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Interview: Miles Taylor Talks Living, Lifting, and Competing

The 24-year-old lifter has cerebral palsy but prefers the word “ability” over “disability.”

Miles Taylor and trainer Nicolai Myers
@smilestaylor / Instagram / The Loyal Brand

When avid photographer Miles Taylor stopped in to the NEVERsate Gym in Westminster, MD, to get some action shots, he didn't realize that his life would change. He already knew one of the trainers, Nicolai Myers, since grade school, and by the end of the visit, 99-pound Taylor put his camera down and picked up an atlas stone. The cerebral palsy (CP) he was born with—a condition that impacts movement, speech, and muscle tone—was replaced with new abilities for Taylor through lifting.

Taylor, who has been lifting more than a year, quickly gained five pounds within the first 12 months, and earlier this year, the 24-year-old deadlifted more than double his body weight. Taylor broke his first personal record by lifting 200 pounds at NEVERsate, and recently surpassed this by deadlifting 205 pounds during a visit with Nike.

Lifting has transformed his body, mind, and life. “I have CP, CP doesn’t have me,” reads Taylor’s Instagram page. Words he lives by, Taylor was always determined not to let cerebral palsy keep him down. Always active and competitive in sports, he still enjoys playing football. Myers remembered Taylor being everywhere when it came to sports during high school. “He was always involved from standing on the sidelines cheering everyone on, or he always had a team manager position with just about every sport that I could think of,” Myers said. “If there was a varsity sporting event, you were going to see Miles there on the sideline with the team being their biggest support system.”

Never Say Never

Still, starting out in the gym was challenging for Taylor. In the beginning, he couldn’t lift or carry any weight without Myers supporting him or literally holding him up. Cerebral Palsy impacts motor skills, making it difficult for individuals with the disability to control or coordinate their muscles. Taylor's condition has improved since he started lifting, and he now goes in to warm up on his own. “It’s helped me so much with my everyday life and being more confident,” said Taylor. “It improved my CP. It’s given me stability in how I walk, and with my daily tasks around the house.” Also transformative has been the support of the NEVERsate gym, owned by Brian Alsruhe (Maryland's Strongest Man title holder), who Taylor said has created an atmosphere of positivity with a true community feel.

“Brian created this atmosphere where there’s no negativity,” said Miles. “We kick all negativity out. We’re all one, big family. We’re all very supportive of one another. It doesn’t matter how much you lift, it’s just automatic—you give 100 percent. I just love it.”

Myers said that the angle of the gym is to be affordable to everyone. Alsruhe, who opened the NEVERsate five years ago, primarily keeps it running through online merchandise sales and personal training at the gym. "That’s how the gym runs…Brian’s vision never sways," Myers said. “It started little, [and] now we’ve almost doubled our footprint. We have everything from a 12-year-old girl to a 54-year-old guy, Miles, national champions, competitors—soccer moms not knowing anything about lifting and then six months later they’re entering their first strongman competition.”

Miles Taylor hits a huge deadlift at the 2019 Arnold Classic.
Photo and video: Chris Nicoll

Miles and Miles

Outside of the gym, Taylor is keeping active with a collaboration with The Loyal Brand and their collection of sports and workout apparel. A portion of the proceeds go to the River Valley Ranch, where Taylor continues to serve as a summer counselor. He also spent the day with Arnold Schwarzenegger during the recent Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, OH, where the seven-time Mr. Olympia called him onto the stage so he could deadlifts 185 pounds in front of the packed house—a lift he hit with ease. Taylor's videos have gone viral, getting picked up by various outlets across the country, including his first record lift post earlier this year, which pulled in nearly 800,000 views on Instagram.

His recent adventures didn't end with Arnold. Taylor, along with Myers and Alsruhe, were recently flown to Nike’s Beaveront, OR, headquarters to give feedback on the company’s Flyease shoe for athletes with disabilities. While there, Taylor popped into the Nike gym to break another personal record, deadlifting 205 pounds.



Competition Ready

Myers said that a short-term goal is to get more competition experience under Taylor’s belt this year. “We’re taking training day by day, so it’s interesting for me as a coach to see his daily progress and to see his numbers climb,” said Myers. “So there’s really no set in stone goals. The sky’s the limit.”

Taylor isn’t slowing down anytime soon and continues to give motivational talks—most recently in a college classroom at McDaniel College. “I educate on CP or disabilities in general, and how lifting has improved my life,” said Taylor. “I want to educate people and bring some awareness to what people are able to do.”

His other passion, photography, is still a part of his life, and Taylor continues to shoot weddings, birthdays, and other events. But when it comes to lifting, he doesn’t have a specific personal record to beat next or goals in him. “I just want to get better and better and keep improving,” he said. “And as I improve, the numbers will go up.”

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