A white sign hanging behind the bench press at NEVERsate Athletics in Westminster reads “Nothing’s really that hard” in bold, black letters.
Miles Taylor, a 2013 Westminster High School graduate, was born with cerebral palsy and weighs just 99 pounds. He trains at NEVERsate and is coached by Nicolai Myers, a Finksburg resident and competitive strongman. Taylor gained widespread recognition back in February across multiple social media platforms when a video of him deadlifting 200 pounds was posted to his Instagram account.
“I was so excited,” Taylor said. “I had no idea what was on the bar and it felt heavy but when Nic told me it was 200 pounds, I was like ‘What?’ I was so excited and you can see my excitement in the video … I had no idea what impact it would have on social media. I posted it that night and the next two days it blew up … I’m so happy that I can inspire people.”
NFL superstar JJ Watt, an All-Pro defensive lineman for the Houston Texans, re-tweeted ESPN’s post of the video and shared a few thoughts with it — “Now this is badass!! What an inspiration.”
That evening, legendary strongman and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger re-tweeted the video and posted “I have a new hero” on his Twitter feed. Schwarzenegger also commented on Taylor’s Instagram video, and invited him and Myers to the Arnold Sports Festival, an annual multi-sport event, in Columbus as his special guests.
Schwarzenegger brought Taylor on stage during the Arnold Classic competition and Taylor proceeded to land a 185-pound deadlift in front of a packed house of fitness fans and powerlifting legends.
“It was the first time he got to kind of submerge into the adaptive strongman world,” Myers said. “There’s a guy there that pulled a 1,000-pound seated deadlift, people doing [Atlas] stones with one arm. He was the celebrity there amongst that community so that was really cool to see.”
Taylor’s social media popularity came as no surprise to Myers, who said Taylor was a “little celebrity” in high school.
“Everyone knew who he was,” Myers said, “To this day, he goes to football games and people know who Miles Taylor is outside of all this stuff. When he went viral, I thought, ‘OK, that makes sense, of course he did.’”
Myers and Taylor attended Westminster together for two years. Myers, who graduated in 2011, served in the U.S. Army and is actively involved in strongman competitions.
The two crossed paths about two years ago at Carroll Community College for the first time since high school.
Taylor said he’s a very competitive person and was actively involved with Westminster’s sports programs in high school. He also has a passion for photography, and Myers asked if he wanted to take some pictures at NEVERsate.
Myers and Brian Alshrue, the gym’s owner, gave Taylor a medicine ball to lift that day — just to see what he could do.
“The medicine ball turned into an Atlas stone, the Atlas stone turned into a deadlift and bench press, and next thing you know he’s competing in a competition,” Myers said. “That was the first time everything exploded, after that event. The video that’s going around of him at the Arnold and all that stuff just kind of cascaded and one thing kind of led to another.
“Nothing was planned and everything just happened.”
Taylor’s typical workout consists of three things — bench press, dumbbell, and core work. Myers said Taylor sometimes joins group classes for strength and conditioning, something that took a little while for him to work up to.
Myers said he understands the emotion when hitting a personal record, as a competitor. That feeling allows him to engage that much more with his athletes when they accomplish one of their goals.
“I get excited,” Myers said. “I’m jumping, I’m yelling, I’m loud because I understand that emotion and I know what that feels like because no one can take that from you for the rest of your life. He deadlifted 200 pounds. There will be no one on this planet that can ever take that from him.
“It’s documented, it’s recorded, he did it. That is his. No one was there spotting him, he stood it up on his own and lifted it and I knew what that number meant to him. He did not know what was on the bar because I notice that when I don’t tell him, he does a lot better. His head doesn’t get into it, he just executes.”
The duo have a busy next few months ahead — they were invited to attend the NFL Draft at the end of April, and are scheduled to take part in a Spartan Race in Washington DC at the end of June.
“Like Nic said, none of this was planned,” Taylor said. “We got to go out to Nike [Headquarters], meet Arnold [Schwarzenegger]. I get messages every day from people saying ‘You inspire me,’ and ‘You’re my hero.’
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“It’s been awesome.”