In this episode of the Super Strength Show, Chris “The Wonder” Schoeck, takes us on his journey to becoming a Performing Strongman and Subject of the Documentary “Bending Steel”. During this interview, Chris gives you a history lesson on the world of performing strongman and teaches you how a journey in the strength game can prepare you for success in all other areas of life.
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[0:00:19.3] RT: What’s up Strength Maniacs? And thanks for tuning in. I’m pleased to welcome today’s guest Chris Wonder Schoeck. Despite standing only five seven and weighing just shy of 155 pounds, Chris routinely performs mind-blowing feats of sheer strength. All are amazed as he bends spikes with his bare hands, twists horse shoes and tears completely through decks of plastic coated cards.
He even bend spikes and steel bars that are so impressive, get this guys, grandmaster Strongman Dennis Rogers, the one and only has stated, “I have yet to see a man of his size and stature come even close to bending such a massive bar.” It’s just amazing, once we enter this world guys, I mean, it’s like we’re in wonderland, some of the things I can — it’s hard to believe some of this stuff, it’s pure Ripley’s believe it or not, let me put it that way. But here we go.
So Chris is a subject of the movie Bending Steel, a feature length documentary that follows his training development and transformation to becoming a professional Strongman. With exceptional stage presence and charm, Chris “Wonder” Schoeck captivates audiences with power, energy and finesse. A show guaranteed to leave audiences wondering how wonder achieved such amazing strength. You can connect with him by visiting his website at chriswonderschoeck.com and just to get the spelling right because it’s a little bit tricky, it’s ChrisWonderSchoeck.com.
You got to love those silent letters and vowels and all that great stuff. But anyway, Chris, welcome to the show, it’s an absolute pleasure. I love having a professional performing Strongman on the show. We’ve talked quite a bit before we hit the record button and I keep saying to myself, one of this days, I got to record the pre-show amble and rambling and whatnot because there’s some good stuff that’s shared there. And I think we share a mutual passion for this wonderful and beautiful thing that’s called performing Strongman, steel bending and the sort. So If you wouldn’t mind, how about you share a little bit more information about yourself?
[0:02:30.2] CS: Thanks for having me, it’s a pleasure being here. My elevator speech: probably October of 2009 I was involved in Olympic weightlifting, I was handed a trophy by a man named Joe Rollino, he must have been a hundred years old. He shook my hand and it nearly broke me to my knees, I later found out that he was an old time Strongman who performed on Coney Island and my eyes lit up.
It was like Christmas morning. I went out and I bought steel bars and I tried to bend quarters and all these things very unsuccessfully. I found the gentleman on the Internet and Cinnaminson, New Jersey, he’s no longer with us. He invited me up to his welding shop and he introduced me to this art, bending bars and doing all this, bending horse shoes and spikes and he put a bar between my legs and showed me one method of bending and I was successful at it.
He said to me that I really had something special and my eyes lit up, he said it to me with such sincerity, had such meaning to it, it was so genuine and then he suggested that I get in contact with somebody named Chris Rider an old time Strongman who practices out of Pennsylvania and I called him up and told them what I wanted to do and out of the blue I told my woman to be an old time Strongman.
So we arranged and I saw him once every five weeks for five hours and in between our visits I usually have practiced assignments and things that I needed to do and I practiced them downstairs in the basement of my cooperative. I got better and better at them and kind of just the physical part and a movie producer lived in my building and he was downstairs doing laundry one day and the second time he saw me, he approached me.
We spoke about doing a vignette for his portfolio I assume and that turned into something 20 minutes and I guess I said, “Why don’t you come along, come with me while I train with some of the old time Strongmen, people that do this in Pennsylvania?” And he brought a sound guy, and there were two camera guys and at that point they made the decision that it was enough meat for a feature length film.
They spend probably somewhere between 225 and 250 hours of usable footage, editing was indeed a heroic process. But it was very, very — it was quite successful and it was picked up by Tribeca and eventually picked up by Direct TV and it has certainly made a very impressive round at film festivals and that was quite an experience for me to go around with that movie. The Toronto and Calgary and all these places which I would probably never have seen otherwise.
[0:05:56.1] RT: Very interesting, it’s amazing how something as obscure as bending steel, performing Strongman can captivate an audience’s imagination. Maybe it is because it is somewhat obscure. I mean how many people in the run of the day bump into somebody who does this or has ever seen these things? Not very many.
That must have been quite the experience to become a bit of a movie star for a while, there. Nothing wrong with that and that video, we’ll talk about that a little bit later on, it’s good watching, it’s very motivational, I’ve seen little snippets and clips here and there, I can’t wait to sit down and actually get to watch the whole thing, I plan on doing that in the next few nights here.
It does look very interesting so I can’t wait to get into it. But it sounds like when he shook your hand, the gentleman you talked about, the iron bug got you, the steel that usually is you wrap your hand around a barbell and you start lifting and the iron bug gets you and this is like the steel bending bug got you. It’s very true wouldn’t you say? The minute you start a little bit of it, it’s like you can’t stop. It’s like Lays, you have one and you can’t stop at one.
[0:07:00.3] CS: No, you can’t. It becomes — the steel sort of becomes an extension of yourself and it’s not uncommon for Strongmen to keep horse shoes that they’re unable to bend on their night table. I know myself, I keep a horse shoe that I can’t bend wrapped in the bathroom. In the morning, I hit that thing hard. I keep pieces of steel in small bars that I’m trying to bend that are out of my league.
I keep them in prominent places so that I can — they’re right in my face and I’ve got to practice, every time I see them I hit them. It becomes part of your personality and when you start dreaming about it then you know you’re really on the journey.
[0:07:59.6] RT: Yeah, it’s a beautiful thing, it’s a wonderful thing too, I like that idea how you and I we were talking before, once you actually do get to bend the piece of steel especially one that was really challenging, you have something you can actually hang on your wall.
[0:08:10.4] CS: Yeah.
[0:08:11.0] RT: You reward yourself your own trophies.
[0:08:12.9] CS: You’re right, it’s triumph, right. You might have been trying to work on that thing for three months and then when it finally goes, you really have something to be proud of.
[0:08:25.0] RT: Oh for sure, yeah, definitely. I think it was Slim “The Hammer” Farmer, I think he has a wall of various, I think it was him that has a wall of various steel that he’s bent possibly. I’m trying to think who is that?
[0:08:38.3] CS: Oh he has, I don’t want to say cavernous but an endless, he refers to it as his dungeon, it is a museum, it’s a historical spot, It’s a place where it’s a hundred years of history of great feats performed by the greats are all over the wall, horse shoes, all the stuff he has done, I guess a little bit of a rite of passage to bend something and have him place it in there.
There’s great horse shoe, bars and the stuff that I’ve done in there which I’m proud of. It’s just Feats of organized bent steel and pictures and it is probably, as I said, spans a hundred years of great pictures that’s going back to stand out and all the old Strongmen, it’s a fun place I could spend endless amounts of time poking around in there.
[0:09:47.5] RT: Yeah, it would be amazing if we had a proper Strongman museum, I know they have something, I want to say university of Texas?
[0:09:53.3] CS: Yes. Yes, yes. They have a very interesting one at the University of Texas and they have stuff at the York barbell museum in Pennsylvania.
[0:10:05.0] RT: Yeah, definitely spots to visit I would say, it would be great to have a little tour around a couple of this places, that would be a lot of fun. All right, let’s jump in to the following question which is sharing one of your favorite success quotes or a motto that you live by and how you apply it to your training and life.
[0:10:25.7] CS: All right, I think one of mine that I have wrote down a couple, “The secret of success is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.” That is one and on a daily basis also when I train, “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” And there was — ah, the last one and a very important one to remember no matter what you do, “Make failure your teacher, not your undertaker.”
[0:11:07.4] RT: I like that one.
[0:11:09.7] CS: What that tells me is no matter what training you do with steel and we talk about being able to find value and pushing through pain, understand that yes, you need to push through pain and discomfort but you need proper progression. So in other words, you don’t injure yourself while you’re training. You have to accept the fact that your first attempt to push on something usually is going to be unsuccessful. As a matter of fact, you could push in something for a long time that would be unsuccessful. Your responsibility is to put in 100% and if you know that you put in 100%, that was a successful workout.
[0:12:04.6] RT: Yeah, these are some very interesting mottos. I love pointing out the fact that what we learn in the gym and do in the gym, it provides so and equips us with lessons and abilities and personal traits that we can apply in all areas of our life. If there’s one group of iron athletes, one sector of the physical culture realm or world that gets this, it’s performing Strongmen.
More often than not, correct me if I’m wrong, when you guys perform feats, you try to connect it with a message when it comes to your life in general. You try to apply light meaning to these things other than simply a physical feat, bending steel or something. No, no, this has a meaning to it.
[0:12:49.1] CS: You mean, try to show people that there’s more than just a brute bending something strong. There’s reason, there’s philosophy behind it, there’s history. I often, well not often but sometimes open a seminar or a gig by explaining that one of the greatest horse shoe benders of all time was Leonardo De Vinci and all of a sudden, you’ve captivated a certain group of people.
There are certain people out there that think of themselves as intellectuals or whatever but when you can show that there’s a certain amount, there’s importance, you can attach somebody’s name like that to what you’re doing, “Maybe there is value in this, maybe it is just more than bending horseshoes, maybe it’s more than just manipulating steel,” and then they can open up to it and it’s important for people to understand that there’s a lifestyle and a whole history to this, it goes back to the Romans, bending steel bars.
[0:14:02.5] RT: Which is an amazing history. That’s one of the things about the physical culture, realm of training the Strongman, that part of working out, working out is a lot more than Muscle Beach which in of itself has a great history that most people are not aware of. It’s a lot more than just getting a pump to look good at the beach or to intimidate the guys around, you impress the guys.
Because it could be argued, most of us when we train, it gets to a point where it’s like, “Okay, if you started originally to impress the girls. I think we’re well beyond that point now, I think now we’re trying to impress the guys and try to kind of show the guys up.” I think we get to that point but there’s more to training than that. When it comes to the world of physical culture, it’s all physical culture but when we use that term in the sense of all time Strongmen, 1950’s, 30’s, 20’s late 1800’s.
There’s such a history and like you said, it continues way beyond and past just a hundred years ago. We’re talking about Greeks, the romans, there’s carvings and sculptures and stories of athletes, not athletes, I apologize, of Strongmen from the times of Greece and before, also in other parts of the world that would test their might by picking up stones and they have these things memorialized and various carvings and sculptures. This is stuff that goes back thousands of years. Whenever you do that, there’s this connection that goes all the way back all those millennia.
[0:15:28.7] CS: This primordial, this connection that almost brings you back to your primordial past or the very beginnings of man. Yeah, that’s true. That’s unfortunately not always on the forefront of my mind when I’m training but that is part of it. [Inaudible] dungeon certainly would carry you back more than a hundred years. That’s part of a place to see.
[0:15:53.0] RT: Unbelievable. All right, let’s move in to sharing a story of a time in your training when you encountered a major challenge. That sounds like every workout but maybe not but let’s see. Take us to that time in your life and tell us the story and share the lessons that you learned from it.
[0:16:10.1] CS: Okay. Probably the biggest challenge in bending steal which is [inaudible] all my life. There is a bar which I wanted to bend and it was 30 inches long, it was two inches wide, was three eighth inches thick and I couldn’t make a dent in it and I spent maybe nine months trying to bend this bloody thing.
Really laying into it and nothing happened. It was a major part of the movie, not so much romancing this bar but sort of training and figuring out how I was going to conquer this bar, which I held and which I had people look at and which kind of like a brother almost, that was in my living room. I always had a first and absolutely pronounced fear of speaking and doing anything in front of people.
That just absolutely horrified me and the last scene of the movie was right after hurricane Irene and it was the most beautiful day on Coney Island and that morning, when I got up, I knew I was going to have to bend that bar that evening. I knew it but that bar would not move. I got in position in my living room and I said, “Let me just see if I can move this bar a quarter of an inch just a little bit, just to see if it’s possible.” And it didn’t budge.
I was expected that evening in the final scene in the movie to get up in front of a whole group of people on film and bend that bar. That was truly an extremely nerve wracking experience. It was almost a sleepless night too. To see the results, you have to see the movie but that was indeed a pivotal moment in my life.
My life changed from that point on. That was probably the biggest challenge, the most important thing I ever had to face down in the last few years. I’ve had ups and downs with jobs and employment and stuff, but those are usually things that you can do something about. It’s a question of getting up and getting motivated and seeing what’s out there.
[0:19:07.5] RT: What did you take away from that?
[0:19:10.7] CS: I took away, I knew that physically I was getting rather impressively strong, it took away — the crowd consisted mostly of people that I didn’t know and a whole bunch of people there liked me and they were really supporting me. The crowds wanted me to bend that bar and that was such a good, that was in a way a very good feeling.
I think I lost my fear of performing in front of people or diminished it substantially. It represented a complete breaking free of my past and the start of a new life for me, that moment. I’m trying to give you something that you can — some meat that you can touch but there was before that experience and then there was after and afterwards, I was a different person with less limitations with a lot more confidence, sense of self-worth and an eagerness and a willingness to be part of what’s going on in society and to try some of the things that are offered out there.
That gave me these new experiences and these new exposure showed me that there were other things that could become good at and just opened up a whole new world for me that may not have been opened up if it had not been for those few precious moments.
[0:21:00.6] RT: Would you say that all happened in an instant the moment you were able to…
[0:21:03.6] CS: I would say yes. As a matter of fact, it was kind of — I don’t know if the word is surreal or not. It’s just seems like it almost see myself getting up there and trying. I would say that it was maybe a total of three minutes or something that I wrestled with that bar that I wrestled with a little introduction on stage and wrestled with the bar. It was a very short period of time but it was extremely pivotal powerful moment in my life.
[0:21:40.9] RT: Okay, well that leads in to the next question which is sharing a story of a time in your training in life when you had a breakthrough moment and if you could take us back again and kind of paint the picture for us and explain the steps that you took to turn that lightbulb moment into success.
[0:21:58.2] CS: You mean such as working on a new horseshoe or something like that?
[0:22:04.3] RT: Yeah, like maybe when you had almost like an epiphany or realization, this breakthrough and the lightbulb just kind of — boom, it flipped. The switch flipped and the lightbulb came on and you’re like, “Oh okay, okay.” You have this breakthrough realization of sorts.
[0:22:18.4] CS: I’ve had a few of them when I approach let’s say a horse shoe that I cannot move and keep trying and then all of a sudden it goes and you say, “Wow, I’m getting stronger.” Those type of moments, trying to think — yes, I do. Oddly enough it was pretty benign but it occurred, I would say July 4th, 2012 and I was sitting in my mentor’s truck and he hands me a deck of mini cards. Good mini cards, Bicycle.
He said, “I want you to tear them in half,” and I don’t know what I said, I probably said something, I said, “I can’t do it,” and he said, “Can’t, we don’t say that around here.” And I tore them right in half and I still have the deck on the wall. That was quite a leap forward for me. Another moment occurred I believe in May 22, 2012. I bent my first seven inch spike. That was quite a breakthrough.
That was some — when you get into that stuff it’s a different ballgame. I had, my four years or so, has been filled with these moments. I have saved virtually every one of this precious moments or these little trophies to the tune of having nearly 3,000 pounds of — it accumulates after a while.
[0:24:04.7] RT: Wow
[0:24:06.0] CS: Yeah, most of it is dated. When I can go look through this heap and see where I started and where I am now. The changes that occurred in my personality and my whole being correspond to this sort of record of what I’ve been doing in steel bending. It’s almost like sedimentary rock, it’s different layers. You dig further down, you see stuff that now very easy and I look at stuff now it’s totally different. But I have in fact kept a record of my whole history of steel bending and I can look back on those pieces and recall the state of mind I was in and…
[0:24:59.4] RT: You know what?
[0:24:59.7] CS: …sometimes even the state of mind I was in after I’ve been to this.
[0:25:04.4] RT: I was just going to say, sometimes people will have a trophy of some sort after winning some event. I know my brother loves — he’s really into basketball, very competitive, plays at a very competitive level and you know, when they win a championship, they do the whole cutting of the net off of the rim to keep, they’ll chop it up and slice it up so players each get a piece of it.
I’ve seen things like obviously hunters will have either photos or they will have — they’ll mount, the rack of whatever it is that they hunted and they’ll have a little plaque maybe commemorating the date the day, a little bit of information. In training, many times, we hit this PR’s, we don’t have that same tangible reminder and obviously if you’re in a competition and you win something, you’re going to get some type of a trophy. But there’s this something about having a trophy that’s a piece of steel that you actually bent and having that mounted and then what you said is really interesting.
Being able to look through this and I bet you any money by looking at them, you instantly get this emotions and feelings going through you in these memories and it’s so interesting that you said you write down to just write down what’s happening in your mind before and then afterwards you’d write down what you were thinking during and then how you felt afterwards. I don’t know what but something about that is really interesting.
[0:26:33.6] CS: There is definitely, I know this, there’s Chris before the object’s bent and then there’s Chris after the object’s bent. Each little piece is sort of progress or a stepping stone and all of this ultimately is a journey and it’s a journey. Where it ends, I don’t know. But the purpose of the journey really is to propel you to or prepare you to succeed or to try to succeed in other areas of life and to accept, truly accept things that you’re not successful at to be able to differentiate but not to get complacent.
It’s continual progress we’re concerned with and that’s one of the nice things about saving all this steel. You see levels of horse shoes and nails and steel bars and the intricacies of the scrolls and you have all that stuff that you can look at, you can look through and you can reflect on and I honestly I don’t — at some point I’m going to have to face that I’m going to have to do something with it. I mean quite literally have nearly 3,000 pounds worth of stuff. I mean I don’t know what to do with it all.
I remember one, oddly enough, I just managed to part with — I live in a relatively small apartment probably I don’t know 800 square feet. I would do most of my card tearing in my apartment, but the first time I tear a deck of cards, I was very unsuccessful and I mentioned to my mentor, I said, “Well listen, there are so many areas that I enjoy, let’s just stick with those areas and let’s just write off card tearing.”
Well, lo and behold, I became quite good at card tearing, I love it. I was told, “Listen, save the cards because you’re going to go back and quarter them, so it will save you a lot of money. I must have knocked off probably 250 feet in my apartment with cards.
[0:29:18.0] RT: Say that again?
[0:29:20.1] CS: I saved them all, I saved them in bins and the bins just accumulated and piled up and closed the kitchen off and I just — and through those cards, you could look through the bins and you could see what you started with and what you finally moved on to and you see progress there. It’s very hard to understand how somebody could actually be attached to a deck of cards but they were important to me and that itself is a breakthrough for me.
[0:29:58.7] RT: Where do you manage to find all this cards and not go broke?
[0:30:02.4] CS: Well, how I don’t go broke I don’t know, but I buy them through gaming supply shops.
[0:30:09.6] RT: Okay, all right. So you’re buying them, I mean they’re new cards?
[0:30:12.9] CS: Yes, they’re new cards, I buy them by the gross, decks by the gross.
[0:30:19.2] RT: Wow, okay, all right. You’re going through a fair amount?
[0:30:23.5] CS: Yes. Now that I tear them into quarters and stuff. I go through less than I used to and I’m also working with more difficult decks. I used to go through 30 decks a week, more and over time, that adds up.
[0:30:43.2] RT: In one week that adds up.
[0:30:45.9] CS: Yeah it does, it adds up.
[0:30:47.3] RT: Especially if they’re half decent quality cards, I mean that’s a couple of bucks a deck isn’t it?
[0:30:52.7] CS: They range anywhere from about $170 a gross to $240 a gross.
[0:31:00.9] RT: How many decks would you say are in a gross?
[0:31:03.1] CS: 144.
[0:31:04.5] RT: 144 yeah, okay so it’s a bit, it adds up. Okay, let’s…
[0:31:11.1] CS: It adds up for a while and.
[0:31:13.6] RT: Steel adds up too.
[0:31:15.8] CS: Steel adds up too especially if you have your steel ship to you which I was doing. Now I found a couple of local suppliers who drop it curb side, which is a little more difficult because I got a deal and deliver it but I would say the most expensive part about ordering the scrap metal is having it shipped.
[0:31:41.9] RT: Okay.
[0:31:42.9] CS: I get so much gratification out of it, for me I don’t think about it, it’s worth every penny. I’m very attached to different things that I’ve done and I’m developing quite a museum here myself. As a matter of fact, I have one piece which I still can’t get over. You mentioned stainless steel before. I think I have the bar that — as a matter of fact I know I have the bar that made him famous.
It’s two inches wide, three eighth inches thick of 18 and three quarters inches long and it is top quality stainless steel. He bent that over his thigh and I have lots of stuff that Strongmen have done on my walls, rebar, scrolls, horse shoes into hearts, cards, stuff from the mighty atom pictures of slim, I have a wonderful picture on the wall which is very motivational. It’s an original pastel of the Mighty Adam. There are only three of them.
I have one here, nicely framed on my wall and it’s a four trip and it’s done so well when you look at the eyes, it’s almost as though no matter where I go in my living room, the eyes sort of shift with me, it’s almost like something out of the Adams Family. I guest that’s one of the signs in a well done portrait. It’s so alive. It’s motivational, it’s the first thing I see when I leave in the morning and it sort of reminds me that I have an obligation to be bold than I can be and be the person I should be during the day.
My wall is covered with other pictures too, bars that Slim used to bend, pictures of him leveraging hammers, I have pictures of — oh who do we have here? We have Tom — General Tom Thumb also who is a quite an important, who actually was quite an important figure especially in the Bridgeport community. As a matter of fact, he was held out at arms lengths by a gentleman named I believe Angus MacAskill. He was a seven foot nine giant out of I think Nova Scotia.
[0:34:23.4] RT: He was yeah.
[0:34:25.9] CS: Yes and Tom Thumb was a little figure and he held him in his hand, sometimes he used to fill in — MacAskill for I believe PT Barnum. But I have a lot of figures and pictures who give me inspiration and positive feelings and motivation and steel bending is sort of — I’ve got steel bending on the mind, I think about it all the time, I think about it when I’m sleeping, I think about the lessons it’s taught me and along with the development of this strength, I believe comes a certain obligation to act a certain way, to behave a certain way, to react a certain way.
And also teaches one very important lesson which carries over to anything else that you do in life, and that’s patience. It teaches patience, it teaches learning to be attentive, learning to listen, those are all the things, those are some of the things which are not obvious to a newer vendor but as you progress through the journey, those are things that you become acutely aware of. It also has taught me to be less judgmental of what other people do.
To be a little more open minded and before I participated in this field, I sort of think that I wasn’t exposed to — I turned my nose up or I was contemptuous of and that sort of mentality kept me in a rather insulated little world and through bending steel, I managed or I am managing to break out of that wall. I’ve got a substantial way to go but I think I’m leading a more fulfilling life, a more complicated life. A life where other things are being introduced to me that I enjoy things and that I value and maybe I’m even learning how to contribute.
And I feel differently about myself. I feel like I not only participate but not a passive observer of what’s going on in life. A real participant in it. All these things are sort of like, this is like a snowballing effect. You know you have a few successes and that gives you fortitude to withstand a few failures and you go out, you continually reach and try new things and some of them you like and some of them you don’t care for but you’re no longer are — you go to work, maybe you read a little bit, and maybe you worked out a little bit and you do that day in and day out and that’s all you do in life.
[0:37:46.8] RT: Yeah, that’s a very interesting way of putting it, how having those successes allow you to handle some failures as well, kind of builds up your ability to do that. Really good. All right Chris, we’re going to go to a break right now and guys, you’ve been listening to Chris “Wonder” Schoeck from chriswonderschoeck.com, some very interesting insights and input. As you could tell, the man’s extremely passionate about what he does and this realm of the training world, you do find people that are deeply passionate about their training.
This physical cultures, end of things, the old school type of training, the Strongman, the steel bending, you find that they have a very — there’s like a historian/historic aspect to it, many people who get in to this do become historians of sorts. This is great stuff, I got to say, I got to give a shout out right now to Brooks Kubic who wrote the famous little blue monster Dinosaur Training because he opened my eyes up to this world and I’m forever grateful to him for doing that.
I’m indebted to him for that. I really appreciate the fact that I had the chance of learning about all of this wonderful stuff. It is, it’s an amazing thing man, you just kind of figure out one thing and then you learn another and you go down and down and down the rabbit hole you go and it’s just great stuff, it’s so much fun. Great stories, great anecdotes, great just history and connection. So many things we could say about this.
Anyway, we’re going to be right back with our guest, Chris “Wonder” Schoeck, hold on to your dumbbells guys.
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[0:40:24.2] RT: All right guys we’re back with our guest, Chris ‘Wonder’ Schoeck. This guy’s a movie star if you don’t know, he’s the star of the movie bending steel, I highly recommend you go look for that, we’re going to have a link to that on the show notes page, it actually received a lot of accolades, a lot of attention, a lot of good reviews and whatnot, it’s a very interesting story.
So I highly recommend you check that out and it’s great because you can access it online which is a beautiful thing, it’s relatively easy to do that. We’ll make sure that people can get that information in, may as well ask you right now. Chris, it’s simply Bending Steel Bovie or the movie, is that how you get to it? bendingsteelmovie.com.
[0:41:05.1] CS: I would say www.bendingsteelmovie.com.
[0:41:09.3] RT: Okay, excellent, we’ll link to that.
[0:41:11.9] CS: Actually I’m almost certain if you just Google “Bending Steel”, it will probably be one of the first things that pops up. You have immediate download accessibility to iTunes or through Amazon also. It’s on Direct TV so you’ll be able to — but certainly through Amazon or iTunes. They have it, download it.
[0:41:38.5] RT: Beautiful, excellent. I’d check it out guys if you’re at all interested. Even from an artistic movie buff kind of end of things, it seems to have gotten, as I said, a lot of rave reviews. Just that aspect alone, the whole true story, autobiography, biography, bio pic end of things. I tend to find that real life stories, movies based on true life stories. Be extremely entertaining and this is more of a documentary obviously but still, good stuff. Check that out. bendingsteelmovie.com. While we’re at it, who is the producer, director and then we’ll move on to the next question.
[0:42:14.6] CS: Dave Carol and Ryan Scutiro.
[0:42:18.7] RT: Did you say?
[0:42:19.3] CS: Producers and directors.
[0:42:21.2] RT: You said Jay Carol, was that what it was?
[0:42:23.1] CS: Dave Carol.
[0:42:26.1] RT: Dave.
[0:42:26.8] CS: Dave Carol and Ryan Scutiro and I know the names of the other guys, I can’t mention them all because each of them is of equal importance and I can’t ramble through all of them and at risk of leaving one out.
[0:42:42.7] RT: Well that’s why they got credits at the end of the movie.
[0:42:45.0] CS: Yes.
[0:42:47.0] RT: Now, here’s a question for you Chris, real quick, if you don’t mind, you mentioned your mentor a few times, would you be willing to share who that is?
[0:42:54.3] CS: Yes. Well, there are a couple of people that I regard as mentors and coaches. I have to tell you that I believe it was February 21st that I met Greg Matonic, he was the Strongman from New Jersey, who in fact suggested that I get in touch with Chris Rider who was a Strongman from Pennsylvania and also featured prominently in the film.
And he’s a terrific coach and I used the word coach because he guided me through the mechanical aspects and some of the mentality necessary to, an encouragement needed to become successful at this particular activity and I have also a relatively close relationship with Dennis Rogers who in a lot of ways it is a mentor in so far as, not so much guidance for the physical aspect, but now that I have participated in the journey for a while and I discovered other things that I need, health or guidance within my life. He is a very, a wealth of experience and information and has certainly helped in other words guide me as becoming a better person, which is I’m learning ultimately that’s what steel bending is about.
Those are three people that are extremely important to me and all of us or most of us probably, certainly the movie was a showed the Strongman lineage in a very correct way starting with the Mighty Atom. From him came Slim “The Hammer” man which you clearly are familiar with and from Slim came Dennis Rogers and from Dennis Rogers, learned always trained Chris Mighty Hercules. Mighty indeed. 350 pound, big strong guy.
[0:45:40.2] RT: Yeah, we’ve got another couple of guest…
[0:45:43.1] CS: Then from the Chris to me.
[0:45:47.0] RT: From Chris to you.
[0:45:47.8] CS: Yeah, it shows this unbroken lineage which is very interesting. And I might add that the unfortunately the Mighty Atom’s son is no longer with this, he was also in a lot of ways very influential. He passed recently I believe in ’95 or ’96. And he sort of had a twinkle in his eye, just had a persona about him, he seem like a person that lived life, had been through it all and you know what? Got it. You know what I mean?
Got the answer to it but had it all put together and was really content and he was always free with advice to me, we talked about things, personal things other than strength and he helped work me through some personal issues which have indeed held me back and he was a very special person and not to mention well into his 90’s he was pulling cars from his teeth on television. He was very special and the community will indeed always miss him, and he was in the movie as well.
[0:47:16.3] RT: Excellent, all the more reason to watch this movie. And there you go, I mean, I said that there is this historical aspect to this realm of training and there you go, take this very serious with the whole lineage, I was going to say a couple of times.
[0:47:29.4] CS: Sort of almost like a guild or a craft.
[0:47:31.5] RT: Yeah, exactly.
[0:47:32.5] CS: Something that’s passed on. It’s clearly not an activity, you don’t do what I did, you don’t go out and buy steel bars and you bend them. That’s something you need to have the hand of a master, an experienced person sort of take you under his wing and teach you the nuances and help lead you to discovering your own mechanics and to teach you about stabilization and to teach both the mental and the physical aspects of it. It requires another human being. So it’s something that’s sort of passed down.
[0:48:14.1] RT: There you go, that’s a reason I think why everything is held in such high regard and esteem and respect because of this apprenticeship aspect of it and the grand masters that are teaching you. I was going to say a couple of times there that in terms of the lineage, we’ve had a few people on the show, there was Bud Jeffreys and also Mike Bruce have both had interactions and learned from…
[0:48:37.9] CS: I believe I researched also, Adam Glass.
[0:48:41.8] RT: Adam Glass, yeah.
[0:48:42.8] CS: Very, very strong and a very humble fine gentleman. Same with Bud. Each one of those people is. Dave Whitley, Bud Jeffreys, very, very amazingly strong and nimble for his size.
[0:48:59.7] RT: Yeah, it doesn’t make sense.
[0:49:01.2] CS: His son too. His son is maybe even a more powerful bender than Bud. He’s a real, a first rate — I can’t call him a kid now, he’s an adult, but a very well raised, solid, solid person and is one heck of a bender.
[0:49:22.9] RT: Yeah, we’ve had other grip athletes on. Andrew Durniat and Chris Rice and Jed Johnson, they’re really into the grip bending steel work. There’s guys out there doing it, there’s various competitions, it’s a lot of fun man, great camaraderie, it’s a great, great thing. The beautiful thing…
[0:49:41.1] CS: Jed Johnson was kind enough to review our movie, and this is in the infancy so a while ago. I’ve only met him a couple of times and he strikes me as a very nice, soft spoken guy but don’t underestimate him because man is he strong.
[0:50:03.0] RT: Yeah very much so.
[0:50:03.9] CS: Real strong.
[0:50:06.5] RT: One thing I wanted to add that Jed actually made clear to me is that when it comes to grip strength, bending, these type of things, it’s not something where necessarily the bigger you are, the more powerful you are and you are an example of that. So sometimes the smaller guy can beat the bigger guy. For some reason, grip is not 100% limited to your size although we can argue, the bigger you are, if you have a larger hand, that may favor certain things compared to other people like…
[0:50:42.4] CS: I have to say that in general, if you’re talking about crush strength or in other words, who has a more lethal grip? I would often say the guy that has the trained hand is large enough that it can completely encompass your hand.
[0:51:03.3] RT: Yeah. Because it’s an advantage to be able to completely envelope.
[0:51:06.8]CS: There is some advantage to having a large hand I think.
[0:51:10.4] RT: But again…
[0:51:11.6] CS: But it’s not the end of the world if you have smaller hands.
[0:51:14.4] RT: That is very interesting because now you’re not limited to, “I don’t have the size for it or the advantages.” No, there’s certain advantages, you and I we talked about if you’re taller, it’s different with the way you apply strength and torque to the steel and I wouldn’t mind, if you could quickly because I’m looking at the clock here, I have so many questions I want to ask you. If you could just tell me. What is the difference between torque and strength, what did you mean by that? We were talking about this before we started.
[0:51:47.1] CS: Torque meaning your rotational force. Strength is a term which can be interpreted in many different ways, but torque is exercising rotational force. A great example I wanted to come to. When you started bending, trying to nails okay? Undoubtedly your effort was going largely in the beginning to pushing head to head on nails which is translatory. When you learn to exercise rotational or you try and get a bend in there, you try moving your knuckles together, that’s the rotational force. The translatory force is sort of straight through.
[0:52:43.9] RT: Interesting. Okay. It’s a different way of movement.
[0:52:50.0] CS: If you can picture that. Different way of applying your pressure.
[0:52:53.1] RT: Is there an advantage one way or the other?
[0:52:56.0] CS: Yes, it’s very hard if you try and bend the nail by pushing head to head.
[0:53:04.9] RT: What do you mean by head to head?
[0:53:09.4] CS: Point to the head.
[0:53:11.2] RT: Okay, so one end to the other end, you just try to just…
[0:53:13.4] CS: End to end, right. If you try and push both ends together, you’re going to be very unsuccessful at bending it.
[0:53:21.3] RT: Right, that’s almost like you are…
[0:53:24.8] CS: So in the beginning you’re actually spending most of your energy doing that often.
[0:53:29.4] RT: Right, whereas once you learn to twist and rotate and create that torque, that’s when the force is more…
[0:53:36.9] CS: Get first bended.
[0:53:38.9] RT: The kink, the initial kink.
[0:53:41.3] CS: That’s when the force, that’s when you could really transition from — more of your effort goers into rotational force and you move a little way from parental torque force.
[0:53:53.3] RT: This is in the beginning?
[0:53:54.4] CS: One direction.
[0:53:56.5] RT: That’s when you initially try…
[0:53:58.0] CS: I don’t know if I really explained it that well but. I think as somebody trying to bend spikes you’re familiar with what I’m saying. You can certainly experiment with that yourself. Try and push the point end towards the head and you’re not going to have very much luck. You need to have, you need to get that first bow in there.
[0:54:27.2] RT: The minute you get that kink in it, all bets are off.
[0:54:31.5] CS: Then it usually, usually you have an advantage because — except there are some steel oddly enough that tends to get harder when you’re in that position but that’s relatively unusual.
[0:54:46.5] RT: Okay, so again, you’re saying to get the kink, to get that initial bend, you need to apply more rotational forces, more torque.
[0:54:55.3] CS: Right you wanted to try and apply more rotational. You’re doing a double, as you’re familiar with most of the people listening are familiar with double overhand bending. You try to meet your pinky to pinky, you want to move your fists, you want to move, you want to touch both your pinkies. You want to concentrate on that type of movement with a solid grip on the nail as opposed to using as much force as you can to moving that pointed end to the head of the nail.
[0:55:30.6] RT: Yeah, that’s more of like…
[0:55:32.6] CS: That’s crush — that’s more of a crush, it doesn’t work that way.
[0:55:35.8] RT: Right, not until you got the kink in.
[0:55:38.9] CS: Once you’ve got the kink in, that is a truly — that’s usually the hardest part because you may be exercising 100% force when you’re trying to bend that nail but before you get that first kink, it’s almost like a large part of that force is being wasted when you’re efforting towards head to point but when that first bend occurs, all your force goes into the bending, more of your force turns rotational as supposed translational.
[0:56:17.0] RT: Okay. All right, very interesting. Okay, just one comment I want to mention quickly. Quite a few of you guys have told me in the realm of grip and bending strength, it seems to be somewhat different than other forms of physical training in that it improves well beyond what many people would consider your prime years when prime years are actually much later on in life, 40’s, 50’s, some could say almost even 60’s. Does that sound right to you?
[0:56:44.1] CS: I would say from speaking with the old timers, now I don’t’ know if this is because they started bending steel at 30 or 20 or whatever. It seems to me there is this sweet spot of between 40 and 50.
[0:57:02.3] RT: Yeah.
[0:57:04.0] CS: I’ve always wondered why that was and I think part of it is, you mature psychologically. You’ve matured psychologically and you need that psychological maturity to really progress in steel bending. So it’s more than — there comes a point where it’s just sheer force only gets you so far.
You have to have the proper mentality and the training to turn off all those things that limits you, all those natural things that would shut you down. What you have gained psychologically between 40 and 50, I think sets you up best or gives you that extra — that period you have that extra special something. Between 40 and 50 I would say, probably you’re prime years.
[0:58:07.7] RT: Interesting.
[0:58:08.9] CS: Not to say you can’t do impressive things well beyond that Slim “The Hammer Man”, it’s an example of that. I think he still has everybody deep when it comes to hammers.
[0:58:18.8] RT: 70’s now? Well into his 70’s.
[0:58:22.9] CS: He’ll probably shoot me for saying this but I think he’s past 80 now.
[0:58:28.5] RT: Yeah, impressive.
[0:58:30.6] CS: He does some sledge hammer leveraging that I have not seen on the Internet. I’ve seen some guys do some very impressive — I’ve seen some guys would swing 20 pounds sledge hammers with expertise but they can’t match him.
[0:58:50.8] RT: He set some incredible records when it comes to hammers and levering and whatnot.
[0:58:54.1] CS: Some of the stuff he levers too, you got to remember, on a 36 inch handle.
[0:58:59.5] RT: Yeah.
[0:59:01.1] CS: There’s a big difference.
[0:59:02.7] RT: Yeah, big difference. Compared to a shorter handle.
[0:59:07.3] CS: That’s right.
[0:59:08.1] RT: It makes it much more difficult, the lever bar is longer.
[0:59:10.6] CS: He also has like 13 inch fingers. He is in a lot of ways truly remarkable because when you look at his muscularity, he really hasn’t deteriorated that much.
[0:59:26.2] RT: No, not at all. There’s photos of him in his 50’s…
[0:59:29.5] CS: I asked him several times, I said, “What the difference is?” He said, “Well, I don’t know, I suppose grown a little bit older, my bones have settled,” meaning I think he shrunk an inch. He’s quite a specimen and he has unusual strength and for some reason, it hasn’t really disappeared. I’m sure to some degree, it’s not quite what it was when he was younger but watching him perform like he did for our movie in his dungeon was truly spectacular because he did something at 76 or 77 that nobody I know of could do with training at 35 or 40.
[1:00:20.2] RT: Yeah.
[1:00:22.0] CS: I mean I see those huge triceps of his just really, it’s an experience.
[1:00:31.1] RT: Here’s a question, we’re talking about all this incredible feats and whatnot. Do you have a training resource that you could recommend to our listeners? Do you have one that you could recommend?
[1:00:41.1] CS: One off the top of my head, I would sincerely recommend Jed Johnson’s books.
[1:00:50.6] RT: Great resources.
[1:00:54.2] CS: Just because that’s one I had, he has stuff out on grip strength, I believe books out on short bending and horse shoes and that sort of stuff. I would recommend that and I would certainly recommend anybody interested in Strongman feats that they go out and they purchase a copy of The Mighty Atom by Ed Spielman. That is by far something that should be in the library of every Strongman.
The other books that I keep around that I use are mostly books that you can purchase through Iron Mind which I’m sure you’re familiar with, they talk about the mastery of hand strength. John Brookfield a very sort of things like a low key Strongman I’ve never met him, certainly very impressive bar bender, master of grip strength, he has a number of great books out. There are books that Iron Mind has on how to use the Captains of Crush, those are a number of books. As far as myself is concerned, right by my night table, I have a original first edition of Alexander Zass.
[1:02:26.5] RT: Yes, yeah.
[1:02:28.2] CS: The first edition and I used to carry it with me wherever I went until I found out how much it was worth.
[1:02:37.4] RT: Just for those who don’t know, if you wouldn’t mind briefly explaining who Alexander Zass is?
[1:02:44.2] CS: A man with an incredible life story and in some ways tragic but a man who could tear apart chains, he had a famous scrolls he did, he was a terrific nail driver, he was indeed quite a legend in the strongman world. I would say that another book that one of my mentors gave me which I would also recommend, it’s called The Sons of Samson Volume I. It’s by a gentleman named David Webster and has for hundreds of profiles in there of great Strongmen going back to 1700’s or what.
All the great legends, pictures of them and there is Joe Rollino, the man who shook my hand and famous performers, Coney Island performers. All people that are known for unusual feats of strength. There’s another book out there which is also quite useful, it’s called The Super Athlete and there are records that human endurance, strength, speed, stamina, things like that and it’s very helpful. It doesn’t have as many wonderful color pictures of bare chested brutes. It’s maybe not an interesting to look at it before you go to bed, it’s a great source, it’s really a great source.
[1:04:18.9] RT: All the stuff is very motivational and inspirational when you realize what’s possible.
[1:04:23.9] CS: Yes, I keep The Sons of Samson also right by my night table. It’s a source of inspiration and it’s also for me a great way to start the day out because many of these people had a lot of somewhat, they did not have easy lives and they pushed through a lot of adversity and I looked at some of those people even though I’ve never met them as inspirational figures.
[1:04:56.5] RT: Definitely.
[1:04:57.9] CS: I also have here on my wall a picture which I will always cherish and this is a picture after the final scene in our movie on Coney Island. A picture of Slim shaking Mike Greenstein’s hand, they’re both sitting down. Mike has his foot on a barbell which — or a dumbbell, which his father used to lift I believe. Behind them, myself as well as the other participating Strongmen in the movie. We’re all together. That, it reminds me of the experience that I had and it’s something that will always be significant to me. Behind that, I have two horse shoes that I believe belonged to The Mighty Atom. The answer is I cannot bend them.
[1:06:10.1] RT: Really?
[1:06:12.7] CS: No. I cannot bend them and I believe he used to manage to put these into some sort of a standing device and grip one leg with his teeth and twist them. He was capable of doing some truly mind-boggling things.
[1:06:35.8] RT: Yeah, stuff that just makes no sense, and things that people witnessed.
[1:06:42.5] CS: Biting a nail in half. Not many men can take in nail and bite it in half.
[1:06:45.6] RT: Yeah, this is stuff that people witnessed and people were there, they were witnesses.
[1:06:49.5] CS: Oh absolutely. I went up to Slim’s house, he showed me a nail that he bit in half. He himself, he knew The Mighty Atom for a long time and had some reservations about this one particular feat, and he did it right in front of them. I saw that nail and when I was at the York Barbell museum, I saw another one which he bit in half. So that’s definitely verifiable. I’ve tried to do things with my teeth, which I’ve stopped doing any sort of oral strength activities cause that can prove to be very expensive when you lose teeth or you chip teeth. Including coin bending.
[1:07:42.7] RT: Has that happened to you?
[1:07:44.7] CS: Yes and I’m not doing — that was a rather expensive mistake.
[1:07:49.3] RT: Ouch.
[1:07:53.8] CS: I’m not doing that. Although I’m looking over here to my side and I have a quarter, which is Stainless Steel kinked with his bare hand.
[1:08:11.4] RT: Like his index and thumb?
[1:08:13.9] CS: With index and thumb. I have never seen that done, I have here a penny, a Canadian penny that was turned into a taco sent to me from a friend in Wisconsin and he’s known as Penny Bender and I’ve seen people kink them but I’ve never seen anybody bend a penny like this fellow. He can do with his bare hand.
[1:08:47.8] RT: Just to be clear, it’s two hands, they’re pinching it on either side for the most part and they’re doing this kinks and bends, it’s hard to believe.
[1:08:57.6] CS: I have a dime that Greg Matonick turned into an S with his teeth, yeah. I certainly appreciate those type of feats but I’m not so sure that they serve me well or were conducive to my anatomy or enamel cover or whatever it was. As a matter of fact, behind that, I have decks of cards. I was training people to — I was trying to train different people to do these things and I have things that other people, who I lost touch with over the years, gave me that they bent, their first one — no, their number two. I tell them to keep the number one for themselves and they wrote — these were big strong tough guys and they actually wrote some very special messages for me on them. It’s very meaningful, it’s very powerful relationships come out of this.
[1:10:14.8] RT: For sure. It sounds like you got your own museum on the go.
[1:10:18.7] CS: Oh I’m constantly discovering stuff. I have here a little bar of soap that the mighty atom used to sell. It was very good soap, it was so pure you could almost eat it. I have that and I look at that, those things give me meaning. I have here a little vial of The Mighty Atom’s hair.
[1:10:44.3] RT: Yeah, we’ve had a couple of guest say that Mike Gillette I believe, was it Mike Gillette?
[1:10:54.3] CS: It may very well have been.
[1:10:56.2] RT: I think it was Mike Gillette he said that Slim gave him one and he just was completely gob smacked that he got that.
[1:11:02.5] CS: Yes, The Mighty Atom had enormously strong hair. I think part of that is he did train his scalp and you can train your scalp, he did some very spectacular feats for his hair. I think he believed that he brushed his teeth with kosher salt and he claimed that that sort of gave him the ability to withstand the forces necessary to break nails. I don’t know if that’s true but anyway, I certainly wouldn’t argue with him.
Here on the floor, I have the only one that I know of that is on this continent, now, anyway. I have an Alexander Zass scroll done by one heck of a bar bender. Probably I would say, I have to say probably number one now in existence. It’s a beautiful Alexander scroll, which he made for me on Coney Island and I have that, he gave that to me.
[1:12:16.7] RT: Alex himself did it or somebody else did?
[1:12:20.0] CS: No John McGrath did it. A very mighty bar bender.
[1:12:25.2] RT: So an Alexander Zass scroll is just a certain way of bending it?
[1:12:28.4] CS: Yes, it is a certain scroll. Many of the Strongmen are listening would have familiarity with it. We all have our own — I think you mentioned before you did a little bit of scrolling?
[1:12:44.7] RT: Yeah, I’ve dabbled a bit with it yes, definitely. It’s something that you have to…
[1:12:46.9] CS: Okay, then you can tell that some people — I do certain type of scroll which is a signature for me. I just turned it into as many loops as I can. The Alexander Zass scroll is a little bit difficult to describe. I suspect the bar is a little more than five feet when it was straight. I use five foot bars.
[1:13:12.2] RT: How about this Chris, how about this? How about we get into the next question where you can give us a couple of tips so those who are interested can start going down the path and getting their own little trophies to put up on their wall. Does that sound good?
[1:13:25.2] CS: I don’t know, I’ll try. I mean you got me so worked up about discovering all these things. People send stuff to me and I save it all. I save — people’s hair, cards, from all over different parts of the country, it’s a little tiny itsy bitsy pieces, which they appear from nowhere and I get them in little sacks and I put them on the wall. Running out of places to put them. But anyway, okay, off to the next question.
[1:13:54.8] RT: Yeah, so this is one we have fun with, listeners know it by now but when you answer if you don’t mind, give us a couple of specifics, so really drill down on a few specifics so we could put this stuff to use and here we go. You’re off, you’re doing your thing, you’re doing some bending, you get a call from me and I tell you I’m around the corner, I want to drop by, I got something to show you.
You figure, “Ray must have a nice bend of some sort, some scrolling work he did, who knows? Maybe a spike that he bent and he wants to show it to me.” So you say, “Sure enough, come on over. I come on over,” and before you hear me or see me, you smell me. You start thinking to yourself, “I think this was a mistake, what in the world is that smell?” I come around the corner and you think, “Ray, you’re supposed to get the steel from the scrap yard not from the garbage dump which that’s what it smells like.” I look at you and I say, yes you are right, it does smell like a garbage dump and no it is not me, that’s not where I source my metal. Actually, what it is, it’s right outside, go take a look out the window and turn and you do, it’s the one and only DeLorean with a full tank of garbage.
With that being said, you hop into her, you get her up to 88 miles an hour and off you go, back in time, back to the future and the question is, knowing all that you know now, how would you structure your training if you can go back in time to get the best results in the shortest period of time and set you up for long term success? What are a couple of specific points that you can give us?
[1:15:14.5] CS: The first thing I would do is I would find an experienced mentor. Somebody that has been doing it for a long period of time and I did it successfully over the Internet but I would look for somebody that — the reason for that is, not only will he be able to guide you as far as the physicality and the appropriate materials to start with and to show you what type of wraps you can use and that sort of stuff, but he also by doing it for so long, he’s gotten the journey.
He will be able to be a mentor and guide you as you grow and to help you identify with some of those special things that steel bending teaches you and once you identify with those characteristics, you can bend steel with those characteristics and your mind in hopes of strengthening those characteristics so that the rest of your life could be better. So you need to find a mentor with some maturity. When you work with a mentor and you’re not working with him, you need to have experienced training partners or coaches. That is what I fall into. Coach.
[1:16:50.9] RT: You’re saying yourself, you consider yourself as a coach?
[1:16:54.0] CS: I consider myself an effective coach.
[1:16:59.1] RT: Okay, this is something you actually do for people? I wasn’t aware of those.
[1:17:02.7] CS: Yes.
[1:17:03.4] RT: Okay, interesting.
[1:17:05.5] CS: I do for people. But because of my past and what this has done for me in relatively short period of time, I can maybe impart it on somebody else to some degree, but I don’t have 20 or 30 years of experience and hindsight.
[1:17:25.1] RT: Right.
[1:17:26.2] CS: That’s something that I would look for in being initiated into this. If you’re seriously considering steel bending as a vocation or major part of your life, I would search for a seasoned steel bender or Strongman because there is a lot more to it than just getting stronger. I can teach how to get stronger and I can teach you how to stabilize yourself and I can lead you to discover positions of your most mechanically advantaged and all that stuff.
Sometimes you need somebody who is going to free you up and really set you on the journey with this. Because anybody can participate very successfully in the journey and it really doesn’t matter how thick a bar you bend. It’s how hard you work and how consistently you pursue it and it’s what characteristics, personality characteristics begin to surface from the training. I don’t know if I made that clear?
[1:18:58.6] RT: I definitely — I mean understanding what you’re saying here. I find it interesting too though that you made a difference between yourself and somebody who is a mentor who has 10, 20, 30 years, multi decades worth of experience. I find that very honest of you that you put that out there. Stated the way they did.
[1:19:20.2] CS: That’s just how I did it and it seems to me, that’s how a lot of other people did it. I mean The Mighty Atom was probably I think, when Slim met The Mighty Atom, Slim was like — it didn’t amaze him so much that he could bend these spikes but he said he was just so old.
The age and the years of training, you begin to develop certain positive psychological things and you learn to leave certain negative beliefs or facets to your life in the past. In order to effectively do that, you need somebody that has truly been through it, it’s been a one side and has moved to the other side.
In the beginning when people want to bend steel, they just want to see the steel bend. They’re only concerned with that and that’s really just a relatively, I don’t wanna say a small part, but that’s just one component about this.
[1:20:36.7] RT: Yeah, unbelievable. Interesting, there’s so much to this, it’s hard to understand until you do it and you really do get addicted to it. All right. Chris we are pretty much at the end of the show here, I really appreciate you carving out extra time for us, I know we’d agreed at a certain time length and you’ve been generous in sharing so much extra information. I really appreciate that.
So thank you on behalf of myself and the audience and what I want to ask you is, where can we find out more about you, we had mentioned bendingsteelmovie.com, let’s find out where we can get more information about you. Maybe even some of your coaching services, how does somebody sign up for that? Then after that, we’ll end off with a parting word of advice.
[1:21:18.0] CS: Actually I think the most effective way to reach me, I’m fairly accessible. I would say call me right up on the phone, it’s 917-670-7339. That’s 917-670-7339 or you can email me successfully whether it goes into spam or one of these other things, firstname.lastname@example.org or you can go to my website because you mentioned before, www.chriswonderschoeck.com. In fact, Google me, anytime I need to know something about myself I just go Google myself.
I might be surprised without that. So far I’ve only been able to find complimentary things, but I’m pretty accessible and I would recommend giving me a call. Of course I’m on Facebook, I don’t really navigate my way well around on that, but you could private message me on that and leave a telephone number and I’ll get back to you on that, that’s how I do it. That’s usually the easiest and the most direct way I do it. People that are seriously into this.
I do it directly, there isn’t too much going back and forth with email and Facebooking and stuff like that, I give you my number and if you’re interested, you call me and we exchange numbers and we talk and make an appointment to meet together and that’s how I do it.
[1:23:18.4] RT: Excellent, excellent. All kinds of ways to get a hold of you, I appreciate you sharing all of that. Guys, just to give you again the spelling for the URL there, it’s pretty easy. It is, chriswonderschoeck.com
[1:23:38.8] CS: That’s it.
[1:23:39.8] RT: What do you have for us for some parting advice?
[1:23:43.0] CS: Parting advice; I would just say that this is by far the most fantastic journey that I ever embarked on my entire life. It’s been an education, it’s changed my life, I went onto graduate school and let me assure you this was more valuable than any degree I ever had. Though not, at least so far, very enumerative, it has completely changed my life for the better and I had seen it do the same for many other people.
And it’s something that you can find lifelong satisfaction in, it is something that will open up doors for you and once you get past the immediate physicality of it, you start working the psychological aspects to it, you will soon learn that you can abandon a lot of your past limitations. You will in fact learn that many of your limitations are not your own limitations but their limitations that other people set for you because they themselves were living them.
You will be free of those things or at least freer of those things and you will probably be able to go on and not only develop expertise to other different things in life but you will be a new person and you will feel an obligation to be the best person that you can possibly be and that’s a good feeling. You no longer — you’re looking forward to what life has to offer both difficult and not so difficult and it’s no longer a question of doing the same routine every day but you can honestly look in the mirror and you can participate fully 100% in life and get some real meaning and fulfillment from it.
[1:25:59.7] RT: Absolutely, absolutely. Check him out guys, ChrisWonderSchoeck.com, thank you so much Chris for coming on the show, go to Super Strength — oh go ahead.
[1:26:11.2] CS: I was just — thank you very much for having me, thank you so much.
[1:26:14.7] RT: I love it, like I said, I mean, there’s not a lot of guys out there doing this per se. Having you guys come on to give you guys a stage, a platform to talk about it is very important to me anyway because I truly do think this is something that really nobody knows about. I mean you’d be surprised if one in a thousand people who trained, let alone just average public, would know about this thing.
It is gratifying, it’s a lot of fun and there are so many different ways that you can do it. There’s short, medium, long bends, there’s horse shoes, spikes, flat bar, I mean there’s so many different things you can get in to when it comes to this aspect or this side of training. So it’s a lot of fun. It may not be for some people but try it out and see what you think, obviously as you said, as Krista said, get proper advice and guidance first, it’s very important.
You don’t want to — there’s a lot of pressure in torque, you’re putting through your body and your joints and stuff when you’re doing this stuff, you need to know how to apply it correctly, that being said, if you start off with easier steel, it’s not a big deal, it’s not like you’re going to blow something out immediately if you do something little wrong, not if you use easy enough steel to start with.
Actually, you know what? I’ll quickly ask you. Somebody who wants to start bending, let’s just say nails, it’s pretty easy thing to start with. What you recommend somebody to start with, Chris, before I kind of end it off here?
[1:27:29.5] CS: Okay, I would — well I’ll just tell you what I started out with. I started out with pushing on 60D common nails that were bought in bulk from a place like Walmart or Home Depot. Generally the 60D’s that you get in the more specialty hardware stores and stuff like that are the next one up, a little more difficult. But I think that the less expensive ones in from Walmart and Best Buy and places like that, Lowes would be on balance, softer gauge metal.
And again, it’s important to, at the right rafts and I would probably start out with leather rap, about 12 inches long by about maybe four or five inches wide and as you, the first time you probably have quick success with it, bending it. You gradually use less and less raft over time. You cut the wrap down to 10 inches to eight inches to six inches and on and on. It also gets worn so it’s thinner and thinner. That’s perfect form of progressive training.
And then you move on and then you’ll find you’ll get exposed to or you’ll learn about 60D’s that are much more difficult than that. Can you start working on then? Initially they’ll be only isometric, they won’t give, but over time you will start to get a bow in them and they will bend and then there are a few legendary 60D’s, which not many people can bend. There are few and far between. That will be my starting spot. A Home Depot 60D is probably a good starting point.
[1:29:29.0] RT: There you go guys, be careful that the point the nail that doesn’t like poke in your hand or anything like that, you may want to pay attention to that, either chip it off or blunt it somehow maybe, what’s your opinion on that Chris?
[1:29:42.3] CS: The answer is, I personally don’t chop the head in the nail even though it’s sometimes very pointy.
[1:29:51.3] RT: You mean the point of the nail?
[1:29:52.4] CS: In the beginning because as you’re getting stronger, you also need to sort of get a little bit more pain tolerance. But with a 12 inch wrap, it’s all done very gradually and your short 12 inch down to a 10 inch and so on and so on. But no, I don’t shorten that off. The point is really something to be feared in the beginning, mostly for using small wraps because, as I said, you don’t really understand the difference between doing, pushing end to end and pushing to get rotational force. But just starting with a larger wrap and most that you’ll find building nails at Home Depot, the point is usually not very sharp. But if they are, you can always file it down if they’re wickedly sharp. I try not to.
[1:30:53.2] RT: Just pay attention to it, that’s all.
[1:30:56.2] CS: Oh, one thing I did do before I started this was I did get a tetanus shot.
[1:31:02.8] RT: Oh that’s a good point.
[1:31:03.4] CS: I would certainly recommend that anybody that’s going to start this journey be tetanus shot, because at some point you will get poked and I believe a tetanus shot is good for 10 years, I’m not entirely sure.
[1:31:20.9] RT: Yeah, I think it’s something like that.
[1:31:23.2] CS: That was the first thing I did the Friday before I saw Greg Matonick.
[1:31:27.9] RT: Yeah, that’s actually a really good point, especially if you’re using some old dirty steel and for the most part it’s all dirty.
[1:31:32.6] CS: You’ll never know.
[1:31:33.9] RT: That’s a good point. Especially if you get t from the scrapyard, god knows where it’s been.
[1:31:37.7] CS: Yeah.
[1:31:38.5] RT: Good point. Well guys, superstrengthshow.com put in Chris’s name, just type it in there to the search bar and his show notes page will show up and again it’s Chris Schoeck and that will bring up the show notes page. You’ll be able to listen to the interview there, share it with others with the social media buttons, we really appreciate that. You can even download it, there’s links to the various podcasting platforms we’re on. Highly recommend you sign up so that way there the shows come directly to you.
We also have the ability to leave a review there but you can also do that in whatever app you’re using to listen to, iTunes and Stitcher does, and a few other platforms do it as well. If you can do that, we really appreciate it. Five star reviews go a long way, they allow the show to get higher up in the rankings but just as important and even more important what it does is it allows not just other people to join in on this great information that our excellent guest are sharing.
Also what it does is it shows potential guests that yes, this is a podcast worth coming on because there’s a platform where there’s an engaged audience and that means a lot because people don’t want to just waste our time. So Chris has been more than generous with the amount of times given us on the show.
Highly recommend guys, again, take advantage of this information he’s sharing, show notes page will have links to a variety of goodies that he had mentioned. Who knows Chris, if maybe you’ve got some photos or something of this goodies that you keep mentioning, we’ll post those up and maybe whip up one of those videos we love to create and we’ll show some of those off. That’s always fun as well.
[1:33:06.4] CS: Afterwards just let me know how I can…
[1:33:08.9] RT: Yeah, we’ll talk about that. That’ll be — I think you’ll have a lot of fun doing that as well. That will be great. Guys, you’ve heard me before say feedback is important to us and I mean all types and sorts and varieties and shades and colors, you name it — good, bad or fugly, send it over. Feedback@superstrengthshow.com Let us know, we take it all into consideration.
If you have any photos of your, let’s say yourself before and after, maybe your home setup for your gym, maybe a video of some sort, you can send us a link, send us the photos of the links over to email@example.com and we love sharing those with our audience so please guys, send those over, really appreciate it. Other than that, when you’re on the website don’t forget to sign up with the free report and also the tips that come to you with the newsletter, you could sign up for those pretty much any page on the website.
As I always like to say guys, the only real shortcut is doing it right the first time and you heard me react to Chris when he said, “Get a mentor,” and about the only way you’re going to be able to do it right the first time is to have somebody to show you how to do it right the first time. Because if it’s the first time, you don’t know what you’re doing right? Even if you’ve got all the instructions, you still have never really done it before.
So having somebody who is — especially if they start it off the same condition as you but bare minimum have taught others like you and that started off like you want to achieve the same goals as you do. That’s really important because they have that experience, so people who have been there, done that, went to the Promised Land, came back, brought others and they could take you there as well.
That’s what Chris was getting at, that’s the closest thing to a real shortcut in life and it just helps you in so many ways, it allows you to progress very quickly, it allows you to avoid a lot of this annoying frustrations and plateaus and stuff that you hit and really important, it helps avoid injuries that occur because you really don’t know what you’re doing. So that’s also important.
As I said, it helps you speed along and that’s nice because at the end of the day guys, why waste time with inefficient training when you can get the results quicker and in the same amount of time, I don’t know, get double, triple, I don’t know, some multiple of the results you get otherwise? So nothing replaces a one on one relationship with an experienced coach, mentor to help you out. So Chris is one of those guys, he could help you with that and there are many other people out there, a lot of them have been on the show.
Just whoever resonates with you, whoever you feel has the experience, reach out to them, they’re all so willing to help, that’s the amazing thing. I mean Chris gave out his phone number. There’s people right now listening going, “Oh my god this guy is crazy. He gave out his phone number, who would do that?” Well, somebody who wants to help people. Let’s make that happen guys, I want to see — all of us,I know Chris feels this way too, we all want to see everybody do well and progress and achieve the results and goals that they want. Let’s make that happen.
Put this stuff to use and until next time, train smart, train hard, talk to you then.
More Specifically in this Episode You’ll Learn About
- How Chris got started performing feats of strength
- The making of the Bending Steel movie
- The steel becomes an extension to yourself
- You need to push through pain and discomfort, but you need proper progression
- Accept that your 1st attempt to push on something usually is going to be unsuccessful
- Chris shares an amazing life turning event that was captured in the Bending Steel movie
- Don’t use the word “can’t”
- The purpose of the journey is really to prepare you for success in other areas of life
- Accept the things that you don’t succeed at, but don’t get complacent
- Why continual progress is key
- Surround yourself with inspirational and motivational things
- The importance of patience
- Becomming open-minded
- Torque Vs. Strength
- The importance in having a psychological maturity
- Chris shares stories and mementos that he has collected over the years
- Find an experienced mentor with maturity
- Many of your limitations were set by others for you
About Chris Schoeck
Despite standing only 5’7 ” and weighing shy of 155 pounds, Chris Schoeck routinely performs mind-blowing feats of sheer strength. All are amazed as he bends spikes with his bare hands, twists horseshoes and tears completely through decks of plastic coated cards. He even bends spikes and steel bars that are so impressive Grandmaster Strongman Dennis Rogers stated “I have yet to see a man of his size and stature come even close to bending such a massive bar.”
Chris is the subject of Bending Steel, a feature-length documentary that follows his training, development and transformation into becoming a professional strongman. With exceptional stage presence and charm, Chris “Wonder” Schoeck captivates audiences with power, energy and finesse. A show guaranteed to leave audiences wondering how “Wonder” achieved such amazing strength.
You can connect with him by visiting ChrisWonderSchoeck.com
FREE Report – Instant Strength: The one little trick that will instantly boost your strength by 10 lbs or more in your main lifts.
Training Resources Mentioned in this Episode
Chris “Wonder” Schoeck performs at a seminar
Bending a 5 Foot Steel Bar
Steel scrolling Chris Wonder Schoeck
Connect With Chris Schoeck
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Wow…Super Strenght Show Podcast is flat out awesome. Good production quality. Easy to listen. Very impressed Ray. Keep bringing it.
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Reviews for the podcast on iTunes are greatly appreciated (especially 5 star reviews) and will allow us to get the word out about the show and grow as a community. We read every single review on iTunes and believe that each one goes a long way in helping us make the show even better! Good, bad, or ugly, we want to get your feedback. It would mean the world to us if you participated in rating/reviewing our show in iTunes. Here’s how you can participate….
Step 1: Follow this link: Rate/Review Super Strength Show in iTunes
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Step 3: From here, you can provide your honest rating and review of our show.
Step 4: Finally, if you would like each episode automatically downloaded to your iTunes, hit the subscribe button on the iTunes page.
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