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Profile: Dave Tate

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From special education classes to CEO of a multimillion-dollar fitness company, Dave Tate’s journey will inspire you to overcome and succeed.

Photos by Ken Hicks

In 1998, Dave Tate was a Westside Barbell–trained powerlifter who made his living as a personal trainer at a private club in Columbus, Ohio. Sixteen years later, he’s one of a select few with the power to shape the entire fitness industry. His fitness equipment sales company, EliteFTS.com, is a massively successful monolith with a slew of experts who contribute to a robust online community. He’s also still jacked out of his mind at age 46.

Tate’s success, however, didn’t come without a fight. EliteFTS started in a spare bedroom, financed with credit card debt, and he’s been training around — and through — serious injuries (including a full hip replacement) for nearly three decades. Throw in a serious case of dyslexia — he was relegated to special education classes throughout school — and you’ve got a guy who’s not supposed to be this successful.

Your training has made a dramatic shift over the past few years from powerlifting to bodybuilding. What’s that been like?

Everything in powerlifting happens in the same movement plane. You’re going in the same direction every time. I competed in powerlifting from 1983 to 2005, so on average, I squatted heavy at least once per week for all those years, with similar technique and a similar stance. That’s a lot of reps in the same movement pattern.

By the time I retired, I couldn’t hold a barbell to squat and I couldn’t bench-press. I was done. I love training, though, so to keep doing it, I had to rediscover what I loved about it. That process of rediscovery led me back into bodybuilding because I had some roots there.

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