Monday, December 17, 2012

InnerCity Weightlifting

This past Saturday I had the opportunity to stop by and check out a program that I've been interested in for quite a while. InnerCity Weightlifting is a Boston-based non-profit organization that aims to reduce violence by getting kids off of the streets and out of gangs.

ICW provides students with a place to go where they can see positive changes on their life. I've written before about how I feel weight training can help a young person in many ways, and this organization personifies that.

When a kid who hasn't had much support or structure in their life starts weight training, they are finally able to see the positive results of structure, dedication and hard work. When you participate in weightlifting (Olympic lifting) in a "team" setting, you are able to see the positive results of a group. When someone hits a big lift/PR, the whole team celebrates; it's a win for everybody. Athletes push each other and help make each other better. In a situation like this one, success breeds success.

Beyond the positive results on the self-confidence of a student, ICW helps their most dedicated students pursue careers in personal training. These students go on to study the ACSM manual and eventually take the exam to become a certified personal trainer. They provide them with a place to train clients and earn their own income.

Not only that, but ICW does a great job of backing their students during legal issues. While I was there, I heard a student talking to John (co-founder) about when he would be coming in next. John asked if he'd be in on Monday, and the student replied that he had a court date to attend. John told this student to provide him with an email address and he'd send him a letter of support to take with him and that he would get to the court to personally support him as well.

While we (Kelsi and I) were there, we were offered the opportunity to have some of the students take us through a workout. I love working out in new gyms, so we thought it was a great idea. To be honest,  I had a thought in my head about what the workout was going to be like. I figured the student would take us through a warmup, hit some easy Oly lifts, do some strength work and call it a day.

I ran to the bathroom and when I came back, Kels was finishing up a set of overhead squats with a PVC pipe. I jumped in and did a set of 5, with a few corrections from some of the guys standing around. Next was a set of 5 with the empty bar, along with more corrections. In my defense, I hadn't done any foam rolling or anything so my OHS weren't flawless like usual. At this point, we split up to work with different students. J pointed me towards a bar loaded to 95# and instructed me to do a set of 5 power cleans so he could see my form. I hit 5, he hit 5 and then he said "let's go up". Sure, let's do it. "What do you want on there?" I asked. His answer was to throw another 10kg (25 pounds) on either side. That's a 50 pound jump. Ok, sure. We hit sets of 5 there and then he told me to put another 10kg on my side. Sure, no big deal. I always make 50 pound jumps. (No I don't.) We dropped to triples and kept making 50 pound jumps until we got to 205. At this point, people were hanging around us watching and motivating us. We made another jump to 215 and hit some triples. I could tell then that this would be a Man Challenge/Alpha Male sort of day. Fucking A.

When we were done with cleans, I was beat. J suggested I power clean it one more time and then walk it over to the squat rack. Oh, sure, cool. We then started hitting sets of 3 back squats. Again, we were making 50 pound jumps. We worked up to a single at 295 that I hit and J had to dump in the hole. We then dropped down and hit some doubles at 275. I was even more beat at this point; I'd worked up to some very heavy sets for me very quickly without really warming up. Then he suggested we crush some front squats. We worked up to 195 pretty quickly for a bunch of sets of triples. In between sets he would stroll over to a pull-up bar and hit some very strict close-grip muscle ups. I did not.

I'll be honest; I was fucking smoked. My body was drained. That's when J decided it was time to bench. We opened up at 135x8 (p.s. I haven't benched seriously in maybe 10 months), then 185x5, 205x5 and 225x5. Oh wait, that's what he did. I hit 205 for 3 and couldn't even lock out 225 for a single. At one point during the bench portion of the workout, I sat down on a window sill. I was punished by one of the students with 10 pushups for sitting down before I was done. To finish out the workout, that same student/coach put Kelsi and I through a pretty miserable bodyweight squat finisher that was 12 to parallel, 12 from bottom to parallel, then 10 full depth squats. Gah. To say I was done would be the under-statement of the century. Walking down the stairs was an issue. I had to do the side shuffle to keep from falling down on my way out.

All in all, it was a blast. I loved it. We were invited to come back and work out with the guys another time, and I fully intend to take them up on the offer. This organization does an amazing job and I hope to be able to help them in the future. Keep an eye out!

Have a great day and go do something amazing!

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