What is a training hall?

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What is a training hall?

 

     A training hall is more than just a gym or a fitness center. This space is more than just a place where people "work out". The intention of this space is to prioritize physical health; we are dedicated to improving the human experience through the development of physical capacity.

     Halls have long been used as spaces to learn, train, and excel. Lecture halls are large rooms with the singular purpose of educating large groups of people. The phrase “lecture hall” holds connotations of higher learning and a reverence for knowledge. Concert halls are places in which musicians come together to showcase their skills and collaborate in order to raise the standard of excellence for music. In traditional Asian martial arts, a training hall is a formal gathering place dedicated to both physical progress and psychological development. These spaces are considered sacred to their respective constituents; providing a meeting place for a community with a mutual respect for a greater purpose.

      At Fulcrum Training Hall, we use our space to bring people together to improve each individual’s quality of life. Our training methods are applicable to everyone and are centered on the idea that strength matters. We will meet you where you are and support you along your journey. We hope you will join us in our vision for creating a healthier, happier community.

 

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Why We Train: Independence

The "Why We Train" series will showcase and highlight individuals at Fulcrum Training Hall.

Meryl trains to maintain her independence. Many women look to others to support them physically through the last third of their lives. While Meryl has a wonderfully supportive husband and family, she is still exploring her own path of being strong and capable. Her pursuit of physical independence has lead her to a variety of resources for training, tissue therapy, and nutrition. She credits this holistic support system as integral to her current state of well-being.

Today she has more energy, stability, and control over her physical self than she did ten years ago. She squats over 30 kilos for multiple repetitions. Initially entering into training  to improve her bone degeneration, her bone scans show no decline in bone density since she began training, despite the fact that she is on no medications to ward off osteoporosis.

She describes weight training as cathartic, empowering, and fun. It not only supports her activities of daily living, but the extracurricular activities she participates in. An avid cyclist, swimmer, and dancer, she feels more positively about her ability to engage in those activities as a result of her time spent training with barbells.

Meryl continually pushes the limits of her demographic, challenging the labels associated with her age, gender, and history. She pushes into societal categories often reserved for younger individuals such as athlete, dancer, and free spirit. At the unlikely place where all of these demographics meet is Meryl, joyfully cherishing the independence she has earned. Strength matters if you want to be in charge of your own life, and have fun along the way.

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A Skeptical Physician Embraces Weightlifting After Retirement

Dr. Michael Soules deadlifting 120 kilos (264 pounds). 

Dr. Michael Soules deadlifting 120 kilos (264 pounds). 

This piece was written by a client in his own words about his personal experience with the Fulcrum Training Hall community. This story is meant to inspire, educate, and testify to the fact that strength matters for everyone.

A Skeptical Physician Embraces Weightlifting After Retirement

By Michael R. Soules, M.D.

I had a wonderful medical career as a Reproductive Endocrinology/Infertility (REI) specialist. The first in vitro fertilization (IVF) pregnancy in 1978 occurred while I was doing a REI fellowship at Duke University, but it took 30 years to develop and mature IVF to the standard treatment it is today.

I was fortunate to be in the forefront of the IVF maturation process while spending the bulk of my career in academic medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle. My work led to roughly 9,000 new pregnancies over 35 years, which was incredibly gratifying. I retired in 2014 at age 68 when I was simply too tired at the end of the work day. Interacting with infertility patients is intense.

Before, if someone had asked me to envision my life after retirement, it would have never included formal strength training. At retirement, I was at a normal weight, but out of shape. I was relatively weak and had a hunched-over posture from too many hours bent over an operating room table.

I asked around for a personal trainer, but my enthusiasm was low when I pictured boring half days at a regular gym, using the various exercise machines under the tutelage of a taskmaster.

By a circuitous set of circumstances, I found Michael Street at Fulcrum Training Hall in Redmond, WA. Michael is a strength coach who believes that, “the bar never lies.” Meaning, the best way to gain strength is to use a standard 20 kg steel barbell to perform various lifts using free weights. At first, I was skeptical. I thought I might be too old to gain any real benefit from strength training.

Instead of machines, the “training hall” has floorspace and steel weight racks for performing squats, dead lifts, bench presses and overhead presses. All of this occurs in a controlled—yet raucous—environment where I was introduced to loud hip hop and other new genres of music. (The beat does seem to facilitate the lifts.)

Each type of lift requires learning the proper technique under the watchful eye of a coach to both maximize your gain in strength and to avoid injury. As Michael pointed out, first-time lifters quickly realize they are consciously incompetent.

My strength sessions are three days a week for about 90 minutes each. Each participant keeps a logbook that can be referenced at the next session. For each type of lift, the standard is to do about three to four sets of five repetitions, resting for about five minutes between, while gradually increasing the load by 1 to 5 kg with each set. A good coach, like Michael, constantly observes and keeps track of the weight on my bar and my performance. Often, he does this from across the gym where I wonder how he was able to see the glitch in my technique.

Week to week, there has been a gradual, but steady, increase in my strength. Since the load is increased judiciously, I am rarely sore afterwards. Usually, I just have some, not unpleasant, muscle fatigue for the rest of the day. This just lets me know I did some real work. As for diet, the main recommendation was to increase my daily protein consumption to match my body weight (185 pounds = 185 grams of protein).

Michael considers the squat with the barbell on your shoulder to be the single most important lift that a person can do, as it engages most major muscle groups and builds core strength. My core strength initially was abysmal where the bare 20 kg (44 lbs.) barbell was all I could squat.

It has been very gratifying to gain a significant amount of strength over the past 18 months, which is summarized in the below table. My personal best lifts as of December 2015, when I turned 70, were:

Squat: 101 kg (222 lbs.)    Bench press: 61 kg (134 lbs.)   Deadlift: 120 kg (264 lbs.)

Also included in the table are the results of my weight, muscle mass and percent body fat as measured by periodic hydrostatic (underwater) testing, which determined I have gained 8 pounds of muscle in the span of a year and a half. However, my percent body fat only went down slightly as I haven’t lost my penchant for desserts.

Candidly, I am pleasantly surprised at how strong I have become. It is wonderful to be able to say that I am currently the strongest I have ever been in my entire life. My balance is good, my spine is straight and I walk with a confident stride. Day in and day out, I feel great. Gaining strength at my age has had a positive effect on my ability to focus and has increased my general confidence as well.

My original goal at retirement was to “get healthier,” but now, I realize that getting stronger is the foundation for overall good health. Strength training not only builds muscles, but also has positive effects on the whole body including bone density, mental acuity and the cardiovascular system. At a time when most people my age have lost a significant amount of muscle mass, it looks and feels good to be gaining it instead. This can only serve me well as I get older.

Golf is my passion and I have gained about 20 yards on my drive secondary to this improvement in my core strength. Heavy chores around our cabin, like pushing wheelbarrow loads of gravel uphill, are no problem. Maybe best of all is the fact that I have found weightlifting to be fun. I enjoy not only the results, but the process and the camaraderie, as well. I would highly recommend formal strength training for successful aging. I plan to keep doing it for as long as I am able. 

This personal account was written as part of an article published by Healthy Aging magazine.

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Why We Train: Dreams and Aspirations

The "Why We Train" series will showcase and highlight individuals at Fulcrum Training Hall.

Strength matters in the pursuit of excellence at any chosen task. Daveon Collins,  a sprinter with Seattle Speed, began a serious strength training program in mid-2014. Since then he has taken his best squat from 40 kg (88 pounds) to 180 kg (396 pounds). An incredibly self-sufficient and hard working individual, Daveon’s success in the gym is mirrored on the track, where it counts the most. Shown here is a commanding win in the 60 meter dash at his most recent indoor track meet. His ultimate goal is to represent the US in outdoor track and field in this summer's Olympic Games in Brazil. With continued perseverance, he is well positioned to make that dream a reality.

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Why We Train: Caring for Self and Others

The "Why We Train" series will showcase and highlight individuals at Fulcrum Training Hall.

                  

                  

Kay began training in August 2015 at the age of 64. At that time, she could press six grams and struggled to squat her own body weight through a full range of motion. Not unlike many people her age, she found walking difficult and suffered from debilitating back pain, plantar fasciitis, and arthritis. Five months later Kay is able to press 11 kilos for multiple sets of five, and squat 30 kilos for three repetitions.  
As her physical capacity improves, Kay finds that she can truly embrace her role as a caregiver. Kay loves animals of all kinds, her three cats in particular, and also serves as caregiver to her 95 year old mother. Simple but critical activities like helping her mother out of the car, or carrying large bags of cat food, used to be all but impossible for Kay. Now she performs these tasks more easily and more independently than before.
Kay reports that her mental state has changed as a result of physical training. Her outlook on life, emotional well-being, and ability to cope with loss and hardship are noticeably improved. Previously someone who dreaded exercise, Kay looks forward to her bi-weekly training sessions because of the fun, positive, animal-friendly atmosphere. She appears brighter, more energetic, and happier overall. She has expanded her knowledge of what a healthy diet entails and learned how to fuel her body so that it can keep up with her busy, independent lifestyle.
The ability of barbell training to improve the human condition by affecting multiple facets of a person’s daily life is incredibly exciting. Instead of medicating people for conditions associated with an aging body, what if we chose to slow the aging process through natural means, rather than mask the symptoms? Kay has chosen to do just that. Strength matters when you are responsible not only for yourself, but for other beings. Caring for others is a significant piece of Kay’s life - and her ability to help others has improved as a result of an increased ability to help herself.

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Why We Train: Health and Longevity

The "Why We Train" series will showcase and highlight individuals at Fulcrum Training Hall.

         Peter is a regular client who brings a positive energy and enthusiasm to our morning sessions. Peter has made remarkable transformations in his time at Fulcrum, not only in terms of strength and body composition, but in his attitude towards his own health. At the age of 55, he had difficulty lowering his center of mass through a full range of motion (squat with no external resistance) and three years later squats an amazing 85 kilos (187 pounds).  Strength acquisition improves the quality of life of individuals in this demographic by warding off the supposedly-inevitable-effects-of-aging through natural means. Training with barbells improves bone density, balance, brain function, well being, and the quality of tissue of all the underlying biological systems that we are bound to in this time of our existence. Another strong case for strength training is to maintain or reclaim our independence of living.  Our gym environment provides a space for humans to take charge of their own health. Peter is a great example of why strength matters at all stages of life.

 

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Why we train: speed, strength and explosive power

The "Why We Train" series will showcase and highlight individuals at Fulcrum Training Hall.

 Seattle Speed warms up for an afternoon training session. 

 Seattle Speed warms up for an afternoon training session. 

This talented group of athletes are some of the fastest track and field competitors in the country. Their dedication to their chosen sport is an inspiration to those who train around them. Barbell training supports every human, and when placed in the hands of an elite competitor can take them to the next level. Olympic weightlifting in particular is a highly metabolically specific form of training for any sport that demands a high level of speed or agility. Strength matters, especially when pushing your physical limits as a competitive athlete.