I should have been home finishing up my marketing plan for one of my MBA classes that one Sunday in the Summer of 2013, but instead I chose to help my teammate Leslie with a mock meet she was running at a CrossFit gym she had been coaching a few weightlifting classes during the week. I had also been coaching at a few CrossFit gyms myself, and a handful of those athletes were starting to compete, but we still didn’t have an official weightlifting club at that time, so we competed as “Unattached”. So, I thought it was a cool idea to run a mock meet for people that wanted to start competing in weightlifting meets but needed a little extra preparation before becoming comfortable on the official stage and I knew then that I was going to start doing this with my athletes too.
Leslie and I went all out in recreating the competition setting for her athletes, so much that you wouldn’t have known the difference from a sanctioned meet, except for not having an actual platform. So, we taped up the official size for a platform (13’x13’), set up chairs for the audience, had weigh-ins, put up the Marshall’s table with all the cards for the coach to call attempts and pulled out the mic for the announcer too. We only had 1 mixed session (women and men combined) that morning and the meet was by invite only to create an atmosphere for the athletes to have their gym mates, family, and friends there for support. We went over basic rules and expectations of an official meet, talked about kilograms even though we were using pounds and started the clock.
The room was so full of energy that it kept distracting me from the fact that I still had a paper due by 11:59 pm that night, and at that point I only had completed 1/4 of what ended up becoming a 20-page paper. I had zero inspiration to write that paper and being a procrastinator didn’t play in my favor either. My professor wanted us to write a marketing plan for an existing or future business, and at that time I hadn’t envisioned being a self-employed business owner, much less a gym owner so it felt like a daunting task to put those types of ideas on paper, and I just kept delaying the inevitable. When I finally buckled down to write it earlier that week, I couldn’t even think of what to call my gym business and I hit a wall and figured I’d get to it later. I thought of several names, like Vargas Weightlifting, Valley Weightlifting, and even Vargas Weightlifting Concepts only to remember that the name was already sort of taken (love you Danny Camargo). But none of those names felt like the right fit anyway and with that lack of inspiration it was easy to put the paper off and go to the mock meet instead.
So, there we were about halfway through the snatches when a gentleman was called up for his first snatch attempt. He could barely walk himself to the back of the “platform,” his shivering was noticeable, and his pallor changed before our very eyes. I hadn’t seen that kind of of stage fright in years. If you’ve competed you know that the 1 or 2 minutes you get after being called up to the stage is never enough time, but as a spectator it can seem like an eternity waiting for the lifter to take the attempt. And remember that everyone in that room is who the lifters wanted there so you would never think that someone would be so paralyzed with fear like this man was for what seem to me like 5 minutes. He had run the clock out. There were so many people cheering and shouting encouraging words, but nothing was breaking through to him. Then suddenly from way in the back of the room I heard a guttural, “COME ON MAN!”, but still nothing. Again, the same guy in the audience yells, “COME ON MAN”! “COME ON MAAAAN!”, but now with a slight tone of desperation in his voice. He followed that with “LIFT LIKE A BARBARIAN!” and added the most primal growl I had ever heard in any competition. I’m pretty sure the entire room got chills. I know I did. The lifter growled right back, walked right up to that the bar, and tore it off the ground with all the confidence in the world. It was so inspirational on so many levels.
I got so fired up to write my marketing plan that as soon as I got home, I cranked out the additional 15 pages in just a few hours and submitted it right on time for what we now know lovingly as Barbarian Barbell.
I’m glad that I procrastinated that day because it was the day our team was born and when I decided to start doing our own mock meets to prepare for competition. I still pull out the mic, but we don’t call them mock meets anymore, instead they are known as “Max Out, Mics Out Day,” however they’ve also been referred to as “Coaching or Roasting” too and I’ll have to save that for another blog.