Monday, May 30, 2016

Growing the Sport

The Athletes - PTC Perth's first novice Strongman competition.

PEOPLE who read my blog regularly will know I have had a few setbacks of late. My list of injuries is nowhere near as extensive as some... in fact a friend who recently earned his blue belt in BJJ has a longer and more painful to read list than I've ever seen compiled in just three years. But these last nine months of injuries have meant I've not returned to my strength levels of mid-2015, nor have I competed in either discipline during that time. So it's been heartening for me to look back at the things I've been involved with over the years which are not simply about me and the numbers I'm putting up (or not putting up, as it is), but the sport itself.

Strongman is a little known discipline. Even amongst strength sports it's something of a dark horse. Where time-honoured Olympic techniques and Powerlifting accoutrements have honed these sports to a level of precision that can only be attained with the right training and equipment, Strongman is unpolished, simpler and more vital, and for my money - whether watching or doing - a whole lot more fun! Not to mention, it's only been over the last several years in Australia that Strongman has transitioned from big sweaty blokes moving unstandardized pieces of heavy shit in backyards to dedicated gyms with more uniform training modalities and a rudimentary selection of events. The big sweaty blokes are a mainstay.

For the last two years I've coached Strongman. My clinics have introduced a new generation of lifters to the sport, which has brought me a lot of joy in the process. I must remind people that I am not a qualified personal trainer, strength coach, or exercise physiologist. Everything I know I've learned from experience; as much other people's as my own. It was a steep learning curve going from improvised backyard training in 2010 to competing at the Amateur National championships in 2012, and then on to Australia's Strongest Man in 2014. I've made my share of mistakes, and I've learned from them. It is this knowledge I pass on to my trainees.

In 2015 PTC Strongman produced winners, including a state champion in the under 90s and under 105 divisions. I have the highest of hopes for those in my current flock, and can see all of them excelling in the coming months and years. I am especially proud right now of Ryan, who was one of my first trainees at PTC and who entered his first WA Strongman competition earlier this month. It was a gruelling five events, during which he hit new personal records across the board (and I'm sorry to say I neglected to post about it at the time!), but the diet and training regimen obviously had an impact. On the day Ryan was weighing in around 7 kilograms heavier than his elected weight class (under 105), which meant his scores would not be officially counted. But I don't think that mattered to Ryan. He just wanted to have a crack.

Of course, what makes Strongman great is the people. People like Kong. A couple of months ago PTC Strongman met Kong, who clean-pressed a 105 kilo log and walked a 210 kilo yoke in his first ever session doing either. Kong is coming back in June and he's keen as mustard, which is exciting. This fella will have a stronger overhead than me in a matter of months, if he sticks with it... not that out-pressing me is any mean feat. Also coming up, with a date yet to be announced, is another PTC Strongman novice comp. The first ever held last year was an unqualified success and I am really looking forward to organising the next one. For now, though, there are even bigger things on the agenda for PTC Perth, which I'll leave the Rucci brothers to reveal in due course.

I honestly don't know how much longer it will be before I am sufficiently injury-free and competitive again, but in the mean time it's going to be an honour and a privilege to train this new blood in the sport that has changed my life.

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