My Panel of Experts

I train at home so having a panel of experts as mentors may not make sense at first. I mean it kind of is a solitary pursuit. We pick our own program, we set up the exercise area to fit our needs. We choose the music etc.  That’s a big part of the allure.  But it’s easy to go off reservation when you train by yourself. Dan John may not have been the first to say it, but he’s the person I heard say, “If you coach yourself, you have an idiot for a client.”  That sounds harsh but it basically illustrates how difficult it is for most human beings to examine themselves honestly, neither being too harsh or too easy on themselves; and then know how to correct the issues impeding progress. That’s where a mentor comes in.

My Panel of Experts

I have a panel of experts in every field who I turn to for help and advice.  That ranges from appliance repair to deadlift programming. I’ve been a fan of this way before The Art of Manliness told me that every man should have ten people in his Rolodex. (For those of you born after 1990, a Rolodex was a paper contact list men and women kept on their desk.  Barbaric I know.)

Self Defense

Chet Blalock comes from a diverse lineage that can be traced back to Bruce Lee and the Gracie Family. He’s trained with Joe Lewis, the man voted as The Greatest Karate Fighter of All Time by Black Belt Magazine, Richard Bustillo, Dan Inosanto, “Judo” Gene LeBell who may be the only person to be able to say that he’s choked out both Steven Seagal and Bruce Lee. Chet has set the bar high for every other coach I have because he’s able to switch seamlessly from student to teacher and because he’s not a jealous coach.  Many instructors get nervous when someone else wants to teach their students. Chet invites in and aligns himself with world class martial artists like Jiu Jitsu maestre Allan Goes without fear. He’s first on this list because he’s one of only two people who has risked his life for me on multiple occasions. More than a coach, he’s family.


This to me is huge.  Training alone means there’s no one really to notice if you start missing workouts, or getting shaky with the nutrition. My brother, Brian Pankey, owner of a backyard strength training ministry called Pankey’s Athletic Training fills that role for me. We’ve been talking about training for almost twenty years, well before my parents adopted him as a son, and we’ve developed a rapport that allows us to complete each other’s sentences.  He’s seen me at my best and worst and there’s no one else who could tell instantly if I fell off the fitness wagon. He also serves as an additional spiritual counselor as I do for him.  One additional perk: Boo has been working in the electrical powerline industry for 18 years.  He’s a tinkerer. So he’s my go to person when I need to figure out how to rig a piece of equipment to do an exercise.  We even share equipment thereby doubling our shared stock. I could go on and on but bottom line he’s an invaluable resource for me.  And he’s the other person who’s put personal safety aside as we fought our way out of more than one bad situation making him a no brainer as well as the first option when I wanted a godfather for my youngest daughter.

Steve Goggins is on my panel of experts

Interviewing Steve Goggins the first man to squat 1102lbs


Steve Goggins started out training alone at home with a weight set he begged his mother for. Fast forward a decade or so and he became the first person to squat 1102lbs. Today he coaches powerlifters in his garage gym and online, turning ordinary people into strength champions. Steve is who I go to when I need to fix technique or I have a question about improving any of my lifts. Training in his garage, I also run across a cross section of people with different approaches and solutions to problems.  I don’t always agree with his grumpy behind and he teases me nonstop about politics but all I needed to see was how he treated my son Juaquin and I became a Steve Goggins fan. (But I’m still not competing in single ply.)

James Fuller is International All Around Weightlifting Association champion. He holds the all time world record in the self loaded leg press. James is also the founder of Strongman Archaeology a group dedicated to preserving the lifts done by physical culture’s greatest names. I’ve learned a great deal from our early morning conversations, improving mobility and strength in different angles to make me more of an athlete.


Author/teacher/missionary Brad Martin and former therapist, Pastor/Church Planter Jody May. Yeah, there are two names here but I believe Proverbs 11:14 which says “Where there is no guidance the people fall, But in abundance of counselors there is victory”. Brad was the first person to orient my thinking to seeing the entire world from the standpoint that God uses everything to encourage relationship between us and Him.  Jody is my current pastor and a fellow garage gym athlete.  We have many discussions about manhood, spirituality and how God speaks to us through exercise sessions.

Appliance Repair

Anthony Anderson is my neighbor. His 12 year old son has lifted weights in my garage since he was in elementary school. Anthony has several years of experience in the heating and air industry and he’s the first guy I call when something goes wrong in the house.

Car Repair

Mark Newsome. Mark is another neighbor of mine who was a master mechanic for 20 plus years before injuring his shoulder.  Mark is the person I go to when I need a recommendation for who to use to fix x, y or z on my cars. I still remember when one of those oil change places tried to tell me that I had an engine oil leak and I went to Mark for a second opinion. Mark sprayed the oil from the bottom of the car with a water hose and saved me over $1,000.

By the way, this works both ways

I mentor several young people, two on a daily basis and others as they contact me.  If you’re interested in a practical way to mentor young people, I recommend With: A Practical Guide to Informal Mentoring. by Alvin Reid and George G. Robinson. It’s available on in Kindle or paperback.

About the author

John Greaves III is a writer based in North Georgia with nearly two decades of experience in training at home. A former amateur kickboxing champion, John now competes recreationally in powerlifting. He takes a physical culture approach to training; believing that strength and health need not be mutually exclusive. In addition to his nonfiction work, John has written two fiction books, A Different Kind of Giant and A Little Lesson in Manners that are available on