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In late February, 2018 of this year, after a series of back and forth emails, I informed Rip et al that I was resigning from Starting Strength. Since then, there has been a large amount of chatter on the Internet about what happened and what’s next. This letter aims to address both topics.

To really understand what happened we need a brief backstory about the beginnings of Barbell Medicine. From 2008-2012 I was working as Director of Education for a large personal training company in Missouri while also coaching full-time and completing my Master’s Degree in Clinical Anatomy and Physiology. Like many folks, I was introduced to Rip and Starting Strength through CrossFit around 2010 and had been using the methods described in The Book to coach myself and others. In June 2012 I attended a Starting Strength Seminar in scenic Wichita Falls,TX and though everyone was offended at how skinny and well-groomed I was, they let me pass and obtain the Starting Strength Coach credential. Later that year, I interned at a seminar in Atlanta and was placed into the pool of Starting Strength Seminar Staff.

While this was all going on, I had moved to Virginia for medical school, and my online coaching business increased substantially, as I was no longer coaching folks in person outside of working a Starting Strength seminar or training camp.  By December 2012 I had trolled Rip for long enough to convince him into letting me run a nutrition forum on his website and, just like that, business started picking up.

I was doing business under a self-titled entity until the Fall of 2013 when I purchased the domain www.barbellmedicine.com and filed paperwork, changing the name of my business to “Barbell Medicine”. Now this was two years after Dr. Sullivan’s article Barbell Training is Big Medicine was published on the Starting Strength website and while it is true that the words “barbell” and “medicine” never appear together in that article, I would be remiss if I did not give credit to Dr. Sullivan for inspiring my business’s name with that landmark article. Thanks, Sully.

Until very recently, Barbell Medicine and Starting Strength operated symbiotically. I was allowed a platform to garner exposure while producing content for Starting Strength and developed deep, meaningful friendships with those in the organization. I view Rip, Stef, et al as my friends and colleagues who I will always hold in high regard. However, things have changed over the last year and it would be fair to say that the relationship has become more complicated or perhaps, more nuanced.

In the fall of 2016, Starting Strength Online Coaching (SSOC) was formed by another Starting Strength coach, Matt Reynolds. At the time, there were only a few Starting Strength coaches who were doing a significant amount of online coaching, with Matt and I having the two largest businesses- both of which were operating independently without any problem. I was informed of SSOC’s formation while heading into a night shift during an inpatient pediatric rotation and while I didn’t get to talk to Rip or Reynolds for any extended period of time, everyone seemed to agree that Barbell Medicine and SSOC were not competitors in the online coaching space and it would not be a problem.

Looking back, this seems a bit foolish on my part for agreeing that this was the case, as we very clearly are competitors. Additionally, any disagreement between Barbell Medicine and SSOC – now an extension of the Starting Strength brand, represents a disagreement with Starting Strength proper. I probably should’ve argued harder that using the name “Starting Strength Online Coaching” to represent a business that did not include all Starting Strength coaches who had online coaching practices was unfair and potentially harmful to other coach’s businesses. Hindsight is 20/20 in this regard and ultimately, I think that the SSOC business is a good thing and there is plenty of business to go around, but I do not think there should be one entity representing Starting Strength’s online coaching presence when there are many individual professionals within the Starting Strength organization. Starting Strength is very important to me and I think that it is a great resource for lifters, coaches, and the community. I would like to see it continue to flourish.

That said, since the formation of SSOC there has been a growing number of disagreements and seemingly inflammatory actions between Barbell Medicine and Starting Strength through a variety of channels. We [Barbell Medicine] have put on our own seminars, training camps, and started our own forum. We’ve also had some not-so-private arguments on programming as well. The disagreements have been, not surprisingly, amplified by the culture of the Internet and ultimately this leaves us at an impasse. The programming disagreements are not compatible with putting forth the same message and when taken in conjunction with our other branding activities, it was time to rip the band-aid off and separate.

Now, it’s not all doom and gloom. Quite the contrary, in fact. In the past year Barbell Medicine team has grown to include Dr. Austin Baraki, Leah Lutz, Vanessa Burman, Jessica Griffith and the bearded wonder who always trains untamed- Alan Thrall, which allows us to put out more content, reach a wider audience, and ultimately make a bigger difference. Ultimately, Starting Strength and Barbell Medicine want the same things, i.e. more people training intelligently with barbells, and I believe we’re both making the world a better place in our own separate ways.

So for all those asking, “Why did this happen?” Well, I don’t have a simple answer for that, but we’re all going to be just fine, and I am excited for the future!

Thanks for reading.

In Strength,

Jordan Feigenbaum,MD

Austin Baraki, MD

Leah Lutz

Join the discussion 56 Comments

  • Gorilladiesel says:

    Glad to see both sides are handling this respectfully, mad respect to the BBMedicine crew.

  • Jason Holmes says:

    I was at a seminar in Austin recently and was wonder why Ripp kept making comments that you could tell something was going on. Thing like, just so you know Feigenbaum doesn’t everything or guess we have those two guys to thank for all of these questions on RPE. As you said you will be fine.

  • yogeshbryanlee says:

    Thanks for sharing. I appreciate all that you’re doing.

  • Morgan DuShane says:

    Thanks for sharing this Jordan. I am a fan of (almost) all parties involved and know everyone will have continued success.

  • Curtis P. Plotkin says:

    Barbell Medicine Team:

    Thank you for being honourable, having integrity and fidelity. I applaud you. I hope to have a long relationship with your group/organization.

    Cheers,
    Curtis

  • John says:

    You know this ? Was coming: People have asked you on your live IG about them being new to training or never trained before. Your response was do SS, if you have had an injury or an “ailment” talk to us. Will that still be your response?

  • Tyler Austin says:

    Just out of curiosity, I know Jordan plans on surrendering his SSC credential. Do Austin, Leah, and Thrall plan on doing the same? I am sad to hear that you guys are parting ways. I wish you guys the best!

  • Jody says:

    Thank you for being forthcoming. Wishing you all the best. You are a very impressive group of professionals and hope to ya e the honor soon… of working together as your client. Jlf

  • Álvaro Ortega says:

    This has made me think about what does being a starting strength coach entail. I do not know the details nor the structure of starting strength organization. Nonetheless, it seems that once you have your credential you are more or less free to adopt the method of training you want. There is little variance while clients are novices, but as they progress, everything becomes more nuanced. As the organization has expanded in popularity, more and more people demand more advanced programming (as stated in rip´s last article). The problem is, without an “official” starting strength approach, what is starting strength? If coaches apply their interpretation on the nuanced aspects of lifting, you end up with an endless variety and thus, starting strength signifies nothing other than the SSNLP.

    Ultimately, I think this was a matter of time, and I would argue that organizations like this have to make a difficult decision from a business standpoint. You can choose to be in the “credential business”, which means between coaches there´s only agreement on the aspects needed to obtain that credential (eg. method of performing the lifts). This would be similar to how universities work, once you get your law degree, you are free to act as you want, with very little boundaries. On the other hand, you can be in the programming business, which means that there has to be agreement on the main aspects of programming through the whole organization. This does not mean that changes cannot be made, but they would have to be discussed privately and until officially adopted, coaches should maintain the approved approach.

    I hope this does not happen at barbell medicine as it begins to grow, and that you´re able to maintain a united vision of barbell training.

    Wish you all the best!

  • Serack says:

    Thanks for shedding light on a subject that was getting kind of toxic without your input. If you ever swing back by the Norfolk area and do a training camp, I’d love to finally get some coaching from you.

  • Neel Aggarwal says:

    Both BBM and SS have been central resources for my training and my respect for both organizations is very high. Thanks for clearing this up Jordan. I look forward to continued excellent content from both parties.

  • Tommy V says:

    I admire your content and have followed your articles since the start of Barbell Medicine. This just seems like a natural evolution of things. Being an “older” intermediate lifter, I like your approach to programming and the nutrition articles are a great source of information. Unfortunately the SS program does not seem to take into account that we are real people with real jobs etc. and that while we all strive to get stronger, for most, the meet total is not the ultimate goal. I wish you and the team great success and look forward to your future content. P.S. I love your pre/ post workout Gainzzz

  • jordan says:

    This is unfortunate though obviously justified. IMO, I’d say this is a big hit for the SS brand. You guys were some of the big hitters for SS in the way of content, performance, and providing an online presence (via several platforms). I count myself as someone who will likely look here for programming beyond the Novice LP.

    Your articles, blog and podcasts have served me well so far. Hope to see more and more content along the way.

    Best of luck,
    jordan

  • Glenn G says:

    Thanks for this letter. I look forward to the next chapter and wosh you all the bestbof luck!!!
    Looking forward to coming to a seminar.

  • David says:

    Anyone else getting flashbacks to their parents divorce

  • Brendan says:

    I see your point about not all online SS coaches being included in the “umbrella” of Starting strength.

    However I respectfully would not agree with you, not because I think your opinion is wrong, but rather Because I have always thought that SSOC, and Barbell Medicine were both companies that provided online SS coaching.

    Both companies offer online coaching, both companies have SS coaches providing the service.

    Because of our beautiful system of capitalism I get to choose which company gets my business based on a multiple factors including price, product delivery platform, video content availability, and heck maybe I like beards!

    Maybe I like knowing that there are Md’s on staff. Maybe I think the untamed one produces high quality videos, and has an unreal ability to coach.

    Sure programming differences would be a big deal. I’m a beginner so I really can’t comment, but if you think not being included in SSOC was unfair, don’t think like that because in my opinion (take it for what it’s worth) it was a non issue and would not factor at all in my decision who to hire as a coach.

    BB Medicine has many attributes that would offset any perceived advantage to having SS in a company name.

    • Jordan Feigenbaum says:

      I agree that the market decides who gets business and who doesn’t, but if there is a coaching entity that represents a brand and that entity is both a competitor and has different ideology from you- that’s a problem for us because now we’re challenging the brand. Fair or not, it is what it is and we’ll all be fine. I do not think that the “Starting Strength” name should be limited to one online coaching entity.

    • Ricky says:

      SSOC is leveraging the brand that SS has built up over many years. Sure, you know that Barbell Medicine has SS certified coaches, but it’s not allowed to use the SS brand…

  • deron says:

    Jordan,and the Barbell Medicine folks,

    Good luck in your new endeavors and thank you for the clarification. I love SS,but felt like some kind of evolution would come. BBM felt like that evolution to me and I have followed closely ever since.

    Much more importantly,when are we going to get a seminar in the Midwest?

  • Peter says:

    Hi Jordan,

    Appreciate your commentary on this. Hopefully the speculating will die down.

    Could you clarify Toms role and standing? Will he move over to BBM?

  • Matt says:

    My opinion and only my opinion is that BBM is looking to improve the intermediate experience and will adapt when new information comes out. Others do the same thing over and over- but also can be successful with their program too.

  • Connor says:

    Damn I never really thought about the fact that SSOC really kinda fucked any online SS coaches with their own businesses. Is Baker still a SS coach or has he taken a similar approach as Barbell Medicine?

  • Kalen Ruggiero says:

    I am surprised…a little. I think the departure in ideology was becoming more obvious and harder to reconcile. I am curious if Thrall will also surrender is SSC credential that he just earned.

    I am a big fan of all parties and have learned a great deal from everyone.

    Congrats on your continued success!

  • Sean says:

    There’s a word for you in Portuguese, you’re a creonte.

  • Dave says:

    Does your leaving have anything to do with the Barbell Logic Podcast taking over for the SS podcast? And it looks like today they’re back to being called Barbell Logic…

  • William Clark says:

    I hope you all stay on good terms I have learned so much from all parties.

  • vilntfluidMD says:

    As the world turns…..

    Jordan, you have to follow your own path.

    How do I get to see your vlog entry for Dr In the Dugout?

  • Brendan Malec says:

    Disappointed, especially since I already bought my Strengthcon tix.

    From what I can gather your ideological differences with SS did not seem insurmountable, mainly they centered around volume in the advanced novice and early intermediate phases. I say early intermediate phase because even Reynolds and Rip believe in ramping up volume in mid-late intermediate to something like HLM or one of the other programs from PPST. And really, who gives a shit about advanced novice because it lasts about a month anyway.

    I did think your defense of Rip on the Juggernaut podcast was a bit tepid. Maybe it was the alcohol, or maybe it was a precursor to the break – perhaps another ideological split regarding hip draahve and how to coach the squat?

    • Jordan Feigenbaum says:

      I think if you listen to and read the latest programming related info from SS and BBL you will agree that the ideological differences are untenable, though we probably could have remained coaches if SSOC was never a thing. Basically, we are competitors who openly disagree with their methods and that’s bad for business (theoretically).

      Also, what was tepid? I wasn’t defending Rip either. Rather, I was telling two guys who are unfamiliar with Starting Strength what SS is and why their thought process about it was incorrect.

  • Carl Knepfler says:

    More details on the difference in opinions with regard to programming? Or a point in the direction where that can be outlined? Just out of curiosity….

  • Ricky says:

    Sorry to hear this news, BBM. Wish you guys every success.

  • Lars Bergstrom says:

    I think its a very good thing to separate businesses like you do. Because it will appear to the novice, newly interested in training, that Rips “movement” is more than “just his” SS program. It will give an consensus impression of a stable way to get strong in a fast and safe way that any living being can begin to use.

    Lars Bergstrom from Sweden
    66yo thankful iron addict, with 5 years under the barbell, the SS-way.

    • Jordan Feigenbaum says:

      Well, I am hopeful that there is no consensus though I do agree getting more people training under the bar is a good idea.

  • Danny says:

    My wife and I have been fans of Jordan since 2013 when we attended a SS seminar in which he hosted. He hosted conference calls for a stable of trainers that I employed. Great guy, loves horsepower, and can pronounce Pilates properly. (Pee-Latzzz)

  • johnnys says:

    I’ve had great, effective advice from you and from Rip (and Baker, Campitelli and others) so I wish you well. It seems pretty clear to me that trademarks (“brands” if you prefer) are the core of the conflict at least as much as RPE and intermediate programming, so I encourage you to get with counsel on protecting Barbell Medicine ASAP (GainZzz has different concerns). Please don’t be another over-educated entrepreneur who thinks they can register a mark on their own (you’ll see at least one example if you search USPTO.GOV for yourself).

  • Andrew says:

    Curious to know what BBM will do when they are big enough to face the exact same problem. ie. a group with different ideology yet wanting the BBM coach status? How can you enforce high standards without organizing towards the end that SSOC has?

    • Jordan Feigenbaum says:

      I don’t think that the particular organization style referenced is universally associated with high standards. That said, I think the keys to making sure quality remains high are multifactorial. A sensitive test with objective criteria, meaningful credentialing maintenance, and periodic audits would all be included. Additionally, there needs to be autonomy for practice which is being stamped out elsewhere. We do not support that type of management in this field.

  • Scott says:

    Thanks for putting out a statement and clearing the air, at least as much as you can on this thing we call the interwebs. Doesn’t seem like a big deal to me. This is just how the world works – one day Luke Skywalker gets back in the x-wing and leaves Yoda behind. Luke moves on and fights his own battles, then one day he gets old and gets his own Luke. Rinse, repeat. (Then they make some new movies and break everything, but until then, enjoy your Luke Skywalker status).

  • Inge says:

    Hello,

    I love all of you, RIP, Leah, Alen, Austin and you of course, I learned al lot and still every day learing. Barbell training is really the best thing you can do in live.

    I hope you will always respect each other.
    thank you for explaining

  • joseph says:

    I’ve been to the SS seminar twice and learned a ton. I’m not trying to opt in again that shit is rigged from the beginning. I do just fine with what I’ve learned and have refined my coahcing skills enough to do this shit professionally full time… I train novices….. So, im going to keep my NASM for legal reasons… No one cares about the starting strength brand outside of the strength world anyway. You’re right their coaches would be way better off investing in their own brand. They should’ve included you in the online merger, thats their loss. I’m a barbell medicine guy you guys are great.

    I tried SSOC for a year and their “HLM” bs. In 12 months, no lie, my squat went up 10lb, deadlift up 15lb, bench up 25lb, and press up 10lb. Even though I had the coach with the best squat… They were mad petty when I left too when they tried to delete my log data. Fuck it life goes on you’ll be alright.

  • Jeremy says:

    I have used so much information from both camps, I can honestly say that when it came to starting my NLP, the SSOC Podcast was huge as a guide. The nutrition piece has come together thanks to the To Be A Beast article and I am very thankful to both Dr. Feigenbaum and Coach Reynolds. I hate that it had to go the way it did, but more “competition” in the market is usually a good thing for growth. Thanks for clearing it up.

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