Animal Pak gets a facelift. And is soon thereafter followed by an expanding product line featuring Animal Cuts and Animal Stak.
Animalpak.com launched featuring articles on training, nutrition and lifestyle. All with a no-bullshit Animal edge.
The Iconic imagery is first incorporated onto the Animal label and launches the provocative and ubiquitous yellow t-shirt.
Animal Flex continues its string of Bodybuilding.com awards, amassing a total of eight straight Joint Supplement of the Year awards from 2006-2013. Animal Pak also claims a similar run of categorical dominance spanning from 2005-2012.
Animal Whey debuts as an exclusive on Bodybuilding.com. Whey joins Rage XL and Juiced Aminos to round out the Animal line in terms of powders. Animal Mass is soon to follow.
4:27am... Why Am I Here?
Why am I not in bed, like everyone else, dead to the world? Why do I do this, live with the constant pain, the suffering, the sacrifice? Why? Because I can. Because pain tells me I’m awake. Reminds me I’m alive. Who am I? I am the wrecker of steel. I am the crusher of mediocrity. I am the face of destiny. I am Animal...
It starts here. But this is just one journey among many... There is no end. There never is. I begin tomorrow. Eighteen weeks in this dark hole. 126 days of pain. 3024 hours of hunger and desire. I’m already counting the minutes, the seconds. When it’s over, I’ll step up out into the light. I will shine...
Until then, you'll live in the shadow, in the darkness, in a place few will ever see... Where ugliness becomes beautiful. This place, this darkness... There’s no better place to be. This is where the real work gets done. So if you’re with me, get that time card and punch in, cuz it’s gonna be a long, sweet ride. Be prepared to get your hands dirty. Listen... Hear that silence? Tomorrow, it’s gonna rock ‘n roll. So let’s get the show on the road. Let’s throw some iron into the fire...
This Is My Life.
Everyone's day starts the same. Wake, take a leak, get dressed. The pants go on one leg at a time.
I’m not like everyone. I don’t live like they live. I don’t eat what they eat. No donuts. No coffee with cream & two sugars. No morning papers. It’s 6:52am & I’m on my second meal. While everyone else is hitting the snooze, I’m hitting my stride.
No coffee breaks... No weekends... No sick days.
What do I do? I’m a bodybuilder & yeah, it’s a job. Only the day doesn’t start at 9 & it won’t end at 5. It starts from the time I open my eyes to the time I shut them. It’s not a 5 day work week. I live it 24/7... This is a job. This is my life.
Your morning commute is driven in your mind. The route never changes.
The toughest part is sticking to the path, enduring the crushing routine. My drive won’t change & each day that passes will bring me closer to my destination, the one I’ve circled in red & taped to the cabinet. There is no rest. I’ve got miles to go.
I'm Not Gonna Puke...
What defines you? This pursuit? Mastery of the self.
I’m not gonna... puke. I’m not... gonna puke. I’m... not gonna puke... Not this time. I chew on these words, force them through my head. In the kitchen, eating another meal alone, it’s just those words and another plate of chicken & rice. This jug of water--without that I’d be screwed. Only my second week into it and I’m sick of it already.
On the road to destiny, do not waver... Do not look back.
Bite, chew, water, chew, water, chew, wash everything down. Repeat. This is my system. Listen, the toughest part isn’t the lifting. It’s not the cardio or getting up in the dark on a cold morning. It’s the diet. The monotony of eating. My training won’t change much. But eating? It will define me...
To rise above base instincts, you must assert your will.
Some days, I’m actually hungry... These are the good days. The food is still dry and tastes like crap, but at least I can get everything down and keep it there. Other days, I just sit and stare. I break out in a cold sweat. I have to will myself to start. Yeah, eating like this is a real pain in the ass.
Stay the course... Stay in control or you will lose you way.
People in the other world, they don’t understand. They can’t. They eat instinctively. For me, eating is another part of my life that must be controlled. I’ve had to learn how to eat, overcome my appetite. It sounds messed up, but that’s what I gotta do to prepare for this. It sucks and I’ve still got miles to go.
Fear. Loathing. Disgust.
Run. Hide. It walks among us...
Fear mingled with loathing. When I’m out in the world, this is what I see reflected in the eyes of others as they pass by. They only see a massive miscreant, a disgusting freak of nature, an ego run amok. They often stop and stare. But you wanna know what? They don’t really see me. While they see a freakshow, an abomination, I am an afterthought. I am invisible.
It is far easier to ignore than to understand.
This happens so often, I sometimes look in the mirror to make sure I’m still there. No, I am not a shadow. I am not invisible. In the mirror, I see skin, bone, muscle, sinew. I see the potential, the genetics my old man handed down. But there is also fear. Fear mingled with doubt. I look and wonder if I can shoulder the crushing burden of my own expectations.
We are programmed to fear the unknown, to turn away.
Only three weeks in and another fifteen to go, I stand here looking for signs of progress. After all the sacrifices, the early mornings, the meals, what stands before me is a man striving for something more. Behind the fear and doubt, a fire burns fierce with determination. Yeah, I see a man unsure of the what’s out there. But that’s not gonna turn me away.
The Power Of One.
There are two kinds of people in this world. The Ninety-Nines and the Ones.
The Ninety-Nines... That’s what I call ‘em. Ninety-nine out of a hundred people can’t fathom what I do. They scratch their heads, can’t believe my dedication to this great sport. Many don’t even think this a sport or that I have a life. Never let others define your ‘life’ for you. This is what I have chosen. This is the road I’ve taken, with all the potholes, bumps, and turns. The Ninety-Nines, they can’t commit 100% to being their best, to step up one day and stand tall among the giants.
There are those who rely on luck, and those who don't know the meaning of the word.
I don’t play the lottery. I don’t have the winning ticket. Everything I have, I busted my ass for. The only thing I ever got handed to me are the genetics my old man passed down. From him, I learned the value of a work ethic and getting your hands dirty. To those who’ve always wanted more, stand with me. We are few and we must stand on the mountaintops to be heard. When the day is done, our voices will carry. It shall be a call to all those who have always dreamed of something greater.
There are those who tear down others to build themselves up and those who just build.
To the naysayers, I say your words will fall on deaf ears. To the doubters, take your misgivings elsewhere. To the envious, do not desire what we will achieve. I will beat back mediocrity with a fierce hand, will demolish conformity, so that when it’s time to cash in my chips, I won’t leave a legacy of regret, that I didn’t go for mine. In each one of us lies the power to start something... So to those of you out there who can hear, let me say again, who are you and will you stand with me?
I Walk The Line.
There are two kind of people in this world. The Ninety-Nines and the Ones.
Bodybuilding is a line drawn in the sand—it slaps you in the face, dares you. At 14, when I discovered those weights in the basement, I knew I crossed that line, knew there would be no turning back... Ever.
There are those who rely on luck, and those who don't know the meaning of the word.
The quickest way between here and there, today and tomorrow, is a straight line. Each and every day, so many distractions get in the way, threaten to take me off course. I have to stay on the path, stay true.
There are those who tear down others to build themselves up and those who just build.
In my life, I walk a tightrope. The air is thin up here and one small misstep means I’ll fall to the ground—without a safety net. Needs and desires? Yeah, it’s hard having to balance everything, staying focused.
It separates reason from madness...
It’s a fine line between the two... People think I’m nuts doing what I do. Yeah, they’re not wrong. This pursuit is a descent into madness. I’ve been on this slide for a while now and I can’t stop. Not yet...
It's thicker than water...
When I look at my hands, I see my old man. My hands, like his, were made for working. But it’s more than genetics he passed on. On days where I feel like hanging it up, I see him and I keep steamrolling on.
It's a thread woven into your life...
As a kid, I knew all the bodybuilders by heart—the faces, their stats. See this curl machine? Arnold himself used it. Know what that’s like? Pure electricity. This great sport has a long line... I am part of it.
You are alone...
I’ve torn through a dozen or so relationships... Bodybuilding is a lonely sport. Alone when I eat, when I train, and when I finally stand under the bright lights. It’s Friday night and I’m here with my girl but I’m alone. She’s pissed & won’t talk. Can’t say I blame her. Still, she knew it was coming...
You are selfish...
Anytime I meet a good one, I always let her know what she’s getting—selfishness... A big fat heaping serving of it. Why waste her time or mine? I tell ‘em, but it never works. They don’t think it’ll be so bad putting up with all this. Maybe they think they can change me. Yeah, like that’ll happen...
You have to be. Being in this great sport—being great in this sport-- requires selfishness... It’s demanded of you, just like sacrifice is. But that selfishness is not for personal profit or pleasure, but personal achievement. There’s something I need to accomplish and nothing’s gonna get between me and it... Nothing.
Drowning in numbers...
Numbers. Some days, I feel like I’m drowning in ‘em. Everything I do has to do with numbers... The weights I pile on, one after the other. The minutes I count off, one by one, during cardio. The calories I don’t add up anymore cuz I know my meals by sight. All the reps over the days, weeks, years. The same angry red numbers that glare at me every morning, telling me to get up. Then there are a specific set of numbers--55.30.29.
With numbers, people objectify.
Though they are not official, like a driver’s license or other form of ID, these numbers, from top to bottom, identify me... And that can be a problem. These simple six digits are the reason people stare, mutter under their breaths, ask so many ignorant questions whenever I step out into their world. See, with numbers, people want to objectify me like they would some centerfold. But instead of lust, I’m talking about disgust.
You cannot be so easily defined...
These numbers I have earned at great cost and sacrifice. So let them loathe me. Let them try to define me. I know who I am, who I will become. As I sit here, pumped from a grueling balls out set, I feel bigger than 55.30.29... Bigger than life. Though I’ve accomplished much in seven weeks, that doesn’t change a damn thing... I’ve still got nine weeks to go. So I will pull my cap down low, and push on, toiling in anonymity.
Bodybuilding Is Living.
Another rep, another nail. Another set, another brick. Another split, another backbreaking load of concrete... An honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. In here, no distractions. Not like the outside, with ignorant people and their questions such as, ‘Is bodybuilding a sport?’ The first hundred times, I answered. I’ve stopped answering long ago...
What can a word mean?
Sport. What does the word even mean? Yeah, it is a word that’s easily defined... Still it doesn't mean much. Let me ask you, how do you describe what you do in a single word, an entire way of living with just 5 letters? I can’t. What I do is more than a word. What I do cannot be confined by the basic limitations of language. Who I am cannot be so easily defined.
Bodybuilding is more than a word...
Bodybuilding is a sport, one that doesn’t end with stepping up on stage... That’s just a detour. But bodybuilding is more, like breathing or living. It is transcendent. It is not merely a word, but a symbol, a process of becoming—a constant striving to better oneself. This great journey that I’m on, one that we all can become a part of, has a beginning but no end.
As I sit here, in the middle of my labor with two and a quarter on my back, I know I’m just a tiny speck. On this ordinary day, as I hammer out reps, each one drives my determination deeper into the grain of my being.
Bound By Blood.
Naked, weak, free...
We’re all born the same, unfettered by preconceived limitations. Eventually, we submit to laws. There are those we must embrace in order to be free... The laws of iron and discipline. Then there are those we must challenge for that very same freedom... The laws of conformity and small-mindedness. The weight of these chains are so subtle, we forget them. This is how we are shackled, tamed. Normalcy becomes the rule and we grow comfortable with limits. Like a dog at the end of a leash, we move but never of our own will.
It is time to defy, time to rise up...
I will test my mettle, pull hard against these restraints. I will not let conventional thinking rule me. As I stand here, the chain will bury deep into my flesh, the weight will pull me down. But I will fight. I will defy gravity. If I fall, I will get right back up. Brothers, life is short and every minute that passes hurtles us closer to the end. In the time that I have, I have bound myself to this chosen life and it to me--these words are the contract that binds me to this sport... Upon it, I have signed my name in blood.
Whatcha' Looking At?
Some people just want to look...
Other people get greeting cards full of nice words. I get looks... All kinds, all day long. It’s like living in a cage. Different looks carry different sentiments. Some are friendly. Others aren’t. Whenever I catch a certain look from a kid new to the sport, I remember how I used to walk past this one gym every morning. Each time, I’d stop and look through the glass that separated me from the big boys training with incomprehensible weights. I was intimidated but deep down, I knew I belonged there. When I finally got the courage to join, I was at the bottom of the food chain looking up.
Is that why you're here?
Today, if I could look back and see my face as that young kid who walked into the gym for the first time, I’ll tell you what I’d see. A little fear mingled with something greater. Hunger... A face burning with desire... A kid who had something to prove and wanted all the world to know it. In the years between, I’ve learned a couple things. First, the only person you have anything to prove to is yourself. Second, you can watch life with your nose pressed up against the glass. Or you can swing open the doors and step inside.
In Too Deep...
The sea will swallow you...
It’s late and I’m out of focus. I feel adrift at sea, lost in my backbreaking labors. Then all at once it hits me like a beacon in the night. In the middle of my rep, halfway through my set, that familiar feeling returns... The pain. It washes over me, wave after wave. My senses reel. Yeah, I could drop it all, walk away from this burden. Instead, I grit my teeth, catch my breath, and plow forward. When the going gets tough, many head for safe harbor. I don’t. I welcome the pain -- it keeps me honest. It grounds me. Brothers, this sea is wide and rough. Though the pain may come over you, never let it overcome you.
Who are you?
Who am I? Depends on who you ask. Some see nothing more than a mindless monster, an egotistical freak of nature to be pitied or feared. Others see a man guided by a singular purpose. Who am I? As I stand under this hot light and look into this mirror, I see a monster and a man. But I also see a bullied fat kid. A son looking up to his old man. A youth in search of a road. I’ve since found that road and soon, I’ll know how far I’ve gone and who next I’ll become.
Under My Skin.
It's an itch you can't scratch...
I’d scratch till every square inch of me was bloody and raw but it’s no use... This maddening itch, like maggots festering under my skin, is always there, out of reach. We’re all the same. We are made of blood and bone. The difference lies underneath. The reason I am standing here is because long ago this great endeavor, this way of life, got under my skin... And ever since, I’ve been scratching away, clawing furiously for every last bloody pound.
You wouldn't have it any other way.
Though the road has been hard as the day is long, I wouldn’t trade in a second. The strength that’s allowed me to endure doesn’t come from what you see—the thick slabs of meat, veins thick as rope, skin so thin the grainy fibers show. No, it runs deeper. To get to it, you’d have to cut away all the layers of doubt and distraction till knife hits bone. The seconds are passing by. Find that itch... Scratch till there’s nothing left.
Here's how it will begin...
It all begins with a simple push—a swift kick in the ass and we’re out on our own, kicking and screaming. But it doesn’t stop there. Later, we’ll be pushed around, pushed down--with fists and with words... You won’t amount to much. You’re wasting your time. Don’t be different--just fit in. Yeah, the world is gonna tell us who we ought to be, never stopping to ask who we actually are. Who are we?
And here is how it will end?... We are the misfits and the dreamers. Though I’m still 4 weeks out, for the past 12, I’ve been pushing too. Pushing myself to the limit. Pushing off complacency. Pushing through hurdles, smashing through walls. Pushing back at all those in my life who said I’d fail. Cuz when push comes to shove, you gotta listen to your own voice... And if anyone tells you different, you tell him to shove it up his ass.
Putting it all together, one nickel and dime at a time.
So yesterday I’m in the supermarket picking up a couple things & as I check out, the cashier hands me my change. I dump ‘em into my pocket. We do a lot of things without thinking twice and everywhere, the change starts accumulating—in cars, coat pockets, wherever. Why worry about a couple coins—they’re not worth much, right? Wrong. Listen up brothers... All that change’ll add up to hundreds. It may not happen overnight, but it will eventually. You just gotta have the patience to see the big picture. In the gym, it’s like time unfolds in front of me. After all, time is all I do have... Time to do things right, time to take my time. In here, I won’t shortchange myself by cuttin’ corners--can’t afford to with three weeks to go. In here, the change I’m making comes in denominations of 45s... And with every weighted pullup, every last set, my change jar is slowly fillin’ up.
How can you tell the dreamer from the dream?
I’ve been having this recurring vision... In it, there’s this fishtank—it calms me. I see a small speck floating on the water, and as I look closer, it’s me... I’m atop the waves. There’s water as far as the eye can see, yet I can’t drink. Not a drop. I taste salt in my mouth. I taste the bile. My thirst is great and it hangs around my neck like a chain. Eventually the weight drags me under. I’m drowning... I struggle, flail, kick... Then suddenly, I sense the familiar cold, hard hand of iron. I grab hold and pull myself up. Brothers, this world is a vast sea but one thing remains fixed, constant... This iron. This calling. This thirst.
Connecting The Dots...
Order emerges out of chaos...
Dust collects in the corners of my room. My girl, she gets so sick of it, she’ll sweep it up. I don’t care one way or the other—right now, dust is the least of my concerns. Like dust, loose change piles up in a jar I keep on the floor by my front door. When there’s enough, I’ll use it to buy what I need, like more food. Yeah, it’s like that... From randomness comes order. From order comes a clearer picture. As a kid, I remember the game, connect the dots. You start with nothing, just a bunch of dots on a page, and as you start connecting ‘em, something emerges. When you’ve finished, you’re rewarded with an answer, a complete picture. For the past four months, I’ve been toiling in the shadows, in anonymity... And I’ve been patiently connecting each dot, waiting to see what will emerge.
What Goes Around...
This is for...
The bullies who chased me... You strengthened my resolve. The haters who said I’d fail... I am still here. Those who fell to the earth thinking they were the only star above... The night sky is ablaze with lights. My old man... Yeah, this is for the one who not only gave me his name, but more... I’ve felt your hand on my shoulder each day and it has guided me. This is for all those who believed. For eighteen weeks, I have toiled outside of society, on a fixed and lonely path. Now, I have come full circle, back to where I started. Here... This place. Yeah, life is like that. As I sit on the edge, on the threshold, what I’ve learned is that this journey is not a straight line. And the plates on each side of me, they support me. They hold me in place, like bookends around the story that is my life... And the next chapter is about to unfold...