Monday, May 01, 2023
In April 2023, I had the opportunity to travel through the United States (US), something that I had always wanted to do. I saw many new things and experienced the culture in a very personal way, and I would like to share these with you!Before we dive into that, I would like to emphasize that these are solely my own opinions and my views do not represent any organizations or parties.
My first impression of the US started from the moment I flagged down an Uber at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. I was surprised by the size of the SUV that arrived, as it was much larger than what I'm used to seeing in Shanghai, London, or even Japan. However, I soon learned that this is normal in the US. Everything was scaled up a notch, which may seem unnecessary, but it was just what the US was accustomed to.
As I looked around the neighbourhood we drove through, it was a massive concrete jungle. Buildings and skyscrapers surrounded me, which was not something I was unfamiliar with. New York is similar to Shanghai with its skyscrapers, tough traffic, and crowds, and it can be challenging to run a weightlifting club in such cities due to the need for a relatively spacious room to accommodate equipment and allow for dropping the bar without disturbing the neighbors.
In comparison though, the rest of the country is different, and with its infrastructure not set up for a comprehensive public transport system, it is nearly impossible to live without a car.
To my surprise, I found that gyms in the US, even in New York, are much larger than what I had expected. The US has more resources and a lower population density, which allows for larger gym spaces.
However, Olympic weightlifters often train on their own and follow their own programs. While this may be more flexible in terms of time and be a more economical option, the lack of professional guidance often leads to a slower trajectory for improvement and a higher risk of injury.
In Shanghai, following an online programme is not common, though it has been picking up steam lately. We typically have two styles of training: group sessions with one coach leading the class and providing instruction or personal training sessions focused on 1 on 1 improvement. Also, I noticed that some classes start as early as 4 pm in the US, which would be impossible in Shanghai since most people are still in the office until 6 pm or later.
Though the weightlifting market is still quite niche, it has grown tremendously in popularity due to the onset of CrossFit.
According to the Law of Development, something that is small and growing will have a prosperous future, while something that's already popular will eventually die down. So, I'm not worried about the Olympic weightlifting market size in the US; I know that it will eventually grow.
During my travels, I had the opportunity to visit Greg Everett in Terrebonne. As a familiar face in Olympic Weightlifting and someone who has devoted 20 years of his life to this field, I have immense respect for him. He has created a substantial amount of high-quality content and continues to do what he believes is right, without compromising on his values amidst the ever changing demands of social media trends.
He lives a life that I dream to have, surrounded by mountains and focused solely on coaching Olympic Weightlifting, without the stress of operating a gym, and tucked away from crowds.
I had so much to learn from him, even though his focus is to train the top athletes in the sport. My personal mission is to help ordinary lifters like myself to enjoy the sport freely without worrying about pain and injury. Despite our differing goals, we are walking different paths to the same objective of helping the Olympic Weightlifting community thrive.
In the United States, lifting a weight can make anyone an “athlete”, regardless of their skill level. I had to get used to this in CrossFit, where anyone who shows up to the workout is considered an “athlete”. However, in China, the term "athlete" is typically reserved for those who are already at a high level and can compete in professional competitions.
China dominates the Olympic weightlifting world and focuses on producing gold medalists through heavy investment in the best athletes and coaches.To compete in China, you must register and be certified as an athlete, and resources are limited to the public. In contrast, weightlifting in the United States is more of a personal hobby and a choice. There is little government involvement, and the sport is commercialized.
In China, the government has traditionally supported sports that have had the potential to earn enough gold medals, and weightlifting has been no exception. However, with the recent scandals and doping controversies in the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), this has raised concerns about the future of weightlifting in the Olympics, including the possibility that it may be cancelled after the Paris Olympic Games. If there is a high likelihood that China will not be able to secure as many gold medals in weightlifting, it remains to be seen whether the government will continue to pour as many resources into supporting Chinese weightlifting as a sport.
Overall, the meaning and accessibility of the term "athlete" differ between China and the United States. In the end there is no “right” or “wrong” definition, but it is important to understand that the goals are different, so the way an “athlete” is presented over different cultures is different. Both countries will continue to approach weightlifting with their unique perspectives, and it will be interesting to see how both nations continue to develop in this exciting sport.
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to interview Greg Everett himself in June of the same year! You can watch the video through the link below.
I love meeting coaches and athletes around the world, and hope to see more of you in my travels. Let me know where I should be going next!
Head Coach of Venus Weightlifting
Greetings! I'm Gaby, Head Coach of Venus Weightlifting club, the first of its kind in China. Curious how weightlifting can advance without exhaustive efforts and stiff bodies? I've unraveled this secret by integrating Chinese medical training and my innovative BAT (Body Alignment Training), catapulting thousands to their personal bests.
Ready to get your new PRs without pain? Let's embark on this journey of transformation together!
21-Day Chinese Weightlifting LIFT-LIKE-A-PRO Challenge