The POWER of Peers

| By Jamie Nugent |

I’m sure almost every one of us has heard wonderfully amazing stories of miraculous feats of strength occurring throughout the folklore of our lives.  I can fondly remember as far back as a child, hearing stories of mothers wrestling their children away from polar bears or lifting cars off of their young ones in a heroic effort. This was, as always dismissed by many as horse shit, or, simply stories to be told around the campfire.

Today, in the age of the internet, you can in fact realize that these things are not only possible, but actually commonplace. In 2006 in Tucson, Ariz , Tim Boyle watched as a Camaro hit 18-year-old Kyle Holtrust. The car pinned Holtrust, still alive, underneath. Boyle ran to the scene of the accident and lifted the Camaro off the teenager, while the driver of the car pulled him to safety.

In 1982, in Lawrenceville, Georgia , Angela Cavallo lifted a 1971 Chevy Impala from her son, Tony, after it fell off the jacks that had held it up while he worked underneath the car. Mrs. Cavallo lifted the car high enough and long enough for two neighbors to replace the jacks and pull Tony from beneath the car.

World's Strongest Man

Car flipping for shits and giggles. Is the power to display amazing feats of strength hidden in all of us?

What accounts for feats of superhuman strength like these? Are they glimpses into the lives of super heroes’ alter egos? Or are all of us capable of exhibiting amazing strength?

I could go into a scientific rant about adrenaline, ephinepherine or the Fight or Flight response, but that would get boring, and there is plenty of info out there in the wonderful world of the internet.

The “real world” fact of the matter and the reason I chose to write this article has little to do with heroic feats of strength in this regard and more to do with choosing the right location, atmosphere of where and how you do your training. It also has to do with that outstanding realization, and almost zen like state you get in when you accomplish something once thought so absurdly out of reach,that it’s actually a personal miracle, let alone a personal record.

It’s really easy at times, to get caught up in the home gym phenomenon.  I mean, what more can someone ask for?   Convenience, great price, no peers to impress whilst looking stupid trying to learn a new plyometric move!


Didn't work then, and sure as hell doesn't work now.

How perfect is that?

It’s almost too perfect. Just like not training at all was too perfect because “we didn’t have the time.” I’ve said it many times; The road to fitness failure is paved with Tae-Bo cassettes, ab-crunchers and P90X DVDs. It’s not that these programs are bad, in fact P90x is actually one heck of a good program. It’s the fact that you do it alone, and well, it’s easier to say  “not today”  when there are no external forces pushing you. I can tell you with a fair degree of certainty that for every Bowflex actually in use, there are three more that have become the world’s most expensive clothes hangers…

The thing is, and the thing that makes “Jenny Craig, and Dr. Bernstein’s and Weight Watchers” very successful and very lucrative is not their magic potion of weight loss, or some diet secret.

That answer, lies in two very important factors: peers and accountability.

In all the above scenarios, there is either a weigh in, a ketone stick to display, or a tape measure applied to your body. In my humble opinion, would a typical female dieter be compliant in the above scenarios? Hell yeah! You would definitely be compliant if you knew you had to be placed in these situations weekly!

Also of note; studies have shown, time and time again, that training in groups leads to greater long term compliance and success. This is irrefutable.

Navy Officers Training

It's been proven time and time again: A positive and motivating atmosphere + peer accountability = SUCCESS

It’s this change in your mindset that can help “elevate your game” to the next level.

I liken this back to a recent experience. In late April I attended the CrossFit Challenge at the UFC Fan Expo in Toronto where I had an opportunity to witness the phenomenal power of peers before my very eyes.

How was it, that merely one week earlier, I watched CrossFit Select teammate Tommy barely eek out a 355lb deadlift, only for him to pull an unimaginable 465lbs one week later? And how was it that CrossFit Select athlete Raul Cano, a week later picked up forty five pounds more than his previous best? Surely they hadn’t gotten that much stronger in days?!


The energy of the crowd, their teammates, and the spirit of competition brought out the best in each member from The CrossFit Select team, and it’s this type of atmosphere that leads to the best fitness gains (and losses ;) )

At CrossFit Select, other CrossFit gyms, and Bootcamps like those run by Pro Sport Conditioning, the camaraderie and team like atmosphere invariably lends itself to greater efforts, and greater results… and it’s a wonderful sight to behold.

"I got this." Raul Cano crushing a PB during the CrossFit Challenge at the UFC Fan Expo.

It could be the difference, because, well it makes all the difference.


About the Author

Jamie has over  15 years of real-world experience in the strength & conditioning and nutrition industries. Known for finding unique ways for “hard-losers” to succeed where all other diets have failed, he has been affectionately been given the moniker, “The Diet Doctor” .  Over the last few years, he has shifted his focus to performance training & performance nutrition and is an inspiration for those around him.  His infectious demeanor and unquestionable knowledge is respected by anyone in the strength training and sports nutrition world.  Contact Jamie at