Mike Barwis Welcomes WVU Stars in "American Muscle" - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Mike Barwis Welcomes WVU Stars in "American Muscle"

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Chris Neild is featured heavily in Wednesday's premiere episode of American Muscle. Chris Neild is featured heavily in Wednesday's premiere episode of American Muscle.
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MORGANTOWN - Mike Barwis could have had his own television show a long time ago. With such a captivating personality and such success in his field, the offers came often throughout his career, but at no point was he interested.

Then Mike and Chris Farah, filmmakers at Funny or Die approached Barwis with an idea. The two had just trained at Barwis Methods in Plymouth, Mich. and felt that a series was just waiting to be made based on the work going on under that roof. He came back to the former West Virginia University strength coach with another pitch for another television show, but this time, the message was different.

“Look, Mike, your sole interest is really to help people and impact lives and you’ve done that throughout your whole career,” “What way are you going to get a bigger platform to motivate and impact people’s lives and cause change then to be on television internationally.”

Barwis hadn’t heard it put that way before. He turned the idea over in his head as the possibilities began to take shape.

“I said, ‘Well, that’s a pretty good point. You’re the first person who has brought up a valid point for me,’” Barwis said.

More than two years later, American Muscle is set to premiere on Discovery Wednesday, July 9 at 9 p.m.

Test audiences have raved about the new program and the response Barwis received after premieres in Los Angeles, Detroit and Washington, D.C. have been overwhelmingly positive. He says the show is unlike anything else that is on television and says his company “like Cheers in a weight room.”

“Discovery and Funny or Die were awesome,” Barwis said. “They didn’t get in my way, they didn’t ask me to change anything, they just let me go to work for the 17 hours a day I go to work and they just filmed. For me, it was non-evasive, it didn’t bother my people who were there, it didn’t change our environment, which is key to the way I train.”

The show features Barwis’ work with some top professional athletes such as Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman and Detroit Lions defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, but he also works with the general public and, of course, some former players who just can’t get enough of his training.

When Noel Devine wanted to get ready for his second pro day at West Virginia back in March, he went to Michigan to train with Barwis. Pat White, Alric Arnett and many other Mountaineers have gone through its doors to relive the training that prepared them every day in Morgantown.

Chris Neild is among those heavily featured in the series premiere, the fourth-year Washington Redskins defender looking for a leg up during the offseason found himself back under Barwis’ watch.

“The familiarity that we have with him, we know what he brings to the table and that’s the reason I saw him,” Neild said while back in Morgantown to train with WVU’s current strength staff. “I was there in March and I got some good work in. Whatever I can put on the field and in the weight room, he gets it out of me.”

Neild accompanied Barwis with the premiere in the nation’s capital and he says he could hear members of the audience sobbing at times as the show brings a real mixture of comedy and emotion along the way. However each episode touches a viewer, Neild is confident that having Barwis at the show’s center will be enough to make it a hit.

“He has a presence about him that you don’t see every day,” Neild said. “The way he can get things out of people, the way that he motivates, it’s a rarity to see that in people nowadays and for him to do it on such a consistent basis is the reason that somebody caught on and said, hey, let’s make a show out of this. I think it will catch on. I think once people start watching it, they’ll love it.”

The goal for Mike and Chris Farah was to make a hit series and certainly Barwis wants it to be as successful as possible, but remember, the reason he consented was because he felt that it could be a benefit to the general public. Whether it is a new client or a player from back in his WVU days, he always takes advantage of any opportunity to help.

“For me, everything I do is to impact the lives of the people around me who I care about,” Barwis said. “Those guys are family and blood to me and I will always be there for those guys and they know that. It was never just coaching for me. It was more about reaching into the hearts of individuals who I come in contact with and saying, ‘How do I help you along your walk? How do we have a family relationship?’”

That family environment, along with the results he provides, continues to bring old players and new clients back to Barwis Methods. To the man himself, his own success is much more about the impact he can make than the business that now flourishes because of it.

“It’s never been a job for me. Not when I was coaching at West Virginia, which I absolutely loved, not when I was coaching at Michigan, not when I worked with nine different pro teams in three different leagues – I treat everybody the same,” Barwis said. “I’m excited when they play in the NFL, I’m excited when they play Major League Baseball, but that’s not why I help them. I help them because they’re good people and I love them. They know that and to me, I’m very, very thankful that they do.”

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