Today, I took down any mention of competitive powerlifting prowess from Twitter. That is probably just the beginning. Some say it might be relevant to point out that I lift nicely and sort of heavy, for professional reasons. After all, competitive results are seen as a confirmation of a coach’s familiarity with strength training. This correlation is not supported by evidence, but that’s a topic for a different article.
It became uncomfortable, or even embarrassing, to say much more than that. I can say that I broke one historical record a few years ago (2011) and am still listed among the top benchers in my open class (123lbs). I had kept just a few of my awards (a few medals) and now not even that: I got rid of them all. If I ever need the information, we all know “the internet is forever”: whatever I did is there. But after I calculated the potential 52800 federation records (see below), I feel sort of ashamed to mention them.
These are just some ideas brewing in my head. I am sure they will turn into nicely articulated words because that’s what I do. I write because writing is my best survival tool – possibly the reason I am usually hired as a writer, teacher, that sort of stuff.
One of the ideas brewing in my head is one I’ve written about extensively: why do we do whatever we do? We do (whatever) for basically three reasons: one, because is autotelic. It doesn’t need a reason. We throw pebbles on a lake for the sake of throwing pebbles on a lake. And although much more is at stake on high level elite sport, it is still a game and must have an autotelic component. The second reason is purpose and meaning. Why do you give 20 hours of your time to a non-profit? Because you believe there is a higher purpose to it. A third reason is obviously duty: why do you keep budget control? Why do you keep a boring job that you hate? Because otherwise you go broke.
When something is no longer fun, no longer meaningful, doesn’t have a purpose and it is not your duty, I don’t think it’s such a great idea to keep doing it. Especially because there is a fourth reason for indirect involvement of people in the otherwise fun stuff, which is power, money, control or a combination of them. The people motivated by that are usually uninteresting as humans and, more often than not, dangerous. And they are around. Doing whatever it is you do, then, becomes the opposite of fun: it becomes something you drag along, that drags you down and may even eventually make you sick.
Am I a powerlifter? Yes. I’ll always be one. I’ll always be a fencer. But maybe my place in the greater mission of helping humans reacquire their innate strength has changed. I don’t know. I don’t have an answer. I like very much being a coach, especially the sort of coach people come to seeking the solution of difficult problems. I like teaching. I’m passing on what I lived and learned with passion.
I will only know if I will compete again the day I can separate what happens at the platform from what happens behind the platform. And then check if the fun, the transcendence, the joy of squatting for the sheer exhilarating feeling of a good squat is still there.
Until then, I wait and lift alone, as I always liked to.
RECORDS IN POWERLIFTING – if you are already familiar with this, please forgive me. I will explain something that, to outsiders, looks pretty weird, but that’s how powerlifting rolls: there are over 40 international sanctioning bodies in the world, also known as federations. Each one assumes for themselves the function of establishing “records” by sex, weight, age, equipment type, etc (there are also military records). Considering we have 12 male weight classes and 10 female weight classes in all sanctioning bodies except for the IPF, frequently 10 masters classes, 2 junior classes, and 2 teen classes, that makes 330 potential records, not considering equipment. Equipment is usually raw, classic, single ply and multi-ply. That makes it 1320 potential records (State, National and Worlds) for each federation. Times 40, that’s 52800 records. You find all of that at www.powerliftingwatch.com . Powerlifting Watch tried to make this less absurd and created the “all time records”, compiled from the results of all federations under each class. Most seasoned lifters don’t care very much about records. At 80% of my lifts, I broke a World record (USPA, WPC and GPA). I don’t mention except the all time. I suggest lifters who really love the sport to forget about records because it can only take to two options: becoming an opportunist and going for a federation record (easy), or becoming dismayed by the all time numbers. Just have fun.