ACHIEVERS

A blog featuring the competitive achievements of athletes from the Next Level and the PhysiQademy. It's our alumni, coaches and resource partners putting hteir experiences with our program into action and performing at their best.

STRONGMAN: Nick Cambi places fourth in the Arnold World StrongMan Competition

Master of the "Donkey Kick Circus Dumbell." 

Very little needs to be said other than congratulations and holy crap.  After years of dedicated hard work, Next Level alumni Nick Cambi (Wolfpack) places fourth among heavyweight competitors at the 2015 Arnold Sports Festival's World Strongman competition.

One of the most prestigious names in physique & strength sports competition, we are doubly proud and impressed because Nick accomplished this feat without the use of drug assistance.  He represents what staying the course and committing with passion can bring to a person.

One of the things we love the most about Nick is his sense of humor, which always prevents him from getting too mired and bogged down while he forges ahead.  And the video he compiled of his competitive highlights shows that love of laughing right alongside his love of lifting achievement.

Congratulations, Nick.  We're so glad "we knew ya when."  And were excited to see where you head next!

STRONGMAN: Congrats to Next Level Alumni competing in the StrongMan Nationals tomorrow!

We often remark: "the best results will not come for athletes while on a Next Level team, but afterward." While so many of our alumni athletes embody this look-to-what's-possible-next philosophy, some really shine in their accomplishments.

And this year we are wishing best of luck and godspeed to three such high-achievers who we're humbly flattered to have been connected with "way back when." Seems our alumni will be competing on the national stage at the StrongMan Nationals tomorrow (as of the time of this post).

Gina Melnik (The Drive(n), 2008), Ryan Aruck (The Beast, 2011), and Nick Cambi (Wolfpack, 2012) are all out in Reno, Nevada and prepping for their big day tomorrow.

Guys, the ranks of The Next Level — indeed, of the whole PhysiQulture Collaborative — are ecstatic for you! Just being there is an accomplishment in different ways for each of you (even though you perpetually make it seem easy!). We're humbled, honored and flattered to have been on any part of your remarkable paths!

Now go tear shit up! We're looking forward to hearing the highlights!

(Oh, and equal congrats and luck sent to some of our closer allies who will be there as well! (We're looking at you, Gina and Dawn, as well as a handful of other friends!) We know you'll smash it up!!!)

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Transient

BODYBUILDING: Alireza Rouhani earns Pro Card; Coach XN returns to competition!

2014 OCB YANKEE CLASSIC BODYBUILDING COMPETITION
JULY 19, 2014 • NEWBURYPORT, MA

Proud coach.  Thrilled athlete.  Big-ass sword.  It was a day of remarkable effort all around.

"I can't tell you if you have a shot at winning because we don't know your odds until you get to the contest," Coach Christian Matyi, aka "XN," told Ali days before the 2014 OCB Yankee Classic Bodybuilding Competition.  "But I can say this: your body is of the quality that wins shows.  You are going in with at least that caliber."

The words, while avoiding predictive claims, nonetheless held a nugget of prognostication because Alireza not only won the Overall Prize in the event but also earned his Pro Card for the IFPA, entitling him to compete as a professional bodybuilder.

Both Ali (Atlas, Spring '14) and his coach XN competed in the competition.  And not only that: in the same class.  The class' official name was "Class C," which is essentially the same as saying "Men's Tall."

This was only Ali's second contest, which show how dedicated to his craft he was this past 8 months.  While he is planning on competing again in the near future, he will probably wait a little while before turning pro in order to get more practice under his belt.  Pro card or not, he is still new to the game, and few advantages secure success like a bank of experience.  

It was not an easy walk to the end.  While bodybuilding symbolizes great power, it was an inner strength that was required this day to maintain a positive focus on what can be learned rather than just on what can be conquered.

It was not an easy walk to the end.  While bodybuilding symbolizes great power, it was an inner strength that was required this day to maintain a positive focus on what can be learned rather than just on what can be conquered.

The thrill and pride for Ali was through the roof.  He is one of the few Iranian men to turn pro in the IFPA, which is a huge boon for the bodybuilder.  His country's pros tend to be primarily non-drug-tested champions, so being one of the few from his homeland with a drug-free distinction is a particular point of extra pride!

Meanwhile, Coach XN is back after over two years of hiatus.  He lost his father, Philip John Matyi to Pancreatic Cancer in 2013, and had taken time away during the illness and after the passing to mourn.  But coach XN often remarks: "I came to learn what to give me, but I stay to learn what to give them," so while he was a far cry from his "best," he nonetheless held his own.  In the end XN was awarded the prize he typically most seeks anyway: the Best Poser prize, for a routine that is posted below,


ALI  & XN IN THE MEN'S OPEN CLASS "C"

Ali & XN side-by-side 

Ali in the Men's Open Class C

XN IN THE MEN'S OPEN CLASS "C"


Christian Matyi, aka, "XN"'s Posing Routine


ALI WINS THE MEN'S OPEN CLASS "C"


ALI COMPETES IN THE OVERALL FINAL ROUND


Ali in the Overall Free Posing


Ali Wins the Overall Prize and is awarded his pro card!


THE POWER OF TEAM

IMAGE: Will's bodybuilding gains him his first foray into modeling

The network of The Next Level and the PhysiQulture Collaborative has helped many athletes bring their physique work to the world of modeling.  Recently, bodybuilder and strongman Will Pirelli (The Beast, Spring '12) had his first chance to work as a model for Dazed, a hip, urban style website based out of New York.  

His job?  Modeling a gigantic utility bag.  The concept was to show that this bag is good for anyone – even a muscle dude who wants to tote a chick!  (Yes, he is literally holding a woman up with one arm in this shoot!)

You can see his work here.

Great work Will!  We're sure more is to come!

STRONGMAN: Next Level Alumni destroy Mass State StrongMan

Ryan Aruck and Stephen Cyr (from The Beast, 2011) along with Nick Cambi and Corey Bruckler (from Wolfpack, 2012) all entered the NAS Mass State StrongMan at Total Performance Sports in Everett. 

The guys are in great spirits and are in good standings. Updates coming after the last event. 

Ryan and Steve work on their tans. 

Ryan and Steve work on their tans. 

Large mammals were spotted. 

Large mammals were spotted. 

The face of intensity. 

The face of intensity. 

Steve tells the new guys where they can go to get muscles. 

Steve tells the new guys where they can go to get muscles. 

BODYBUILDING: Ali from Atlas wins at his first bodybuilding contest

While Chris McGann was the first athlete from Atlas to compete in the recent Hudson Valley StrongMan, it was Alireza Rouhani who was their first bodybuilding competitor.  He entered two classes at this year's OCB Spirit Of America; Men's Novice Tall and Men's Open Tall.

Ali's passion for bodybuilding began in his him city of Tehran (yes, as in Iran), so he thought it would b only fitting to thus choose the "Spirit of America" for his debut in the sport.  (Ali possesses a charming self-effacing humor that even plays through the bilingual.) 

Ali is a monstrous competitor, entering the show around 210 lbs. at a shredded 6'0".  His is a body who's shape represents what a lifetime of dedication to drug free strength sports can achieve.  

We were excited to see Ali win the Novice Tall class and come in a solid third place in the Men's Open Class.  This is a grab achievement for any first-timer, and we're excited top see where Ali takes his learning in the next few months as his competitive season continues.


ALI IN THE NOVICE MEN'S TALL CLASS

NOVICE MEN'S TALL AWARDS

 
 

ALI IN THE MEN'S NOVICE OVERALL ROUND


ALI IN THE MEN'S OPEN TALL CLASS

MEN'S OPEN TALL CLASS AWARDS

 
 

ALI'S ROUTINE

BODYBUILDING PRO Jesse Wilson earns ANOTHER pro card

After being with him at his second pro-card win ink it is impossible to express the profundity of gratitude our program has for Jesse's continued participation, support and motivation of our athletes.  We would not be who we are were we not blessed to have this remarkable man among our midst.  

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BODYBUILDER/STRONGMAN Phil Biondo In Television Commercial

While Phil Biondo (The Beast, Advancement) has moved on from the ranks of the Next Level, he nonetheless remains in close contact and consultation with the program via The PhysiQulture Collaborative network.  Yet at the twilight of his long tenure with the Next Level he nailed one last accomplishment: staring as "Unnamed Jock Buddy #1" in a local Vermont public service television commercial.

The commercial was for drunk driving, and airs frequently on local Vermont cable channels.  While his acting and modeling are now an adjunct to his passion for bodybuilding, his love of performance in bodybuilding helped him logically transition to this start in acting.  

Plus, he plays the "bad influence" friend.  Which is always cool.

Bodybuilder Markus Ricci on Two Magazine Covers For Feb 2014

The Cover of DNA Magazine, February 2014

Next Level alumnus Markus Ricci is a bodybuilder first.  But he is also a model.  

The ranks of bodybuilding are filled with starstruck, hopeful young men who think they will someday be "discovered" and put in magazines.  The sad truth is only a small percentage ever are.  Muscular guys with terrific bodies are dime a dozen in the modeling world, and not a few dreams are quickly squelched when the reality of the file settles in.

Yet Markus has drive and talent beyond the average bodybuilder – not to mention some mind-boggling genetics on his side.  He has parlayed his love of bodybuilding to a successful modeling carer.

This past February 2014 Markus landed himself on the cover of two national magazines.  The cover is really the highest magazine achievement, and it looks like Markus's lot of bodybuilding has helps him pave his way to grab accomplishments off the stage.

Nice work, Markus.

From Markus' photo shoot in the February 2014 DNA MAgazine.

The cover of Wire Magazine, February 2014.

The cover of Wire Magazine, February 2014.

Adam Roc Rose Models For First Book Cover

The book jacket for "Finally Home."

Some bodybuilders just have "it."  Other bodybuilders work their asses off for "it."  

Working is what Next Level alumni Adam Roc Rose (United, 2010 and Shadow, 2011) has been doing for the past 2 years.  Adam has parlayed his excellent bodybuilding work to modeling, and has recently hit a new milestone in his efforts: his first book cover.  

Adam's philosophy is to keep his range wide, his sense of humor sharp and crate opportunity for himself through hard work.  And that is what has landed him the work.

Being a bodybuilder, it should come as no surprise that it is the cover of a romance novel.  The book, "Finally Home" by Ann Vaughn, was released in early March 2014. 

STRONGMAN: 2014 North Carolina StrongMan

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALUMNI NICK CAMBI!

Huge congratulations to Next Level alumni Nick Cambi, the "Large Mammal," (alumni from Wolfpack) for his win at the 2014 North Carolina StrongMan on February 15.  

Nick came in first place in the Men's Under 231 lb. class, his second win in a statewide event (Massachusetts being his first first). 

Nick compiled his usual highlight reel.

BODYBUILDING: 2013 OCB Yankee Classic

Each year the "big summertime contest" for New England natural physique athletes is the OCB Yankee Classic.  The Next Level has brought competitors to this event frequently over the past ten years, with quite a few success stories.

This year we had four competitors in the event, three Next Level Team alumni and one PhysiQademy 103 level competitor:

The highlight of the day was seeing Stephen Cyr and Phil Biondo compete head-to-head for the overall Novice Class champion.  This would have been thrilling regardless – to have teammates competing for the top prize together – but there was a back story which makes it more compelling. A year ago, at the 2012 Yankee Classic, Stephen and Phil vowed to both win their respective Novice classes to get a chance to compete against one another in an overall title.   Obviously, they achieved their goal!  Once again, working together proves to be a better solution than isolation, which is why it remains such a stalwart foundation of The Next Level's coaching principles.

As a side note, Head Coach XN was invited to be the emcee for the awards and routine presentations.   

It was a profoundly proud day for everyone involved, and a great reinvigoration for the program moving forward into the Fall of '13. 

PHIL BIONDO • NOVICE "CLASS A"

STEPHEN CYR • NOVICE "CLASS B"

PHIL BIONDO • OPEN CLASS

STEPHEN CYR & PETER MUNOZ-BENNETT • OPEN CLASS

POSING ROUTINES & STAGE WALKS

STEPHEN CYR • POSING ROUTINE

HOLLY LINDGREN • STAGE WALK

PHILIP BIONDO • POSING ROUTINE

PETER MUNOZ-BENNETT • POSING ROUTINE

PHIL BIONDO versus STEPHEN CYR • NOVICE OVERALL

Steve-O and Phil both vowed at the 2012 OCB Yankee Classic to return in 2013 and both win their Novice Classes for a chance to go head to head for the Novice Overall.  By working together they made their dream come true.  

VICTORIOUS! 

STRONGMAN: Maine StrongMan 6

The competitors at the 2013 Maine StrongMan 6

On Sunday April 30 2013, New England promoter Dana Geneseo once again held a favorite event of the local area strength community, the Maine StrongMan 6, held in Augusta, Maine.

The event had many Next Level alumni and supporters, including saw a return assembly of members of the legendary Next Level team The Beast.  Chris Noonan, Steve Cyr, Ryan Aruck and Tyler Rabin all competed, along with Next Level Resource  (and sometime teammate) Seth Carbonneau, and Gina Melnik (of The Drive(n) and co-founder of ally organization N.E.W.S., New England Women of Strength).

 


EVENT #1: PRESS MEDLEY

The first event was the press medley, which consisted of four lifts: an axle bar, a log, a keg and a circus dumbell.  All competitors had to execute two lifts with each implement, but could do them in any order, to allow them to mix and match towards their strongest talents.  As with so many events in StrongMan, they had 60 seconds to attempt completing the event.

At 150 lbs, the keg is almost as heavy as Tyler himself.  Now if only we can get him to learn the "drop form" . . . 

We think the socks alone gave Steve-O a few extra points. (Especially considering that, if you look closely, yes, that is blood; a scrape on that dude's shins from going full beast on the bar.)


EVENT #2: DESCENDING DEADLIFT

DECENDING DEADLIFT IS THE FIRST EVENT THE GUYS ABSOLUTELY CRUSHED.

The second event of the day was the descending deadlift under a 60-second time limit.  The bar begins 18" off the ground, and very time the bar is lifted a level is removed, causing the next lift start from a lower level than the previous.  

All the guys simply kicked ass in this event, with some heat firing up between Seth Carbonneau and Tyler Rabin, who both had to pull 450 lbs.  

Seth Carbonneau's remarkable form was literally the object lesson of the concept of "retrieval."  His ability to drop a little form and return to it for assistance made his lifts look not only effortless, but even poetic.  (As if the admiration didn't show by how many photos we took!) I'm bummed we couldn't find a video of it – it was the very epitome of skilled heavy lifting.

Ryan Aruck is clearly the King of Hitch Form, and pulled his 575 lbs. with all the fire he is known for.

Tyler Rabin's own hitch-form skills also came to his assistance as he snuck in one extra lift just before the time ran out.

Chris Noonan and Steve Cyr both set PR's on this event as well.  Noonan had never lifted 500 lbs. ever in his life – from ANY height – so even if he did not finish this event, he proved that strength is not always about sheer bulk.  Meanwhile, Steve-O proved that graduated practice makes perfect, as he was finally able to use his hip thrust to his full advantage.  Pulling 450 lbs. for consecutive reps was more weight than he has ever pulled over 60 seconds.  (Way to finally get that gigantic ass DOWN, Steve.)

 


EVENT #3: YOLK WALK

YOKE WALKS SO FAST – AND SO FAR UNDER TIME – IF YOU BLINKED YOU'D MISS THEM!

The guys were flying through their classes and none of them came even close to the time limit.  As always, Seth Carbonneauwas in top form with his 500lb. load – so fast we didn't even get all the video!

Chris Noonan was struggling for much of the day until this point, but his stable core not only made up for lost time, but also saved him on a couple potential stumbles under the weight of his 600 lb. yoke.  Proof that keeping a stable midsection allows you to keep the weight up.  The guys were allowed as many drops as possible, but Noonan refused to use the privilege, instead favoring time.

Ryan Aruck has come a long way with the yoke, and getting under 800 lbs. with no drops is proof of his progress over the past year, when he would occasionally destabilize under less weight.

Both Tyler Rabin and Stephen Cyr moved 500 lbs. quickly, both gliding in to a sliding stop which shows how much momentum they were able to create.  The rules state that any part of the yolk can cross the line for the event to be considered "completed," so often competitors take advantage of this privilege by allowing the apparatus to slide forward just as they reach the line – a proven trick to ensure you "made it."

 


EVENT #4: CONAN'S WHEEL

Even after the officials changed the weights of the Conan's Wheel event, it was still far too heavy for several competitors.  Some athletes were defeated at this event, barely able to make it through a full rotation.  However, our guys held their own and managed to move some heavy weight.

In the heavier men's classes the wheel was harnessed with a sled/swing contraption, onto which three to six kids were placed.  It was impossible to really know how much weight was on the wheel, but in some cases it looked to be around 700 lbs.! 


EVENT #5: ATLAS STONE SERIES

Our guys made the Atlas Stone Series look simple, with solid times, or at least solid efforts.  This is an event that many athletes can master based on form as much as brute strength, allowing some surprising lifts to be performed.   

While the yolk walks were the most exciting event of the day, the Atlas Stones always seem to have a "big payoff" for spectators, and this time was no different. 

 

The centerpiece of the whole event.

Seth Carbonneau
215lb stone to 60" platform
235lb stone to 65" platform
250lb stone to 52" platform
280lb stone to 48" platform
315lb stone to 44" platform

235lb stone up to 60" platform
250lb stone up to 56" platform
280lb stone up to 52" platform
315lb stone up to 48" platform
330lb stone up to 44" platform

Steve Cyr (Men's Novice)
180lb stone to 60" platform
215lb stone to 56" platform
235lb stone to 52" platform
250lb stone to 48" platform
280lb stone to 44" platform

235lb stone up to 60" platform
250lb stone up to 56" platform
280lb stone up to 52" platform
315lb stone up to 48" platform
330lb stone up to 44" platform


VICTORIOUS! 

Stephen Cyr: 1st Place Men's Novice

Seth Carbonneau: 2nd Place Men's Under 176 lbs

Tyler Rabin: 1st Place Men's Under 176 lbs

Ryan Aruck: 2nd Place Men's Over-232 lbs