Tag Archives: John Conner


by Al Myers

Big John Conner, of the Dino Gym, competed this past weekend at the Olympia Strongman Challenge. John is a professional strongman and would be considered a "lunk" in most all commercial gyms.

Recently on the USAWA Discussion Forum I posted a news story video about a hardcore lifter who got “thrown out” of a Planet Fitness Health Club for being a “lunk”.  It would be easy to think this was all a joke – but the disturbing part is that most of  it is not!  Planet Fitness has been very open and firm in their policies regarding lifters who are hardcore lifters, and that is they are not wanted.  Just go to Planet Fitness’s website to see a list of these policies.  But first, watch the video, which I’m going to call – KEEP OUT THE LUNKS

The parts of this video which I found the most humorous were: 

1.  Planet Fitness is discriminating against “muscled americans”.
2.  A “no grunting policy” that includes even heavy breathing!
3.  The comment “all the animals can be in one cage” when referring to the heavy lifters.
4.  And of course the Planet Fitness LUNK ALARM!

I was also humored when the cute little blond representing Planet Fitness called these heavy lifters lunks, meatheads, lunk heads, and even jerks!  Those are harsh words!  All this got me thinking about the guys in my Dino Gym, and I have come to the conclusion that the Dino Gym ONLY contains lunks, and we are that place referred to as where “all the animals can be in one cage”!  I don’t care to question Planet Fitness business tactics on this, because in all truth, heavy lifters in a gym are intimidating to most other club members (I’m not going to even call them lifters)  who are as weak as a newborn kitty.  Plus, add in the fact that heavy lifters NEVER miss a workout and are the ones hardest on fancy gym equipment, it makes sense to keep out this element.  The BEST CLIENTS of fitness clubs are people who have lots of money to always keep their gym membership paid up, but never show up to actually work out.  That’s who fitness clubs like to cater to, not guys who are gym rats.

Now back to the lunks in the Dino Gym. It does bother me when people classify heavy lifters as lunks or meatheads, in which implying these guys are of lesser intelligence or “dummies”.   Most of my training partners are very successful in life and with their jobs.   Sure, when you first meet Scott “THE ENFORCER” Tully you would think the only job he could get would be a bouncer, but Scott is an educated man and has worked as a financial broker.  That’s right – people PAY Scott to handle their money.  That’s not a job for a lunk!   Now take Chad “THE CHAMP” Ullom.   At first glance you would think the only job he could get would be a stunt double for Stone Cold Steve Austin.  And let me tell you this – you would have to be a real dummy to take THAT JOB because I’m sure Stone Cold wouldn’t leave the easy stuff for ya!  But “in real life” Chad is a Pharmacist and has a very demanding job as a regional manager for Walgreens.  That’s not a job for a lunk!  How about John “THE GIANT” Conner? At 6 foot 9 and close to 400 pounds, John is one of the most intimidating individuals you would ever meet. He has got thrown out of most all the gyms in Wichita for being a lunk.  Now the only place he can train is the Dino Gym.  The problem is that he is so dang strong he bends all the bars and breaks all the equipment in commercials gyms!  (but he hasn’t bent a bar in the Dino Gym yet, because we cater to lunks).  But when you meet John he is one of the nicest guys you would ever meet, and he is the best artist I know. Most don’t know this, but John is the guy who did the art work for our USAWA logo.  That’s not a job for a lunk!  Next take Mark “BIG POPPA” Mitchell.  Mark’s got shoulders wider than a doorframe, and legs as thick as tree trunks.  At first glance you might mistakenly think Mark was in the personal security business, and worked as a body guard.  Possibly even a night security guard somewhere.  But Mark is also an educated man, and serves as a senior probational officer.  That’s not a job for a lunk!  I could go “on and on” with these examples of guys in the gym.   Look outside the Dino Gym and you see this as well.  Take Eric  “THE ICEMAN”  Todd  for example.  He clearly looks like a lunk on the outside, and at competitions when he gets intense he gives you that look that Chuck Liddell gives guys before he busts their heads.  I’m sure the LUNK ALARM would go off the minute ET opens the front door of a Planet Fitness.  But in real life, Eric is a schoolteacher who spends his days “shaping the minds” of our youth.  That’s not a job for a lunk!  What about Thom “BIG T” Van Vleck – is he a lunk?   Thom exhibits every physical trait of a lunk – shaved head, big gray goatee, and he likes to “eye ball” people he first meets.  But believe it or not, Thom is a counselor at a Medical School and is responsible for helping struggling medical students deal with their problems.  That’s not a job for a lunk!

I think I have made my point.  Lunks are good people, and I’m glad to be part of this brotherhood!  Who wants to train at a Planet Fitness anyhow?  Just come to the Dino Gym and you will fit right in!

Medley Training

by Al Myers

John Conner, of the Dino Gym, performing a Medley which consisted of a sled drag using live weight!

I REALLY like the big training days at the Dino Gym!  The enthusiasm is high, motivation is at its peak, and the gym is filled with energy!  You HAVE TO have a good workout on these days or you feel like you let down your training partners.  Everyone at the Dino Gym is training partners – we all train with and help each other out at different times.  Sure, some of us have different training objectives and might be on different training programs, but when it comes time for a lifter to put out a max effort in attempting a big lift or a personal record, we all come together to support each other.  This is what I like the most about our gym – we are a family.  Everyone supports the other in helping achieve progress or a just a good workout.

The big problem for me is trying to be part of all the action, and at the same time still get a good workout in for myself.   The older I get the more satisfaction I get from seeing other gym members improve.  This brings me to the story of the day.   Medley training has always been a big part of our strongman training.  It is a perfect way to end a workout because medleys will take you to the limit of exhaustion.  For those of you not familiar with Medley Training –  let me explain.  It is called a medley because multiple events are done in sequence, one immediately following the other.  It may just be a couple of events, or as many as you want!  Any combination may be used, with different weights or different implements.  Examples of events are drags, carries, or walks.  The combination of events is endless, and a different “challenge” may be brought to the training table every training session.  Medleys are a great way to get in a little extra cardio training at the same time as building functional strength.  We try to set up our medleys to last between 30 seconds and a couple of minutes.  It is a guarantee that you will be in a “pile” after finishing a difficult medley, and if you aren’t you didn’t put out enough effort and the boys will make you do it again.  That’s just how it is at the Dino Gym!  Peer pressure CAN be a good thing!

Last Saturday I witnessed Big John Conner perform one of the most entertaining medleys that I have seen yet.   It was a carry-drag medley, with Big John first carrying a 300 pound keg 75 feet, followed by a sled drag of 75 feet with Colby being the added weight.  Colby tops the scale at 325 pounds, so John didn’t pick a “light weight” for his drag.  The sled weighs 135 pounds, so it was a total weight of 460 pounds.  On top of this, he used my tire sled that is by far the most difficult sled around.  It consists of a metal sled with a car tire bolted on the bottom of it.   Talk about friction on concrete!!!!   I swear I could smell burning rubber as John dragged Colby across the finish line!    There was a point when I thought John wasn’t going to make the entire drag, but he gutted it out and finally got across the line.   On top of John performing one of the most intense workouts I had seen in a while, Colby seemed to enjoy himself with the free ride.  Since this  seems hard to believe,  I have included a YouTube Video of it just for your entertainment!

The Farmers Walk

by Al Myers

Big John Conner of the Dino Gym training the Farmers Walk with 405 pounds per hand!!

One of the most physically taxing exercises you can train is the ole’ fashioned FARMERS WALK.  All it takes is two identical implements to carry. Just pick them both up at the same time and start walking.  This event is very popular among strongmen and is contested at many strongman competitions. I think it is also a good training exercise for All-Rounders.  It works the entire body – and when you are finished with a WALK your legs, back, shoulders, and arms will be exhausted.  The Farmers Walk is an excellent last exercise (or often called “the finisher”) to your workout.  I would recommend you do it last because if you “push it hard” you will have had enough!  Brooks Kubik made this comment regarding the Farmers Walk in his book Dinosaur Training, “if you do this exercise the right way, you won’t have anything left for any other exercise.”

Like I said, you can carry about anything in the Farmers Walk.  If you don’t have special made FARMERS IMPLEMENTS – use dumbbells.  If you don’t have dumbbells –  use 5 gallon buckets filled with sand, water or rocks. When I was a young 12 year old kid my Dad would make me carry 5 gallon buckets of milk to feed the calves. I would have to carry these buckets over 100 yards from the milk barn to the calf shed.  Sometimes, I would have to come back for more milk-filled buckets!  I remember when I started doing this chore I HATED it and considered it HARD WORK, and thought my Dad was mean spirited making me work like that. But Dad knew what was best for me, and he kept making me do this every day after school. Soon afterwards, I felt stronger and in better shape, and I had suddenly developed muscles I didn’t have before. I’m sure this is one of the reasons that first got me interested in weight training.  I could feel myself getting stronger carrying the buckets, and soon it became easy – and I LIKED the way it made me feel!  My Dad knew farm work like this would make a young boy strong, and I got to thank him today for introducing me to progressive weight training using the FARMERS WALK the FARMER’S WAY (in which the Farmers Walk includes productive hard physical work)!

Give the FARMERS WALK a try in your training program.  If you are like me, you could use a little more cardio work in your training program!  This exercise is very challenging and easy to improve on.  You can always add a little more weight to your carry, go a little faster, or maybe go a farther distance.

Challenge Barbells

by Al Myers

John Conner, of the Dino Gym, lifts the Dino Gym's Challenge Barbell. This Challenge Barbell weighs 585 pounds and has a 2.5" diameter handle. When John did this - he deadlifted it for three reps!!

Every gym or club should have a Challenge Barbell.  There is nothing as inviting as a heavy, already fix-loaded barbell that just sits in the corner of a gym just daring someone to lift it!  The lifting of a Challenge Barbell becomes an issue of pride among gym members – everyone wants to be part of “the list” of those who have succeeded. It gives great motivation to those who haven’t yet – and inspires their training to keep improving, until the day comes when they are successful in lifting the Challenge Barbell.  The overwhelming sense of accomplishment is felt when a Challenge Barbell is lifted – knowing that you have have overcome the challenge laid out in front of you.

Most Old Time Strongmen had some sort of Challenge Barbell or Challenge Dumbbell that they would use in their show acts. It usually was specifically made to emphasize their strength in a particular lift. They would flaunt this Challenge to other strongmen – and when others would fail with it give themselves a “pat on the back” and proclaim themselves as the strongest!!  Often these Challenge Barbells would be made in a way that made them difficult to lift without practice on them – thus giving the owner a tremendous advantage. Most Challenge Barbells were poorly balanced, or had hand spacings that weren’t optimal for other lifters.

I am going to be doing stories about several Challenge Barbells of famous Old Time Strongmen over the next few weeks. If anyone has a Challenge Barbell in their gym or club, please send me the details and I will run the story of it right here, in the USAWA Daily News.

Conner Wins Liberty Strongman Classic!!

by Al Myers

John Conner training for the Hummer Tire Deadlift - where he pulled 905 pounds.

John Conner, the Dino Gym Phenom, won the Liberty Strongman Classic this past weekend in Philadelphia. This professional strongman contest was directed by Al Thompson, and was attended by several of the top professional strongmen in the United States. I am very proud of John, as I have watched him train very hard these past few months with a new sense of determination. I don’t think John is anywhere near his potential yet.

At times, it was estimated that over 7000 people were watching the strongman show. Here is a YouTube Video of John being the first competitor to load all 5 stones at Frawly Stadium – just watch the fans go wild!!!