Steve Dalton has only been competing for a short time but that’s not stopped him from assembling the 14:23 Strength Club team of garage lifters around him. See how he’s taking himself and his team from mediocre to monster!
You’re a competing strongman; how long have you been doing strongman?
I’ve been training about two and a half to three years. I’ve only done one competition; I did a competition last April.
While it would be entertaining to watch you go to Planet Fitness and try to do stone, in reality strongman lends itself really well to training at home.
The reason I have a garage gym at home is my son. I work 40 plus hours a week at a warehouse, my wife does direct sales so she does a lot of work on weekends and evenings; for me to train and go out to a gym is kind of hard with a five year old. My wife and I chose this option to grow our family, we were in the process of adoption and we were like well let’s just start this right now so by the time I can’t go out in the evening to a gym, I’ve already got this here at the house.
Why 14:23 Strength Club
What is it that drives you to set up this 14:23 Strength Club at your home?
You always work better when you’re around other people and have guys pushing you; it is a ministry for me. It’s something God’s put a passion in my heart for and I meet with my pastor every two weeks, he’s really pushed me like, you’ve got a passion for this— use it! That mindset came from; I moved to Illinois ten years ago and I was already a black belt in Jiu-jitsu when I looked up here and I was looking for places to train, Chicago area is crazy expensive. I’m newly married; I sat down and talked to the pastor of our church at the time. I said, “I wish I could do an MMA ministry at the church” and he said, “Why can’t you?” We started one and it grew tremendously. So that’s when the whole making your passion your ministry thing came to me. I love doing it and it lends itself to the Gospel. The fact that most of the time men don’t want to show weakness in front of each other but when you’re lifting; you’ve got the okay to fail in front of another man. Especially strongman because it’s not if you’re going to fail at a lift, it’s when you’re going to fail. And it kind of breaks down the tough guy barriers and gives us a connection.
Many of us picked home gyms because we have families we want to spend time with but we recognize that our health is also important for us and for them. So the home gym helps us balance that. How is your family a part of your training? Do they train with you?
Sometimes my son gets out. The program that I do during the week is basically just a regular lifting program, upper body/lower body and I basically do that after he goes to bed around 7:30 so by 8:00pm I’m in the gym doing my thing. But on Saturdays when we have our Strongman Saturdays he’ll come out there and watch. There’s actually a video on the 14:23 Facebook page of him when he was three years old flipping a thirteen inch tire in the driveway.
So your son gets to watch not only Daddy prioritize working out but also he’s growing up seeing how the men of 14:23 Strength Club interact in a healthy way. That’s beautiful!
Yeah, it’s awesome! I had six guys last Saturday.
How long have you been advertising the Strongman Saturdays?
Technically I guess I started a year ago and then I kind of let it go. I used to do personal training out of my garage and then with the adoption of my son, due to money issues, I had to take a night job and I wasn’t able to do personal training. And I didn’t’ touch a weight for six to nine months. So I guess I started advertising about fourteen months ago and then I had the opportunity to go to days and that screwed up my sleep schedule again so I’ve just now started to adjust. Then I just started throwing it out there to see if there was any interest; see what would happen you know?
How many people can you accommodate at 14:23 Strength Club?
I can probably do up to ten, if it’s a nice day outside, we can do ten plus me. You can park on the street; as long as you’re not blocking driveways it’s cool. I actually put cones in the street. My neighbors laugh.
Breakdown the equipment you have available and what’s on your wish list.
God has blessed! A local CrossFit gym shut down and I ended up buying what cost me about $400 but was worth over $1,000. I bought an eleven inch strongman log, a circus dumbbell, an old school sand loadable one like you see people make out of propane tanks, two kegs and three stones. What’s on my wish list is more iron plates; some good 45s. Right now I’ve got two good barbells— the 1960s, 70s York Barbells, nice straight, those are beautiful. I came across this super find on Craigslist about five years ago, I don’t know how much weight in iron I’ve got but it’s all York off this old lady her husband bought it when he was like twelve and she sold it to me for like $80. I’ve got bumper plates, the Rogue Y1 Squat rack, it’s a yoke, squat rack and sled all in one; I’ve got farmer’s carry handles, an axle, stones from 90lbs up to 265lbs. After I get all of the sand in the kegs, I’ve got from 100lbs up to 360lbs. Pullups bars hanging from the ceilings and gymnastics rings. I’ve actually just had an adjustable circus dumbbell, like a plate loadable one donated to us by the owner of a nearby gym, CrossFit Loki, Eric Haas.
Is this a detached garage or attached?
It’s attached and it’s heated! I did a few winters out there with just a space heater and then a buddy bought a gas heater big enough for a four car garage and he installed it. I can get it up to 85 degrees if I want!
That’s a big deal in Illinois! Let’s talk about fees. You don’t charge but you ask for donations to help cover the cost of equipment. Do you plan to make this a non-profit or just keep this as a lifter’s club?
I’m going to just keep 14:23 Strength Club as a lifter’s club. I found with the martial arts that once you make it a non-profit, you get into business and the people who have the knowledge of the actual sport aren’t usually the best businessmen. They usually need partners. I’m afraid that if I made it a non-profit, I would be too worried about that other part to not enjoy it as much as I do. And I don’t have to beat anybody; I just bought $400 worth of equipment and the guy is letting me pay as I get the equipment.
I asked that because equipment needs to be maintained. Kegs aren’t designed to be dropped—
Even cast iron plates, eventually they’re going to bust.
But it’s kind of like without some sort of investment people don’t want to come—
Well, also I live in an HOA and that’s the main reason I do it as a donation— I specify that I do not charge because I advertise on a lot of the local Facebook yard sale sites. We’re not allowed to run a business out of our home so I can say, “I’m not running a business out of our home; we just come workout together.”
Do you guys intend to go compete as a team?
I love the team atmosphere. One of our guys is competing on Sunday, April 30 in Altoona, Iowa. He had signed up to compete before he started training with us but up until a few weeks ago he had never touched an implement. The other guys are planning on going. I told them from the very beginning, if there’s a competition meet on Sunday, I will not go to it. That’s church day, my day with my family— three of us have already signed up for a United States Strongman meet in Quad Cities, Davenport, Iowa July 22 that’s a qualifier for Nationals.
You and I talked previously about you visiting the well-known hard core training facility, Jakked Gym every six weeks. Do you guys go as a team? Treat it sort of like a seminar?
That’s what I would like to do, it’s $40 for five visits so if we go once every six weeks, we’ll pretty much be able to go a whole year. The next town over we’ve got CrossFit Loki, and every Sunday they’ve got five national level competitors and two pros. So we’re blessed in this area. One of the guys who trains there is a fabrication engineer who makes stuff in his garage so the equipment they have is ridiculous. They have Power Stairs in their gym!
I found when I started getting more serious about strength sports that it’s such an alien idea to say, let’s all go over to somewhere else to take this seminar. Whereas in martial arts, it’s nothing for one school to invite all of the students from another school to a seminar even if it’s outside of their discipline and have people attend because it’s all about learning and even if you only learn one thing it was worth it! As lifters we need to take the Samurai Path especially if we train at home to get expert eyes on us.
Related Post: What Is Worship?
Yeah! I feel if you’ve got an athlete who wants to train at other gyms but he considers your gym home and he brings all of that knowledge home to you what are you losing out on?
I think one thing that will cause it to change is once again the influence of CrossFit because they’re learning to have an inclusive attitude towards all disciplines and that bleeds out to everyone else.
Definitely, iron sharpens iron and for iron to sharpen iron, you’ve got to be humble about it. If you put yourself around that you’ve got no choice but to get better and why would you deny yourself that opportunity?
That’s huge because it means that the guys who train with you at 14:23 Strength Club don’t just train with you; they get the opportunity to train with any of the accomplished lifters you have connections with. Like you’re in contact with Clint Darden of EliteFTS—
Well, I haven’t trained with him, he lives in Cyprus but I’ve talked with him quite a bit. He’s a Kentucky boy so next time I’m down there visiting family, I plan to train with the teammates that he used to train with.
How can people get in touch with you whether to train with you or for advice on starting something similar in their area?
Last question: Why 14:23?
The gym verse is Proverbs 14:23 In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.