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strength matters

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Meet Recap: Industrious Fall Classic Weightlifting Meet

Another great competitive training cycle is in the books! Nine Olympic weightlifting athletes represented Fulcrum Barbell Club at the Industrious Fall Classic meet this past Saturday. Each individual competitor was successful in their own way - whether that was a result of increasing their meet total, pushing their opening numbers, facing fears and insecurities, or sticking to their commitments through the challenges and difficulties of meet week.

The first session saw three different Fulcrum lifters. Kelley had a rough morning unrelated to the meet, but was able to get herself to the meet, put on a positive attitude, and come away with five successful attempts. She finished with 40 kg in the snatch and 60 kg in the clean and jerk.

Tal, in her first meet on American soil, came away with top lifts of 60 kg in the snatch and 69 kg in the clean and jerk. Tal proved herself to be a fierce competitor, and has big things ahead of her as she intensifies her training schedule in anticipation of her next meet!

Janice blew everyone away as usual, totaling 123 with 55 kg in the snatch and 68 kg in the clean and jerk. This qualifies her for USAW Nationals as a 45 kg lifter, and shows once again what a phenomenal athlete Janice is. As she shifts her focus towards training solely for weightlifting, it will be exciting to see where she takes her talents!

Our second batch of lifters was full of variety - some are experienced competitors, others relatively new to the sport. Some had great training cycles with few interruptions or distractions, others overcame many obstacles in simply showing up to train. Everyone came away with a successful outcome on meet day, and we are grateful for the experience to work with such a wide variety of personalities and people. Strong work everyone, and congratulations on your big day!

Akansha’s total has increased in leaps and bounds since she began competing last year, as her technical proficiency catches up to her impressive strength. She finished out this meet with best lifts of 52 kg in the snatch, and 69 kg in the clean and jerk, taking her total to 121 kgs. It will be exciting to watch Akansha continue to grow into her potential as an athlete over the next several years. 

Sarah was able to open up with the numbers that were third attempts in her last meet. While a seven kg increase on her total initially doesn’t seem like much, three kilos is a wide margin in the long game of weightlifting. The work she has put in to refining the technical aspects of the lifts really showed on the platform, and there is even more to come from Sarah! 

Rachel finished the day with a strong showing in the snatch, topping out at 56 kgs, and a competition PR of 72 kgs in the clean and jerk. Rachel had an emotional lead up to meet day, but on the day of, her experience as a competitor showed in her calm and composed approach to each attempt, and the numerical results speak for themselves!

Jen spent much of this training cycle traveling for work, and thus spent many sessions training alone in an unfamiliar gym across the country. Those difficult and lonely hours paid off on meet day, resulting in meet PRs of 61 kg in the snatch and 75 kg in the clean and jerk. Jen’s dedication and focus to her training is admirable - we are excited to continue supporting her wherever her travels take her!

The last session of the day saw some great lifting. Lesley flourished in the organized and structured approach to competition day, putting up a PR total of 138 kgs. She finished with a competition best snatch at 63 kgs, and a strong 75 kg clean and jerk, narrowly missing the jerk on her third attempt at 80 kgs. We look forward to supporting Lesley’s continued growth and progress as both a lifter and a person!

Kristen’s quiet and focused attitude in competition was easy to work with and reassuring for her teammates. The consistent progress she has made over the last few years, both numerically and in her technical proficiency, continued to show where it counts the most - out on the competition platform. She had a perfect day, going 6 for 6 with meet PRs of 69 in the snatch and 81 in the clean and jerk. Those numbers also match her all time best lifts, and she increased her meet total by seven kgs. Strong work Kristen! 

Overall, yet another very successful day for the Fulcrum Barbell crew. The support from the Fulcrum Training Hall community was wonderfully evident in the crowd of spectators, well-wishes at the gym, and positive vibes felt throughout the meet day experience. The next training cycle has already begun, and we are grateful for the opportunity to support each athlete in their individual journey towards strength and health!

#strengthmatters #fulcrumbarbell

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Connection + Community

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Connection + Community

The process of learning about self care and self development is inherently a solo one, but it is a difficult process to undertake alone. It takes a whole community of like-minded people working together to create a space for each individual to explore what it means to be all of who they really are. 

Looking around you to see friends, teammates, and peers who are working through a similar yet unique experience is reassuring and inspiring. A special form of connection, a deep trust and appreciation, forms between the people who show up and allow themselves to be seen, to be vulnerable in their journey of self discovery. 

In the photo below, the 10 am crew shares a moment of rest and reflection between sets. Their positive camaraderie, mutual support for each other, and genuine interest in each other's lives feels like the kind of welcoming community anyone would want to be a part of. Through training alongside each other week after week, these women have developed a unique connection and friendship - an authentic, loving, empowering kind of friendship.

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Why We Train: Growing Together

Training together is a wonderful opportunity for connection for Wayde and Helen. They each train three sessions per week, but Saturday is reserved for time together. This shared focus on health and strength is inspiring to see in two people who have been together for over 30 years. Both are healthier, more full of life, and more physically capable than when they began this journey together three months ago. We are grateful for the opportunity to support them in growing together in health and strength!


Photos: Wayde and Helen share a bar for deadlifting. Helen tops out with an impressive 70 kg (154 lb) single (she recently bested this with a 78 kg /172 lb pull), and Wayde warms up with sets of four at 70 kgs(154 lbs).

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Why We Train: Health and Strength for Life

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Why We Train: Health and Strength for Life

Seventeen year old Steph recently had a strong PR squat at 120 kgs (264 lbs). Steph has been training with barbells since the age of twelve. On her third day in the gym, back in 2012, she squatted 12 kgs for sets of five across. Five years later, she regularly squats over 100 kgs for multiple repitions. 

Unlike many trainees her age, Steph isn’t working with barbells to support goals in another sport or athletic endeavor. She has been able to fulfill her physical education credits for school by writing about her experience with barbell training, but for the most part she trains just for the sake of training. Steph’s time in the gym is not just about numbers - she is developing skills that will enable her to train for health and strength for the rest of her life. #strengthmatters

Left: Steph squats 100 kgs for the first time, in May of 2016.

Right: Steph sets a new PR at 110 kgs, in May of 2017. 

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Above: Steph squats a life time best 120 kgs (264 lbs), in November of 2017.

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Meet Recap: Industrious Fall Classic, October 2017

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Meet Recap: Industrious Fall Classic, October 2017

The Fulcrum Barbell team took it's largest contingent to date to the Industrious Fall Classic on October 21, 2017. Some were first time competitors, looking to challenge themselves by participating in an Olympic weightlifting meet. Others are experienced athletes competing with the goal of qualifying for a national event. All twelve athletes had an exciting learning experience and the day was a great celebration of months of hard work. 

Industrious consistently hosts a smooth and organized meet, with commitment to details and plenty of staff on hand. It was wonderful to see members of the Fulcrum Training Hall community at the meet supporting the team, providing words of encouragement, snacks, helping hands, and good vibes. We are grateful to be connected to so many positive and strong people!

Akansha, Donna, Giannina, and Liz all competed for the first time over the weekend. The day was a wonderful celebration of how hard these women have been working to prepare for the new and unfamiliar experience of an Olympic weightlifting competition. It has been fun to follow each athlete's progress, and there is so much more to come!

Rachel had an incredible meet on many fronts. Not only did she persevere through the intensity of a tough training cycle, push her opening attempts from her last competition, and make five out of six lifts, she also posted a qualifying total for December's American Open, one of two national meets held each year by USA Weightlifting. Her best lifts were 58 kgs (127 lbs) in the snatch and 71 kgs (156 lbs) in the clean and jerk, for a total of 129 - enough to be invited to compete as a 48 kg lifter at the AO. This has been a goal of Rachel's for a long time. Her dedication to her training is coming together, and we are excited to support Rachel in whatever she chooses to direct her talents towards next! 

Burrows and Skinner each went into this meet with the intention of gaining platform experience and improving upon their last competition lifts. Burrows opened higher in both the snatch and clean and jerk by several kilograms than her last meet with Fulcrum Barbell. Between owning a small business, working to be accepted into the fire academy, and training for this meet, Burrows has had a very busy schedule, but came through with a great performance on meet day. Skinner finished with a competition PR in the snatch at 63 kgs (138 lbs). She has been working diligently to refine the technical aspects of her movements and the attention to detail came together nicely out on the platform. 

With Burrows preparing for the fire academy, and Skinner looking ahead to the next competition cycle, both have jumped right back into training this week. These two have big things ahead of them, and we are grateful to have them as part of the Fulcrum Training Hall community!

Hope went into this meet with the goal of qualifying for the American Open. She had a clutch performance in the snatch, bravely hanging on to her second attempt and smashing a personal best at 75 kgs (165 lbs) on the third attempt. Her 83 kg (182 lb) opener on the clean and jerk solidified the total she needed to qualify for the national meet. Nearly three years of hard work culminated in this performance, and we are thrilled to be supporting Hope in to the next phase of her weightlifting career. She also placed third overall in the meet!

Cat headed into competition looking very strong and snappy. After three beautiful attempts in the snatch, she came back for a great showing in the clean and jerks, her best being 100 kgs (220 lbs). Just as impressive as the 100 kg clean and jerk - Cat's mental fortitude through the intensity of the competition experience. Strong work Cat!

Meaghan had a wild ride on meet day - after a solid performance in the snatch, making her opener and third attempt, she fought through severe cramping in her left leg to take the platform for clean and jerks. She was successful with her 70 kg (154 lbs) opener, meaning she totaled in her first meet - a huge accomplishment for a first time competitor. 

These three worked relentlessly to prepare for meet day, always bringing a fierce and focused energy in to their training. It will be exciting to see how Hope handles the jump to national level competition, how Cat continues to up her mental game, and how Meaghan continues to refine her skills as a weightlifter. 

In the very last session of a very long day, our lone male athletes competed in a varied field of lifters. Stamm, in his second meet with Fulcrum Barbell, gained great platform experience and had a consistent, solid performance. His best lifts were 95 kgs (209 lbs) in the snatch, which matches his competition PR, and 114 (250 lbs) in the clean and jerk. Weightlifting in a competitive sense will take the back burner for now while Stamm shifts his focus to the upcoming snowboarding season. 

A tremendous amount of effort went into preparing all twelve lifters for this meet. It takes not only physical strength and technical proficiency, but also huge mental and emotional resolve to train as a competitive athlete. Regardless of the lifts made or missed on meet day, everyone succeeded by simply choosing to show up. What a gift to be a part of a community that supports such a monumental celebration of self discovery for so many!

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The Flow State

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The Flow State

     

     In all of athletics, there are quiet, sacred moments where an athlete must make the decision to stay present in their body. Upon choosing to be fully immersed in the moment, time slows down and the athlete feels rather than knows what to do, where to go, how to move. The athlete returns to this choice over and over again, practicing the feeling of sinking deeper into themselves, deeper into what psychologists call “the flow state”.

     Flow state is the idea of being so fully present in the current moment that actions happen naturally and automatically. Distractions, anxieties, fear, and the ego fall away. Preparation takes over. The athlete is absorbed in the activity for the sake of practicing the skills required to perform the task. This is the flow state, the present moment, the place we strive to train from all the time. 

     Barbell training lends itself well to the practice of finding flow state. There are many quiet moments in barbell training, many times that it is just you and your breath and the weight in front of you asking you to show up as your whole self. These moments are found in other sports as well - in this context, barbell training can have a profound impact not just on the body, but also on the mind.

     Any athletic or performance endeavor will include unquestionable brushes with the flow state. Can you hold your focus to recognize where you are? Can you re-frame your experience with the bar to apply what you are learning out on the field, court, mat, or competition platform? Will you stay with your breath and chose to remain present, or continue to let extrinsic distractions siphon away your potential? 

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 Why we Train: Strong is Healthy

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Why we Train: Strong is Healthy

The "Why We Train" series IS INTENDED TO Showcase and highlight individuals at Fulcrum Training Hall.

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Father and son pair Wayde and Michael connect by sharing a training session. Michael has trained with barbells for years. Recognizing the far reaching benefits of strength training, he has encouraged those closest to him, including his father, to develop a regular training routine as well. This multi-generational effort to preserve health and strength is an exciting concept to observe. Without health, without a physically capable body to carry us through the world, it becomes difficult to spend quality time with loved ones. Time spent together is richer and more full of life when individuals are safe, strong, and secure in their own bodies. #strengthmatters  

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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