But, there it was staring back at me on Facebook. It was clearly a sensationalistic post. Something that a social media expert posts just to get a reaction.
It was just a step too far for me to ignore. Someone said weightlifting is unsafe for the "general population of adults", and he was unqualified to say it.
|Counter sensationalistic statement: Non-Olympic lifting expert says weightlifting is too dangerous for you, the general population. And, he just called you "old".|
Many people walk into to my gym, thousands really. I don't always remember everyone, especially if they are just in for the day. I do remember when people quit inexplicably.
I remember the first couple times I met Ben Bruno. He was quiet, mild mannered. He just graduated Columbia University with a degree in sociology. He apparently was in the area to visit family. He seemed intent on learning Olympic lifting. I was hung-up on the thought that someone who just got a degree from an Ivy League school in Sociology wouldn't be out applying it. It was also around the time I was having deep discussion on sociology with a non-weightlifting friend of mine. And, then one of my lab mates at MIT was starting long discussions on Milgrams experiments and somehow tied that back to us aero-astro students. So, it was oddly synchronistic, and it oddly stuck-out.
Anyhow, we had a good rapport going; at least, I thought. Then, a few days later, like that, he disappeared. Trying to be an honorable person, I sent him a message or two checking if he still wanted to lift. I don't recall hearing anything back, and we were facebook friends.
A few months later, I saw an article on Bulgarian split squats by some guy working with Mike Boyle. And, it was authored by a Ben Bruno-- the same guy that was just in my gym. Well, good for him; Mike Boyle was probably one of the biggest names in New England for fitness at the time.
The only problem with the article was that, well, I've trained in Bulgaria. I have literally trained with Olympic Gold medalists, World Champions, and European champions, and guess what, none of them did split squats. This must have been 2010-2011, which was still the height of "Bulgarian system hysteria", where any clown with a computer wrote fake or exaggerated internet lore of what the Bulgarian system was. Yes, it is not my job to be the internet police, but sometimes for the greater good of mankind (ie the truth on Bulgarian training) , you need to speak up. As it struck a cord, I had to comment with a link to actual Bulgarian training we filmed.
When it comes to facebook, being a "friend" does not necessarily mean anything other than you may have some tiny shared interests in common with so-called facebook friends. I have more facebook friends than I can count. Periodically, people I haven't seen in years pop-up. I'm sure in the last 7 years a handful of Ben Bruno statuses popped-up showing his latest training conquest. So, with maybe 3 data points, it looked like Ben had climbed some social fitness ladder-- from Mike Boyle to Chelsea Handler. And his image looked like every other "fitness guru": a thick looking guy in a red shirt with his arms crossed with some facial hair. It's a masculine pose saying, "hey, I know what I'm doing, follow me". Anyhow, good for him. I'm happy anytime someone succeeds, why not.
So, here comes data point number 4-- a twitter snapshot, not even a post, talking, implying Olympic weightlifting is not fit for the general population. If we look at this from a data perspective, Mr Bruno's twitter post is factually incorrect. There's insufficient data to support his comment.
There's far more data to say most adults will get sports injuries from playing recreational sports like soccer, basketball, tennis, or softball. You don't even need to google it-- just walk into any physical therapy office-- most adults are being treated a bad knee from playing a pick-up game of basketball, or hurt their shoulder playing softball in their office league, or tore their ACL during ski season. So, with the logic in Ben's tweet, most adults should never play basketball.
So, why would someone make a, perhaps, exaggerated statement? Maybe because they are a sociologist, and their expertise lies in building a social media following. Maybe because it is a sensationalistic statement. Its like saying the "Yankees suck"-- 50% of people will agree , 50% of people will want to kill you -- either way, you get a huge reaction.
Yes, normally, I would ignore sensationalism, but, today, I couldn't. Because, effectively blacklisting a sport- that has done so much for so many-- just to get a twitter reaction is wrong. I mean are strong women like Chelsea Handler being denied the opportunity to reap the benefits of snatching and clean and jerking because they are not "young" or not "men". I've trained people from 65 year olds to 8 years old in lifting; everyone can learn to Olympic lift if taught by a real coach.
And for those of you thinking, "well, why Olympic lift when you can just do other weight training" , my dear friends, you are missing the point. Olympic weightlifting does what no other barbell or machine training can do - it improves your reflexes. It uses your sympathetic nervous system*, which means you will be faster and more explosive, and more able to react quickly without thinking in stressful situations. It makes you better at every other sport. It makes you better at normal everyday things like avoiding a car accident, saving your child or dog from falling, catching a ball...even cooking. Aside from that, it's more efficient at building bone density and muscle than using cute little dumbells to "Bulgarian split squats".
But hey, what do I know, I'm just a rocket scientist. Maybe Ben can give me some advice on how to be more sensationalistic.
Peace & Love
*Reference: Fundamentals of the Soviet System: The Soviet Weightlifting System