Rando 79yo Bulgarian. Meditate & Burpees. Low Back Pain. Full Circle. Griselda. TWA 2.05.24

Diablo Masters Athletes were busy this weekend!!
On the left: Sherry Garcia, Nikki Rosenberg, Robert Lawson and Bill Leeper flew to Texas for the Garage Games! 
On the right, Mark Mooney & Chris MacCrary teamed up for the Golden State Games.

“We should not be afraid to inspire. The world needs it badly.”
Barry Corbet from “Options


  • Random 79yo Bulgarian Walks Into Diablo
  • New Habits: Meditate & Burpees
  • TWA Video
  • Low Back Pain Explained!
  • Mind-blowing Recovery From Spinal Cord Injury
  • Griselda

A RANDOM BULGARIAN WALKED INTO DIABLO… On Saturday afternoon, one of our coaches alerted me to a grey-haired, elderly man dressed in jeans, a coat and work boots watching members training while standing just outside the open gym area. I greeted him, asked his name and if he needed help with anything. With a strong slavic accent, he replied: “I am Ben. And, I just want to watch him squat.”  He pointed to one of our athletes, Eric, on the Olympic lifting platforms.  As I nodded in understanding, he asked me, “how much is he lifting?”  I did a quick calculation and said, “about 200lbs.” Ben replied, “how much is that in kilos?” This made me laugh – I converted the weight to kilos. And when Eric front squatted the barbell with ease, Ben said to me: “that is a very good front squat.”  I then realized that Ben is a weightlifter and began to ask him a LOT of questions.

It turns out that Ben’s full name is Svetlozar Benchev. He is 79 years old and lives down the block in the Senior Community Center. He is about 5’7, lean yet stout, and steady on his feet. He said that he lifts weights daily in his apartment with a makeshift squat rack and plywood on the floor. He immigrated to the US from Bulgaria at age 50 and made his living as a carpenter. When he mentioned Bulgaria, I commented that the Bulgarians are legends in Olympic Weightlifting. His face lit up and he said, “we crushed the Russians for many years in competition.” He was clearly very proud.

Ben then asked if he could walk around inside the gym and watch the lifters and other athletes. I invited him in and introduced him to Eric, who was lifting on the platform. After a brief conversation, Ben pointed to the loaded barbell in the squat rack and asked Eric, “how much is this?” Eric replied: “95 kilos” (210lbs). Ben then asked, “can I try?” and quickly dipped under the bar to attempt a back squat!  I freaked out, turned to Yvonne who was stretching close by and she said: “did he sign a waiver?”  The 79 year old Bulgarian in jeans and work boots then proceeded to easily squat 205lbs – STONE COLD – with no warm up. We all felt like we were part of a prank. It was amazing.

After his feat of strength, I spent some time talking to Ben about his lifestyle and nutrition – wanting to know more about this amazing man and his fitness. Not surprising, I felt like I was talking to one of our members: he lifts weights regularly, walks often, eats very healthy, spends time with his family and stays very busy. He still takes odd jobs as a handyman – carpentry, plumbing, tile, etc. He also said that he no longer drinks and he quit smoking at age 46 (!!). And, he added while waving his finger at me, “I do not take any medicines”. 

Ben gave me hope and motivation – hope for anyone who wants to improve their health and quality of life at any age and motivation to keep training hard. The key to longevity is clear: stay strong, move a lot, eat healthy, and be around a supportive family and community.  This is what we do.


Feb Focus: 
 1. Technical Lifts  2. Squats. Skills: Open Prep Emoms

  • PRsAllDay Week Ahead Summary
  • Mon: Snatch Complex. Metcon: 5RFT – 9 Strict Press, 12 DL #75/115)
  • Tue: EMOMx6 – Easy, Moderate, Hard:  BMUs, BBJO, KB Snatches, Row (Ca), then, 3RFT
  • Wed: Back Squat. Metcon: Amrap 8m – 200m Run, 12 WBs
  • Thu: E3MOMx5 – 8 DB PC, 6 RArm/LArm FR Walking Lunge
  • Fri:  27-21-15-9  Cal Row, Push-ups, Sit ups
  • Sat: Open 22.3 Pull-Ups (>C2B>BMUs), Thrusters, DUs
  • Sun: 5RFT – 10 Power Snatch, 10 BFBurpees, 200m Run
  • !!YOUTUBE PODCAST!! – >> BACK PAIN EXPLAINED <<: Peter Attia w/ Stuart McGill – #287 ‒ Lower back pain: causes, treatment, and prevention of lower back injuries and pain – This is a FASCINATING and insightful look into back pain AND performance. If you’ve ever had back pain OR if you know someone with back pain, listen to this one. Dr. McGill also gives insight into improving performance with stability and stretching work.
  • NETFLIX: FULL CIRCLE – is a powerful, emotional and motivational documentary about snowboarder Trevor Kennison who broke his back snowboarding in 2014 and was paralyzed from the waist down. His redemption story is intertwined with another extreme athlete from a previous generation: legendary skier & alpinist, Barry Corbet, who experienced a similar injury and went on to lead an extraordinary athletic life as a paraplegic. You will be crying, cheering AND biting your nails watching this incredible (and inspiring) story. 
  • NETFLIX: Griselda – this is a 6 part series retelling the story of Griselda Blanco, the first female head of a drug Cartel – one of the largest in Miami in the 1980’s. Caution: this is a brutal story with significant violence. But it is very well done and entertaining. Sophia Vergara is outstanding in this role. 

Make it an amazing week!