They have all been so kind and a big help. I will always be grateful.
To do escapes, it comes down to a unique combination of proper preparation, will-power and ability to endure pain. My motto is mind over matter. "If you don't mind it doesn't matter". If I don't mind getting a few bruises, enduring freezing cold water or putting my life on the line in death defying situations than it doesn't matter and I can succeed. It works for me and I hope it can for you in what you do.
The escape community is a unique group. You would think it would have been filled with individuals who cared only for themselves. This is not what I have found. I have spoken to a great many escape artists and most have all been willing to help me. I feel I am consistently trying to learn from my teachers and mentors. Their help has allowed me to get better and better. I have received guidance from greats like the late great Norm Bigelow, and others like Steve Baker, Morgan the Escapist, Ridgeway & Johnson (Kevin and Kristen) and Mark Cannon who works with Criss Angel.
Practice makes perfect. The more you work at anything, the better you get. This mean literally hours upon hours of challenging myself. It requires me to spend hours simply working with shackles, chains, handcuffs, straitjackets and rope. Learning to pick locks and handcuffs, learning to work with ropes and break out of chains and shackles is part of my job. In escapology, underwater escapes (my specialty) is as dangerous as it gets. To do what I do, I combine my free diving skills with my escape skills to try and make death defying escapes as safe as possible. The things I do are not simply to be a daredevil but to challenge myself so I can deal with stress and learn to be as efficient as possible underwater. In New England, the pool season is June-August. In order to train, I have to subject myself to extreme conditions like freezing cold to continue to sharpen my skills.
I use meditation to train my mind not to fear things that make most people panic. Panic causes distraction & hurts rational thought. I have to keep a clear mind. Panic is the enemy in underwater escapes. Staying calm & focused underwater is the difference between getting out or drowning. Mind over matter is my method of survival in underwater escapes.
I lift weights for both strength and adding muscle. It takes a combination of strength and will power to do escapes. Escapology has long been dominated by males given the strength requirements. I look to try and break that mold. I try and lift heavy to really tax my muscles. I currently work with Kristen Contre of Contre Fitness. She is simply amazing. She has done bodybuilding competitions, runs tough mudder competitions and has done bootcamps for ESPN. Her energy is an inspiration. She helps me to be stronger and more fit.
My training is even more intense than a free diver. I do not have the luxury of doing simple static breath holds. Fear and panic (hard to control when faced with more than 50 lbs of chains & shackles at the bottom of a 12 foot pool) can rob you of air. Believe me there is nothing more stressful than having to escape where a drowning death is a real possibility.
Much like a free diver, I work on trying to slow my heart rate down using proper breathing methods I learned from Performance Free Diving. Kirk and Mandy-Rae are world champion free divers and when I needed help I turned to them. They helped David Blaine in his ABC TV special and in his world record attempt on Oprah. They are simply the best. I am proud to say I have been certified as a level 2 free diver. I have also worked with Erin Magee of Pacific Coast Free Divers who got me beyond the 4:00 mark and I am currently working with another Performance Free Diving instructor, Nick Fazah of East Coast Divers in Brookline, Massachusetts.
CAUTION: I have been doing escape for years. Do not attempt any of my training techniques yourself. I provide insight into what I do but do NOT try this yourself.