By Coach Wyatt
Take a second. Imagine a soccer team, a group of gymnasts, ballerinas, or swimmers. Each of those sports has a look, a body type or a certain age group.
Now imagine strongman competitors, powerlifters and weightlifters. Pretty different right? Within a powerlifting meet you could see a 100 lb lifter all the way up to a 300+ lb lifter. And they'll use the same bar, the same plates, and compete in the exact same sport.
No other sport compares. Football has a similar size diversity, but it's all dudes and very few play after high school. But lifting is the only place where you can see the vast diversity of people. And that's pretty fucking cool.
And it goes beyond that. If you walk into a barbell gym, you'll meet people from every background. Rich, poor, old, young, male, female, quiet, loud. But every single one of them is there with one goal, to work hard and get stronger.
People who haven't even met you, will yell in support from across the gym. You can go in to hit a max effort single and get 3 random people to spot you. At a meet you'll hear a unanimous "UPPPPPPP!!!" from the crowd. And it doesn't matter how much you're lifting or who you are. All we care about is that you're doing it.
But the way that community forms is from people like you. If you've been in the gym a while, welcome others. Learn their name. KINDLY show them the difference between a deadlift bar and a stiff bar. Let them know they can ask questions. Do everything you can to remove the intimidation that so many people feel when they enter the gym. And then go and cheer for the 135 squat with the same energy as the 800 squat.
This community is unlike any other sport. Other sports are done by professionals. But strength sports are open to everybody and are for everybody.
I remember the first time I joined a gym with a powerlifting team. I was a scrawny 165, squatted in the mid 300s, hadn't benched 2 plates, and barely deadlifted over 4 plates. The first person I met was the coach there, Xander Small. Despite the name, he was not small, but looked intimidating. Upon walking in, he introduced himself and we started talking powerlifting. He sat there, watched my entire training session, and simply talked to me. I'd never experienced that before and I felt welcomed.
Over the next few weeks I would slowly meet other members of the team. Sometimes I was introduced, other times I asked for a spot, or gave a spot. But I met people who became lifelong friends this way.
It's as simple as taking out your headphones to walk up to someone and say something positive or ask a question. Then the next time you see them you give a nod, a fist bump, or ask about their training.
This community is great. If you've been in the gym a while, you should be working to keep it that way and even improve it.