2016 Leadership Promotions, and How They are Chosen

By Brett Jones, Chief SFG

“Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.”
James Cash Penney

The force behind StrongFirst Girya (SFG) is our people. And our people have been working together (sometimes for far longer than the 11/1/2012 beginning of StrongFirst) building our School of Strength and making the world a stronger place!

As most of you are aware, there are three leadership ranks within SFG. Team Leaders, Seniors, and Masters form a group of instructors trusted to teach the SFG curriculum at workshops and certifications. They lead teams and assist the Master SFG running that workshop or certification with making sure the candidates learn, teach, and demonstrate not just the techniques to the SFG standard, but also an understanding of our principles.

It is a position of trust and responsibility within our organization and community, and it is my honor to present to you the SFGs that will be stepping into or moving up in leadership roles within SFG.

Many of you may be wondering: What does it take to be considered for promotion?

This is a common question: people want to know what they have to do, to earn a place in the SFG Leadership. While no set formula exists, many factors are taken into consideration—and here are a few of them.


A person who earns the SFG Level II title is already exceptional. And so, it takes even greater excellence to really impress the higher ranks. The new Team Leaders below have achieved some astonishing feats of strength. We could list them for you and you would be impressed… but we want to avoid the presumption that merely possessing awesome strength (as cool as that is) is alone sufficient for earning consideration for Team Leader. The men and women below are wickedly strong, yes. But it is a collection of qualities that an Instructor must possess to be considered for leadership. The ability to demonstrate an understanding of the skill of strength is a necessary and important one, but it is just one.


We need to know that you can confidently articulate our strength principles, and be able to teach and apply them in a time-constrained environment. You must be able to make smart decisions, quickly. The SFG Certification is much different than time spent with a student, where you have an unlimited number of sessions to tackle issues and answer questions. An Instructor must be experienced enough to be able to make the greatest amount of difference while sticking to the curriculum for each of the candidates on their team.


We have to know that you care about helping others more than you care about your own self-promotion. We are very proud of the environment and vibe we have cultivated at the SFG Certification, where each candidate understands that every instructor and assistant there is authentically invested in their success. Our leadership must also care about maintaining our standards and the integrity of the StrongFirst experience. And care about safety, and care about details… we could go on and on. “I don’t care how much you know until I know how much you care.” We take this to heart.


Strength skill development does not have an end-date. It is a skillset that we expect our Leadership to continually seek and refine. You demonstrate an unrelenting practice and development of your skill, both in performing as well as in instructing.


You are always respectful of others, and you can deal with a crisis or a sensitive situation without escalating the drama. We seek kind, calm, and professionally-minded individuals here, and you should also be someone that we would want to spend a weekend hanging out with. A poor attitude or immature demeanor is spotted a mile away, and will not earn you further consideration.

How are these qualities evaluated?

We at StrongFirst Headquarters maintain a list of Level II Instructors who we think have the potential to become a Team Leader someday. The crucial step at this point is that they assist at an SFG Certification (I or II), so that we can see over the course of the event how well they perform the skills, teach the skills, and how well they articulate our principles and curriculum, among the other things mentioned above. Most Instructors assist a number of times (often as many as eight or more) before earning a promotion. It is quite a long process, typically. Assisting is the best (really, only) way to get yourself in front of the other Leadership and HQ and (hopefully) knock our socks off.


Being promoted to Team Leader is a big deal. It is the first rank achievable by invitation only, and many of these Instructors have been with us for a great number of years. We are very happy to be able to recognize these individuals and welcome them to the StrongFirst Leadership.

Artemis Scantalides Benny MayerArtemis Scantalides                                           Benny Mayer

Derek Miller and Derek ToshnerDerek Miller                                                   Derek Toshner

Gary Music and Hector Gutierrez, JrGary Music                                                 Hector Gutierrez, Jr.

Jason Pak and Jeff SokolJason Pak                                                         Jeff Sokol

Jimmy Yuan and Jody BeasleyJimmy Yuan                             Jody Beasley

John Spezzano and Lauren PerreaultJohn Spezzano                                       Lauren Perreault

Mark Snow and Mike SousaMark Snow                                                 Mike Sousa

Oliver Quinn and Reneta MusicOliver Quinn                            Reneta Music

Ric Garcia and Ryan ToshnerRic Garcia                                       Ryan Toshner

Steve Milles and Dustin RippetoeSteve Milles                                       Dustin Rippetoe

Dustin Rippetoe is welcomed back as a Team Leader, after a personal leave of absence. Good to have you back, brother!


A Senior SFG is entrusted with the responsibility for instructing at our SFG I and II events along with our Masters, and each of these Instructors have proven their ability to perform this to the high standard maintained here at StrongFirst. We are proud of the excellence each of these Instructors demonstrate, time and time again.

Alexey Senart and Brandon HetzlerAlexey Senart                                                Brandon Hetzler

Cole Summers and Joe SansaloneCole Summers                                          Joe Sansalone

John Heinz Mike PerryJohn Heinz                                           Mike Perry

Pavel-Macek-Prentiss-RhodesPavel Macek                                                  Prentiss Rhodes

Ronen KatzRonen Katz


The Master level is of course the highest leadership rank under the Chief SFG, Brett Jones. Master SFGs are responsible for ensuring an informative and successful SFG experience for all candidates, and they know the curriculum inside and out. It is an honor to welcome Jason Marshall to the rank of Master SFG!

Jason Marshall - LeadershipJason Marshall

Congratulations to all!

Brett Jones
Brett Jones is StrongFirst’s Director of Education. He is also a Certified Athletic Trainer and Strength and Conditioning Specialist based in Pittsburgh, PA. Mr. Jones holds a Bachelor of Science in Sports Medicine from High Point University, a Master of Science in Rehabilitative Sciences from Clarion University of Pennsylvania, and is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).

With over twenty years of experience, Brett has been sought out to consult with professional teams and athletes, as well as present throughout the United States and internationally.

As an athletic trainer who has transitioned into the fitness industry, Brett has taught kettlebell techniques and principles since 2003. He has taught for Functional Movement Systems (FMS) since 2006, and has created multiple DVDs and manuals with world-renowned physical therapist Gray Cook, including the widely-praised “Secrets of…” series.

Brett continues to evolve his approach to training and teaching, and is passionate about improving the quality of education for the fitness industry. He is available for consultations and distance coaching—e-mail him for more info.

Brett is the author of Iron Cardio.

Follow him on Twitter at @BrettEJones.
Brett Jones on EmailBrett Jones on Twitter

15 thoughts on “2016 Leadership Promotions, and How They are Chosen

  • Fantastic. Congratulations to all of you. Well deserved. The truly great thing about our Strong First Family is that everyone here knows that all certifications and honors are truly earned.
    Dr. John

  • This is so awesome and something to be very proud of. I’m especially proud to see my mentor and friend, Jeff Sokol, on this list. You are so deserving of this promotion and have worked so hard buddy. I can’t wait to watch and continue to learn from you. Also, shout out to Cole Summers, my team leader from my Sfg. Amazing, humble, strong men these two and so deserving of this recognition. Hoping to be learning under these guys at my LII!!!

  • Big love and strong congrats to our new Strong First Leadership teachers and those that continue to create an environment that fosters strength, community, and awesome.

  • Congratulations to all the new Team Leaders and those that have been promoted to Senior and Master Instructor!! Awesome group of Strong people!

  • Well done, StrongFirst. Very classy, very strong organization. Congratulations to all newly promoted leaders!

  • Well done! Congrats to all the new leaders in the StrongFirst family! It’s been an honor to work with many of you, and I couldn’t have picked a better list! We will certainly be blessed by your faithfulness, knowledge and continued eagerness to both learn and share.

  • Highest congratulations to all those promoted. I have spent time with many of you and the promotions are richly deserved.

  • What a great group of people to be a part of StrongFirst leadership and I am so honored to be among the pictures! Thank you leadership for the promotion!

  • Congratulations to all of the new members of the StrongFirst leadership! I’m honored to have met and worked with as many of you as I have, and look forward to working with all of you again or for the first time in the future!

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