Dogging It in Every WOD: Alex Castiglione and Bully Breeds


Sean: 00:05 – Hi everybody. Welcome to another edition of Two-Brain Radio with Sean Woodland. On today’s episode, I speak with the founder of the charitable organization, Barbells for Bullies, Alex Castiglione. First: Over the last months, I’ve interviewed some really great guests like Stacie Tovar, Tanya Wagner, Boz, Adrian Bozman, Chris Hinshaw, Rory Mckernan, Julie Foucher and more. If you’ve missed out on any of those interviews, you can check out our archives for the best stories from the fitness community, and to avoid FOMO, please subscribe to Two-Brain Radio. I’ve got a great guest coming every single week. Alex Castiglione is an everyday CrossFitter who wanted to do something to help dogs, so he started Barbells for Bullies back in 2016. Barbells for Bullies is a nonprofit organization that hosts fitness competitions all around the United States to raise money and awareness for animal rescues all across the country, with a specific emphasis on bully breeds. Alex and I talk about what motivated him to start his organization, the various misconceptions that are out there regarding bully breeds and what people can do in their own communities if they want to help local shelters or rescues. Thanks for listening everybody. Alex, thanks so much for doing this, man, how are you?
Alex: 01:24 – I’m doing well, Sean. Thanks for having me. How are you doing?
Sean: 01:27 – I’m doing great, thank you. It’s my pleasure. Before we get into what Barbells for Bullies is, let’s get into you and how you got into CrossFit. How did you find CrossFit?
Alex: 01:39 – I can thank my sister and my brother-in-law, in Feb 2012, so eight years coming up on it, OG, they just brought me to the gym once, I boxed in high school, kind of fell off in college and I was partying and drinking beer and they just brought me to a gym and it was so bad. I threw up three times my first workout. And I fell in love with it. It was wall balls, kettlebell swings and box jumps. And I was not prepared. I was not prepared.
Sean: 02:06 – When people haven’t experienced like that, they usually then don’t repeat it. What kept you coming back?
Alex: 02:13 – That’s my personality. I’m a chronic challenge seeker. I’m a glutton for punishment I think. But yeah, I enjoyed it. I loved the community aspect of it and we could chat about that a little later. But yeah, the community was great. It didn’t matter if you were dead lifting 315 or 95 pounds, everybody there was just so welcoming and just respectful and engaging. And that’s what made me fall in love with just the culture.
Sean: 02:34 – Where did your love for dogs and especially bully breeds come from?
Alex: 02:40 – That’s kind of a long story. So really, I’ve always been around dogs. My mom used to breed Pomeranians and like I would always go to dog shows. So it’s kind of funny that now I’m associated with like pitbulls and these big bully breeds. But I got my first bully 15 years ago. His name was Chops, one of the best dogs ever, man, he was just sweet, 115 pounds, snuggle monster and he was just a great dog. He got me through a lot, like my father had three or four heart surgeries and I just had him sit in with me on the couch and stuff like that. And then suddenly he passed in August the 20th, perforated the small intestine had to have surgery. So my wife and I spent thousands we didn’t have to try and save him, and he didn’t make it.
Sean: 03:28 – Sorry you dropped off really fast there, I’m gonna have to edit that out. There was—you just dropped off. Can we just start again on that? Here we go. So three, two, one. Where did your love for dogs and especially bully breeds come from?
Alex: 03:43 – Okay, so that’s kind of a long story. First and foremost, I always had dogs around my mom, bred Pomeranians. I was always in dog shows when I was a kid. And my first bully, I got about 15 years ago, his name was Chops, he’s a rescue, obviously best dog ever, 115 pounds of snuggle, just all around awesome dog. And that’s really when I started to learn about the bully breeds and just how they were vilified and people would pick up their kids and run across the street when they saw him and when he wanted to do was snuggle. And unfortunately we lost him in August of 2014 which was kind of the catalyst for Barbells for Bullies. And we can talk about that later, but he’s the one that really made me fall in love with the breed overall. And it’s not even really a breed and we can discuss that.
Sean: 04:28 – Yeah. What about that there is a stigma behind bully breeds. First off, where does that come from?
Alex: 04:36 – I think it’s media based and it’s also socially based. So the media, they need a villain. I think it was Cesar Millan that said that, you know, in the 70s it was Dobermans, in the 80s it was German shepherds and the 90s it was rottweilers. Now it’s bully breeds. And the reason that we like to say bully breeds and not pit bull is because there’s no such thing as a pit bull. That is a blanket term used to describe a dog that has certain characteristics that looks a certain way, has a certain build, a certain type of head. Bully breeds are Bulldogs, great Danes. Pugs are a bully breed. And then of course your American pitbull terrier amstaffs, things like that. So it’s really—it’s the media and it’s a bunch and I hate saying like, ph the media did it. But there’s a lot of stigma out there, and I’ve even talked to journalists where they’ve said it’s a very “if it bleeds, it leads” mentality where if it’s, you know, a pug will bite somebody, oh, don’t worry about it. Oh, pit bull attacks somebody, let’s put that in the headlines. And they make sure the breed is always there. But I mean we could discuss this, breed specific legislation which was put on the books to combat, you know, dangerous breeds, has never worked. It’s never stopped a dog bite. And frankly it’s the equivalent of racism where we’re discriminating against dogs for looking a certain way through not blaming their behavior. We’re just kind of saying you look a certain way, therefore you’re bad, and that’s obviously problematic.
Sean: 05:55 – What then motivated you to start Barbells for Bullies?
Alex: 05:58 – So initially I wanted to do something cause we went to a shelter two months after we lost Chops. All I did for those two months was just 90-minute sessions in the gym. The three-hour beat downs just cause going home and not having him greet me, it was tough. I mean you have dogs, you know, it’s tough. But eventually I worked up the courage to go to the shelter and adopt, and I noticed every single room, every single one was full of pit-bull type dogs. Every one of them. And then the one that was like a shepherd had an adopted stand by it. So I was like, I need to do something. I thought about it and this is in October of 2014, thought about it, said something and my wife, kicked the idea around. I had the idea, well we do all these CrossFit competitions where we pay, you know, a hundred bucks for an entry fee.
Alex: 06:43 – Where’s that going? Why don’t we do a charity event and see what we can do to raise the money. So we held our first event in June of 2016, but was really the catalyst is going to the shelter in Atlanta and seeing this is a problem and evidently it’s a problem everywhere and we can discuss that more in depth.
Sean: 06:58 – When you give people your elevator pitch for not only what you do but for Barbells for Bullies, what surprises in the most about the stats and facts that you give them about that breed?
Alex: 07:11 – I think the most shocking number is 1.2 million, I’ll say 1.2 million dogs every year in the U.S. are euthanized in shelters. That’s the population of Dallas, Texas, every single year. And then you could give them more stats, like pitbull-type dogs score higher on AKC temperament scale than every other dog, except for Labradors, they’re fantastic family pets.
Alex: 07:37 – I mean they’re misidentified over 60% of the time, where they’re just like oh, it looks like a pit bull. Meanwhile we do a DNA test and it has nothing to do with it. One of our dogs, for instance, Moxie, she’s a black bully mix, we swore she was amstaff and Labrador. We did her DNA, bloodhound border Collie and like 22% amstaff, like barely even Pitbull type dog. So it’s just proof that looks are deceiving. But those are the stats, when I bring those up, people are very much like 1.2 million, really? I’m like, yeah, and over half of them are pit bull type dogs. That’s not representative.
Sean: 08:09 – Why did you think that the CrossFit world and then the world of dog rescue were a good match for each other?
Alex: 08:18 – I honestly didn’t. I really didn’t. I took a shot. I saw that there were a bunch of competitions going on. We did some charity events. I didn’t think that there would be this correlation or just it would be that accepted. But it really was, and I’ve had people make the point to me when we’re discussing where CrossFitters and bully breeds kind of have something in common where they can come across as too intense or be intimidating in the way they look. But in reality, they’re just incredibly nice people, incredibly nice dogs. So I think there’s something there that we can kind of tease out a little bit, but I think that’s, to put a fine point on it, that, and people just, they love their animals, they’re emotionally attached and if they can do something that’s in aligned with their lifestyles that makes a difference in the world, they’ll do it. And that’s kind of where we’re garnering some traction at.
Sean: 09:05 – When you first started this, where did your initial efforts look like?
Alex: 09:11 – So me being again, a chronic challenge seeker, our first ever event was in June, 2016. It took six months of planning. We had 80 competitors, which was huge for our first event. And then about three months later, four months later, we did another one. So we did two events our first year.
Alex: 09:28 – There’s unknown unknowns. Like we went into it, I was all buttoned up but of course we had some things go off the rails or timing was off or we had to reevaluate our standards. I mean I remember now in our standards we have to put your heels must cross the plane of the box cause we had people Miami Vice rolling over for burpee box jump overs and I’m just like, I didn’t say you couldn’t. They’re getting from one side of the box to the other. So that I think it—those were our initial efforts, doing those two events. But we grew exceptionally quick and that was something we had to manage. Where in 2017 we did six events or seven events in six cities and big markets. So Atlanta, LA, Denver, New York and Danbury, Connecticut. And then in 2018 we did 12 events in 10 cities. So we had some twofers in some cities. So in 2019 we scaled back a little bit and concentrated on refining everything and really trying to figure out how we can turn this into a force for good, cause we were garnering some more momentum in the space thanks to you and people like you in sport.
Sean: 10:29 – What were the challenges that you face early on as you tried to gain traction with Barbells for Bullies?
Alex: 10:36 – I think it was really, it was more scalability than anything else, cause I work full time in addition to this, I’m also a grad student, so my expertise is in advertising and marketing space, so that kind of came easy. But other people I talked to in other gyms, they say that’s their challenge. For us it was scalability and not taking on too much too quickly and just growing organically because we would get a ton of inquiries and people that wanted to get involved. But frankly there’s only so many hours in a day. So scalability was the real touch point for us, that was something that we really had to learn about going into it.
Sean: 11:10 – How then did you apply what you learned and then take care of the problem?
Alex: 11:15 – I think it was really coming down to checking our ego at the door and not getting too emotionally invested and knowing that we’re going to make mistakes, we’re going to have to optimize. With most of our events, we do a post-event recaps and surveys and I read every single response. I want to know what people are saying. And by and large, we do a great job. I mean obviously there’s always incremental places to improve, but every now and then you’ll read that one person that’s like the BPM of the music in WOD 3 was way too slow, it’s like, yes, of all the things that went into this event, that was what I talking about, not how it was registration. How was the staff? How was the judging, how was the rescue on site? Yes. I was talking about the iPod that was running while we were counting your reps. But overall, I mean, I think it’s honestly just taking stock of it and avoiding mission creep and remembering we’re doing this to affect positive change in our community and just creating a community that can rally around fitness and rescue.
Sean: 12:09 – You talked about this a little bit, but when did things really start to take off for your organization?
Alex: 12:19 – I’ll give you different answers at different times for that. At least twice a year I say to my wife like, Oh, this is our tipping point, but I don’t know if I want to say take off. I mean, I’m 100% aware that we would be nowhere without the support of the community of athletes everywhere. People like yourself and just of the population at large, and I would, I’m not concerned with the notoriety or anything like that. I’m doing this to kind of move the needle. Again, I think I mentioned this, we’re volunteer based. I don’t pay myself. I’m not going to pay myself until we hit a certain number of revenue every year just because that’s taking away from what we’re trying to do. Right? Like, I want to donate as much money as possible, help as many rescues as possible. But I’d love it if five years from now we have to rebrand because bully breeds weren’t vilified in the media or they were getting adopted at alarming speed or they were the new it dog or whatever. But we’re not there yet. And ultimately I just want to get people active, get them engaged and get them to have some skin in the game in the rescue community.
Sean: 13:17 – What are some of the things that you’ve been able to accomplish? Not from an event standpoint, but really helping organizations or dogs that you’re the most proud of?
Alex: 13:26 – I mean that’s a loaded question, Sean, it really is. I mean we just had a milestone this past year as of you know, fourth quarter 19 we’ve donated over $100,000 as an organization. I’m extremely proud of that. But more than the money, cause you know, anybody can throw numbers out there. It’s having the conversations and changing minds. We did one event in Denver in 2018 where I was chatting with somebody and they’re just like, Hey, you know, I don’t have a pit bull but I have a dog. What’s this all about? And we’re just talking to them. And I was like, Hey, did you know that there’s breed-specific legislation in Denver where if I’m driving from Arvada to Aurora driving across the city and I have a pit bull in my car and a cop happens to know the law and wants to enforce it, he could legally take the dog.
Alex: 14:08 – And they’re like, really? I’m like, yeah, didn’t get out of the car, didn’t do anything, didn’t growl, tail wagging, whatever. They can take the dog, and just little aha moments like that where they’re like, Oh. And I’m like, yeah, it’s up for a vote and vote it down. If you can volunteer or shelter advocate, that’s the thing. And whenever we do events that we personally run, always do a little spiel at the end and talk about it. And just when I tell people, you know, it’s just random acts of kindness, you all can can make a difference. Like I’m not special. I just had an idea and I ran with it and I don’t know how to give up, but there’s not much else I can do that you can’t. You can do it. You can do what I do, basically.
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Sean: 15:43 – There’s that saying where it’s there are not bad dogs, there are bad owners. How much responsibility do owners bear in sort of perpetuating this perception that bullies are dangerous?
Alex: 15:59 – I think there’s a lot of onus on the owner and I get really upset when I see people either A walking around with unaltered pit bull type dogs, which aside from the fact that we’re full, like we’re all full, we have plenty of typical type dogs in shelters. Neutering your dog reduces a whole bunch of behavioral issues, they’re less likely to run away, a whole bunch of stuff like that. But then moreover, I hate when I see people that have like the chain collars on their dog, you know, like I don’t even know, it’s like actual chain and they made into a collar to make them look mean or they cropped their ears. But ultimately it’s the owner’s responsibility to make sure that dog is safely handled. And a lot of these things you read about in the news about somebody being attacked or any dog-related issue, you can almost invariably point to the owner and be like, well the owner didn’t secure it, it wasn’t on a leash, what have you.
Alex: 16:48 – And then in a lot of cases, right, quote unquote “pitbulls” involved, if you read up on it, it’ll be like, Oh, pit bull mauls Chihuahua. And then if you read the story, that Chihuahua was off leash, ran up to the dog and the dog just reacted. So I just like to tell people, you know, it all starts with responsible pet ownership, we’re responsible for these dogs and we need to keep them safe and keep our community safe. But it’s definitely the owner. There’s no such thing as bad dogs, just bad owners. And all of these behaviors are learned. Dogs are inherently good.
Sean: 17:16 – What are some of the events or partnerships that you have executed recently?
Alex: 17:21 – Well we’ve been super busy in fourth quarter, fourth quarter, 2019, we had two events back to back that were proofs of concept, but very successful. So we had Ruck Your Balls Off co-branded with GORUCK. Yeah, I love the name, you can thank my wife for that. So what that was was a co-branded initiative with GORUCK where essentially people would sign up and they would ruck, you know, walk with a weighted pack to raise money and awareness for spay-neuter initiatives around the country. Now we’re Barbells for Bullies. Our focus is bully breeds but we help all dogs. So with Ruck Your Balls Off, we managed to donate over $12,000 to various spay-neuter initiatives around the country like Chicago animal, care and control, snip bus, which is actually a mobile spay neuter clinic that’s in California, in your neck of the woods, lifeline in Atlanta.
Alex: 18:06 – And then the Pitty project in New Jersey who provides free spay neuter for any pit bull type dog. So that was a huge win for us. And then also we did something co-branded with our friends at vetwod benefiting operation side kick. What they do is they train primarily pitbull type dogs but shelter dogs to be therapy or PTSD dogs for veterans at no cost to the veteran, which there’s tons of research for that and obviously in the CrossFit community we do these hero WODs to honor our servicemen that paid the ultimate sacrifice, it makes sense for that synergy. And in that initiative, again proof of concept, we donated 7,500 bucks to them and we have a little more on the way cause we had a peer to peer fundraising element that was up. As far as the partnerships, we had a brand partnership with Hylete where half the profits from their Barbells for Bullies T-shirts go directly back to us.
Alex: 18:53 – We also just announced a partnership with 2Pood where we’re going to have two different bells, a underdog bells, and also Barbells for Bullies bells and then we have some other ones that are in the works that I don’t want to release yet. But suffice it to say that they’re big names in the CrossFit space and it’s just amazing to have all these brands that are willing to affect positive change in their community across all metrics, whether it’s animal rescue with us or just other things, like GORUCK has a Travis Mannion foundation, Green Beret foundation, Navy SEAL foundation. So it’s amazing that we’re seeing all these big fitness corporations and organizations really get behind charitable giving.
Sean: 19:28 – What is the underdog fund?
Alex: 19:30 – All right, so the underdog fund, the best way I can describe it is a discretionary fund that we have to alleviate some of the issues that we’ve seen in our lives. So what it is is it’s a discretionary fund where we pay for emergency surgeries, adoption fees, rescue pull fees. So for instance, a lot of rescues, they won’t be able to pull a dog from a high kill shelter unless they have the funding. And we consistently got tagged for the last three and a half years on all these social media posts that were asking us, you know, just tagging us like, Hey, anything you can do to help. Well, if 200 bucks gets a dog off death row and provides the incentive for a vetted and licensed rescue to pull that dog, I’ll do that all day long. So we created it out of a need and to date or just this year alone, we’ve spent over $3,000 providing emergency veterinary services, sponsoring dogs for rescue. And we even paid for the bulk of the TPLO surgery and knee surgery for a dog that was in the shelter walking around with two broken legs.
Alex: 20:33 – So that’s really the underdog fund. It just arose from a need where we saw people tagging us. And while we do donate all of our net proceeds to a local rescue in that community, again, we don’t take this money and run. If we do an event in Buffalo, it goes to a rescue in Buffalo, you know, San Jose, same thing, you know, Denver, same thing. With the underdog fund though, we needed to do more and we were in a position to do that. It’s a fundraising and awareness raising organization. So that’s what we’re doing with the underdog fund.
Sean: 20:59 – What do you guys have on the horizon now?
Alex: 21:02 – Well the sun. Dad jokes aside, we have a bunch of events coming up. So in 2019 we branched out outside of the CrossFit space. While that’s still our meat and potatoes, we did a USAW sanctioned and local weightlifting competition, which was awesome.
Alex: 21:19 – So a lot of crazy strong athletes there. Shout out to Hampton Morris, 16-year-old kid, guarantee you this kid will be in the Olympics. He snatched at 61 kilo body weight, a hundred kilo at 15 years old. Kid’s savage. So if you’re listening, shout out to him, he will be going to the Olympics most likely. We have other partnerships that we’re working on. So I just got off the phone with a GORUCK actually, we’re going to do another Ruck Your Balls Off initiative in the spring or summer, just doing our satellite events. And then also in 2020 I wanted to make it more accessible cause a lot of gyms they want to get involved but they don’t have the square footage or the know how, the logistics and we do that, if you reach out to us to host a competition, we handle everything.
Alex: 22:03 – Excess boots on the ground. All you need to do is have warm bodies and people that can count reps. We take care of everything else. I mean we do the marketing and we take care of prize fulfillment, shirts, you know, score sheets, you name it. Cause you’ve done 30 of these, we kind of came up with a system. But that’s a lot and people still want to get involved. So what we started to do is if you want to do a charity workout, if you want to have your gym be like a preferred partner for our online competition series that we’re launching in a few weeks. Again, we could talk about that, if you want to be a preferred gym, kind of like a Festivus Games or the Granite Games where people can drop into your gym and do the WOD there, awesome. So we’re just trying to think of more ways to get people involved in this community.
Alex: 22:43 – Cause again, if it’s about community and fitness that rallies around rescue, we’re a part of it. So we’re just kind of optimizing and creating more opportunities for gyms. Either CrossFit, weightlifting, power lifting or RUCK clubs or anything like that to get involved. The only thing we’re kind of staying away from is, you know your 5ks and things like that because a lot of shelters already do that and we’re not trying to step on that. Whenever people are like, Oh I want to donate to you. I’m like donate to your shelter. Just sign up for a comp. Like we want to give you an experience. I don’t want your money.
Sean: 23:12 – You had Dave Castro on Instagram doing some of the workouts that I think you guys posted. How did that help you sort of get the word out about this online competition?
Alex: 23:21 – Yeah, that was a huge and completely accidental. We didn’t reach out to him, so that was awesome. I think a operation sidekick might’ve, but our website traffic went insane and we got another like I think a hundred signups within a couple of days. We extended the deadline for that. But yeah, that was for Sitruck and we got 250 athletes involved and Miranda and Julian at Street Parking programmed it. So community is great. I mean I’m preaching to the choir, you know how supportive and amazing this community is. And I’m so floored every day whenever we open up our Instagram or I open up our email and people are like, Hey, I want to get involved, how can I help? And I’m like, faith in humanity restored.
Sean: 24:01 – What’s the reaction you get from the CrossFit community or even the strength community when they take part in one of your events?
Alex: 24:10 – Very extremely thankful and that’s sort of surprising to me and I’m so humbled by it and I just tell them like, no, like thank you. Like really? Like this would be nothing without you coming here and dedicating your time, sweat and effort and money to register for these events. They’ve been nothing but supportive and a lot of people have actually gotten more involved in rescue because of us. And that’s, I said, exceptionally humbling. Like I didn’t imagine it was going to be like this when I started it in 2016, it was supposed to just be a one off in Atlanta. Like where we just did an annual comp in Atlanta, it turned out problem everywhere and we have work to do everywhere and we’re going to continue to rise to that call.
Sean: 24:48 – You mentioned that people will contact, you said they want to get involved. What is the best thing people can do locally in their own communities to help dogs in need?
Alex: 25:00 – Just care. That’s the bottom line. And not everybody has to, you know, host an event or raise a bunch of money or donate thousands of dollars, like adopt, really just adopt a dog from a shelter. If you can’t do that, foster, we’ve personally fostered four dogs here at Barbells for Bullies HQ, our house. And that’s immensely rewarding. Is it tough? Yeah. But every dog we fostered has been on the urgent list and would have been euthanized and it turns out I still get texts from their owners now where they’re amazing dogs. So foster please everybody. If you have the space and you don’t really want to adopt or you’re not sure, just foster, I guarantee you you’re going to have at least one foster fail. Advocate, educate. If somebody says something ignorant, you know, check them on it. I admittedly have to disengage when people say ignorant stuff about pitbulls where I just have to be like, you know what?
Alex: 25:49 – We’re not getting into this right now. Here’s my website. Read some more information. But really it would just be just care. Go to your local shelter, walk dogs. There’s plenty of research and if people want to see this, email me, I’ll send it to you, that scientifically quantifies that dogs that get out and go for walks or do like a dog for the day program are less prone to cage rage. They’re not going to break down. They’re going to be more easily adopted, more easily acclimated. There’s a whole bunch of research in that regard. Just really get involved in any capacity, even if it’s donating blankets or newspapers, whatever you can do. Any random act of kindness is step in the right direction in my book. And that’s really what I tell people is you don’t have to participate with us. Just go to your local shelter and volunteer. They’re happy to have the help.
Sean: 26:33 – What’s the reaction you get from the organizations that you help?
Alex: 26:39 – Usually they’re floored. Cause a lot of them have come to an event and they’re just like, Oh, okay, cool. You know, we’re going to get a couple hundred bucks and then we’ll hit them with a $5,000 check. And they’re like, are you serious? This is amazing. And we love that reaction. Admittedly, we want to help smaller rescues, local rescues that are doing great work in the community rather than, you know, a large state-run ASPCA or humane society because they have the budget, they’re going to get government grants, they have the manpower, they have the resources. But we want to help these small organizations that are boots on the ground, pulling dogs from high-kill shelters, really out there in the community and advocating. But the reaction from them is obviously very thankful, but a lot of times I think they’re floored cause they don’t realize that we can really generate a lot of revenue and a lot of awareness from, you know, something like a fitness event where if you had a CrossFitter, a lot of these people that are in the rescue world, you know, they’re not involved in it and you just see their eyes bugging out of their head. Like, did that woman just dead lift 225? Yes. Yes she did. Yes she did.
Sean: 27:40 – We talked about how people can get involved locally. If there are people who say, Hey, I’m really into this Barbells for Bullies thing. I either want to host an event or I want to get involved with them, how can they go about doing that?
Alex: 27:50 – Just email us emails. The emails go to either and my wife or I, so If you want to host an event, we’ll send you some information ranging, like I said, from community events to competitions, online events to being a preferred partner to a full blown official comp where like myself and a small contingent of my team will go out there, we’ll run the entire event soup to nuts and make it like a whole event experience. But really we’re down to collaborate with anybody as long as they have a awesome rescue involved, people that are dedicated to fitness and wellness and being active. We want to be involved with you. So just hit us with an email, go to our website and you can email me directly. It’s
Sean: 28:32 – The work that you do and that rescues do is not easy whatsoever. What keeps you motivated day to day and coming back for more?
Alex: 28:44 – That’s a great question and it’s a tough one. My wife and I were talking about this the other day when we went to a fundraiser event for Friends of the Forlorn Pitbull rescue in Georgia, the guy that runs it, Jason Flatt, is just amazing. I mean, he’ll get up at three in the morning and drive to Florida to rescue dogs from like a dog fighting ring. He’s fantastic. And we were talking, I couldn’t do that side of rescue. It’s just so emotionally taxing and my heart goes out to you if you’re a rescue worker. Thank you for the work you do. It’s amazing. But I physically, I personally couldn’t do that. So what we can do is we can raise funds and we can raise awareness to keep that needle moving forward. Now what keeps me motivated is when I can hand that check to that small rescue and see their eyes light up and knowing that they could go pull 10, 12, dogs from a shelter.
Alex: 29:35 – But really it’s seeing the minds being changed, seeing the incremental steps, having these conversations people and like I alluded to, I work full time and I’m a grad student so this takes up maybe 30 hours of my week working on Barbells for Bullies and sometimes I think I need my head examined, but then when I can DM that rescue like, Hey that surgery bill you put up for 500 bucks, it’s covered. Hit me with your PayPal info. That makes it worthwhile. You know? Or just knowing that I can get people to have a buddy like Chops was to me in their life. Cause when I see these stats, like 1 in 600 pitbulls makes it out of the shelter alive, I think about the 599 that could be somebody’s best friend that won’t have that chance because of all these issues we’re talking about. Spay neuter is enforced as it should be. It should be the vilification of pitbulls, just that, all of that. But what keeps me motivated are probably those three things and it’s again, and rescue people power to you.
Sean: 30:33 – Yeah. Alex, listen man, thank you so much for doing this and honestly thank you for everything that you’re doing and just, you know, it’s like you said, faith in humanity restored when I’m able to talk to people like yourself and if there’s any ever anything I can do to help, please let me know.
Alex: 30:49 – I appreciate that Sean and again, thank you for the time and thank you for rescuing and doing everything you do and yeah, thanks. I really appreciate this
Sean: 30:57 – Big thanks to Alex Castiglione for taking the time to talk with me and for all the great work he does through his organization. If you want to follow Barbells for Bullies on social media, they are on Instagram and you can find them at @barbellsforbullies, and their website is Thank you for listening to Two-Brain Radio. Please remember to subscribe and leave us a review. I’m Sean Woodland and I’ll be back with more great stories from the fitness community each and every week. Be sure to check out our archives for interviews with your favorite athletes, coaches, and personalities. Thanks for listening everybody. We’ll see you next time.

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