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The #1 Mental Toughness Books In Sports

Steve Knight has been a trailblazer in strength, health, and mental toughness since 1975.

Steve's Bio

Since 1975, 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.

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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. 

"Only mental toughness produces success under pressure." 

~ Steve Knight

2x National Champion Powerlifter and State Record Holder since 1982

In Hawaii 1974, a chance meeting 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 several 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.

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

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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."

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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 inspired men and women 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 the commercial strength equipment industry.

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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: Advanced Mental Toughness Tactics" that was released in November 2020.

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The WINNING STATE 16-book series are the most read, the most talked about, the most believed in mental toughness books in sports. 

WINNING STATE has taught tens of thousands of athletes how to perform their best in competition. The series has sold over 120,000 copies.

Magna Cum Laude Graduate

In 2014, Steve graduated magna cum laude from Portland State University, majoring 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.

Masterclass Instructor 

Steve teaches driven athletes and coaches, in every sport, at every level, advanced mental toughness tactics to take their hard training to a competition and perform their best.

Steve makes WINNING STATE's mental toughness tactics available to civilians via masterclasses for high-pressure endeavors such as test taking, public speaking, and job interviews, 

Steve also offers an emergency NERVES-OF-STEEL masterclass for athletes, coaches, and civilians who have an impending event and need to get coached up RIGHT NOW, 

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

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