JOHN "FRANKENJAHN" SIMMONS
Death Comes Lifting's FIRST Sponsored Athlete, Phantom Limb Powerlifter
First of all, tell the freaks out there a little bit about yourself...
My actual name is John Michael. I usually go by that, John, Johnny, or most frequently Jahn. I
was born in Maryland, raised in southern West Virginia, graduated from WVU and currently live
in Pennsylvania with my lady and my pup! I am coached by Roger Bailey. He has been
coaching me since I got my first temporary prosthetic around April/May of 2019 and could get to
work. Pre-covid I trained out of St. Clair Fitness POWL Gym when in town. I now train out of
my garage, which seems to be improving with time and effort. I’m finding a lot of positives, but
always miss lifting with the homies.
I first became interested in lifting weights late in high school, but didn’t have much idea what I
was doing, nor did I take enough pride in it or myself to figure that part out, until I got back into
it later on in life. I took a lot, especially physically, for granted prior to a motorcycle wreck I had
in 2009. Once I was somewhat mobile again in the late 2010-early 2011 timeframe, a close
friend of mine really helped me get back into the gym in whatever capacity I was able to. That
sparked the beginning of weightlifting becoming such an integral part of my everyday life and
something I lean on heavily to support my mental health. I met Zak around 2014ish and joined
the DCL Team as an athlete shortly after he established the brand. I’ve had 30+ surgeries on
feet, ankles, knees, heart, lungs, back, etc. I eventually had a below knee amputation in 2019,
which was a huge improvement to my health and overall wellbeing. Now, I feel healthier than I
ever have and am excited to find out what my ceiling is.
My interests are pretty across the board for media and music. I lean towards horror, crime and
comedy with media. Metal, psychedelic/classic rock and (mainly classic) hip-hop for the tunes.
But I do really like a lot of things not in any of those genres, so respect to most. Outside of
lifting weights and consuming media, I like to skateboard (huge influence on my life), read,
write, play basketball, and go explore with Clarisse and Brasco. More than anything, I enjoy any
amount of time I can spend with friends or family – now appreciating that a bit more than ever
and am excited when we can all get back to that in some normal(ish) capacity.
I am currently a 90kg powerlifter (raw, drug tested) and have just been working on becoming
comfortable/confident since the amputation and focusing on improving with each meet. Very
excited for the future with the DCL Team and excited to see what Roger has planned going
What is your training style/philosophy?
Whatever Roger has for me I try to meet with as
much intensity and devotion as I can give it. This is the first time I’ve had a coach and I was
really limiting myself by thinking I knew best for my programming for so many years. I’m
extremely aware of my current privilege to train at home, have support from people close to me,
have support from DCL and have access to the knowledge/time that Roger puts into my
programming/dealing with me in general on a daily basis - it’s not something I ever plan on
taking for granted and makes having motivation to get off of my ass a non-issue. I owe it to you
fuckers for believing in me.
What is your favorite workout / muscle group(s) to work out?
To be honest, I’ve found
something about every group that I enjoy and areas that I look forward to improving. Planks
suck, period. If I had to pick, I would say squats are my current favorite. It’s a movement I
wasn’t physically able to do from age 21-31. I will be 33 in a week or to. So, very stoked at
every opportunity I have to improve the squats. Heavy days are the best days.
Favorite cheat meal: If anyone is in Morgantown, WV, the best food can be found at
Homegrown Pizza, courtesy of Chef Thomas. When not in that area and with no budget
constraints, as much sushi as I can physically eat. On a budget, wings & pizza or fries. If
possible, a Black Forge specialty drink to start or finish the cheat window off. Recently found
Leona’s ice cream sandwiches here in Pittsburgh – not huge on sweets but holy fuck they are
Favorite lifting music / song / band?
I’m all over the place, much like my taste when I’m not
lifting. Heavy rotation lately has been Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, GZA, Sleep, MF Doom,
Immortal, and ATQC/Sabbath (as always). I also listen to a lot of weird podcasts, atypical
‘lifting’ music, Petestrumentals, or just complete silence. It all depends on the head space at the
moment. Note: Preferably through a speaker and not headphones if I’m training with someone –
communication is a big part of the benefits of training with a partner(s) so why let that go to
Your proudest fitness accomplishment?
Yet to come.
Favorite Death Comes Lifting design?
The one Warren is working on. It’s a weird concept for
me because I don’t see that I’m deserving of having my own signature design, but he’s done an
awesome job and I think you’ll dig it. If anyone is still reading this – peep that Frankenjahn
signature shirt when it drops.
Favorite horror movie?
This is hard for me because it’s such a broad genre and I enjoy a lot of
the subgenres as their own. I obviously enjoy and respect the classics.
The Shining, Hereditary, It Follows and 3 From Hell stand out for me as my current favorites.
Really have enjoyed the recent Jordan Peele work and enjoyed Midsommar quite well. Parasite
and Train to Busan next on the watch list.
Favorite Black Sabbath album?
Depends on the head space and listening venue. If I had to
pick, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.
What does Death Comes Lifting mean to you? We are honored to have you on the team.
Family, Support and Human Decency. It means a lot more than I could probably describe or
show. I had a rough decade or so with injuries and surgeries and what not. Zak and I had met at
the gym we were both training at. That lead to when Zak first asked me to be on the DCL team
as an athlete. I was on the verge of 30 and about to have a surgery that doctors said more than
likely would leave me unable to ever deadlift and would make squatting even more out of the
question than it already was. Knowing that, Zak still asked me to be a part of what he was
building and we both refused to accept the outcomes doctors had determined for me. About a
year and a half after that surgery, just prior to a scheduled below knee amputation surgery and
still no sanctioned powerlifting meets or events under my belt to represent DCL, and he still
seemed to believe in me more than I even did. Here we are almost 2 years from the amputation
and DCL has been as supportive as ever as I’m finally able to dive into powerlifting unrestricted.
As the family grows, the accountability, support and good vibes seem to grow even stronger. It’s
one of the few places out there right now that you know will be full of positivity, humans being
decent to and supportive of each other, and plenty of cool/weird shit that aligns with what I
I’ve also met some really cool fucking folks through DCL that I otherwise wouldn’t have been
lucky enough to socialize with. Bottomline, people in the world seem to be more divided than
ever. In a time where we need to come together, it’s nice that genuinely good people are
building brands that are accepting regardless of gender, sexual identity, race, religious
preference, fitness journey status or social class. I can’t say how much I appreciate that from
DCL. Awesome brand coming from a well-intentioned place and positivity affecting peoples’
lives. Let’s fucking party.