Guest Blog by Bryan:
At Emma’s suggestion I joined the United States Strengthlifting Federation (USSF) and entered their Spring Open competition. It was a virtual meet - you video your lifts and send them in to be judged. Then they get posted on a competition board. There is a chat-room, the whole thing takes a week - and everyone just wears regular gym kit; so no embarrassing lycra necessary.
Brilliant fun in the way only Americans just seem to know how to run competitions. What is interesting for me about the USSF is that it uses a handicap system to modify the weights lifted in the masters sections (i.e. 40+) to even things out - it multiplies the weight by a number that gets bigger the older you are. Half way through the competition I actually qualified for my State pension - so that definitely gave me a bit of an edge against the younger beasts I was competing against. And competing we were, I was surprised just how much I wanted to do well - and I don’t think anyone was holding back against the older dudes.
Needless to say, I didn’t win - but nor did I come last - I was 4th (out of 6) in the Open Masters, and all of the lifters were putting in serious numbers. This was definitely a very competitive meet with some amazing athletes - and I don’t include myself in that list even though I hit two PB’s during the meet. Fun or what.
I was wondering what I learned other than to feel childishly pleased with myself. Well, nothing new really that hadn’t dawned on me over the past 18 months of being coached by Emma. But the public competition and a great result for me just makes my conclusions feel more solid. Lifting weights definitely makes you stronger and it also makes you harder to kill -which is not a joke when one gets older and its time that’s the grim reaper. I feel like a different person to the one who walked in to see Emma at the start of this journey. So clearly the health thing is good.
But more importantly it definitely addresses the invisibility issue that plagues more experienced people. If that hasn’t happened to you yet don’t be too upset, you reach an age where you simply disappear from public consciousness on an increasingly regular basis. Despite this affliction and having taken a chance and competed publicly (and risked looking daft and doddery) it so makes me feel a lot more opaque. Surprisingly that was a great safe space to just have a go and try to do as well as I could and just have fun. And that makes me feel more alive and - well, just: myself. And a good deal more visible - feeling sort of day-glo orange this week. But hey - guess that’s just how us Baby Boomers roll. At least when they have a great Coach. Thanks Emma.