A TEAM THAT PUSHED US A LITTLE MORE FORWARD.
Every few years The Next Level assembles special "Advancement Teams." These are teams of Next Level athletes gathered from other "regular" teams and put together top push the curriculum, performance and objectives of The Next Level further.
Advancement teams engage in mentoring as part of their teamwork. They are tasked no only with being competitive leaders in their sport but also inspirational leaders. They strive not only to be athletes from whom we can learn by example but who also teach us directly.
It is important to not confuse the term "advancement" with "advanced." No one is claiming these athletes are among some uber-advanced elite. (Although a couple of them might be . . . we'll see.) No, the designation "advancement" is meant very literally - this is the team responsible for Next Level team concept advancement.
Check out their roster below.
The goals of the Advancement Team are always evolving as the team progresses. In addition to the usual competitive goals every Next Level team works towards, some of the Advancement Team's goals included:
- Maintaining a team blog.
- Becoming the first team of all hybridized athletes, each competing in both bodybuilding and strength competition in a single season.
- Being prominent mentors to the Spring 2013 "regular" Next Level team.
- Maintaining team unity for the course of an entire year.
- Generating meaningful media interest in their unique work.
- Carrying the best team score possible, and the first team score of hybrid physique athletes.
Once again Head Coach Christian Matyi is at the helm, bringing over two decades of practical experience and a ridiculous sense of humor.
Christian has high hopes for the team he has brought together, as they not only represent the most dedicated sort of athlete, but also the type with greatest potential.
Christian plans on competing alongside his athletes late in 2013.
Stephen's original Next Level team was The Beast. Stephen was among the first Next Level athletes to compete in both strength and bodybuilding in a single season.
Steve's athletic passion has always been for bodybuilding, but his forays into strength have awakened a broader range of talents than he ever suspected.
Steve is studying to become a lawyer and has two very yappy dogs.
Phil has been obsessed with becoming a top bodybuilder since he was a boy. But it was revealed that he is also a powerhouse of strength on his native team, The Beast.
Phil holds the distinction of being the first true hybrid athlete The Next Level has ever seen. He performed exceptionally well in both StrongMan and bodybuilding competition practically back to back.
Phil works in architecture and residential design, and tends to drive around a lot. Oh yeah, and he "probably has better abs than anyone in here." (Direct quote.)
In the world of physique development, the key is not always better answers, but more intricate questions. And few athletes have the ability to split inquiries into fractals quite like Yarza.
While the lightweight on his native team, Wolfpack, Yarza proved to be, pound for pound, among the strongest among his peers. Yet his strength comes from form, agility and balance – skills many strength athletes lack.
Yarza' graduated from Northeastern University in the winter of 2012, after which he travelled Burma for a month. And no matter what else happens, please obey the team rule: "Don't break the Yarza!!"
Steve possesses a unique superpower: the ability to network and connect resources like none other. His uncanny knack for pulling information from varied sources has availed him to a unique and organic bank of experiences.
Steve's native team was Wolfpack, and he was the positive voice of the group. Steve often used his superpower to keep the motivation and progress rolling against challenging odds.
Steve is currently in school, and works in the field of retail supplement sales. He also needs to make up his mind on a haircut.
Know that guy who walks around with incredible proportions without even trying that hard? Yeah, that jerk is Phil Cohen. But the good news is: he DOES try hard. It's not all genetics.
Phil is physically gifted with both incredible bodybuilding proportions and remarkably competitive strength. He has been part of many physically intensive practices, with much of his passion in his adult life being for capoiera.
Wolfpack was Phil's native team, and his first forays into bodybuilding there were impressive. He is hell bent on mastering all the skills. And probably will.
Phil is working in the world of politics, and still practices capoiera. He also wanders off if you don't keep an eye on him.
Few dudes can make feeling intimidated quite as pleasant as Seth does. A warm, funny guy, Seth has such an incredible bank of experience paired with several wins in the world of StrongMan competition that anyone feels a little intimidated in his presence.
Seth's physique is an example of what science, patience and passion create when they all come together. Years of fascination with what builds "big lifts" combined with a rational – and at times experimental – mode of thinking have produced results no one could have predicted.
Seth was formerly a training Resource for the Next Level prior to joining the Advancement Team
Seth works in epigenetic research (he's a science guy) and is running out of room for any more tattoos.
Chalk one up for the tall guy. Chris Noonan is one of the tallest Next Level athletes, yet has proven that strength is a game of form and leverage as much as shape. While no one would suspect a man of his height to be proficient in strength competition, in his first year with his native team The Beast, Chris began placing well in competition.
Chris has a unique ability to "adapt fast" to forms of lifting. His ability to cement a form in his mind and visualize mechanics allows him a creativity with lifting that lifters of any size can learn from.
Chris' original fascination was bodybuilding, but the world of strength competition has been kind to him. Yet he plans to become yet another hybrid athlete on the Advancement Team, competing in both aspects within the team's run.
Chris works in finance and has an inspiring relationship with his (awesome) family. He also exists solely to drive his coach up a wall.
"The Red Bull"
Some competitors are destined from the start, and others are discovered quite by surprise. And when you first interact with the gentle, refined yet direct temperament of Tom Keon, the last thing you think you'd discover is a ferocious lifter with an unstoppable will.
Tom fits in somewhere between gentrified anglophile and proletariate gym grunt – if there even exists such a bridge! His incredible logic and profound patience had a critical effect on his native team, Wolfpack, and was more then a few times the voice of reason and discernment on lifting and dieting methods.
In his first year of competing, Tom was a true hybrid athlete accomplishing both Strongman and bodybuilding contests. Such a feat in either arena – let alone both – were inconceivable to Tom a year prior.
Tom is currently working in design and. like all cyborgs, is currently trying to comprehend the sloppy things we humans call "emotions."