A friend, and member, asked me a question last week about how to overcome his fear associated with resuming his barbell training. There are risks associated with all sports, and fear doesn't just come from injury. My hope is that this discussion can serve as a launch point for any person who is struggling to restart their fitness .
the fear of injury
Again, there is always a risk of injury for any activity. It doesn't matter if you are driving, walking, competing in powerlifting, or running an ultra marathon. The key is your approach to training. If you train smart, then you can minimize the inherent risks. Just because you lift, or run, doesn't mean you are destined to get hurt. Find a coach who is qualified to help you.
the fear of failure
Another risk associated with training is that you will not improve. What if you spend the next year, or more, training for something specific, and you still aren't winning in local competitions? What if you never qualify as a national level athlete? Let me ask you something. Did you start training for your sport because you thought you'd become a professional athlete? Probably not. So what's the worst that could happen? You live a healthy lifestyle while training for a sport, but you have to maintain a normal job to afford your life? That kind of sounds like everyone's reality.
It isn't fair for you to set unrealistic goals for yourself, only to set yourself up for failure that shouldn't have existed in the first place. I think that the larger issue is when we lose sight of why we started training. You probably did so because you liked it. You didn't like other forms of training, but you could get on board with this particular activity. You liked the way it made you feel. Maybe the way it made you look. You made friends, created experiences, and did things you never thought you would do. Manage your expectations, and don't lose sight of why you started in the first place.
the fear of commitment
Why does everything need to be all or nothing? I can't being to tell you how many people I meet who think that they need to dedicate their lives to each and every activity that they partake in. It is totally possible to find balance in your hobbies. If you're looking to be a professional athlete, then that may be less true. However, that most likely doesn't describe you. See above, "managing expectations." In many cases it is more healthy to maintain a variety of types of physical activity. Search for balance. Don't just do what you want. It's probably not enough of what you need.
This post serves as only a surface level overview of the fears associated with training. I'm not pretending to have all of the answers. If anything, I think that I'm trying to say that its ok not to. That its ok to just do something because it makes you happy, and helps you to feel good. That your experiences are all part of the journey. Every activity has some risk. Risk of injury, failure, or unrequited commitment. But the risks are actually quite low when we manage our expectations, diversify our training, and seek help from qualified outside sources.
There is no end goal in fitness. There are only different phases that we all go through. We aren’t traveling linearly from points A to Z. No one phase is more important than the other. We move through a continuum , and each phase contributes and overlaps with the next. We often even revisit a phase at some point in our lives.
Sometimes we just want to own our bodies. We have an inner desire to move better and breathe better. Then there are times where we want to build up our bodies with weights. And occasionally we find that there is a specific sport or activity that we identify with. Conditioning for weight loss may lead to marathons which can introduce you to cross-training. Cross-training can lead to Crossfit which may take you to weightlifting. And then at some point you find yourself back to conditioning and core strengthening.
When you enter our gym the first question we will have for you is “what phase are you in?” And if you don’t know, don’t worry; we will help you to find it. A coach will be waiting for you and ready to take you through our in-house assessment. The beginning of your free week of training will be devoted to finding the right phase for you.
With that said, 3 Phase Fitness is who we've become. We're no longer one style of training. Lehigh Valley Barbell doesn't really describe who we are anymore. We'll follow up with more detail, but the take home message is that there are three main phases to our Phase Method: movement mastery, strength acquisition, and skill development. We also have two competitive club teams that are affiliated with our gym: LVB Weightlifting, and LVB Powerlifting.
In our next post we will go into more detail about how you can join our gym or our club teams. Spoiler alert, we have four different memberships starting at $80: basic, general, semi-private, and club team.
This post really can't begin without me acknowledging Brooke for all of her hard work on this raffle. As a mom of a child who spent many years on a non-profit club team, Brooke was intimately exposed to all things fundraising related. This raffle was her idea and she was able to secure the majority of the donors who got involved. Thanks, Brooke!
As I write this sentence there is about one week left to buy raffle tickets. For the entire month of August there are over $3000 worth of prizes and we are giving away one prize each day. This is our first interactive fundraiser. We've done some passive fundraising where we asked for money to help our team, but this time we are actually giving back to those who donated.
We plan on doing this particular fundraising campaign every 6 months. We are also working on some other creative ways to raise money for our non-profit that give back to those who choose to participate. I feel like the best ideas are the ones that spread the love in all directions. For that reason I've listed all of our corporate donors in order of the date that they will appear on our August calendar.
List of Corporate Sponsors by Days in August
The LVB Weightlifting Team recently had a new first; we traveled with three of our youth lifters to Atlanta, Georgia and coached them through their first national event. We had a few hiccups along the way which came from underestimations, and overestimations, and assumptions. I underestimated how quickly a 13 year old could grow and overestimated how easily a growing 13 year old could lose weight. I assumed that not being launched on trampolines would be obvious when you are one week out from nationals; yet one of our lifters severely sprained her ankle doing just that. And I got too ambitious with some openers when my gut told me to play it cool. Those hiccups aside, we spent four successful days growing together as a team and everyone posted a respectable total. For learning purposes, I want to detail the valuable learning moments.
So, the thing is, I should know better about childhood development. I'm not a parent but I have learned a few things playing a pseudo-parent in 1-2 hour increments at work six days a week. But it's easy to under appreciate how much someone has grown when you see them all of the time. And that's what I did with Kenzie. She is a very strong 13 year-old gymnastics convert who can nearly power snatch her body weight and who also happened to grow two inches in one month and went from 53kg to a very light 58kg. She did amazingly well at her first nationals. She powered all of her lifts and finished near the top of the 58kg weight class in the country. I believe she can place first one day soon.
Obviously we ultimately moved her from 53kg to 58kg. We should've done it sooner. We all fell into the trap of, "but look at how good you can do at THIS weight class." That game is fine for (some) adults. However, it has no place in youth sports. A healthy relationship to one's body and to the food that they consume sits above all other goals, because long after their youth weightlifting career, their body image and relationship with food still exist. So we took this as an opportunity to improve for the future: From here on out if our youth weigh more than 6% over the weight class they are listed as competing in when we are one month out from the meet, they have officially graduated into the next weight class. They can get stronger and lift more weight if they need a bigger total. I know what some of you are thinking: we need to be more proactive about weight maintenance prior to the one month mark. Those months prior to the one month mark will entail education to parents and athletes regarding healthy food choices to nourish performance and training and sleeping schedules. Also, we want to steer parents and athletes away from the trap that is the quest for a next lower weight class. If they are eating healthy and naturally drift down a weight class; that's fine. If they are eating healthily and go up a weight class; that's fine too. But that's not the goal. A healthy relationship between their body and the food they eat is the goal.
We now have a new rule regarding extracurricular activities when our athletes are two months out from competition. There will be no unnecessary extracurriculars anymore. To be deemed necessary there will have to be one heck of a reason. Zoey made me very proud at nationals. She innocently had a little too much fun 10 days out from the meet when she decided to get launched on her backyard trampoline. Zoey suffered a significant sprain in her ankle. That was a much better result than the fracture we had anticipated. At Mobility-Doc we can help move sprains along. A fracture would have warranted an instant withdrawal. Once we received the green light from Zoey's x-ray, we had her take her brace off and throw away her crutches. Don't worry. I'm a doctor. Unless you too are a doctor, please don't make that decision for your athletes. Up until the day we left for nationals, Zoey came in for treatment. We quickly progressed from walking, to PVC lifts, to powers, and finally to fulls. I honestly wasn't sure if Zoey could mentally handle the pressure of simultaneously dealing with the pain from an injury and the pressure from her first national competition. But she did it. She lifted well above 80% of her best when she was nowhere near 80% of her best health. She showed that she can train like a champion. That will take her far her in life. It still won't change the fact that next nationals she will be under house and gym arrest.
Orianna finished 8th in the country as a 63kg lifter. Her first meet was only 6 months prior to nationals and less than a year before that she didn't know what weightlifting was. She didn't even lift weights. She lifted other people as a club cheerleader. Orianna has come a very long way from where I met her. When she first started lifting she was terrified of the weights. Her mental blocks were so bad that we came up with a way of journaling her lifting feels. For months Orianna wrote light, medium, or heavy next to each set. It didn't matter if her "heavy" was yesterday's "light." We followed her feels like most people follow percentages, and it worked well. Her first meet, again, just six months prior to nationals, she snatched 50kg. She missed it twice though before making it. At nationals we opened at 60kg. I should've known better. The problem was she snatched 60kg without missing in practice for an entire month. She even snatched 67kg two weeks prior. But I know Orianna and I know better. Training makes mean something but so does competition history. She should have been opened lower because of the mental stress of a national competition not because of the physical successful lifts from weeks prior, because ultimately, the mental aspect takes precedence with her. However, Orianna is certainly a competitor, because she crushed 60kg on her third attempt. Orianna then went on to clean and jerk a lifetime PR of 80kg. She will be a champion. I will be a better coach. We have a plan moving forward.
I was thoroughly impressed with my athletes and their families. We had a group of thirteen people in total. We ate together, trained together, and explored the city of Atlanta together. I look forward to how big our team will be by next year. More memories, struggles, and laughter. As a team. If you'd like to learn more about our non-profit organization and how you can support our mission, then check out our previous blog. You can also read more on our website.
I believe that there is a serious gap in the way that most local barbell clubs organize their financial backbone. Why not replicate what the rest of the successful club sports have been doing for decades? These successful clubs form non-profits, which fundraise to support their team. So why don't barbell clubs do this? From my own personal experience I've witnessed that most people have a hard time asking for money. But you can't approach a non-profit with a for-profit mentality. A non-profit doesn't ask for handouts and bailouts. It isn't producing scalable goods and services. A non-profit seeks donations to support an important mission that will benefit the greater good. At least that's what intend to do. Our mission is to create a financially sustainable club team that helps to mitigate travel costs for athletes, develops high-level athletes, pays a coach a living wage, and offers stipends for high level athletes.
I've had the fortune, on the Mobility-Doc end, of taking care of many national and international-level club athletes. Most other clubs share a very specific organizational structure. There is a board of directors, a number of well-written by-laws, a business plan, and a series of fundraising events that occur throughout the year. Most importantly, at least in my own opinion, all of these swim clubs, cheer clubs, gymnastics clubs, etc, are all non-profits. Ask any parent of a child who is on one of those teams what they have to do for fundraising each year. If you're lucky, like I am, you may even know a few parents who are self-taught fundraising experts by virtue of the fact that they are so intimately involved in their child's club team. As a non-profit club we can legally fundraise, offer tax-exemption to our donors. Also our corporation is entitled to federal income tax exemption and a number of other tax benefits. In a nut shell, being a non-profit club means that we can use as much money as possible to responsibility help our team.
By now you may have noticed our social media posts asking for donations. In the first couple of months of starting our non-profit we raised $3,000 mostly by just asking for help in an unorganized way. That was only the beginning. We recently began our first prize-oriented fundraiser, a raffle where you buy $20 tickets and can win over $3000 worth of prizes. National and local businesses contributed with various products and services to help our team. Even I was surprised by the level of businesses that were willing to donate. If you haven't bought a raffle ticket yet, click here. In the next 6 months we expect to finalize the planning for all of the various fundraisers that we will implement throughout the year.
What's with the constant fundraising? There are 8 national-level competitions and 8 international-level competitions, if you count pan-am and world teams at the various levels. Fortunately USA Weightlifting funds most international teams. But they do not, and should not, pay for all of the national-level athletes, pan-am athletes, and their coaches. Each year we send significantly more athletes to national competitions than previous years. We need to get ahead of the inevitable. I suggest that all barbell clubs should follow our lead.
Our goal is to raise in excess of $70,000 per year. With this we can have at least one full-time coach who is dedicated to the club team, subsidize some of the traveling that our team has to do, pay for our club's overhead, and eventually even offer our own stipends to our top level athletes who treat this sport as a full-time job. With your help we will create high-level athletes and we plan on giving back to our donors as much as possible. I promise that if you promote us, we will promote you in every way possible. So, if you happen to see our attempts at fundraising, please contribute. And if you can't contribute, then at least share our posts. Thank you to our friend and lawyer, Loren Speziale, for all of her help with forming our non-profit.
I'm excited to post the first blog entry on our new website. My team has been working hard to grow the gym and carry out or vision. A lot of the work was done behind the scenes trying to narrow down what makes us unique. We believe we have a new way of approaching strength training. Our TRACK Method is how we used barbells, gymnastics, and conditioning to grow eight platforms into 90 members in under eighteen months. This blog will serve many purposes and at the hands of many people. Stay tuned for tips, tricks, news, and guests posts. Thanks for reading.