Max out, mics out!

The first time we moved to our own place was back in the Summer of 2016 and up until then I was coaching a few weightlifting classes in CrossFit gyms.  One thing I had to get used to was that they were always playing music.  Not to age myself too much, but when I started lifting in 1996 and throughout my entire lifting career (12 years) we never had music playing in any of the gyms I trained at.  So, moving into our place was exciting for many reasons, and one thing I was really looking forward to being in a bit more control of was the sound and volume in the room.    

After a few weeks we had finally settled into our new place and my lifters started to ask me about getting a speaker so we could have some music in the room.  I cringed a little bit and was worried about having music in such a small space (less than 900 sq ft), but I relented and there I was at a Costco on a Sunday buying a “Block Rocker” speaker.  People were excited when I brought it in that Monday and while I personally will never understand the concept of training with music for myself, I evolved as a coach.  I had to come to terms with the fact that nowadays people really wanted music playing in the background while training, but I shouldn’t have been that surprised since I was on the Board of Directors for USA Weightlifting when we standardized playing music at competitions around 2013.  With music as a fixture at local & national meets, I figured that my athletes needed to train under similar conditions and the main reason I couldn’t object to the Block Rocker.

Our Blocker Rocker became a mainstay and I remembered when my teammate and I ran a mock meet for her CrossFit class, so I decided to run a mock meet for my lifters on the last Saturday before a meet that following weekend.  My hope was that we could recreate a meet-like environment so that people could be more focused and hyped to max out.  So, I grabbed a microphone from my mom’s old karaoke machine and decided to play the part of the Announcer for our very first mock meet. 

We had weigh-ins, we had announcements for the lifters and everyone maxing out that Saturday wore singlets too so max outs on those days are now known as “Singlet Saturdays” as well.  We had about 8 women and men combined, and they competed in rounds to give them enough rest time between attempts.  Since I was announcing the entire time, technically I couldn’t coach, count attempts nor make changes to attempt cards like usual so we played it by ear.  All my lifters had to pick their own warm-ups leading up to their opening attempt, I watched all of them and depending on how they were looking in the warm-up phase, that’s how we approached the opening lifts.  When a person was ready to take their lift, I announced them, and the room stopped to watch and support.  I was also the judge and jury calling whether the lift was a make or not all the while on the microphone. 

I noticed that there was a lot of “dead air” time after announcing the lifters, while we waited for the opening lift, and between attempts, so I figured I would try to fill in the gaps with random weightlifting facts since I had a microphone in hand.  The more we continued doing these meets, I began noticing that the lifters were getting better at counting their warmups and improved their weight selection.  I was also getting better with the mic and giving the lifters a little grief along with some more fun facts.  There were times when we had “friends of the gym” lifting with us on those heavy days and they started getting in on the fun or just laughing at the silliness in the room while noticing the focus used by the lifters when it was needed. 

More of these mock meets followed in the coming years, but now they were being called “Max Out Mics Out Day”!  My veteran lifters have been put through the mill on those heavy days and they learned how to eliminate the noise in the room to focus on their max lifts.  So, I’m a little torn that I discovered that not only had they been developing their own way of tuning out all the distractions, but they were also able to tune my quips and light jeers out too.  But lucky for me I still have an audience with those not going heavy and they humor me. 

Weightlifting meets are always loud and there’s a lot of distractions and they only magnify as you get to go to bigger events, so I was so excited to see how well my athletes’ handled distractions in live competition, they knew when to tune out, tune in and to turn it up.  My experienced lifters also serve as models on how to perform at meets for our up-and-coming lifters in both training and competition platforms.  Doing these mock meets served a purpose greater than I could have ever imagined, and they have become an indispensable tool that I will always use to prepare my athletes for competition.

So as my lifters have developed their maxing out skills, and improved their performance, I have developed my MCing skills and have managed to go from fun facts to “roasting and coaching” simultaneously.  I’ll never claim to be a stand-up comedian, if anything I consider myself more of a “situational funny”, but I also recognize that I have good sports for athletes because they put up with my nonsense.  And, while they may not readily admit it, I know that they look forward to when the mic is out, and I say…