Above
and Beyond

HOW TIER X COACHING HELPED ONE EXTRAORDINARY MARINE REACH THE TOP OF THE WORLD.


Meet Marine Staff Sergeant Charlie Linville. On May 19, at 9:22AM PDT, Linville made history as the first combat-wounded veteran ever to reach the top of Mount Everest. This is how Tier X Coaching at Equinox helped prepare him for the climb of his life.

While conducting an IED sweep in Afghanistan in 2011, Charlie was blasted into the air and brought directly down into the blast crater.

He suffered a traumatic brain injury in addition to severe spinal trauma and two amputated fingers. He eventually lost his foot to a below-the-knee amputation during the summer of 2013 after fighting for over a year to save it.

In 2014, he agreed to come on board and climb Mount Everest with The Heroes Project. Under the leadership of Founder Tim Wayne Medvetz, The Heroes Project [Equinox is a founding partner] puts injured war veterans on some of the highest mountains in the world, giving them the chance to renew faith in themselves and put their lives back together through the challenge and triumph of climbing. With seven summits conquered, Everest is the big one.


Unfortunately, Charlie’s 2014 Everest climb was canceled due to an avalanche that took the lives of 16 sherpas. Hopes dashed and resolve tested, Charlie came back the following year and underwent a grueling, 24/7 training protocol with Equinox in preparation for another Everest climb. But plans were once again foiled in April, 2015 when a massive earthquake shook Nepal, taking Charlie from the mountain to the front lines of local recovery efforts.

After two thwarted attempts to climb a mountain that professional climbers—with both legs and minus the ancillary injuries—cite as the challenge of their lives, you might think that Charlie would capitulate. But backing down was not an option. He trained rigorously this spring for eight weeks under the guidance of his Tier X Coaching team. Led by Equinox Century City’s Coach Ed Gemdjian, Charlie displayed a commitment and focus that never wavered.

Tier X Coaching encompassed every aspect of his life, from sleep to nutrition to exercise, giving him the body as well as the mindset needed to tackle this epic feat.

Movement

Following Charlie’s Tier X assessment, Ed immediately focused on functional movement using ViPR, kettlebells and other balance-specific training to compensate for Charlie’s leg and prepare for the treacherous terrain of Everest.

Cardio was another important piece of the puzzle. High altitudes mean that even your resting heart-rate is very high. Since basecamp is 20,000 feet and the summit is 29,029, Ed and Charlie did lots of HIIT to really elevate the heart rate.

He’s improved in every way: cardio, endurance, strength, everything.

TIER X COACH, Ed Gemdjian

The Hypoxico chamber simulates the various altitudes of Everest, so just sitting still inside of it provides a workout. But Charlie and Tim cycled in the chamber at a moderate intensity for 2 hours a day, 4 days a week.

Every evening, Charlie went for a 30-minute to one-hour run in Runyon Canyon, and on Saturdays he climbed Mount Baldy, one of the highest mountains in the LA area.

“If he hadn’t had his accident, he’d be Captain America,” said Ed. “He’s an unbelievable athlete.”

Everything he’s done with the trainers at Equinox, with me, and the climbing, it’s all been spot on. He’s just a beast. So now is where it turns to the mental and emotional side of things, and that’s the toughest part.

THE HEROES PROJECT FOUNDER,
TIM MEDVETZ

Nutrition

Charlie committed to cooking 100% of his meals, 6 out of 7 days of the week. Ed and team put him on an ultra-high calorie diet, full of quality macronutrients. “It sounds like fun,” said Ed, “but there’s a limit to how much healthy food you can take in.” A large part of the nutritional aspect is getting ample calories. The human body burns more calories at higher altitudes yet many lose their appetite that high up. “We actually wanted him to gain some fat, as it is the best way for the body to store calories and break them down for energy.”

Charlie ate lots of healthy fats in the form of nuts, avocado and coconut oil at every meal. He left for Everest 10 pounds heavier than he was when he completed pre-climb training last year, and about 70% of that gain was muscle. Sometimes extra weight can diminish endurance but this hasn’t been the case; Charlie’s endurance has stayed right on par.

I know I’m twice as strong as when I started training with Equinox.

CHARLIE LINVILLE

I know I’m twice as strong as when I started training with Equinox.

CHARLIE LINVILLE

Charlie was committed to cooking 100% of his meals, 6 out of 7 days of the week. Ed and team put him on an ultra-high calorie diet, full of quality macronutrients. “It sounds like fun,” said Ed, “but there’s a limit to how much healthy food you can take in.” A large part of the nutritional aspect is getting ample calories. The human body burns more calories at higher altitudes yet many lose their appetite that high up. “We actually wanted him to gain some fat, as it is the best way for the body to store calories and break it down for energy.”

Charlie ate lots of healthy fats in the form of nuts, avocado and coconut oil at every meal. He left for Everest 10 pounds heavier than he was when he completed pre-climb training last year, and about 70% of that gain was muscle. Sometimes extra weight can diminish endurance but this hasn’t been the case; Charlie’s endurance has stayed right on par.

REGENERATION & MINDSET

Charlie really focused on ailments he hadn’t taken care of, like the damaged disks in his lower back. Weekly chiropractic and massage therapy sessions helped address the pain and mobility issues from his various surgeries.

Ed introduced weekly acupuncture to Charlie’s protocol and the results were dramatic. Prior to acupuncture, Charlie experienced phantom limb pain at a minimum of once per day. After his first few sessions working with Teresa Wlasiuk, he experienced it once or less per week. Wlasiuk was so impressed with his results that she’s making him the subject of her doctoral thesis.

Charlie also maintained an inflammation-reducing regimen combining use of an Equinox hot tub with cryogenic treatment.

Ed stressed the importance of a minimum of 8 hours of sleep per night, and coached Charlie on ways to improve sleep quality.

The role of mindset cannot be overstated, according to Ed. “Charlie is the most positive, well-adjusted guy you’ll ever meet. He never lets you know he’s having a bad day. He works 100% with every rep, every exercise. He could be sweating bullets and barely gasping for air, and the first thing to come out of his mouth is a joke.”

The nutrition part has been the toughest. I’m a pretty lean guy. I have a high metabolic rate. On Everest you burn calories just sleeping, so to have an extra weight reserve before you summit is important. That’s been my training mission, My training mission is not just to get in shape but also to put on weight.

CHARLIE LINVILLE

Higher Ground

Charlie Linville’s story is all about commitment, resilience and grit. It’s about a man with a mission, and how Equinox’s elite Tier X Coaching helped him meet his true potential. Charlie’s story is still unfolding. We can’t wait to see where it takes him. To learn more or donate, please visit The Heroes Project.

To stand on the top of the world, that’s as close as you’re ever going to get to [the friends in the military you’ve lost]. I can take something in remembrance and say a little prayer when I get to the top, say thanks for your sacrifice and you’re never forgotten in my heart.

CHARLIE LINVILLE