Lifting weights is a solitary pursuit. Something that needs to be done with focus, on your own. It’s just you and the barbell.
Much of my work involves working one to one with people, coaching to their individual needs. I really enjoy the opportunity to be able to make a big impact on individuals this way, as great technical improvements can be made.
However, having a group of lifters training together is the best environment for improved performance in the long term. This is something I became aware of on my first visit to Atlas, one of Britain’s top Weightlifting clubs.
The group culture of excellence, encouragement and camaraderie amongst the lifters and coaches there, has been and is, instrumental in all of their individual successes. It’s an elite performance environment, but also has a very welcoming and encouraging attitude to all levels of lifters, including beginners.
If you are new to weightlifting and are attempting a challenging weight, everyone in the gym will stop and support you, in exactly the same way that they would support an international level athlete attempting a big lift. The mutual respect lifters have at Atlas breeds excellence.
The more experienced and higher level lifters will also always bring out the best in the other lifters, raising the standard higher than any coach could do on their own.
Atlas is a great example of how positive group culture can help to produce great individuals. This is something that I aim to use as a blueprint when building my own community of lifters.
My focus isn’t necessarily on developing top level lifters, but I certainly aim to create a community where everyone encourages each other, regardless of their level. Whether that be weightlifting or general strength training.
My goal is to help to develop a group of people who respect and support each other, showing good etiquette and attitude to themselves and each other. This is more important to me than any amount of money, or any individual achievements. This kind of culture cannot be bought, it must be developed and respected.
Strength is definitely best developed in a group setting, as the training can be highly demanding, both physically and mentally. When things get tough, having others around supporting and encouraging you, makes a huge difference.
I’ve experienced many tough sessions on my own, in the build up to competitions, and it’s not ideal having to deal with frustrations and failures, without having a coach or fellow lifters around for support .
Even those who prefer their own company, often need to be around others. Us humans are social creatures, and this certainly applies to the training environment.