help you awaken the innate freedom to live your core beliefs, unique gifts and vision for the world. I fly airplanes, lift weights and occasionally wear a speedo on stage.
Thank You Mom
Yeah, I know! That last part about the speedo probably threw ya, right? Well, let me explain. In January of 2018 I decided to enter my first bodybuilding competition at the age of 54 to honor my Mom, who was also my best friend and the person who started my weightlifting journey when she gave me a gym membership for my 48th birthday.
Two years before deciding to compete, Mom had died tragically and unexpectedly from a pulmonary embolism. We were living together at the time. From the moment she called out to me until the time I got to her was probably ten seconds. But by the time I reached her she was already unconscious. She took three quick breaths and died in my arms.
After her death I wrapped myself in an impenetrable cocoon of grief. On the outside it would’ve been difficult for the people who didn’t know me to know just how much pain I was really in. Ironically, I was great at helping other people with their pain, even while I was awful at following my own advice.
Instinctively, I knew I needed to do something ginormous to shake me out of my morass. That’s why I chose the bodybuilding competition and dedicated my training to Mom. I hired an amazing coach and pushed my body way past what I believed I was capable of enduring. And when I stepped onstage eleven months later I brought her memory with me.
Yes I Can Fly!
Whether I’m flying airplanes, training for a bodybuilding competition or helping people claim the freedom to live the life they want to live, what drives me is passion. I simply won’t spend my time and energy on anything I’m not passionate about. And that combination of passion and freedom came together for the first time in 2002 in the cockpit of an airplane.
I’d wanted to fly for awhile when my friend, Alan, offered to take me up for a flight one Friday evening. Standing among a group of pilots, one of them suggested that we fly from our Baltimore airport to Reading, Pennsylvania for dinner and I thought to myself, “Is that something we can really do?” Thirty minutes later five planes were airborne bound for Reading.
Flying toward the setting sun at 4500 feet I couldn’t believe I was actually in an airplane. And I still remember the moment Alan asked, “Would you like to take control of the plane?” I was speechless. I couldn’t believe that he would actually allow me to fly the plane by myself. And when I put my hands on the yoke I felt an immediate surge of freedom.
The following morning I returned to the airport to sign up for flight lessons. And since that first trip to Reading, flying has been my greatest passion in life and the impetus for helping people make the transition from the life they’re expected to live to the life they want to live; a life aligned with their core beliefs, unique gifts and vision for a better world.
Anything Is Possible
Okay, so maybe you’re curious how flying and my work are connected. That’s a fair question and I have two answers. When I earned my pilot’s license and developed the ability to fly an airplane to 10,000 feet and bring it safely back to earth, I realized that if I could do that I could do anything. And being open to all possibilities is what led me to the work I do now.
The second answer is that flying has given me a completely different perspective on life and the world. I’m literally and figuratively observing the world from 10,000 feet. Flying across the country above pastures, skyscrapers and cars passing each other on endless stretches of road I witness the structure in life and experience a freedom from it.
The urge to be free is innate in all of us. Watch any toddler struggling to escape her parent’s arms. Even without the ability to form complete sentences we know she wants to be free. But as adults we must reclaim the freedom we’ve hidden from family, friends and society because we were expected to fit in. And for the last twenty years I’ve flown the most direct route to freedom, which is to find and live your purpose in life.
01 - Mom lit my first cigar for me when I was 8 years old
Well actually, my first and only cigar. While Mom never touched cigarettes, Dad was a heavy smoker. Walking home from school one afternoon I found a cigar in the street and told Mom I wanted to smoke it. I put it in my mouth as she lit the end and told me to take the deepest breath I possibly could. With my lungs on fire and a burning cough that lasted at least five minutes I decided that smoking wasn’t much fun. And I never had the desire to smoke again.
02 - My first job out of college was as a prison guard at a penitentiary in Texas
In the town where I lived the best paying jobs were teaching and guarding inmates, and guarding inmates paid more money. So I spent four years in the slammer before making a teargas- induced escape.
03 - My favorite cheat meal is sushi
Most people dieting for bodybuilding competitions choose food that is really a guilty pleasure, like pizza and hamburgers. Not me! Give me a great place to get sushi and nigiri and I’m in culinary heaven.
04 - I narrowly avoided being kidnapped during a desperate search for love
It wasn’t my intention to marry Kristina when we met for the first time in Tbilisi. But her family had other plans.
05 - I plan to compete in bodybuilding competitions into my 70’s
At 48, it had been 28 years since I picked up a weight. But when Mom gave me a gym membership for my birthday something clicked. I threw myself into working out and in 2018 I entered a competition. Training for the competition taught me valuable lessons I could use in other areas of my life. And now I’m hooked.
06 - Every time I pass a Popeye’s I fight the urge to pull in for a biscuit
Fortunately, I don’t succumb to the urge. But I’ve had their delicious biscuits many times in the past and I sure do want to.
07 - I’ve flown volunteer missions for Pilots ’n Paws
an organization that coordinates flights for dogs rescued from high kill shelters to their new forever homes.
08 - I’m likely the only former American prison guard to start a successful business selling oilfield equipment to Russian oil companies.
It’s a crazy story and one where the business was stolen from me by another former prison guard. But much of what I learned about myself and my ability to succeed comes from the struggles and sacrifices that went into making that venture successful.
09 - You may know her from Dancing With The Stars
But I know her as the friend who comforted me on the worst day of my life. Carrie Ann was the person I reached out to as paramedics tried to resuscitate Mom. And her call with me after she died gave me a small island of peace in an ocean of sadness.
10 - Improv courses at SAK Comedy Lab in Orlando helped restore my creativity.
It helped me recover from two years of grief over the loss of my Mom, who was also my role model and best friend.
The Call To Freedom
Shift your perspective & start your flight to freedom with Martin. Limited calls available each month. Check availability now...