Aslan Steel is one of those guys that has the job, determination and physicality that could make another mere mortal feel inferior and intimidated. Or outright jealous.
This is a young man (he’s 31 but his confidence and experience is that of someone far older) who has travelled the planet as a Lead Stunt Tester on Ninja Warrior, one of the world’s biggest TV franchises. He’s competed at callisthenics at international level and founded his own street workout team called Bar Mob. He’s a signed up brand ambassador for Superdry and has just finished stunt double duties on JJ Abraham’s latest movie. A driven entrepreneur, he also spent several years honing his business skills working as a Lucozade sales manager for GSK before turning his passion for callisthenics into a career. He’s now in the process of launching his own video and photography production company, specialising in capturing the unique perspective and angles that only top athletes can achieve – his crew are all free runners, climbers and gymnasts. That’s some USP.
I thought I was busy with projects but this guy makes myself and every other busy person that I know look like slackers, quite frankly. Let’s not even go there with his physique. He’s a 41-year old normal bloke’s worst nightmare – fellow middle-aged dads look away now.
But then you meet Aslan and he begins to tell you his story of how he’s achieved this stuff – and within 20 seconds he has you. Any preconceptions (which are fair enough when you can literally see a man’s ripped bicep veins popping through his shirt) are washed away with his warm, honest and infectious manner and personality. He made the room feel instantly at ease and by the end of the evening, it felt like we’d been mates for years.
Aslan’s story, like some others who have taken the floor at FOUND, has moments that are extremely difficult for him to talk about. This was the first time he’d ever shared some of it publicly. With a lot of emotion in his voice but admirable composure in his delivery, he talked about his “brilliantly pushy but inspirational late mum” and how a sequence of tragic personal circumstances left him rock bottom, but ultimately spurred him on to succeed and instill the belief in him that you really can achieve what you want in life if you dare to do it.
Early on in his story, he recalls how when he was very little he went missing only for his parents to discover him on the edge of a branch at the top a big tree. Trying to coax him off as they realised in horror what he was up to, he ignored them while calmly calculating the drop between his precarious perch and a small bush below. Un-phased by their desperate pleas to climb down, or by the large distance under him, he jumped. He was fine and although he didn’t go on to tell us, you can imagine that the next tree was even bigger.
His story is candid and not all about stunts, TV and glamour. Aslan had us from near tears, recalling his mums battle with cancer, to laugher as he went off piste and revealed some of his less successful business misadventures via a surprising hobby of collecting fish tanks and growing home-made coral. Let’s just say it’s a very funny subplot that further shows his honestly and self-depreciating humility.
I remember a great youth team football coach once told us when we were losing at half time that there are ‘waiters’ and ‘takers’ in sport. He asked us each to go and sit on side of the room that represented each. In fear of getting it wrong there was a lot of hesitation but a couple of the lads just got up and shot straight for the Takers side, leaving the rest of us mulling it over. Aslan is one of those lads that just goes for it and in doing so enthuses and energizes everyone around him – a taker in the best sense of the word.
Listen to Aslan’s talk on Soundcloud:
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