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Interview with Jon Hersey, 1st Place Runner Up Get Strong Challenge

Jon Hersey Before and After the Get Strong Transformation Challenge
Dragon Door: How did you find—and then decide to try—the Get Strong Challenge?

Jon Hersey: Basically, I was working in a pub and had no extra time but really wanted to get fit. I hadn't been fit since 2005 when I left the army, and I’d let myself go. I'm coming up to 40, so I was looking around trying to figure out what to do. I didn't want to join a gym or anything like that, so initially I picked up some books by Frank Medrano. I originally found him because of his vegan diet while experimenting on ways of improving my health, and I wanted to know how he could train like that with a vegan diet. He was my first inspiration. Then I found and read though Convict Conditioning and saw the Kavadlo brothers’ books.

While learning more about the Kavadlo brothers I found the Get Strong challenge on the Dragon Door website. I like a challenge, so I decided to give it a shot. Even though I thought I might not complete it in the allotted time of 16 weeks, I decided to try it anyway. At the end, I couldn't believe how much I was able to achieve in such a short space of time. During the challenge, there were a few times that I thought I wouldn’t be able to make much progress, but then after a few weeks my gains jumped up.

JonHerseyBeforePullupBar600Dragon Door: Before the challenge, did you have much of a fitness or sports background?

Jon Hersey: Not really, I got into fitness in the Army, but then I got out of it when I left. All I ate was junk food because that's what they fed us in the Army. After I left, I got into running. As we get older, I think we become more conscious of our health. So, a few years ago, I decided to tighten up my diet, and started studying nutrition. I follow a vegan diet because it makes me faster and I have a surge of energy to get through the day. It really works for me, and I'm training every day now—even after fifteen-hour days at work as a chef.

I had a fifteen-hour shift yesterday and still trained Get Strong afterwards. Then I went to bed, got up at six and did it all again. I've got a new kind of energy. Pull-ups and push-ups don’t tax you too much and they train the whole body. It's a more natural thing.

Dragon Door: When you first started the Get Strong Challenge, how did it go for you?

Jon Hersey: I actually found the first phase really easy, because I obviously have a little bit of a fitness background. At first, I was tempted to skip ahead, but after reading what Danny wrote about not skipping forwards because the early work will build up the joints and ligaments, I did the first phase. I knew I could do the push-ups, but I wanted to make sure that they were really top notch, because I don’t really get much recovery or sleep. And, I just stuck with it.

The first phase was really easy, and the second phase was more taxing. I struggled on the handstands which were the hardest for me. But, I tried different techniques from Danny’s other books to help.

Jon Hersey Blend ChallengeDragon Door: Other than the handstands, were there any other moves where you may have gotten stuck and had to learn something new to get past that point in the challenge?

Jon Hersey: I didn't really get stuck on anything, but the first thing I noticed were the hangs. I started hanging for a minute, but then my hands would slip off right after one minute. They just totally maxed out! The other day I tried to see how long I could hang, and now I can hang for two and sometimes three minutes. It feels so much easier now. I have noticed a big difference from when I started and that's good!

Now I have the pull-up bar upstairs and am always messing around with it. I’ve made it a part of my life, and that makes it so much easier to keep going. I have so much more to achieve.

Dragon Door: Now that you've done the Challenge, what will you work on next?

Jon Hersey: I'm thinking about the human flag. I’m also now studying to be a nutritionist and have started a personal trainer course. I want to help people out with nutrition and exercise. I am looking forward to the London PCC and earning a calisthenics instructor certification.

Dragon Door: How far did you get through the book during the Get Strong Transformation Challenge? And are you planning to work through the whole book?

Jon Hersey: I'm doing the end of phase three now, and will keep chipping away until I finish it. I am excited to finish the fourth phase and work up to doing press-ups with my kids on my back. I've got to incorporate them into my activities because they are such a big chunk of my life. Now when we go to the park, I'm swinging around on the playground, and they can do it too.
Jon Hersey At Park With Kids

Dragon Door: It's good for them to see you being active!

Jon Hersey: And they're naturally good at it. I wish I had thought of it sooner, but there's no time like the present.

And, it's not just about doing the exercises themselves, it's about everything you eat. It's so important. I have binged out on fast foods, and junk foods which just made me ill anyway—and I couldn’t recover that way. You've got to think about what you put into your body. Having clean fuel is more important than anything else. It gets you up in the morning with a fresh head and gives you the energy to even think about exercise. This becomes even more important, especially as we get older.

I highly recommend Danny's Diamond Cut Abs book because it explains a lot about nutrition. And I know Danny eats more of a paleo diet but that works for him and that's great. It’s more than just calories in, calories out. You are what you eat, so look after yourself. I still enjoy occasional treats but I make them myself so they are of better quality.

JonHerseyAfter ThumbnailJon Hersey blogs about food and healthy diet tips as jon_fruit_munky on Instagram. Or email him directly for advice on nutrition at