top of page
  • Brandon Lamphier-Shaffer

7 Stories in 7 Days: Preface - The Why Behind Heartache, Founder Brandon Shaffer's Story

Strength and conditioning has saved my life. It gives me purpose and direction, and reminds me daily that it feels good to... well, feel good.

Undersized and Undermined: The Savior - Strength Training

While I was a determined athlete entering high school, unfortunately I was extremely small and undersized. I played football (rather I was on the team) and baseball. While that put me in the "cool crowd", my size evidently made me the (mostly) verbal punching bag of that crowd. I was consistently bullied and put down by teammates my age who were much larger than me. I was a JV junior in both sports. The oldest kid on JV fighting to show my worth. As a Senior, I finally hit a bit of a growth spurt, and was able to contribute on varsity for football, and earned a starting spot in the outfield for baseball. This haltered the hassling enough to have an at least semi-enjoyable senior year. Though I was weak, I had the talent and found enough holes at the plate to be offered a full ride scholarship to Central Methodist University (NAIA in Missouri) to play baseball. This is where my life would change.

At CMU I met strength and conditioning coach Kyle Oberweather and senior teammate Tony Shipp. They sparked a newfound love for me that I didn't know I had - and that was for strength training. We had team lifts typically at 6 or 7am, before classes. I never missed a lift (even if it was penny pitcher night the night before... shoutout The Field House in Columbia, Missouri). I learned how to lift and coach Obie's energy and passion made the weight room a fun place regardless of time of day. On top of team lifts, I was a part of the "Fit Club", a group of students who would get extra lifting sessions and workouts in the evenings. My happy place was the weight room and I spent a LOT of hours in there every day. My freshman year of college I put on about 30lbs, and received the "Newcomer Strength and Conditioning Athlete" of the year award for the entire school. For the first time in a long time in my life, I felt fulfillment for working hard and being recognized.

My sophomore year I transferred to Lamar Community College to play baseball for Coach Scott Crampton. He was one of the craziest people I have ever met... but in a way that made you want to run through a brick wall for him. A veteran in the coaching game, Coach Crampton would be in the weight room at 5am EVERY DAY to lift with us. We followed a Eric Cressey program that started to open my eyes to different training methods. I would go on to establish myself at third place on the LCC baseball all-time leaderboard with a 420lb bench press (any athlete of mine who reads this please do not ask me to do this again because I never will). I would then transfer to two other schools for my final two collegiate seasons, breaking homerun records and helping teams reach the national tournament for the first time in many years. On top of that, what my passion for strength training did was give me a platform to be a leader to my younger teammates. Every time we were in the weight room I was able to coach them and teach them, which was extremely fulfilling. It was all thanks to finding that passion as a freshman. Falling in love with strength training changed my game and allowed me to love the sport of baseball more than I ever imagined.

I know to a lot of you it kind of sounds like my experience was that of this meme:

Andddddd the truth is... it isn't too far off. Strength training and lifting heavy things created a feeling of value and helped me to block out the negativity that had been cultivated inside of me by my peers in high school. It did "quiet" the "sad head voice" in a way. Lifting was a tool that helped me to change the way I felt about myself and promoted healthier friendships for me. Was it the only thing? No. But it was an avenue that allowed me to begin to feel self confidence and pride in who I was.

Post Grad: Finding a Passion

After I graduated, I played semi-professional baseball for a year, but I sucked, which thankfully led me to realize early that my true love was in strength and conditioning. I entered a career as a strength and conditioning coach, first as an intern at Yale University. I worked 65+ hour weeks, unpaid, and loved every damn second of it. That sparked what has now been a nearly 5 year career as a collegiate and professional strength and conditioning coach, having worked as a grad assistant at Northwestern State University, full time at Yale, and with the Minnesota Twins. I currently work at San Jose State University as the athletic performance coach for baseball, volleyball and softball.

In essence, strength training allowed me to find value in my life. It helped me escape the grips of depression and anxiety from constantly being bullied. It gave me a sense of control and the hope that I could do more. And the best part about all of it was that it allowed me to find a career that enables me to help other young athletes feel that same sense of fulfillment and joy. I would do absolutely anything for my athletes. I love them like family, and my sense of pride now comes from their success. Watching an athlete complete a chin up for the first time, or hit a big PR on squat, or jump 3 inches higher than they've ever jumped... seeing the look on their face and hearing the happiness in their voice. That gives me purpose. That fills my heart to the brim. My life will be complete, will be worthwhile, if I can impact the lives of as many young athletes as possible. My hope is that they all find self value and purpose, and realize that fitness can help to give a platform for those emotions.

Strength and conditioning isn't the best paid profession... I certainly don't do what I do for the money. But every single one of my athletes knows I care about them as a human being first and foremost, and that I will do absolutely anything in my power to help them be the best version of themselves. Fitness and strength training are the avenue that helped me, and so it's what I preach. If I can help my athletes to love lifting it gives them something to look forward to outside of their sport and motivates them to find value and beauty in strength. I am thankful for my position to bring fitness into the hearts of these young people. I love what I do!!

Heartache Training Apparel & 7 Stories in 7 Days

Heartache Training Apparel was founded on the sole purpose of helping people to explore pathways in fitness that push them toward self fulfillment and better mental health. I have seen the world of exercise change lives, whether it be through strength training, yoga, running, etc. It has the power to help people to heal wounds. For me, the wounds of being picked on for my size and having little sense of self worth were mended primarily through finding strength. The measure of success in this company will be in how many lives we can influence and impact through the stories of others who have experienced hardship and found peace in fitness.

We will be kicking off the site and with a week long series entitled "7 Stories in 7 Days" starting on Monday the 22nd. 7 guest writers will tell their story on how fitness has impacted them in their own way. They will give examples of the paths and avenues in fitness that they personally took in order to improve mental health, heal something that was broken, or simply become a version of themselves that they wanted to be. The goal of these stories is to extend to the readers an opportunity to find a new passion and love and self-worth through their own avenue of fitness.

We are all capable of amazing things. I hope we can inspire you to take a leap of faith and find physical activity that alleviates your personal anxieties and stressors, builds self-confidence, and gives you purpose. I love you all!

Brandon Shaffer

PS. In addition to our blog and the articles discussed above, we also have a fitness apparel line with a ton of really cool products. 5% of profits are donated to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center to support victims of sexual violence, and another 5% of profits will be donated to rotating mental health organizations that support people who struggle with mental health. Check it out if you'd like :)

bottom of page