Upping the ante

The things that motivate you can be powerful forces in and of themselves.  As a professional athlete and one of the top veteran pro wrestlers in Europe today, I have an outright obligation to keep myself in “game shape”, and when the situation calls for it, to up the ante in order to go the extra mile.

This past summer, I had one such “over and above” challenge to rise to, when I was set to face Russia’s premiere wrestler Ivan Markov in Helsinki back on July 23.  That event noted the very first Finland vs. Russia platform in the game of pro wrestling in world history to date, so I had to prep myself accordingly.

incline dumbbell press

Now, next weekend on October 3 in the coastal city of Rauma, Finland, I am set to face one of the sternest challenges of my wrestling career to date in the form of arguably the top wrestler out of Britain today, that being one Doug Williams.  This man has been a champion the world over, and is titled auspiciously as “The Official Ambassador of British Wrestling” to the world at large.  A mere half-year older than myself, at 43, Williams is in incredible physical condition, a virtual machine inside of the wrestling ring.  This is a grappler known for his stamina and conditioning, in addition to spitfire intensity and technical prowess.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have my work cut out for me on October 3 in Rauma!

I just recently finally passed over a seven week long flu virus that wrecked havoc in my corpus.  You can only imagine what it was like, not being able to perform cardiovascular or interval training at the expense of heart inflammation.  I had to lay low and stay low impact.  All this, while knowing and counting down the days, hours and minutes to my eventual October 3 bout against England’s top dog.

Now, it’s time for a reality check: on October 3 in Rauma, Doug Williams will be in better physical condition than myself.  I simply cannot play catch-up in the short space of time that I have post-influenza spell.  I will have to go hard and merciless on myself for the next week, with just enough of a pause a day or two before my big match to let my body recoup and regenerate.

Sometimes, life deals you a shitty hand.  All you can do is roll with the punches and navigate around your circumstances.  That’s when you’ll have to dig deep and find internal fortitude and resources that you had not perhaps thought possible.

A legendary wrestler from the 1980s named Arn Anderson once coined a saying that stated “It’s gut check time!”, and believe you me, now, for the next week before Saturday, October 3 rolls around, for this warrior, it will indeed be that very same gut check!

StarBuck vs Williams

In Sickness and in Health

under the weather

Wow.  It’s been six weeks now, and I have been under a summer flu epidemic like no other in all of my memories!  Six weeks of being under the weather.  That’s harsh.  The last time I was sick for weeks on end was in August of 2012, when I was both on and between two tours of Japan, doing professional wrestling.  Let me assure you, that those days still are etched powerfully in my memories.  I literally risked heart inflammation, while fulfilling my contractual duties on tour, as wrestling is a physical sport to be sure!

Now, since the beginning of August, I have been hit with an unbelievably stringent flu virus that just won’t let go.  Not only have I grappled four matches last month under this dismal spell, I also have had to perform voice-over work for various clients, regardless of my condition.  It’s been a very trying time, to make a long story short.

In light of this wave of flu epidemic, I have had to roll with the punches and train smart.  Not really able to do extensive cardio, at the risk of aforementioned heart inflammation, I have had to go low impact in the gym.  Long rest breaks, shorter working sets, moderately heavy weights.  It’s not exactly how I would hope to train at this point, but it beats not training at all!

Proper sports supplementation is key when the body is down.  Know the good brands, do your research.

Proper sports supplementation is key when the body is down. Know the good brands, do your research.

Once again, I am reminded of the options open to me.  To do or not to do, it’s really what it all boils down to.  Looking ahead, I have two very important wrestling events to prepare for at the beginning of October.  One sees me go up against the top wrestler out of the UK today, Doug Williams, on October 3rd in the western city of Rauma here in Finland, and on October 9th I wrestle at an event that is part of the 2015 Nordic Fitness Expo.  I simply cannot afford to lay back on my laurels and sit easy.

Therefore, every day I do something, anything that I can, really.  For example, tonight I hit the gym for a focused bombardment of deadlifts, supplemented with a few sets of lat pulls behind the neck.  That was it, plain and simple.  Not too much, not too little.  Regardless, it was a challenge to even go up to 140kg of working sets on the deadlift when it feels like I’m actually hacking up a case of laryngitis.  Long breaks between sets.  Don’t let the pulse get too high.  Don’t push it past a reasonable limit.  All in a day’s work, just to be able to look yourself in the mirror and say that you did it out of discipline.  That’s where it’s at.


One’s relationship to the gym and to physical fitness often reminds me of the parallels to marriage.  In sickness and in health, for better or for worse.  Some days are really a bitch.  You’ve just got to stick it through.

Because your other option leaves you feeling a lot worse off.  And that just won’t do.

Training Miss Estonia

Over this past summer, I was introduced to a girl named Kristina Karjalainen, who won the Miss Estonia pageant in 2013.  On July 23, Kristina was programmed as the Finnish flag bearer ( Kristina was born in Estonia, but has since become a Finnish citizen), in my historic pro wrestling match against Ivan Markov of Russia, at an event entitled SNACKY SLAM in Helsinki.

Kristina told me that she had long been a big pro wrestling fan, and she wanted to pursue her fitness goals under my personal training auspices.  I took Kristina to Helsinki’s premiere gym for athletes and powerlifters, Voimapuoti Gym in the city’s Pitäjänmäki suburb.

Kristina Karjalainen took the Miss Estonia crown in 2013

Kristina Karjalainen took the Miss Estonia crown in 2013

Kristina told me that she wanted to strengthen her legs and back in earnest.  She had struggled with pain in her neck and traps specifically.  I was able to engineer a game plan for her to build up her supporting muscles and quickly alleviate the neck and trap pain, and then do away with it altogether.

I had Kristina tell about her situation and what benefit she experienced under my training and coaching.  Here is what Miss Estonia 2013 had to say:

“I had long been suffering from a nagging case of neck and upper shoulder region pain.  Barring muscle relaxants, I hadn’t found anything that would have alleviated or helped.  After I came to grips with the fact, that I couldn’t take pills for this reason the rest of my life, I set off to find myself a qualified and knowledgeable personal trainer.  After seeing Michael wrestle a match that I was involved, stationed in his corner at ringside, I thought ‘Damn, I have an idea!’  I gathered that if this guy could potentially break someone’s neck in the ring with his power and skill, then I’m sure he would understand how to somehow open up my neck, in a way that would help the muscular problems.”

“I have to say, that I have never been more thankful than after training with Michael.  My neck and shoulders were much better afterward!  I think it helps, that Michael doesn’t let me off the hook easily when training.  That’s a good thing.  Outwardly, being a tall and lanky as I am, I have to admit, that it can be challenging to train a girl like me.  I know, however, that I can trust in Michael’s persistence and professionalism.  And hey, I won’t start slacking in front of a three-time European pro wrestling champion, because giving up has never been an option for me!”

Strengthening the traps through proper V-bar technique

Strengthening the traps through proper V-bar technique

Kristina will be one of the ladies on the Finnish television show Martina ja Hengen Pelastjat (Martiina and the Life Guards) on the JIM television channel in Finland, starting September 3 and airing every Thursday for the fall season at 21:00 Finnish time.

Kristina's promotional photo from the JIM TV series Martina ja Hengen Pelastajat

Kristina’s promotional photo from the JIM TV series Martina ja Hengen Pelastajat

Kristina was also featured in the latest TV commercial for the Snacky fast food franchise here in Finland: