WHEN I FIRST REALIZED that I needed to write a bio for this website, I gave it a lot of thought. Do I write it in third person, which in some ways makes it easier, or do I stay in line with the rest of the website and make it first person, and therefore more conversational?
At the risk of appearing less professional, I decided on the latter, but not before jotting this down on a piece of paper on my desk:
Glenn Berkenkamp is a writer, teacher, mystic, a grounded free-thinker, a lover of life, a son, a brother, an ex-bodybuilder, and a forever student of self and soul.
I will use this as the starting point for what I will now share.
The book I have written, MASTERY: Living The Highest You, falls into the category of “spiritual” material, and therefore I, as the author, will be viewed as someone who has an interest in the spiritual or metaphysical side of life. This is an accurate view, but in a world that tends to label and compartmentalize everything, I wanted to take the time to round this out a bit and paint a fuller picture of my life, albeit in somewhat broad strokes.
We’ll call this chapter 1: the early years
I grew up in the suburbs of New Jersey with great parents, an older brother who supported me in everything I did, and the perfect environment in which to explore the outdoors. I was always active and liked sports, but other than baseball I leaned towards individual activities.
Before I even reached my teenage years I was drawn to the sport of bodybuilding, (I don’t know why this happened, but now, all these years later, it seems to makes perfect sense, and ties everything together.) Perhaps there could be no greater individual pursuit than crafting one’s own body.
At eleven years old I began training in a small home gym in my garage, then soon joined the local gym. Being an ectomorph (someone with a thin frame and light bone structure) and, therefore, a hard gainer, I studied all that I could pertaining to the body and how muscle size and strength could be increased.
To make up for my genetic shortcoming, I had to train harder than most, something I enjoyed, and smarter than most. I poured through muscle magazines, endless books on the varying philosophies surrounding weight training, anatomy and exercise physiology books, and asked as many questions as I could to those who had knowledge and were willing to share, looking for any edge, secret, etc.
By the time I was approaching my seventeenth birthday, I realized I would never attain the championship level physique that I dreamed of. I also realized that if I applied the knowledge that I had acquired – and would continue to search out and build upon – to those who did possess the necessary genetics, I could help others fulfill their dreams. And that’s what happened.
Over the next five years I trained and advised many of the world’s top amateur and professional bodybuilders, and became a state level judge, then a national judge, judging such competitions as the Mr. USA and the U.S. National Championships.
It was also around this time that I first heard the word guru, as people, whether jokingly or not, started to refer to me as such in the fitness world.
I spell all this out to show the extent in which I was engaged in the body in the pure physical sense, although of course there is a strong mental and, in some ways, a spiritual component to all of this.
Chapter 2: Then to Now
Having felt I maxed out what I personally could accomplish in and around the sport I had so loved, and slowly feeling a steady, yet subtle, prompt to go beyond the exterior terrain of the body and look deeper, I left the sport of bodybuilding in the early 1990s, but continued to train and mentor others, be they athletes or not, off and on for many years.
After a series of interesting events that lead to frustrations and also illuminations, I made the decision to explore my inner world – whatever that would mean – with as much focus and commitment as I had brought to my pursuit of the exterior. The exact words spoken to myself were: “I am now going to work on my insides as much as I have worked on my outside.”
Once again the reading, the studying, the questioning, and the full immersion began, as I challenged myself to look at
my thoughts, beliefs, and the nature of reality and life as it had been lived by me up to this point, versus the nature of reality and life now being presented to me by the authors and teachers I was drawn to, and often “led to,” be they spiritual adepts, philosophers, psychologists, self-help pioneers or mind-body practitioners.
Along with this came the holy books of various religions and the recorded works of saints, sages and wayshowers throughout history.
The journey was not without its challenges. My hard-earned muscles started to melt away and with them went my identity (who am I without my super fit body?) and to a lesser degree, my confidence, who am I without my physical strength and my unrelenting drive to accomplish these goals?
I spent years unraveling the ego’s grasp over me. I watched my thoughts as if they were movies, wondering: “Where did this come from?” or “Why do I believe this?” I sat with my fears. I healed past relationships. I questioned my every action and watched carefully my every reaction. I also wanted to know what other types of strength were out there, or in here.
Through various teachers, practices, and what I believe to be my own soul’s remembrance, and my “waking up to be more,” those answers began to arrive. I became familiar with the energetic properties of the body and had experiences that went beyond the realm of what I would once call “normal.”
In short, I started to see, feel and experience that I was infinitely more than the pure physical organism that I once believed myself to be.
It was also at this point, now in my late twenties, that I had become deeply engaged in writing, my focus on screenwriting, as I saw its power to reflect back to us, and transform, our world.
In my thirties, once again the word “guru” returned. This time it was for different reasons, or maybe it wasn’t. Interestingly, even though the word can simply be defined as “teacher”, I have never cared much for it. For me it often conjured images of people giving their power away to another. Something I am dead against.
Whatever the case, the fact that I had changed so much and still this word had found me, was not lost on me. Nor, and perhaps more importantly, was the fact that my role in this life would be, in whatever varied and evolving way, that of a teacher.
So yes, MASTERY: Living The Highest You is a “spiritual” book and I’m a “spiritual” guy/author/teacher and this website will be a community in which to discuss spiritual matters, but never at the expense of dismissing the physical. It is here, bridging these two often disparate aspects of our being, that I find my greatest interest – and my greatest value as a teacher
I will end this in the third person by saying:
Glenn Berkenkamp resides in Northern California. He is happy you have found this website. There is nothing he enjoys more than people helping people.