United Kingdom to the Mash Mafia! Journey of Ricky McFarlane

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Below is an article written by one of my favorite Interns of all-time, Ricky McFarlane. He traveled all the way from the United Kingdom to hang out with the Mash Mafia, and I would like to think that we made the trip worthy. Hopefully this article will give you all some ideas of the magic that happens at the Mash Compound. I am truly a blessed coach!

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It’s been almost a year since I returned from North Carolina. Reflecting on my time in the Tar Heel State I’ve come to the conclusion that strength and conditioning was by far not all that I learnt about. Not many days go by without me drawing on my experiences, whether it be coaching, my personal strength journey or life in general.
It was two June’s ago that I made the decision to apply for an internship in another company. It was from a barbell shrugged podcast that to truly grow as a human being you have get out of your home town. At the time I was a big fan of weightlifting to help my rugby career and began to religiously listen to weightlifting podcast’s and watch video’s. This lead me to the weightlifting talk podcast and that is were I first heard of Travis Mash. From the start it was clear that Travis was and installed in his athletes everything that I wanted to be as an athlete, rugby player and coach. I decided to approach tracks about travelling out and interning under him and his staff. To be honest I wasn’t expecting an email back as I knew he would be incredibly busy and probably has a thousand emails a week. But to my surprise I got the email back I was hoping for and a year later I was boarding a plane by myself to North Carolina.

I can’t begin to explain how I was made to feel in Carolina. Not for one moment did I feel out of place, homesick or lonely. The people that I met are not friends but family. I have made lifelong relationships with people that if it wasn’t for Travis allowing me to intern, it would never have happened. I like to think that I took a major lesson from everyone I met.

Firstly Travis. I knew I was in for a crazy time when I said I was going to go to church with Travis and he replied “that’s cool… Your ok with snakes right?” Lool. I like to think that from Travis I learnt what it actually means to be a beast. I learnt that to get anywhere in athletics and business you have to have a work ethic. Travis’s work ethic is sickening. He is constantly working to become the best athlete, coach and human being he can be, and that is something that I am trying so hard to install on my own life. Another lesson that I learnt is that you have to be master of the mundane, and in order to succeed you are going to have to do what no one else wants to do. I learnt that there is no substitute for hard work, learning your trade and having a blind faith in what you are capable of, no matter what anyone else thinks. I also had the pleasure of getting to know Travis’s lovely wife and family. Drew taught me that expressing yourself through cooking wasn’t an bad thing and what ever happens just enjoy life and what you are doing. I can’t write down the amount of lessons I learnt from Poppy (Travis father in law) because there are too many, however I believe that he has helped me become a more rounded individual.

(Talking of sickening, 1000lb sled push)

It was through Travis that I was able to meet my room mate, and brother for life, Chuck Hendo. A true hero, man of honour, and a friend that I will never forget. Chuck taught me that my life and athletic career won’t spiral out of control if I relax for a moment. He taught me that you can get through anything if you put your head down and keep going. Hendo installed in me that the only way to meet your fears is head on. Like my second night when you made me camp in the forest without a tent… Thanks buddy! Lol. Chuck is a truly inspirational person, and he has changed my life forever. Thankyou buddy!

Through Travis is where i also met Breaylon. Breaylon, like Chuck made me so at home in North Carolina. And Breaylon is the reason I was introduced to my arch enemy ..moonshine. B’s family are the most welcoming people ever, and made me not only feel welcome but loved and this was amazing that they made a stranger feel so welcomed. They are my family for life. Breaylon also helped me educationally and I think it is down to Breaylon that I have started university and moulded my own coaching style. I hope that one day we will get to work together bro!

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I always fancied myself as being pretty strong and athletic… Boy was I wrong. In Carolina I was introduced to what I could only describe as superhumans. Everyone was strong, everyone was fast but most of all everyone was chasing there goals with the same insane passion, same drive and it was extremely contagious. I remember training sessions when I could hardly muster the strength to stand, let alone hit another set of 10 rep pause squats. Carolina showed me that what I was doing before wasn’t hard enough.. Period! Some of the feats of strength I see are not far short of outrageous and from that, I feel that anything is possible! Stepping back into an ordinary gym would never be the same again, the trip has givens confidence, drive, compassion for others and a better back squat and bench lol.

To say my Carolina Trip was a life changing experience is an understatement. And to name everyone who influenced me and helped me would need 100 pages. All that i know is that I am now a better coach, athlete and person and it’s all thanks to everyone in Advance North Carolina.

I want to thank Travis, Drew, Chuck, Breaylon and everyone in Advance for changing my life!

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