What the heck is powerlifting?!

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Early October 2015 I was at our animal food warehouse refinishing a headboard my mom found at the D.I..  I was so perfectly unaware of this world called powerlifting, weightlifting, bodybuilding, Olympic lifting etc …until I turned my head down the alley to where a bay door was open in our same complex and silhouettes of people were working out.

When my mom was near by I showed her what I saw and we wondered together. But soon our wondering became stronger and turned into full blown curiosity. She wanted to walk down there and see what it was about. I was hesitant. Who knows what they were…a private gym, or something else. I’m always a bit reserved when it comes to approaching people (save the 18 months I somehow did this everyday) so I really didn’t want to just pop in on them but my spontaneous, fun mother convinced me to anyway.

We took the short walk down there and when the silhouettes turned into full people with faces and full dimensional bodies we saw what was a few extremely strong (and gorgeous) human beings. The owner of the gym walked over to us and asked us how we were, we said something like, “What are you guys?” “What is this place?”

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He then began to explain more about his gym and I wish I could remember this conversation but I can’t. It was significant enough that I decided then and there that I wanted to join. One of the gorgeous men working out I recognized as a trainer from the Sports Club that we had memberships to for the last year which had just expired.

I found it very curious. He was an employee (taught yoga and other classes) of this sports academy and no doubt got access to the equipment and amenities at his club, why was he paying extra money to work out in this hole in the wall place with no air conditioning?

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When he was in between sets we got his attention and I asked him why. In a manner that was as loyal to his employer as he could be he explained that this place was different because 1. he felt that it wasn’t about appearances here (for example there are no mirrors) and being haughty and macho like it tends to be at hoity toity clubs like his. The biggest difference though was that the trainer who introduced himself as Atticus knew his stuff and since working with him has had no knee problems which is something he’d suffered from for a long time.

Ok! It was more than enough for me! Add on that Atticus was going to let me come try it out a few times for free to see if I liked it and I was sold.

Well……I didn’t just like it.  I looooooved it.


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For the next several months I would pull up to this ‘hole in the wall’ (it’s really not that bad but you get the idea) place lift heavy weights and push my body to it’s limit for 1.5 hrs and leave with just a little bit more confidence and strength. It became apparent very quickly that Atticus truly did know what he was doing and that was very refreshing. And not just about the right way to execute each movement so as to maximize growth but also how everything was connected in the body and how it affects the other. Ailments that were brought to his attention didn’t make him squirm or falter. You could tell he was working thru it in his mind and then he’d figure it out and make it better. He knew(knows) what he was doing.

Since middle school I have suffered from a bad shoulder. When I would type at a computer or carry a backpack it would burn and ache and all I would want to do is take a spoon and dig out the pain. I visited massage therapists and even had an exercise therapist who told me that I needed to build muscle back there but wasn’t really successful at doing so with me. It persisted throughout my whole life off and on….until now.

Turns out I have terrible posture (duh) and my bad postural habits have caused these and other problems. But Atticus has shown me that there is hope and that by building muscle in the right spots (my back and my neck) this will fix itself eventually. Specific movements and workouts to target those spots have changed my life.

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I came home each day and told my husband how impressed and amazed I was and it wasn’t too long before he was signed up too.  We knew that Atticus would probably be our last resort at being able to fix his back.

We’d been to chiropractors, massage therapists, spinal therapists had x-rays done and found a herniated disk. Spinal therapy was expensive and not really working. Surgery was to be avoided at all costs. This gym and Atticus Smith could not have come at a more crucial time.

The journey of Atticus with David is something that I wish I would have recorded somehow. It’s been fascinating and incredible. It’s in explainable. David has been like the jumbo rubix cube from hell and Atticus the patient steady handed geek trying to put him right again. Or maybe David’s a humpty dumpty that been smashed into a million pieces and Atticus is a kings men who COULD put humpty together again. Or the man trapped at the core of a huge layered onion trying to get out and Atticus the master chef shedding each layer one by one.

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The journey is not yet over but the amount of layers that have been shed, the number of pieces that have been placed back where they belong and the twists and turns that have been made to set the colors in place have been life changing so far.

Picture this: In October 2015 a 35 year old(healthy) man slowly moving both legs over the threshold of his car to slowly and painfully stand up, I’m talking like 20 seconds this excruciating process took. And once up on his feet painfully trying to force his back and hips to straighten out and then slowly starting taking painful steps…groaning with each one. He would have to be extra careful to not trip or get his toe stuck on a ledge or curb(which was hard because he couldn’t bring his feet up as high as he should) as this would cause pain to pulse through his whole body.  Fast forward a year to that same 36 year old man who is SPRINTING up Old Main Hill in the morning, zig zagging his way thru to dodge the sprinklers all around him. Picture him bending over and picking up 400# off the ground!!!! With no pain! Amazing right?!

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October 2015

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August 2016

It’s been a painful and long process as you can imagine for poor humpty dumpty.  An experience that most people would give up on and say “just leave me here in pieces!!!” But my incredible husband has bore it with such a positive disposition that any outsider would never know he’s only gotten on average 4 hours of sleep at night for 2 years or that he hasn’t been able to relax and sit on a couch or a car to visit family for over 2 years and thru it all been in such excruciating pain that it makes him sweat and groan.  Yet come morning sun he still has smiling face though his eyes be sleep deprived and puffy.  He always has a kiss for me and  warm hugs for the boys. He still works harder than most men I know especially when it comes to healing his body. His dedication and hard work for this cause alone is inspiring. And thank God for Atticus Smith.IMG_20160213_180555

Now it’s been 10 months since I’ve been with Blacksmith Barbell and 9 for David. It’s become such a big part of our lives (my awesome mom too)! When Lucie comes she knows that mom and dad will be going and enjoys going herself sometimes! Now we look back to our life before that October in 2015 and wonder what we ever did before we were powerlifting. How did we cope? What did we look forward to? Where did our energy and strength come from? What hope did we have of becoming stronger as we age instead of weaker. How does anybody live their life without powerlifting with Atticus Smith? Sound silly? It’s really what we think….that’s how incredibly life changing it’s been.

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Wikipedia defines powerlifting as this:  Powerlifting is a strength sport that consists of three attempts at maximal weight on three lifts: squatbench press, and deadlift.

Powerlifting at Blacksmith Barbell is so much more than that however because Atticus has taken the knowledge he has gained throughout his training career and life, from Westside Barbell and others and tweaked it to concoct the perfect formula and program. And it’s not about being big and looking sexy or lifting more than your neighbor (although these things are just natural consequences) , it’s about being strong IN THE RIGHT PLACES for the benefit of your own body. Forget big pectoral muscles, quads and biceps…that’s not functional nor does it make sense physiologically. It’s all about the back, the triceps and the hamstrings. Physics and optimal health are what’s important at Blacksmith.  Not just looking strong…actually being strong and having full range of motion and flexibility and working for loose tendons and ligaments so everything can be where it’s supposed to be and stay there long term.

This is my very basic understanding of it anyway in the short time I’ve been there. I love learning more each day I go. My pre 2015 self never thought this sentence would come out of my mouth but I LOVE POWERLIFTING. Yes I do.

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