My name is Daniel J. Hartley but most people call me Dan. I was born in Franklin, NC and spent most of my formative years in Statesville, NC. In 2005 I enlisted in the U.S. Navy where I served for 5.5 years attaining the rank of Machinery Repairman Second Class(E5). During my enlistment I was fortunate enough to deploy to Japan, Spain, Iraq, and Afghanistan all while attached to the Naval Construction Force.
As a child I was grossly overweight and sedentary; living off of fast food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. On the rare occasion I could muster the courage to step on a scale I weighed in at well over 210lbs of slop bucket. Upon my enlistment into the military I was told, for the first time in my life, that I would need to not only lose weight but develop the ability to pass the standard Physical Fitness Test. This test consists of a timed 1.5 mile run and an AMRAP of push-ups and set ups for 2 minutes.
Viewing this as a personal challenge I ignorantly embarked on a crash diet consisting of mostly lean meats and canned vegetables. Being completely unaware of periodization, progressive overload, or proper programming my training was simply me running as fast as I could for as long as I could and doing as many push up and sit up variations as possible. Within a four month time span I had bottomed out at body weight of 148lbs and completed one of my highest PRT scores of a 10:20 1.5mile time, 100 push ups, and 100 sit ups. Granted, I went about it in the most uninformed way imaginable but it was this experience that piqued my interest in athletic development.
It was during my final deployment to Rota, Spain that I was first introduced to the world of strength athletics and the related programming. I was lucky enough to meet an, at the time, professional lightweight strongman. I had always been fascinated by heavy lifting but was completely unaware as to how the quality of maximal strength was trained. He invited me to lift with him on a few occasions and soon my obsessive nature took over. I sought out any and all material on the subject that I could find and, largely thanks to his encouragement, entered my first Strongman competition while still on deployment. During the last four months in Rota I tried to replicate the training methods he used based on whatever knowledge I could glean from books sent from the U.S. or various strength-based web communities such as Marunde Muscle.
Upon returning to the states I competed in my first Strongman show in St. Louis Missouri; winning the LW novice category by breaking a tie due to lighter BW. Encouraged by this small success I redoubled my training efforts and sought out senior competitors in the community to train with. Several of them had recommended that being a lightweight strongman I should try to develop some proficiency in the movements of Olympic Weightlifting. By this point I had returned to my duty station in southern Mississippi so I began seeking Weightlifting coaches in the area. As luck would have it I was only two and a half hours away from one of the most successful Olympic programs in the country: Gayle Hatch Weightlifting. If you are unfamiliar with their story I would encourage you to look into it. They have never been a gym to seek attention or post endless youtube videos. As a result many of their most impressive accomplishments have gone unnoticed and unappreciated by the strength community.
For my remaining time in the military I made the five hour round trip to Baton Rouge as often as possible. It was here that Coach Gayle Hatch and Matt Bruce instilled in me a deep appreciation for the sport of Olympic Weightlifting. To this day I attempt to carry their enthusiasm and willingness to coach anyone with me every time I’m fortunate enough to work with athletes.
Upon being Honorably Discharged from the Navy in the summer of 2011 I relocated to Asheville, NC for a coaching opportunity. Shortly after moving here I was encouraged to seek out a coach in South Carolina by the name of Stephen Powell.
Coach Powell, or “Mongo” as most people call him, introduced me to a European and Asian style of coaching which has greatly influenced my own methodology. To this day I rely on Mongo as a great asset to my own coaching and value his wealth of knowledge concerning not only the technical aspect of coaching but also the great history of the sport.
I currently enjoy coaching lifters of all skill levels and encourage anyone with an interest in the sport to learn the lifts. They are technically demanding and developing proficiency in them can be quite frustrating but also immensely rewarding. There are few things in life that make me happier than watching an athlete progress in Weightlifting and put PR lifts overhead.