Greg Matonick was a Christian Strongman with a powerful message, both inspirational and motivational.
Throughout the 1980s, as Owner of Atlas Gym in the East Riverton/Cinnaminson section of New Jersey, Greg’s values were simple and to the point. Put your faith in God, believe in yourself, never give up, don’t do drugs, don’t smoke, eat healthy and live a clean life. This message was imparted to the gym members on a daily basis. As if to back up this message, the gym members would be treated to impromptu feats of strength at various times.
Often, they would see Greg bend a 60-penny, 1/4″ thick, 6″ long nail in front of his chest with just wrist and hand power; or a #2 or #3 horseshoe bent; in some cases, a hot water bottle would be blown up until it exploded; or a 1/2″ concrete steel reinforcement bar bent over the bridge of his nose, or perhaps an 18-lb. sledgehammer would be held at arm’s length and leveraged to touch his nose then returned to the starting point. Greg could also bend 1/2″ square steel bars, the shortest being 22″ long. He also possessed good strength in weightlifting moves, with a 400-lb. bench press; 250-lb. press behind his neck; 225-lb. curl; 505 squat for 2 reps; and a partial deadlift from below his knees of 700 lbs. for 3 reps. Knowing that old-time strongmen performed the one arm dumbbell press, Greg worked on this movement and eventually succeeded with a 150-lb.dumbbell. It was during this time that Greg also performed in strength shows at gym openings, bench press contests, and health food stores. On one of the advertisements, he was billed as “The Strongest Man in the Philadelphia Area.” He also spoke to youth groups in local churches, giving an inspirational message utilizing feats of strength. The 1990s, however, were difficult years for Greg, almost dying from a bleeding ulcer. He received 7 pints of blood while hospitalized for 9 days.
A very severe car accident in 1996 robbed him of his strength and damaged his shoulder. While in the hospital, Greg was told he had diabetes. This accident brought about the development of severe arthritis in his shoulders, neck and spine. A shoulder operation in 1999 showed virtually no cartilage in his left shoulder, with necrosis (bone death) in part of his shoulder bones. In the year 2000, he was hit broadside by a Ford Explorer traveling at 60MPH, totaling his Dodge Dakota R/T pickup truck, herniating discs in his low back and neck and damaging his other shoulder. After a very lengthy recovery period, Greg began exercising again, trying to regain his former strength, but to no avail. In late June 2003, Greg’s good friend, Dennis Rogers, who is a powerful man of GOD, a GrandMaster Professional Strongman, pound-for-pound the World’s Strongest Man and a Houston, Texas youth pastor, while touring with a famous country and western band, came to New Jersey to perform. Dennis prayed for Greg, laying hands on him, asking the LORD GOD to renew his health. Not long after this, feeling stronger, Greg attempted a feat of strength that had eluded him since 1995, and by GOD’S grace and mercy, he succeeded!
The LORD GOD had returned his strength. The arthritis was still there, however, severely limiting his range of motion, so Greg had to develop new training methods. Having personally trained well over 1,000 people during the 7 years he owned Atlas Gym, he relied on his vast knowledge of weight training to achieve this. Knowing that with GOD all things are possible, Greg rebuilt himself. Some of the feats he did previously could no longer be performed due to the almost frozen-like state of his shoulders. Some of the feats were changed and, although maybe not as visually impressive, were still performed, while some new feats were added. In February, 2004, Greg was told that his heart arteries were over 90% clogged. After being misdiagnosed by an incompetent doctor, Greg found an excellent cardiologist, and 6 stents were placed in his heart arteries. In June, 2004, Dennis Rogers appeared at the Faith Life Christian Center in Pennsauken, New Jersey for an inspirational sermon. During the time Dennis was in New Jersey, he spent some time with Greg, helping him with bending techniques.
Performing feats of strength may be dangerous for some people. Please consult your doctor before attempting these activities. If you do engage in them, please make sure that you do so only under proper supervision.