The #1 Mental Toughness Books In Sports

Steve Knight is a 2x national champion, a state record holder since 1982, and a lifelong entrepreneur.

Steve's Bio

Since 1974, Steve has been a trailblazer in strength training, foundational health, and mental toughness. Steve has decades of experience in product branding, persuasive messaging, and business strategy. 

Steve leads a simple life in the remote town of Enterprise, Oregon, located in majestic Wallowa County in the rural northeast corner of the state.

Feb 4, 2019, Enterprise, OR

Steve works with driven athletes and civilians to improve performance in competition, and in life.

Steve is an avid walker logging 25+ miles a week, lifts weights four days a week, only eats BADASS nutrition, and loves hikes in the Wallowas with friends. He enjoys constructing language that illuminates difficult concepts, having deep conversations with his two adult sons, engaging in stimulating discussions with brilliant collaborators, dabbling at guitar, and generally going against the grain to push all kinds of boundaries. 

"True mental toughness is the attribute needed to succeed during high-stress situations." 

~ Steve Knight

2x National Champion Powerlifter 

In 1974, a chance meeting in Hawaii with strength training legend Bill Starr changed Steve's life. Over a 10-year span, Bill taught Steve the fundamentals of strength training, nutrition for optimal recovery and performance, and mental preparation to handle the pressures of competing.

Steve took those lessons and over a decade of competitive powerlifting, won multiple state tiles and two national championships, and set an Oregon state record in the squat of 722 lbs., in the 82.5 kg. weight class, that still stands today. At one point, Steve was ranked second in the world.

Steve's first tournament in 1974 was a disaster. He grossly missed attempts and placed last, but was bitten by the competition bug.

Steve winning nationals in 1980, with a nine-for-nine performance and four PRs. Bill Starr captioned a six-photo sequence of this lift in Defying Gravity; How To Win At Weightlifting, "A pictorial study of deadlift excellence."

At the 1982 US Senior National Powerlifting Championships, Steve setting an Oregon state record in the squat of 722 lbs., in the 181 lb. weight class, that still stands today.

Master Trainer in Strength, Health, and Mental Toughness

Steve Knight was a personal trainer before there were “personal trainers.” Since 1974, Steve has worked with thousands of clients, both athletes and civilians, from a wide variety of backgrounds and interests.

Teaching fearless men and women cutting-edge methods have been some of the most rewarding experiences of Steve's life.

Health Club Innovator

In 1979, Steve opened his first club. A forerunner to the modern “CrossFit box.” The club was located in the garage of a former auto dealership, mixing competitive strength athletes with civilians.

The club pioneered free-weight circuits for average folks and offered world-class strength training amenities that attracted the region’s elite weightlifters and powerlifters.


From 1982 to 1984, Steve published Salem Fitness Magazine; a local tabloid that covered the emerging fitness and wellness scene. The tabloid evolved into IN-SHAPE Magazine with editions in Salem and Portland, Oregon.

Commercial Strength Equipment Inventor and Manufacturer

In 1983, Steve founded, built, and managed IN-SHAPE International. IN-SHAPE was the first national and international supplier of premium commercial free weight equipment.

Before IN-SHAPE free weight equipment was “black iron” made locally or regionally. IN-SHAPE was one of four companies: Lifecycle (now Life Fitness), Eagle (now Cybex), and Nautilus being the other three, that set new design and quality standards for commercial strength equipment.

The first of it's kind, a multi-station "jungle" system; now common in the commercial strength equipment industry.

IN-SHAPE’s innovations are too numerous to list here. IN-SHAPE premium free weight equipment was installed in over 3,500 facilities in seven countries with a total gross sales of over $15,000,000.

Mental Toughness Pioneer

In 2002, Steve wrote "WINNING STATE WRESTLING," a first-of-its-kind book that provided groundbreaking instruction on mental toughness training for peak performance in competition. The response was so strong, Steve expanded the series to 16 titles, including audiobooks and ebooks, with the latest title: "WINNING STATE STRENGTH SPORTS: How To Succeed In Competition" being slated for release in early 2020.

WINNING STATE is the most read, the most talked about, the most believed in mental toughness books in sports. 

The WINNING STATE 16-book series has taught tens of thousands of athletes how to perform in competition and has sold over 120,000 copies.

Magna Cum Laude Graduate

In 2014, Steve graduated magna cum laude from Portland State University. Steve majored in communication theory with an emphasis in media effects, propaganda, and persuasion.

Steve’s objective for attending college "later in life" was twofold: 1) to experience the rigor of a college education; and 2) to advance his skill at communicating difficult concepts in the areas of strength, health, and mental toughness.

Steve describes his decision to go to Portland State University as one of the best decisions he ever made.

Mental Coach

Steve teaches driven athletes, in every sport, advanced mental toughness tactics; and strength athletes in Olympic lifting, powerlifting, and functional fitness (CrossFit) precise physical technique.

Go to our Masterclass pages for more information on working with Steve Knight.