Follow by Email

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Is your fitness Guru a Master of Sociology or a Master of Science?

I probably shouldn't have posted. I probably should have ignored it.  

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                                                                                                                                                                                                     

1 comment:

Anuj Agarwal said...

Hi Gwendolyn,

My name is Anuj Agarwal. I'm Founder of Feedspot.

I would like to personally congratulate you as your blog Gwen Weightlifting has been selected by our panelist as one of the Top 40 Weightlifting Blogs on the web.

http://blog.feedspot.com/weightlifting_blogs/

I personally give you a high-five and want to thank you for your contribution to this world. This is the most comprehensive list of Top 40 Weightlifting Blogs on the internet and I’m honored to have you as part of this!

Also, you have the honor of displaying the badge on your blog.

Best,
Anuj

Popular Posts

Lifting in Kazakhstan, Temirtau, Ilyin's former gym

Lifting in Kazakhstan, Temirtau, Ilyin's former gym
In Temirtau, Kazakhstan, I'm lifting in my Risto Sports Tank top, weightlifting shoes, and compression pants. Still, unable to do any overhead work from a ligament tear, I'm just rehabbing with pulls to retrain my muscles. Training next to me is the Youth and Junior team of Temirtau. Ilya Ilyin used to train in this facility as a junior. As well as a recent Junior World Champion, Maksim

Snatching 92kg at the Risto Olympia Cup

Snatching 92kg at the Risto Olympia Cup
This was the 2nd highest snatch in all of the USA for 2014 in official competition for women's 69kg weight class. The only athlete to snatch higher was Jenny Arthur with 98kg. Gwendolyn Sisto lifts for Risto Sports, the premier weightlifting company in the world. The Olympia Cup is held in conjunction with the Mr Olympia in Las Vegas, NV Join us in 2015! Gwen is lifting in all Risto Sports apparel and weightlifting shoes.

Oscar Figueroa,Olympic Silver Medalist, World medalist, approves of Risto's

Oscar Figueroa,Olympic Silver  Medalist, World medalist, approves of Risto's
Pictured at Salitre with Oscar Figueroa in center. We will be proudly be sponsoring Oscar with a pair of Risto shoes.

Carlos Andica training with Coach Ivan at Risto Sports

Carlos Andica training with Coach Ivan at Risto Sports

Built for the Platform - Risto Sports weightlifting shoes

Built for the Platform - Risto Sports weightlifting shoes
Russian boots, classic weightlifting shoes with modern shoe technology. Exquisite full leather upper, wood heel, rawhide forefoot, natural rubber outsole. One of a kind.

Risto Sports: Official Sponsor of USA Weightlifting

Risto Sports: Official Sponsor of USA Weightlifting
USAW national team member in Risto Singlet

Ivan in the Warm-up room with the Andica Brothers

Ivan in the Warm-up room with the Andica Brothers

Arnold, Carlos & Joni Andica in Front of Risto Sports banner

Arnold, Carlos & Joni Andica in Front of Risto Sports banner

Risto sport's Leidy Solis- PAN AM Champion 2009

Risto sport's Leidy Solis- PAN AM Champion 2009
Leidy in winning form, wearing her Risto weightlifting shoes. Congratulations Leidy!

Exceeding expectations - www.ristosports.com

Exceeding expectations - www.ristosports.com
Classic weightliftng shoe design with modern accents

In the Risto shoes

In the Risto shoes

Coach Jonny Pan AM champ

Coach Jonny Pan AM champ
Afternoon coach, doing pwr cleans while his lifters finish up

More wild custom shoes

More wild custom shoes
note pawprints

Abs

Abs
More on Facebook

Custom Weightlifting shoe

Custom Weightlifting shoe
Made to customer specifications, detailed embroidery

Custom Youth Sizes available!

Custom Youth Sizes available!
Little Gwen wears these for technique work in the gym. She also likes to match mommy and daddy in the gym. Lifting time is family time!

Bucharest Training Center

Bucharest Training Center
Ramanian Coach Doru, Ivan, Romanian Lifter Eiza

Nikolai Stoichkov- JR Bulgarian Lifter, son of Zdravco Stoichkov

Nikolai Stoichkov- JR Bulgarian Lifter, son of Zdravco Stoichkov
Training with a pair of Botev shoes. These shoes take a beating of 18000 to 20000 reps per year and heavy loads 90-100% - Also known as the Bulgarian system.

Custom Singlets too- Made to Order

Custom Singlets too- Made to Order

Future Champion- Tough lifters wear pink!

Future Champion- Tough lifters wear pink!
Gwendolyn Rojas getting ready to snatch 60kgs at 20kg bodyweight and 4 years old.

Stoichkov in Action

Stoichkov in Action
Coach Stoichkov adjusting my starting position.

Ivan giving training advice in Frankfurt Oder

Ivan giving training advice in Frankfurt Oder
Here Ivan, as a coach, is giving lifting advice to German Junior lifters at the Olympic Training Center in Frankfurt Oder, Germany. Yes, Ivan is fluent in German and is speaking German to the lifters.

Coach Ivan Rojas

Ivan Rojas is my coach and husband. Since training with Ivan, I have went down 3 weight classes while exceeding my prior best total (acheived while training by myself as a junior vs with proper training under Ivan).

During the 80's, Ivan trained extensively as a coach and lifter in former Eastern block countries as well as Cuba.


Working out with the Champs

Working out with the Champs
Gwen squatting wth Georgiev, Peschalov, and new lifter in background

Training in Bulgaria - Gwen and Coach Zdravco Stoichov

Training in Bulgaria - Gwen and Coach Zdravco Stoichov
Stoichov is coach of Peschalov, Georgiev, etc. Also of key interest: Similar to USA lifters missing out on their chance to medal at the 1980 Olympics , at the time of the boycotted '84 Olympic Games, Stoichkov outlifted the LA Games Gold Medalist at the Friendship Games/ Druzhba Games. The Druzhba Games were held in 1984 by Eastern bloc countries not participating in LA.

Ivan with Nikolai Gergov, Bulgarian Wrestling Champion

Ivan with Nikolai Gergov, Bulgarian Wrestling Champion
Ivan with the Greco wrestling world champ, Nikolai Gergov, after their workout. I still think its uncanny how elite athletes from multiple sports would just show up at Slavia for a workout (....and atleast one ask for lifting advice). Again, overall, Bulgarian athletes were humble or, rather, didn't "have an attitude" in the gym.

Gewichtheben - training at the German Olympic training center in Frankfurt am der Oder

Gewichtheben - training at the German Olympic training center in Frankfurt am der Oder
Me with the German Junior Team and Coach/German Olympian Lars Betker

Coach Burgener Shoe

Coach Burgener Shoe
Portion of all sales got to Charity. A perfect shoe for our CrossFit friends! A wonderfully patriotic, Americana themed shoe and T-shirt. GO USA!!!

Gwen posing with Peschalov

Gwen posing with Peschalov

Stoichkov during competitive years

Stoichkov during competitive years
Vintage photo of Stoichkov winning international Championship

Rumy, Bulgarian lifter

Rumy, Bulgarian lifter
Rumy,75kg lifter, stops by for a light workout in Slavia, Bulgaria

Botev stops by Slavia

Botev stops by Slavia
Gwen, Stefan Botev (multi-time Olympic Medalist and world champion), and Ivan

Gwen with Power Clean/slpit jerk with 80kg

Gwen with Power Clean/slpit jerk with 80kg
First workout in Slavia.

Size perspective for youtube video

Size perspective for youtube video
In Beijing, junior lifter

Ivan and Eric, the speedskater

Ivan and Eric, the speedskater
After a hard work out, Ivan and Eric go summertime cycling in Maine. Eric is a competitive Speedskater and a proud owner of weightlifting shoes. Ahhh ...nothing like summers in Maine!!

Stefan Georgiev

Stefan Georgiev
World and European Champion, 62kg. Rooting for him to medal in the 2008 Olympic Games!

Hanging out with Weighlifting heroes

Hanging out with Weighlifting heroes
Peschalov, Stoichov, self, and husband

Old Stuff - early Risto Weight lifting Shoes

Old Stuff - early Risto Weight lifting Shoes

Peschalov and Coach

Peschalov and Coach
Peschalov trained with Stoichkov leading up to his Gold medal win in 2000 Olympic Games

Training in Kennedy, Bogota

Training in Kennedy, Bogota

Euvgeni Popov, Stoichov, and Gwen

Euvgeni Popov, Stoichov, and Gwen
Popov - 1980's Bulgarian weightlifting team, also accomplished power lifter and strongman competitor.

Beijing - Gongti Area

Beijing - Gongti Area
Gwen lifting at second training location in Beijing near Workers Stadium, Gongti

Sylvia, Bulgarian Junior lifter, wearing Botev shoes

Sylvia, Bulgarian Junior lifter, wearing Botev shoes
Schoolage Champ, one of Stoichov's newer lifters. Sylvia also trains in Botev shoes. Her pair is also several years old and has lasted over 18K reps per year!

Romania - Training Center in Bucharest

Romania - Training Center in Bucharest
Me trining with Romanian lifters in Bucharest. Former USAW National Coach, Dragomir Ciroslan, had once lifted in this gym.

Wrestling World Champion (Greco) Nikolay Gergov working out in Slavia (BG), me in background

Wrestling World Champion (Greco) Nikolay Gergov working out in Slavia (BG), me in background
Nikolay Gergov is a Bulgarian Wrestling World Champion - Greco Roman 66kg category. Nikolai is already naemd to the 2008 Bulgarian Olympic Team. He is also competing at a meet at the Colorado Springs US OTC later this month (FEB 08). Anyhow, Nikolai just stops by for a workout in Slavia. He saw Ivan and I working out and asked Ivan for some technique coaching.

Gwen with Chinese coach of junior team at Chaoyang Ti Yu Chang (Beijing)

Gwen with Chinese coach of junior team at Chaoyang Ti Yu Chang (Beijing)
The coach pictured with me had won a gold medal in the snatch lifting against Karolina Lundhal (world champion) at the 1998 Worlds in Finland in 75Kg class.

Lifters in Bucharest

Lifters in Bucharest

Ivan with Coach Chiu, gongti area Beijing

Ivan with Coach Chiu, gongti area Beijing
After discussion of Chinese pull technique. Chiu is a former Junior World Champion.

Good Leather Smells good

Good Leather Smells good
Really, this was a Candid photo..."wow, this smells good", says Little Gwen

Ivan Lifting in China - 2006

Ivan Lifting in China - 2006
Chinese training center, Chao Yang Ti Yu Chang in Beijing, a JR team pictured in background

Choayang Ti Yu Chang - Ivan with chinese junior lifters

Choayang Ti Yu Chang - Ivan with chinese junior lifters

Abigail Guererro, Almerimar, Spain 2004

Abigail Guererro, Almerimar, Spain 2004
In forefront, Abigail , who has been on the Spanish National Team, with teammates in background.

Me with Blessed Udoh, in Spain (DEC 2004)

Me with Blessed Udoh, in Spain (DEC 2004)
Blessed won the silver medal in 48kg at the 2001 World Championships representing Nigeria. She also trained in Bulgaria for the 2004 Olympics. Sadly to report that she died in Nigeria, last year.

Gwen lifting at Chaoyang Ti Yu Chang - Beijing,

Gwen lifting at  Chaoyang Ti Yu Chang - Beijing,
In Beijing, Chinese Juniors in background. Great kids, good sense of humor, listened to their formal coaches

Spain- Ivan and Miguel Borrazas

Spain- Ivan and Miguel Borrazas
Our good friend Miguel has coached Spain's national team.

Training Bogota

Training Bogota

Ivan with Coach Ediberto Barbosa, fmr Col natl team

Ivan with Coach Ediberto Barbosa, fmr  Col natl team

Mock Competition in Bogota

Mock Competition in Bogota
Gwen out snatches the challenger

Rick Bucinell, breaking master world record in Risto's!

Rick Bucinell, breaking master world record in Risto's!

Ivan arm wrestling Peschalov

Ivan arm wrestling Peschalov
My husband "attempting" to arm wrestle Peschalov with his good arm. Ivan remarked "Wow, he's strong..he was really trying to arm wrestle me" ..no kidding ....ha ha ha

Belts, singlets, knee and wrist wraps. Custom styles available

Little Gwen doing workout with new lifters

Little Gwen doing workout with new lifters

Team USA with Risto donated gear at 2010 University World Championships

Team USA with Risto donated gear at 2010 University World Championships
Me lifting for Team USA. We won 15 medals, Ivan was Assistant Coach to Team USA. Risto Sports donated gear such as USA polos and t-shirts. Got to represent our country well!

Risto Sports,Order at:

http://www.ristosports.com/
info@ristosports.com

(207) 319-7607

Training, shoes, singlets, knee wraps, belts, straps
Eliot, ME

Tanya Morillas - 2004 in Spain

Tanya Morillas - 2004 in Spain
Training session at Almerimar. Subsequently, Tanya has been on Spanish national teams.

Dare Alabi , 77kg lifter (Nigeria)

Dare Alabi , 77kg lifter (Nigeria)
Nigerian lifter, Dare, lifting in Spain

warming up power cleans

warming up power cleans