the bar, especially when coming off the box. In between sets, I told him that I would yell "ELBOWS" as a reminder if his technique broke down. (Even though Arno and Nevin's english is pretty good, it isn't their first language; so this made it even more important to keep my coaching cues short and easy to understand.) Sure enough - on Arno's last set - he started getting bent forward off the box. I yelled, "ELBOWS" and he tucked his elbows, which immediately improved his posture, and he blasted through his sticking point and completed the rep. (This gave him a 60 pound PR in one week!) If I would have yelled, "Tuck your elbows under the bar", he may have been face-down on the floor before I got to the word "elbows"! Once again, the moral of the story is to keep your cues SHORT so your athletes have time to make the technique correction. When it comes to lifting a weight or running a sprint - every split second counts!
To answer your question regarding the "best" cues -- I can't give a general answer for that. The "best" cue(s) will be specific to each individual athlete and their technique flaws. Just make sure to keep your cues "short & sweet"!
Thanks again for the question...I hope my answer helped a bit. You brought up a topic that I probably would have never thought to write about. Although it's a "small" part of coaching, it's the "little things" that can end up making a big difference in the long run!
The difference between a high-performance body and a slow, chubby body is all in your head... literally!
To learn more about this overlooked aspect of training, click on the link below to read my newest T-Nation article...
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