In the summer of 2011, while still operating Top Line Training out of multiple Snap Fitness health clubs, I met a young high school football player for the first time who would go on to change my life forever.
Around 14 years old at the time, he was entering his sophmore season at Homestead High School.
His first day of training didn’t go so well. It took less than 10 mins for the small, shaggy haired Russian to be seen keeled over a waste basket dismissing his breakfast.
His name, Anton (Russian Reaper) Ragozin. His desire to improve, unparalleled.
He opened up about his dream of becoming a starting running back for his high school and eventually going on to play college ball for Oregon. His love for their team's speed, fancy uniforms, and the teams lanyard he kept his house keys on was enough for him to peg that as his future school.
Anton didn’t see himself in his current state, which at the time was rather small, extremely tight in the hips/hamstrings, and a strength level barely allowing him to pick up those purple coated 15lb dumbbells they keep next to the real ones. When he looked in the mirror, he saw potential.
We only got to work together for two short weeks before he started training camp and then right into his season, but Anton gave me the final push needed to create a training ground for people like him who wanted to become more than they were, which would become Top Line Gym a few short months later.
Upon the completion of his sophmore season, Anton and his best friend Jakab (aka Tapout) started a journey towards their dreams of becoming impact players for their team by being the first athletes in Top Line Gym history. They were in there before we even had flooring in the gym, in fact they were there to roll out the first batch of turf when it came in.
These two young men were the definition of consistency and intensity. It’s not easy for a 15 year old kid to find the drive to get out of the house in the middle of winter (or in the blazing heat of summer) and go through the types of training sessions that these guys successfully completed day in and day out. They stuck with it.
Tony Robbins says “repetition is the mother of all skill." As we watched these two young men grow inside and out, overcoming every intense rep, set and challenge, we all had the chance to see the truth in that quote.
These guys were growing like weeds and literally transforming into men physically and mentally.
It didn’t matter if we asked them to do outdoor sled drags in January when it was -20 degrees outside or if we had them dragging a half ton pickup truck through the parking lot with nothing but a rope. They did it and even had some fun along the way. They even had their own cheering section on Friday nights with the fans holding up a reaper scythe with Anton's picture on it.
They even had a key to the gym because they wanted to do additional work on top of what we were giving them. They're dedication was everything a coach/team could ask for.
In 2013 they earned the right to start at their respective positions (running back and middle linebacker) for one of the best high school football teams in the state of Wisconsin. In their opener, which I had the privilege to attend, Anton rushed for over 170 yards and two touchdowns including a 70 yard run that almost gave me a heart attack as I watched from the stands. Jakab started what would end up to being an All-State season with a huge turnover and multiple game-changing hits on defense.
As I sat there in the stands, I couldn’t help noticing this reminder that where you start doesn’t matter.
You could be the team's 5th string backup. You could be your organization's unappreciated errand runner. You could be in the worst shape of your life physically. You could be stuck in the middle of your loneliest depression. You could have just experienced the biggest loss of your life. Your confidence in yourself could be at an all time low.
No matter where you are right now, no matter how troubled your personal story is right now or how hard it is for you to believe that you could actually change your story, you have to have faith in yourself and the God-given potential you have. We have all received potential as a gift and it is our job to give the gift back, by developing that potential.
Anton and Jakab’s success pushed Top Line to another level by proving our concept again and again. They reminded us that our main function is to help and serve each customer and focus on their goals, dreams, and success. It’s not about the workouts, special equipment, music, or technology. It’s not about the pro athlete endorsements or sneaky promotions.
Top Line is, always has been, and always will be about helping you overcome whatever problems, fears, challenges, or worries that are holding you back from reaching your true potential. The circumstances, situations, and motivating factors are different for each person that walks through our doors.
You might be overweight, going through a divorce, working too much, trying to become a professional athlete, overcoming an injury, suffering from depression or anxiety, undersized or any number of other reasons. No matter where you are starting, your story can change. Against all odds, you can change it all in a moment. The moment you make the decision and say “enough is enough, I’m making this change now!”
Anton and Jakab opened up the first chapter of their story with being back ups. Being small. Being overlooked. Their story changed to being bigger, stronger, and faster starting leaders who were relied on heavily to perform by their team which ended up having an extraordinary season. And you know what, that’s not where their story ends. High school is not the end for them. They have more potential in them. If not in athletics, then in their careers, families, and communities and that’s what this is all about. Creating a positive lifelong impact on this world, no matter where you start.
To quote the late great Jim Rohn: "The goal of the grand human adventure is productivity, pursuing the full development of all your potential. To see all that you can become with all that you've been given."