Interview - 027 - Alex Guiha
Still in his first year of bending and already one of the top guys at the moment. Very fast progress, very dedicated to steel bending, nice guy, we are speaking of Alex Guiha from the states.
Lately he has done very nice and hard bends, like the Nanook from Bend Sport Canada as an example and I am very excited to follow his ongoing journey. I am sure that there will be big things going in his basement.
Thanks Alex for this very good interview:
Year of birth:
185cm - 6’1”
Weight 104kg - 230 lbs
New York - USA
Married with one kid
What does steel bending mean to you?
Bending steel is where I found my home in strength sports. I’ve been training and competing in strength sports as my primary hobby for over a decade, from kettlebell to bodybuilding style training to powerlifting style training to performing olde time lifts and competing in strongman and grip. While I’ve loved it all, I’ve never been loved back by any of it as much as I have by bending.
When and why did you start steel bending and what does or did your active time look like?
I started steel bending in February 2022 because I was beginning to learn performance strongman from John Mouser and bending steel is a big part of that. I remember I would complain to him over and over that double overhand was impossible, and then I would kink all the nails we were doing double under and finish them overhand, which is funny because now I love DOH by far the most amongst unbraced styles. John also taught me how to bend horseshoes and braced bending. Horseshoes made sense to me right away, and I would’ve probably become a horseshoe specialist if I hadn’t been able to figure out DOH!
For my first two months of bending I was using IMP’s or thin suede, and I liked it but I wasn’t obsessed with it. Then I got some leather wraps and started bending in doubles earlier than I’d recommend others do so, but I became hooked and basically was able to bend everything from 60ds all the way until I got stopped by an Edgin Bolt. It was quite the hot streak doing G5s, G8s, 70ds, Red Nails, A2’s, Hexabastards, Golden Bastards and more all in a row with really no resistance! I do believe in riding a hot streak, but it created a situation where I was getting close to bending Edgins and 8.8’s but hadn’t even bent a G5 in IMPs. Thankfully, around this time the Horrido Contest requiring IMP’s started, so I had about two months to learn how to use them and was able to make it to a 6.5” A2 before the end of the contest!
By Summer 2022 I was also getting to where I could go for some harder certifications, and I was able to do the Horrido 8.8, Nibelungen and 6.5” 8.8 (currently a top 10 bend on the main leaderboard) over the next couple months and BendSport Canada Moose and Nanook (currently a top 5 BendSport Canada DOH bend) before the end of the year.
All the double overhand bending has come at the expense of DU and Reverse, but I was still simultaneously working on my horseshoes and braced bending. I’m on Anton’s Kerckhaert Benders list with an SX7 #2 and David Horne’s long bar list with a 3/4”x44” bend. By my unofficial cross checking, I was the first person since Carl-August Mertz to be on all three (Horrido/Kerckhaert/David Horne Long Bar) lists!
Bending Nanook and becoming the first BendSport Canada Elite Steel Bender in over a year and a half, and fourth overall, feels like only yesterday (because it was only yesterday!), so that pretty much brings us up to present time, but all the biggest and baddest bends are yet to come!
What do you love about steel bending?
I love getting to bend things that were not meant to be bent! There’s just a special feeling that comes with bending a bolt that was made to hold a car together or a shoe that was meant to be worn by a giant horse!
What do you hate about steel bending?
I hate that there is very little visual difference between a complete beginner bend and a bend that only a few in the world can do, it’s really only 1/8” diameter difference between a timber tie and a Huge KOAB! In fact, easier bends often look harder because longer lengths look more imposing, so the greatness of the feat is something that Only A Few Will Understand. But maybe it’s better that way.
How does your training for steel bending look like?
I bend as often and as hard as possible, and while it’s mostly double overhand, I try to manage fatigue by rotating the bending style. Most weeks I bend around 4-5 days a week but on my horseshoe and braced days the volumes are always pretty low.
How does your other training look like (strength or other)?
I run a very very loosely defined never ending upper/lower split with one main lift and accessories. Then I either fit in or substitute grip and bending. The programming can be a bit more formal if I’m preparing for an upcoming strongman or grip contest, but in general I just have fun with it.
What goals have you set for yourself?
My dream goal is to be on Team USA if there’s ever some type of bending World Cup!
Another goal is to compete at and eventually win the Don Cummings Michigan Steel Bending and Snapping Contest.
Some specific DOH goals are the 10.9 as well as a 3/8” streak of KOAB, Odd KOAB, Ogopogo, and Gold Nail. After those, I want to chase down and surpass the biggest bends ever done!
What was the most impressive bend you ever saw (live or on video)?
Josh Goldthorp’s 3/8”x9” drill rod cert for EatChalkGetBig had me on the edge of my seat!
Rapid stuff – choose one
Bolts or steel?
Unbraced or braced?
DOH specifically then all of Braced then the rest of Unbraced
Singles or doubles?
Chalk or not?
Beer or water?
Cordura or leather or both?
Short bars or long bars?
Horseshoes or flat bars? Horseshoes
Chips or chocolate?
The last words belong to you. What do you want the reader take away? Let us know your poems of steel!
I highly recommend getting to know your steel and your fellow benders! Most of what I bend is steel that I’ve cut and grinded myself, and the whole process really allows you to understand the steel and become one with it. And even more important to turbocharging progress is getting to know your fellow benders. Countless people have helped me in the last year and for all of them I’m forever grateful, and no greater debt of gratitude is owed than to my fellow BESTIES bros! So without further ado, my Haiku of Steel:
Melting Steel Solo
But With BESTIES By My Side
Chaz Dev ‘Don Kyle Phil