My first meet was in a recreation basketball court. There were lifters from all over because there were not as many meets bacon 2015 as there are now. There were raw lifters, raw with wraps, and equipped lifters. Some all-time top 10 lifters were there lifting including Greg Panora.
There wasn’t anyone filming warmups, and online coaches were not at meets in droves yet. There was a hot dog guy though. Lifters were helping their training partners and everyone was helping everyone. This experience is a major reason why I stuck with this sport.
Now competitions are run at gyms where the majority of the people competing train. They overtake the gym as if it is a training session and even put their music on the gym audio system. They setup their tripods to capture every moment in the back, including their scrolling on Instagram as well as every warmup weight.
They are judged by their friends, who let us be real, if it is close are giving them a white light. Platforms have lighting for better meet day pictures, smoke for dramatic effect, and live streams as if anyone wants to watch the boring sport of powerlifting.
Federations change weekly because somehow what happens in one state at the local level needs to impact what happens in another state. Background checks are not the answer. I witnessed local meet directors, who had background checks, schedule a meet and leave the state with everyone’s money.
These background checks cost money. Drug testing lifters at the local level is like drug testing housewives that run a turkey trot 5k every November. It is fucking stupid and cost money. Federations require memberships to sign up for local meets. These memberships should last a year, but since meet directors play musical chairs with federations you need to buy them more frequently.
No one gives back to the sport because you treat everyone like they are on the red carpet and a star of their own show. This is some dorky ass shit too. Everyone thinks they are a star and a star doesn’t cleanup after themselves. I have been to meets where lifters didn’t want to share warmup racks.
I want to compete to test my lifts in front of judges in a competition. I am not doing it for better IG pictures, or even worse a Reel that takes days to splice up in a dramatic fashion.
I feel as if I am a minority in the sport these days. I am sure a whole generation of lifters felt the same when I started. I understand that local powerlifting is good for the sport, but growth is not always better. Especially if the culture has changed to be disrespectful on the internet, ignore others in real life, refuse to share equipment, and not clean up after themselves.
All of this for a meet entry fee of $125-$150 plus the membership fee of $50-$75. Many will pay coaches to handle them at a meet and this can run from $100-$200. To compete one time per year it can run you upwards of $400 and this is to compete in something that is equivalent of the turkey took 5ks in November. Everyone has coaches, most of which have very limited experience and education, instead of training groups, which further enhances the individuality of current gym culture as well as increasing the yearly costs and the costs of quality coaching in general.
I guess I am just the old guy complaining about how things used to be better. I still love lifting weights. People will say that lifts in the gym don’t count only lifts at competitions do, but why? Strong is strong. Local meets are just $400 day events where your friends give you white lights at the gym you always train at. How is that any better than me hitting a gym lift?
I will do nationals in places that I want to travel to and see. I always meet new people at these events and I do feel they are a true test of your abilities with the travel. Chances are I will not ever do a local meet again, not that anyone cares. However, you will continue to find me at the gym training my ass off no matter what.
The reward of the hard work is the hard work. It allows you to develop and display toughness, persistence, resiliency, and discipline. It gives me the structure that I need and also an outlet for my anger. When you realize this is what it is about you respect the sport more. You will clean up after yourself and encourage others to find the same meaning in lifting weights.