I have been working closely with National Champion weightlifter Jon North on a book project for the last few years. The book contains Jon’s enthralling journey through the sport of weightlifting, philosophies & methods on technique, and artistic writings from his online blog The Dark Orchestra. Within the text you will find a foreword written by Jon’s good friend and legendary weightlifter Donny Shankle, over 70 stylized photos, QR Codes that create an interactive reader experience and other hidden gems that those who follow Jon and The Attitude Nation closely will pick up on.
Insight into the Inception of The Dark Orchestra
I first met Jon North in June of 2012 when he visited Albany CrossFit to hold a seminar. This is a very fond memory for me as the Attitude Nation Level 1 was the first seminar I ever attended – a truly life changing event. At the time I had been exposed to weightlifting within the CrossFit community and knew very little about the sport. I found the movements to be frustrating, but was excited about the prospect of learning from a professional who boasted a new way of performing the Snatch and Clean & Jerk. I found Jon’s personal story to be very inspiring and was fascinated by the way he taught the lifts. The seminar was an incredibly fun event and I walked away from it with a new found respect for weightlifting and a personal record Clean & Jerk of 75kg/165#!
Ever the student and eager to learn, I showed up to the seminar with a pen & notebook to take meticulous notes on Jon’s technique instruction. I wanted to make sure that I remembered all of the steps so I could accurately teach my own athletes. Little did I know this would be the ember that would blaze a new path in my career and life. I remember how I would frequently receive puzzled looks from Jon, who must have been thinking “what the heck is that guy doing?” – as I briskly wrote down his every word. Shortly after the seminar, my fellow coaches and I at Albany CrossFit set out to hold our own seminar to teach what we had learned to members of the gym. I wanted to share my notes with the other coaches and athletes so I spent the majority of the following week, staying up until all hours of the night, putting together an eighteen page manual of what I learned at the seminar. This manual contained coaching cues, diagrams created from photos of Jon found on the internet, and a step by step breakdown of The Technique of Oscillation (The Attitude Nation Catapult Method).
The manual eventually made its way into Jon North’s hands months later. One day I received a phone call from him and he loved the manual and expressed interest in creating a book that contained his blogs, life story, and methods of technique. Jon wanted to give The Attitude Nation something they could be proud of and take with them every day to the gym. I was first relieved that Jon enjoyed what I had created and eager to be a part of this new project. We decided to discuss some ideas later that week and in the time leading up to that second meeting I began working on the book. I wanted to show Jon that I was indeed the man for the job and viewed our second meeting as essentially a job interview that I needed to perform well in. I spent hours brainstorming ideas, reading Jon’s blog, and watching California Strength YouTube videos. When the meeting arrived, I had a detailed outline for the book and information on the publishing process available. I bombarded Jon with all of my ideas and he fell silent after the presentation for a long pause before he eventually said “You’re the boss.” Over the next year we met via Skype and I attended many seminars to gather as much information about Jon and his methods as possible.
From the beginning I knew that if I was going to write this book that I needed to become a weightlifter myself. I scaled back from CrossFit workouts and began training the Snatch and Clean & Jerk. In the trenches of hard weightlifting training I formed a love for the sport, gained insight into how Jon must have felt at various points of his career, and learned a lot out myself as an athlete and coach. Over the years, Jon and I have continued to put the pieces of our book together – a process we now have a new found respect for, and grew to become great friends. We are so excited to finally share the book with world!