Tevin Cherry - Inspiring Journey of a Fitness Expert with Cerebral Palsy
Fitness For All Podcast: Episode 11
Welcome to another edition of Fitness for All with Cam Jenkins, sponsored by Lebert Fitness.
In this episode, Cam talks with Tevin Cherry. Tevin Dion Cherry was born and raised in Thomaston Georgia on November 2nd, 1991. He was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at the age of 9 months, due to the premature birth of himself along with his twin brother Teddy (Terron). He gained a passion for fitness from watching his family members lift weights and play sports predominantly basketball and track football. He loved weight training so much that when he was in high school, he decided to become a personal trainer so that he could help other people. He got his certification through NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine)
Sports Medicine ) on June 30th 2020. Tevin Cherry’s goal is to help others with disabilities have access to facilities to be able to train and move better.
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*The following podcast has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
Show Notes - Episode 11
Welcome to another edition of Fitness for All. It is a podcast put on by Lebert Fitness and I’m your host Cam Jenkins. On this week's show, we have Tevin Cherry. Welcome to the show, Tevin.
Welcome, thank you, Cam, and I'm glad to be a part of the Lebert Fitness, Fitness For All podcast.
Absolutely. We were really looking forward to having you, so it's about time that you got on here and let's get started. I first wanted to point out that, I think it was yesterday or today, I saw you using some of the Lebert Fitness equalizers? I saw you doing a move that I'm sure I've seen before, but you were kind of holding yourself up and it was like you were walking up a wall, but you were just kind of being straight, like a flag.
Yeah, they call that the plant or the Superman pose, and it took me about, I want to say, five years to master that. So I basically did 100 push ups per day and I practiced just holding myself in various positions using the equalizers until I was able to build up my core strength to be able to hold myself in a straight line.
Absolutely. It was phenomenal what you were doing and I don't think I've seen it before and when I saw you doing that, I'm like, oh man, I got some work to do! So Tevin how did you get started in the fitness industry or why did you start working out?
Well, I can truly say that my beginnings of working out really started as a child around the 4th or 5th grade when my mom bought me and my twin brother Terron a weight set. As we progressed and Terron started playing sports, I started to use the weight set too, because I was noticing the positive effects that it was having on him; building his body and helping him build his self-esteem. So, I decided to work out and strengthen my body for myself as somebody who lives with C.P, cerebral palsy, and someone that spent the majority of my early years, especially, going to physical therapy.
Now I'm at a point where I can train myself and I make sure I get up and train each and every single day. I decided to become a personal trainer or wanted to become a strength and conditioning coach, my junior year of high school, because I had two coaches, Steve Patterson and Tommy Watson, they really took their time with me and really helped me build my body. Plus, I came to the realization that, the fitness industry was a place for me because I could go somewhere where I could be productive and where I could set goals and nobody ever discriminated against me and told me that I couldn't work out.
Did you find that you were discriminated against; because I know that you're also a person of colour, so were you discriminated against growing up? And then on top of that, I also have what I call a challenge or a physical disability, Spina Bifida, so, did you have a bit of trouble with that growing up as well?
Well, I wasn't discriminated against necessarily because of my colour, so to speak, because I do come from a small town of Thompson, Georgia; it’s very country and it's less than ten thousand people, and the town itself was conservative. I never really noticed for me personally to be discriminated against because of my colour, but I was discriminated against in certain areas when it came to dealing with situations in the classroom.
I even was going back and forth between riding the regular bus and the special education bus because I had one bus driver tell me that I couldn't ride on his bus and that I was going to have to ride the other bus. My mom had to come down to the bus stop each and every single day to make sure I got on the bus, but eventually she ended up taking me to school and somehow the kids that rode that bus found out what the driver was saying to me and they ended up just basically trashing his bus.
For the people that kind of stood up for you, how did that make you feel?
I felt honored and really glad that I grew up with kids that always looked out for me. It was a real funny thing, I grew up with my classmates and they talked to me and everything, but the kids that did it were either older or younger than me.
The kids older than me and younger than me at a certain period of time, they were afraid to talk to me directly so, they would talk to my brother or my sister and then when I found out what they did (trashing the bus), I told my brother to tell them not to do that again, because that sets a bad precedent. I understand their anger and their frustration, but I still want to be able to have a good rapport regardless of the situation and everything that happened.
Did the fitness or the working out, the strength conditioning, did that kind of help you out to be the person you are today, to kind of help you overcome some of that?
Absolutely. The one thing my coaches did with me early was establish goals. For example, I only did a majority upper body workouts, but I was so weak, so it was like they were having to take somebody that's never worked out before and work from the bottom up, basically.
I had small goals like learning how to hold the bar and bench press 45 lbs and I can remember my first ever max out date when I was bench pressing, and my first bench press max was 75 lbs. I knew I could bench 100 lbs but when I came up with the weight, the weight touched the bar because I couldn't keep my balance and I was so mad. My brother hit me on the head and told me, “we know you can do better than that, you just have to learn how to balance and control the bar.” He was very instrumental, and a lot of the guys I grew up around, they were very instrumental and really built on that foundation in me early.
I know that you are a certified personal trainer. Do you want to talk a little bit about that experience and how you got that?
That was a crazy experience. It all started in March, when the pandemic first really hit and when things were really shutting down. I was still at work at the time and I was talking to somebody that was close to me at the time and I was explaining, hey, I don't have that many expenses, let me go ahead and try to knock this out of the way.
So I'm like, let me give them a call and set up my package and just make payments.
I was just trying to get the smallest or cheapest package that they had, and it was for about five hundred dollars and I was going to pay $25 every two weeks, basically $50 dollars a month for the course.
I called them and I talked to someone over at NASM and I was just explaining to them my story and everything that I've been through with C.P and then I had to go to work at the time, so I had to let them know I had to go, and they told me to give them a call back. That same day, I clocked in at 9:30 and I didn't go to break until like 2:00 p.m. that afternoon, which is a late break for me, so I called them back and they didn't answer, so I'm like, oh, man, it's the end of the day, they’re probably going to call me back tomorrow.
Then, when I was out on the floor, working with guests and things like that, I had to use the restroom and I also checked my phone, and in the midst of me going to the bathroom, they called me back! I had to stay in the bathroom a little bit longer so I could check my messages and really talk to them and when when they called me back they were like, Tevin, we could not help but overhear your story. We had to look you up and they were like, your YouTube videos and YouTube channel are awesome, man. They said we know you wanted the cheapest package you could get so you could get your certification, but we're not going to let you do that because we've decided to give you the full access to any of our courses on us, just let us know what you need. All you have to do is basically pass the course and pass the test.
It took about three months of really hard studying since everybody was quarantined, and that's all I had to do. On June 30th, 2020, I got back to Atlanta and I took the test and let me tell you, Cameron, it was one of the hardest tests that I ever took in my life. I wasn't necessarily confident that I passed because going into the test, I looked up the statistics of the pass rate and there was only a 50% pass rate of people that passed on the first try.
Sorry, did you look at that pass rate before or after the exam?
Before, and everybody was telling me, you know, Tevin there's only a 50% pass rate, don't feel bad if you fail the first time. I’m like, OK, but I don't plan on failing. I was the person who diligently studied at everything I did and I’m basically a person that's all about hard work, putting in the work everyday.
It certainly shows on your Instagram page and your Instagram page, just so everyone knows that’s listening is, Buster_the_Strongman. Where did you come up with Buster?
Well, Buster was a nickname that my grandmother gave me, and “the” came from one of my Instagram followers. Her name is Cassandra James and at the time her name was The Cassie Show, and I said, “Buster the”. Strongman came from when I used to watch those strong man competitions on TV, you know, when they're pulling the trucks and the tires. So, I was like strongman, everybody is called strong man, but I was like, they’re aren’t any strong mans named Buster. So, I had changed my Instagram name from Tevfitchamp22 because I was twenty two at the time, and then I was twenty four when I came up with the name. So I said Buster the Strongman and I didn't want it to be used as one big word so I just added the underscore so it will be unique and everybody inboxed me asking why did you change your name? Who’s Buster the strong man? I said, that’s my alter ego.
That's like your superpower.
I see you got some merchandise for that, too.
Yes, that's that's under my LLC that I got back in March. You can hit me up through the DM, I accept PayPal, Cashapp, Zelle and I have a website coming soon and I'm going to put that up as well.
That's awesome. With the merch, what kind of merch do you have? I see a shirt; you got anything else, or can you describe the shirt to our listeners?
It's a black shirt with my signature logo and my strongman logo and the actual logo, it's a T, but if you draw on the white outline, you will see that you draw an “S”; it stands for Strong Man Tev, and Tev is one of my nicknames that my sister and my physical therapist gave me. So, that’s what my logo stands for.
Yeah, it's a great shirt, I like it. I can see now the S and the T kind of within the S, so that's pretty cool. Shout out to your sister for designing that. Now I also was very intrigued Tevin, that you're going for a Guinness World Record. Do you want to talk to the listeners about that and what you're going to do?
Yeah. This is this has been on my mind for a long time. Well, back in high school during my 10th grade year, I was at wrestling practice and we were on a water break and my coach was screaming, “hey, buster, go get some water” and I was like, “I'm good coach, I'm good.” We had been going hard at practice and I was just playing around because at that time I was trying to learn how to walk on my hands. I always knew how to do a handstand since I was a very little boy, because I would be in a little pool that we had in our house, and my mom said that I would always do handstands in the pool so, it's like I always had that in me; that was one of my God given talents.
When I was doing a handstand, I was trying to make the motion to kind of walk forward and walk on my hands, but I fell flat on my face. So I'm like, man. But then when I came back up, I realized what in the world? And then I did it five more times, and I’m like, whoa, I could do a push up from a handstand. I've never told this story to anybody, this is the first time.
When we used to go to wrestling events and everybody was warming up, one thing we used to do to intimidate teams and make them think that we were better than we actually were, and we were really good now, was that I used to go to the center of the mat or whatever tournament we were at, and I would just drop down and hit like 10 handstand push ups. I could just see everybody's eyes widening and then when we would go wrestle against certain teams, that struck the fear factor in them and it was crazy because I never believed that something like that would have an impact on people.
I saw the world record breaker break the record on YouTube back in 2015, and I was talking to my best friend Brandon Foster about it and he said, “hey man, you got to break the record, you got to break the record.” I was training and stuff and then I got a full time job and I kind of stopped and then I got back, started with my workouts and things like that, but it always stayed in my mind.
So, I saw his name again and I Googled “what’s the handstand pushup record?” and it still had twenty seven but he did a little bit more digger deeping last week and the record is now thirty seven handstand pushups in a minute. I am currently at eighteen in a minute so I feel like the record is feasible because I've been working on my movement and my balance over the past year. I'm starting to become more stable, I just have to keep building my body and gaining that balance and that strength so that I can place my name in the Guinness Book of World Records.
So Tevin, can you talk a little bit about the EQ bars that you use because I see you’re using them a lot in your videos on Instagram.
First and foremost the EQ’s are my favourite pair of bars to use. I've kind of been so loyal to the brand for about seven years that I'm kind of hesitant when I use other bars. You know I don't even want to record myself if I'm not using Lebert Fitness equalizers because I feel like I'm so much a part of the family and I do consider myself an ambassador or an advocate or an affiliate so to speak.
When did you start using the EQ’s; do you remember the first time you used them?
Actually yes, I had just graduated from Gordon State College in Barnesville, Georgia and I transferred an hour up the road up to Clayton State University in Clayton County, Georgia. I worked out at Gordon's gym and I worked out at various places but when I got up to Clayton State’s gym and compared it to Gordon’s gym I was like man, this is it. When I'm inside of a gym I'm like a kid in a candy store I'm not gonna lie. I like to really see all the equipment that they have and I'm just scouring and just looking at everything, thumbing through all the medicine balls, marvelling at the weights and things of that nature.
Then I look into the corner and the bars were tucked away over into a corner where nobody was using them, so I’m like “hey, what are these?”. So, I grab them and I just start holding onto them and doing some squats, doing some push ups and these various movements, and it was at the beginning of our school year, I want to say 2013-2014, so I was like hmm, eventually when I go home for the summer I'm gonna have to get some of my own.
At that time I was shopping the net to see if I could find something similar somewhere and see if I could purchase a set of equalizers. So, I DM’d competitors, various other people in the fitness industry, emailing them telling them to share my story and whatnot and what I was trying to accomplish, but nobody responded. So I finally decided to look up Mark's information and I really reached out on a whim and I told him, “Hey, I really like the look of your EQ’s or your bars. I am trying to walk on my own. I'm trying to exercise more effectively, please reach out to me about purchasing your product, let me know.” He sent me this heartfelt email telling me how touched he was by my story and that he would do whatever he needed necessary to make sure that I purchase the product.
About maybe a week later he emailed me a promo code that I kept and at that time I was only getting paid once a month because I received SSI from the government at that point in time. I saved my money for that whole entire month and a month later I was able to use that promo code and purchase my very first set of EQ bars. From that point on I started to use them in almost all my videos. If you go back and look at my YouTube channel which is Tevin Cherry by the way, you'll see in my early videos I was even using the bars in the majority of my early YouTube videos. They really helped me establish a foundation and over the years I was just looking at various ways and opportunities to use them and come up with ways for the adaptive community to be effective, which leads me into my other point.
My overall goal is to be able to help other people with disabilities - specifically cerebral palsy and any other similar physical disability to mine - workout because the underlying issue in the disability community is being able to get up, move around and actually stay active and live a healthy life. I know for a fact people with C.P. tend to struggle as they get older because there's no one around to teach them or show them how they can remain active and keep their muscles loose as they get into their 30s and 40s as the body tends to start to wear down. If you don't have the proper maintenance and things of that nature to kind of stave off some of the ills and challenges that cerebral palsy presents.
Absolutely, and like I said I'm a person with a disability as well, I have spina bifida, and you know I find it hard to find the motivation to kind of move up and move around and all that stuff as well. It's been a pleasure speaking with you Tevin and I'm certainly going to be following you and hopefully you can help to motivate myself to get up and get some movement into me too.
So, this was Tevin Cherry and if they want to reach out to you, let’s do a refresh and let everybody know where they can reach out to you on social media.
Ok guys if you want to reach out to me on LinkedIn and Facebook you can find me by my first and last name, Tevin Cherry. You can also find me on Twitter @BusterTheStrong and on Instagram where I post most of my updates you can follow me @buster_the_strongman and you'll be able to follow me there. I'll be posting daily workout videos and weekly workout videos. I also collaborate with the GLS training systems GOATA movement systems and I'm always putting up my weekly Go to Groundwork workouts. If you guys want to follow my progress you can hit me up on there.
Thank you Cameron and I want to thank everyone at the Lebert Fitness family for following me and I'm so thankful for all the support that I have on my journey and I will not forget you guys. You guys will always have a special place in my heart.
You have a special place in our heart as well and I can't speak for everyone else but I really enjoy surrounding myself with people that are positive and that are always working towards goals. You certainly do that in spades, so well done Tevin.
Thank you so much.
Not a problem. We’re certainly going to have you on the podcast again. Once again this was Tevin Cherry and you’ve been listening to the Fitness For All podcast and it's brought to you by Lebert Fitness.
Key Takeaways From This Episode:
Contact Tevin Cherry at:
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tevin.cherry1
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/BusterTheStrong
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/buster_the_strongman/
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tevin-cherry-913050100/
- Lebert Fitness