Let’s go back to the pages of Gripebenditalia to interview people in the panorama of our beloved sport, who enrich our knowledge and allow us to get to know people who are physically thousands of km from us more closely. Today we metaphorically fly to the States, specifically to New York, to learn more about a great steel destroyer, our friend Cody Christensen!
– Hi Cody and welcome to the Grip and Bend Italia space!
Personally, I really like getting to know the people I interview and the stories they have to tell, so start by introducing yourself!
Hello everyone! Thank you Giorgio for the opportunity. It’s fun to turn the tables since I am normally the one doing the interviewing. I live with my wife and two sons in Red Hook, NY. It’s a small town along the Hudson River about 2 hours north of NYC. I work as an administrator for a psychotherapy group and before the pandemic I also coached Jiu-jitsu.
– How was your adolescence? Were you a quiet and introverted type or were you very active and sociable?
Growing up was a lot of fun. I lived close to the center of my town so there were a lot of kids around. I went to a small school and was friends with a lot of different groups. I was also friends with kids from other schools because we would travel around to skateboard, sometimes 2 hours or more to find a new skatepark. I’d say I was somewhere between quiet and outgoing maybe.
– Have you been a sportsman as a boy? What sports have you practiced?
I always enjoyed being physical. Even as a really young kid I’m told I liked to jump off stuff and lift heavy things. I also remember hiking, ice skating, and stick ball games in my driveway with my family. My dad worked on a horse farm and I would enjoy going to work with him and fixing fences and doing that type of work. Eventually, starting as a teenager, I worked there too for many years. I also played soccer and baseball up until about 9th grade. At that time I was heavily into my first true love, which was skateboarding. I gave up on other traditional sports to skate more. I would skate until dark every night and probably like 12 hours per day on weekends. I really loved individual pursuit of getting better. I also always loved all martial arts but was never able to practice them until I was old enough to drive and pay for them myself. At 22, after trying a few different arts, I found jiu-jitsu and stuck with it.
– What led you to Bending? When did you realize that bending steel brought great satisfaction?
Last March I was sidelined from grappling due to covid so I dedicated myself entirely to getting stronger. I was fortunate enough to have a small home gym and I started with a strength coach who did my programming. I saw “The Raspberry Ape” Dan Strauss bending on Instagram and I also saw David Horne on Dan’s podcast and knew I wanted to try bending. I figured if I can bend a piece of metal, I can definitely bend a limb easily. I got my first bag of nails at the end of May 2020. I’d say my first bend of a yellow nail really gave me the true rush of bending. It was hard the first time I tried, but I completed it the next day.
– What are you passionate about in life beyond our sports sector?
It comes up on the podcast a lot but I am a huge music lover and musician. If there weren’t thousands of music podcasts already I would’ve started one of those! My Dad is a musician as well. Music was a huge part of my childhood, both playing it and listening to it. I think I played a couple songs on drums with my dad’s band when I was 9 in a local bar.
– Among the friends of Grip Sport and bending we know you thanks to your podcast space on Youtube, where with “Beyond The Bend” you give space to athletes and enthusiasts who, by answering questions, allow you to get to know our discipline better. Tell us about your project and what it gave you in return.
I am a huge fan of podcasts. It’s probably the number one was I research the things I’m interested in. When I became interested in steel bending and grip, I wanted to learn more, so I asked around to see if there was a steel bending podcast and it turned out there wasn’t! Doing the podcast has been fulfilling in many ways. It keeps me busy, which is important because you can really only bend and lift for a couple hours each day, so there’s a lot more time that needs to be filled. Also, having access to the most elite benders and strongmen has helped my own progress tremendously. I’m certain I wouldn’t be the bender I am if I hadn’t started the podcast. It’s so valuable to be able to ask specific questions to the top benders.
– What are the aspects you like most about bending?
I love the feeling when it starts to move. Also in snapping, when you see that first crack start to form. It’s like in fighting/grappling when you see your opponent start to lose faith in themselves and you know you will be victorious.
– Do you work out in a home gym or do you practice at a gym?
I have a small home gym. It’s a very special place to me and I’m adding equipment frequently. Check out the “Home Gym Lifting Club” shirt from @smash.and.pass and save 10% with the promo code “beyondthebend” .
– Who are the people and athletes from whom you have drawn the most inspiration?
For strength athletes (bending and grip included) :
Bending Class of 2020 which is:
Dan Dring, Dave Nisbet, Josh Goldthorp, Devin Hoover
– What is the gesture of strength that most amazes you?
I’ll pick some different ones than in my Horrido interview.
Bat Tibilov– barehanded red nail
Alexander Klimovach– 12.9 bolt unbraced
Adam Glass– strict 45lb plate curl
Kirill Vankovich– 3:59 gold nail snap
JT Sowards– the double crowbar deadlift/squat combo was one of the craziest things I’ve seen. Look it up if you haven’t seen it.
– How do you like to structure your workouts? Do you prefer to plan or follow your instincts?
A little of both. I’m still fairly new so I’m experimenting with what my body responds to. Currently it is these main exercises with some accessories and core work each workout.
2” axle & 3×4” Saxon day
2 intense bending or snapping days consisting of 1-2 PR attempts
Then I skateboard and snowboard with my son when I’m able.
– What is the goal for which you have worked the most?
My first strength goal was to bench 250lbs. I wanted 100lbs over body weight but I think I was 155 on the day I did it.
Two things I’ve worked extremely hard for is my deadlift form and my outside heel hook technique in grappling. Both of these things were very hard to become proficient and are both still a work in progress.
– Tell me the feats you are most proud of!
Most recently The Giant Killer Snap for David Horne. That’s a 5/16×7 8.8 bolt, g5 bolt taped to a 6” nail and a red nail snapped in a row in singles wraps only. Only a few people have done it and I am inspired by all of them. Double red nail braced bend also sticks out to me. I think that was the first time I made it on the grip feat page for David Horne. Also, snapping 24 Grade (1/4×6”) bolts in a row for Noah’s Army Fundraiser.
– What goals are in your head for the future?
Snap the horrido 10.9 bolt in time.
Shoulder my 165lb atlas stone
Shoulder my 200lb sandbag
3x bodyweight deadlift, 2x bodyweight squat and bench
Get on the GBI roster for all styles!
The list goes on and on.
– What has bending steel taught you the most and what advice would you like to give to those who approach or are still inexperienced?
Bending steel has shown me that I’m capable of more than I think I am. It has tested my strength both in body and mind. It has taught me the importance of rest, not only for health but also for performance. My advice to the beginners is, listen to the guys that have been around and stayed active and mostly injury free. Don’t neglect your foundational strength because steel bending is so fun and exciting. If you get burnt out on one style of bending, try another. If you’re burnt out on bending do some grip or some stone lifting. Be strong in all ways. Take the needed rest but never stop training.
Thanks Cody for your input and being with us!