My experience at the Venice Barbell Club has been both physically and mentally rewarding. Prior to joining VBC I had zero exposure to the sport of Olympic Weightlifting. I raise that point because, especially after hitting some big lifting goals, every now and then I am flattered when other VBC members ask me how long I have been working on Olympic Weightlifting. Not long, I reply, and each time I remember how exciting it is to still have a long runway ahead.
My primary sport of home through adolescence and young adulthood was tennis. I played competitively throughout high school with some nice accolades and rah rah rah moments. What brought me to Olympic Weightlifting was a combination of my yearning for that competitive atmosphere I once had on the court and the desire to improve. I remember my first Crossfit Open in 2016 and during the heavy cleans event I could do nothing more than stare at the 225 lb bar knowing that it was 25 pounds above my one rep max.
That very same week I signed up for private training with Josh Squyres. I knew that I wanted to improve my strength and lifting technique, both of which are hallmarks of the VBC programming. Over the course of the summer I went on to compete in my first Olympic Weightlifting meet and also raise my lifts – in some cases at increases over 100 lbs. I found myself adding 100 lbs to my max clean, 80 pounds to my clean and jerk, and 80 pounds to my snatch. I started to fall in love with the ritual of getting to the platform, taping up, strapping on my shoes, and working with Josh. It reminded me so much of what I felt when getting ready for the tennis court. Josh took me to my very first Olympic Weightlifting meet where I totaled over 200 kgs at a 72 kg bodyweight. Three weeks later I competed in my first Crossfit competition where I cleaned 305 lbs and took home first place with my teammates. I thought about that 225 lb bar that day. Now I’ve set my sights on competing in both Olympic Weightlifting and Crossfit under the tutelage of Josh Squyres and Jessica Suver. I’m excited about the journey.
The desire for competition brought me to the sport. But what’s kept me at Olympic Weightlifting and the Venice Barbell Club are the gifts that the sport has provided me. 200 pounds is 200 pounds. A missed lift is a missed lift. A new PR is something I haven’t done before. I have always spent much of my life thinking about how I can improve and get better. But at VBC I am also reminded of the long journey that progress is. I know that I enjoy that journey almost as much as the actual PR. With my experiences at VBC, I am reminded that I can apply that practice of taping up and strapping on shoes to the rest of my personal life. For me, Olympic Weightlifting and VBC are medicine for the soul. To paraphrase one of my idols, Andre Agassi, “A gym bag is like your heart. You have to know what’s it in at all times.”