Yo! It’s Elliott.
In 2012 I began a YouTube video series titled “Yo Elliott” where I answered health and fitness questions in my signature fashion, with entertainment and informative value. In less than 24 months my YouTube channels (channel #1, channel #2) attracted over 1,000,000 subscribers, and I was named #1 YouTube Fan’s Favorite by Ryan Seacrest. (see Yo Elliott popular uploads here; Best of Yo Elliott fan creations here)
So that’s how I became famous, but that’s not where the story begins.
I started Strength Camp, my gym in St. Petersburg FL, in 2007 out the back of my 1988 Ford conversion van. I trained my clients in the park with used equipment, sandbags, tires and stuff like that… here is a Fox13 news story about Strength Camp from June 2007.
Since then Strength Camp has moved from the park into gym #1 (see it here) in South St. Pete, to gym #2 (see it here), to moving into our current 8,000 foot location (we made a four part series about it here) in 2015.
One of the main reasons my videos gained in popularity was my holistic approach to health, fitness, strength training, physiology, psychology and life mastery. In fact, I wrote a 75 page e-book titled “The Four Layers Of Strength” to fully explain my approach to fitness and life. You can download the e-book for free here.
As a mentor, elder, father-figure and virtual coach to tens-of-thousands of young men worldwide my primary call to action is, “Become The Strongest Version of Ourselves, and Empower Others.”
Strength training, sports and fitness have always been the foundation of my approach to personal development. In our search for wholeness and well-being, good health and physical fitness are key. In fact, my approach to fitness is done with the intent to “grow stronger” physically, physiologically, energetically, and spiritually (as you learned in my ‘Four Layer’ book).
One of my main teachings is “The body IS the mind”.
Back in 2004 my wife Colleen (who had been my girlfriend since high school) became pregnant with our first child. At the time we were living in New York in Colleen’s father’s basement. I was without a job, without direction and we were deeply in debt. To say I became depressed is an understatement.
Throughout high school and college I had always been interested in Eastern Religion, philosophy and meditation. Amongst my favorite people to study were Alan Watts, Abdul Baha and Osho. Osho, an Indian mystic who gained a sizable following in the late 70’s and 80’s, created a method of meditation which relied heavily on intense physical movement and deep breathing.
I thought Osho’s Dynamic Meditations would be a perfect fit for me given my athletic background, interest in fitness and desire to meditate to reduce stress. Unlike most meditation techniques which require that you sit still and focus the mind, Dynamic Meditation has five stages designed to charge the body with heavy breathing, shouting, jumping, cathartic movement and dance (here is one of many videos I created some years later all about it).
Attending the 21 day Dynamic Meditation class in New York City was so helpful to me (and I enjoyed it so much) that I hired the class teacher, Krisana, for a one-on-one session. During our session she had me perform a series of “bioenergetic breathing” exercises and movements. Within twenty minutes of our bioenergetics session I had broken into a deep belly laughter like I hadn’t experienced since I was a child! I was laughing so hard that I couldn’t catch my breath in order to apologize for interrupting the session.
When I finally caught my breath, and wiped away my tears, Krisana explained to me that the laughter was a normal response to the bioenergetic exercises we had done. She went on to explain how the muscular system acts as a damn that holds back emotions (think “clenching your jaw” in order not to yell when you’re angry). Apparently my muscles had been holding back lots of laughter; lots of joy!
In this very moment I knew I had stumbled upon something that would change my life forever. In that moment I learned that mental and emotional pain could be relieved though “bioenergetic” physical exercise and deep breathing.
The relief I gained from this one session gave me the strength to gather myself, Colleen and our new baby, and move down to Florida where we still live today. The first eight years in Florida were very challenging, and very formative. Colleen and I went on to have three more children, I became a professional Strongman (here is one of my competition videos) and I went to work every day as a personal trainer, building Strength Camp in order to earn just enough money to take care of my family.
Then in 2012 (right before I began creating my popular “Yo Elliott” YouTube videos), I had reached out to Krisana for the first time since our session in New York and asked if she knew of anyone who practiced bioenergetics here in Florida. She suggested a few resources which ultimately led me to Dr. Robert Glazer, a “Bioenergetic Analyst” who studied under the famous analytical psychologist Alexander Lowen, and was a student of Wilhelm Reich. (here is an interview with Dr. Glazer and myself)
I had been a client and student of Dr. Glazer’s from 2012, until he passed away in 2015. Dr. Glazer taught me how to use bioenergetic breathing and exercises to help my fitness clients. During those years I also made a serious study of Bioenergetic Analysis by reading all 13 of Alexander Lowen‘s books, and much of the work by Wilhelm Reich.
A significant part of the reason my YouTube videos became so popular was due to my understanding and use of bioenergetics in my videos. Many of my advice videos for young people struggling with life challenges included suggestions on how to “release” the emotional pain by using tools like the bioenergetic breathing stool (see a video here), “breathing into your balls” (see a video here) and building social confidence (see a video here).
Amongst my over two dozen videos on bioenergetics, some quite unflattering, this video is a great example of what how I used bioenergetics on myself. As I mentioned, some of the videos I’ve uploaded (and later removed) feature me in a very vulnerable state with the aim of showing people what it looks like to allow the full expression of trapped fear, anger, sadness and pain though bioenergetics.
In the fall of 2014 the “small voice within” asked me to discontinue uploading YouTube videos. My soul had been asking me to stop making videos since the spring of that year, but I was too attached to give it up right away. The result of resisting my soul led to a cascade of injuries and negative events which finally gave way to my quitting YouTube (somewhat) in September 2014.
But before I left I made this video to show my appreciation to fans, say “farewell”, and put on a video contest. Over 200 fans participated in the The “Farewell Yo Elliott” video contest; you can see the top 25 entries on this playlist.
At the time of my retiring from YouTube I was vaguely aware of the “initiation” I was about to embark upon. I was on top of the world, but at the same time my soul was dissatisfied. My life was great in every way; I was doing work that I loved and had been greatly rewarded for, but it was not my True Path (here is a blog post I wrote shortly after retiring).
From the fall of 2014 until the spring of 2016 my mind, body, soul and life had undergone a rigorous transformation. This was a very dark stage for me; when I was not working… most of my time and energy was spent in meditation, prayer, practicing Yoga, grieving, questioning, searching, resting, recovering and receiving guidance from mentors.
During this time I also discovered that at various stages of life require “Initiation”.
Our indigenous ancestors were very aware of the importance of providing support (sacred space, process and eldership) during critical psycho-social stages of human development, particularly for men. Unlike our female counterparts who are initiated into adulthood via biology (their period), young men NEED to be consciously initiated into adulthood by older men (elders). That is not to say that young women do not need support; but for young men who begin experiencing the hyper-intense aggressive energies associated with increased testosterone, the grounding of initiation gives meaning to our intensity and direction for our aggression.
Initiation is also required for those of us moving into middle-adulthood.
If moving from boyhood into manhood requires “aggression grounding”, then moving from adulthood into middle-adulthood requires “soul grounding”. The shifts from one stage of life into another is not a conscious one, it is something that happens when the soul is ready to be re-born into a newer, more mature, expression of itself. For this process to be allowed to happen naturally, the ego (who we think we are) must die to itself and be re-constructed into a newer form. In this way we experience a sort of death and resurrection. In this way our soul Grows Stronger and we become a Stronger Version Of Ourselves.
One of the most important qualities during an initiation phase is “humility”. I lost a tremendous amount of vital energy during the early parts of my initiation. It was during this time of rest that was able to confront my thoughts, ideas, emotions, hopes, fears, dreams and demons that were no longer serving me. I was asked to let go of parts of myself (ego) that were not going to help me fulfill my life’s purpose in this second stage. While I was struggling to let go and grieve my losses, I was also being shown where my new path would lead me.
According to anthropologist Angels Arren, this second-stage of life requires “re-dreaming”.
In April 2016 I held my first Dynamic Meditation Camp here in Florida. The camp coincided with my 37th birthday, and the launch of my book King (a book which, in many ways, marked the end of an era for me). The entire month of April seemed to have been a “wormhole” through which I finally emerged as what some of my fans and friends have called “the new Elliott”.
I write this bio only four months later, so much of what I am experiencing today is new to me. I am slowly navigating this new terrain and make new decisions on my newer (and truer) path. The “new Elliott” has been asked to significantly change the way I eat; the way I train; the way I relate to loved ones; the way I walk, talk, act and think.
The “new Elliott” has also been asked to take up the important work of sharing my experiences, guidance and teachings on meditation, bioenergetics and shamanism.
The “new Elliott” understands his responsibility to step fully into his role as elder, mentor, father-figure, friend and coach to the young and middle-aged who find themselves within the critical grips of life change and challenge.
The “new Elliott” accepts the torch he’s been handed and bares it’s light in order to en-lighten his own path and be a beacon onto others.
The “new Elliott” stands in his new power, his new presence and his new soul-strength.
The “new Elliott” offers new gifts, tools and support to friends, family and clients.
In 2017 I will be traveling the US and abroad offering more Dynamic Meditation and Bioenergetics Camps.
In 2017 I will also begin taking on new clients in need of Bioenergetic Grounding TM.
In 2017 I will also finally begin taking on students to learn my method of combining fitness, bioenergetics, Cosmic Initiation and shamanism (which I call Bioenergetic Grounding) to find grounding through initiation and in order to support others on their path.
May you walk firmly on your path.
May you find the eldership and support you need.
May you always follow your soul.
May the Lord hear our prayers.
Blessing and Big Hugs,
HULSE (aka the new Elliott)