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The Modern Strongman

They often say you are you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. With time being a premium nowadays, I choose to be around really good people and coaches. People I can learn as much from as I can share my knowledge with as well. 

With our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training courses, I have been fortunate enough to meet some outstanding people that I wouldn’t maybe have normally crossed paths with. Ian Vaughn is definitely one of those people I am glad I have met. He is inspiring in not only what he can do himself, but more importantly, how he coaches others to achieve great things. That is why I asked Ian to share some of his experience and ideas with us! 



Q: Ian, could you tell us a little bit how you got into fitness?

For me it started when I was kid playing football, and then all through high school, and community college. What people don’t know about me is I used to be overweight as a kid, got skinny from my teen growth spurt. I finally put on size to match my big head in 2006> My secret was after high school training by myself in my parent’s backyard for almost 2 years with a rusty bench press, barbells, and dumbbells. Fitness became a addiction after that because it’s how I found heavy metal (can’t live without it now). Going into college, I went for firefighting as a career choice, joining EMT, wild land, and fire rescue academies; I decided to become a personal trainer to fit my hours for the schooling.


Q: What were some early lessons you learned being a fitness professional versus a fitness enthusiast?

I was lucky to have a knowledgeable fitness manager at my first PT corp job. When she asked me to demonstrate a plank, she quickly said “NO CORE” as my meathead body shook like a weak tree branch. “How do you expect your clients to do it, if you can’t?” she said. As fitness professionals, we have to move and talk at the same time with confidence. Sounding weakly stressed like we’ve never done the movement before makes your client think, “Why is this guy a trainer?” I practiced everything I would coach to my clients, even if I didn’t do it in my own training. 


Q: What are some common challenges you have faced trying to help people achieve their goals?

 Just retaining and training them consistently. The training “got too boring” or “wasn’t hard enough” and when I finally gave them their wish they’d get too sore or injured to train again. Women wanting to train with me at times feared if they touched some form of weight, they’d turn into “The Hulk” from the way I looked at the time. My personality, coaching skills, education, and image needed to adapt for clients to stick around to keep things fresh. 


Q: You recently attended our DVRT certification, what made you attend and what did you get out of the program?

Even though I was going through a transition to stop lifting like a meathead, I still thought like one and bought the Burly Ultimate Sandbag first (big mistake). After trying to poorly lift it after my first workout I couldn’t believe the difference when lifting a 100 lb Burly USB vs 100 lb barbell. Once again, ”NO CORE.” I eventually registered for the DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training cert because I had to know I why I sucked at these movements I thought I owned after years of training. 

When taking the course, Josh shows you how the body works like a magician—turning on muscles and then switching them off demonstration after demonstration with students—showing how something as little the big toe can affect the way you stabilize to retain strength. He did this all WITHOUT the Ultimate Sandbag in the first hour. This is the key to being a good coach because everyone gets too invested with the tool, and not the philosophy. You quickly learn the Ultimate Sandbag is the vehicle for the DVRT program to challenge the body in different positions, 3-D movement and load patterns; the shifting load also reminds you to be balanced and focused on the movement. It’s not about how much weight you can lift in one plane of motion as the main progressive factor. If I could barbell back squat 600+ pounds, but couldn’t hold a solid body plank … you wouldn’t be surprised if I got a serious back injury. Yet people do this every day in their training without realizing it. The DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training system prevents injury, turns the subconscious into conscious, and gets you stronger in the weak areas you really need.


Q: How has this changed your approach with your clients?

Quality of movement comes first, not the weight. My clients get more excited on what they couldn’t do before and now can do, versus how much they should lift always thinking about numbers. My client Jenny had the simple goal of lifting a big dog food bag in the grocery store, getting in the cart, and back out at home with no weakness or back aches. To reach that goal, I coached her to hinge and shoulder technique properly. I show how to do this in my “Ultimate Sandbag Training for Firefighters” video to simulate lifting hose packs safely, yet it can still apply to everyone, like Jenny. Simplifying goals gives a greater purpose to their daily living and helps them to continue training more often to live pain free.


Q: What would you tell someone thinking about attending a DVRT educational program?

I’ve taken over 30 fitness education courses in the past 4 years all through the top organizations and DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training is like none other. Which means you’ll be standing out of the crowd more. Everyone gets stuck in fitness trends and what they see on social media. The monkey-see, monkey-do trainer will always be the first to fail in the fitness industry because they lack basic HANDS ON knowledge. One hour with one tool—instead of throwing all these different modalities at your clients—becomes a valuable sight to see. You become a coach: giving professional cues & corrections that are simple for everyone to understand.


Q: What advice could you give other professionals or those looking to achieve their goals?

To get stuck in the belief that your own way is the only way—is poison for the mind. Constantly learning, applying, and reevaluating is the only way to survive in any business. It keeps the mind young and passionate. In Earl Nightingale’s Lead The Field, he states “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal.” So write down new goals/aspirations, ask questions, and keep a great attitude to get great results. Travel, taking bits and pieces of lessons from great educators, authors, favorite bands, family members and turn it into something special only you can provide for others.


Q: How can people reach you? 


YouTube: HERE 

Facebook:  >  Coach Vaughn

email: ianvon@sbcglobal.net