By Donny Shankle
Uncle didn’t only use the word “gradually” a lot in training. He also used the word “serious”. He didn’t approve of playing games or wasting energy before training. He wanted you to be serious before training, during training, and especially competition. Of course, we still had our laughs on occasion but these moments were rare and when you were lifting it was all business.
Quite often some weightlifters or weightlifting coaches have a persona to them which is sometimes misinterpreted as elitism. It’s not elitism. This behavior comes from being serious on the platform. It comes from spending years in the gym training and can potentially carryover into social settings. It comes from weightlifting coaches who teach weightlifters to be serious when they are lifting. These lessons do not always stop when you leave the gym. I can remember spending New Years Eve with uncle and sitting on the couch drinking some champagne watching television. The cartoon Family Guy happened to be on and I laughed at one of the jokes. Uncle came over to me with a disapproving look on his face. I thought he was going to tell me something about the champagne. Instead he said, “Donny why are you watching this? Cartoons are for babies.” It wasn’t the idea of relaxing he objected to or watching a comedy. It was the idea of weightlifters he was training to be fierce competitors finding amusement in things he viewed as childish. This is not elitism, bigotry, or an old school way of thinking. His seriousness had nothing to do with culture and everything to do with weightlifting.
Think about the exercises snatching, cleaning, and jerking. Most people I came across when I first started lifting didn’t understand them and always associated them with being dangerous. This has changed the past few years as there has been an increase in participation. Still, I can see how weightlifting can be viewed this way by people who are not familiar with the sport. You are moving fast and putting yourself in low positions with heavy weights. However, this is a skill and it’s a difficult skill to master. In its difficulty and potential risk of injury lies the reason you should be serious in training. If you spend your time not focused on what you are doing then you risk getting hurt. Even when you are serious you risk being hurt. However, risk is something anyone who wants to be great at something must confront.
If you love something and want it then be serious about getting it. Every time you step on the platform and hook your hands in, flip the serious switch in your brain on. When it’s time to train then train. Seriousness is found in the person who is passionate about becoming great. The world is full of enough fools and weightlifting has no place for clowns.