Ask to review: Rychelle, Charlie
I was an athlete competing in the Ladies of Iron powerlifting meet in May this year.
I hit new personal records with all my lifts—the back squat (X lb) , the bench press (X lb), and the deadlift (X lb).
But instead of getting first place, I ended up dead last. It wasn’t because I wasn’t strong enough—it was because I didn’t understand and execute my coach’s strategy correctly.
Why I powerlift
When I tell people I go the gym every single weekday for an hour and a half to train for powerlifting, they often marvel at my motivation and discipline. But I was never a sporty kid, and at the ripe age of 37, my core motivation isn’t to compete or even to be fit—it’s almost completely based on friendship with my coaches and teammates.
Despite appearing as an individualistic sport (afterall,
- Despite appearing as an individualistic sport, powerlifting is done with a large team, similar to NASCAR, with a collective effort required to make competitions happen.
- The speaker wishes to draw parallels between his passion for powerlifting, his approach to it, and how it relates to pursuits in life where passion and the quest for quality are key, such as writing.
- His training regimen involves a method called progressive overload, where weights are increased systematically in small waves every week.
- This approach builds muscle progressively and trains the nervous system to handle more each time, which aligns with the concept of the barely observable dose from psychology and biology.
- The speaker had to wake up at 4:45 am to prepare for a powerlifting competition an hour away.
- Powerlifting competitions require participants to weigh in, as the sport is judged by weight class, age, and gender.
- The speaker initially weighed 0.2 pounds over the 148-pound category and attempted to lose the weight by sweating and spitting, eventually succeeding.
- Despite initial concerns regarding the setting of the rack height and the absence of the coach, the speaker's friends guided and supported him throughout the process.
- The speaker emphasizes the importance of friendships in life pursuits, pointing out that they are often formed around common interests or objectives.
- Unlike in work environments where relationships can be competitive and sometimes challenging, powerlifting is seen as a pursuit against oneself, rather than against others.
- Even though there can be strategy involved at higher levels, the speaker, being a relative beginner, did not have this concern, nor was competing against teammates an issue since they were in different categories.
- The speaker notes that most of his nerves stem from the weeks leading up to the competition, rather than the competition day itself.
- Once settled in with the help of friends, the remainder of the competition was smoother.
- The speaker's coach was initially concerned about the speaker's performance in the powerlifting competition due to a recent injury.
- The injury, a shoulder issue, occurred not from lifting but from getting out of bed.
- Despite initial doubts, once on stage, the speaker was able to lift more weight than usual and beat personal records.
- The speaker suggests that getting out of one's own way and letting performance happen is a common occurrence among athletes.
- The speaker is better able to perform during actual competitions than in training, a phenomenon observed in both powerlifting and previous experiences with running a half marathon.
- The speaker relates this phenomenon to any pursuit with a performance aspect, suggesting that the energy of the crowd and potential connections help improve the craft.
- Despite beating personal records, the speaker did not place very high in the competition but celebrated the achievements of teammates who won first or second place.
- Post-competition, the speaker enjoyed being able to relax and cheer on other teammates who were competing in the afternoon, emphasizing the supportive culture of powerlifting.
- The speaker highlights that even though powerlifting is technically a competitive sport, the culture revolves around cheering for each other and providing mental support, often because the competitors understand the challenge of the task at hand.
<How I did, comp photos>
- The speaker had managed to make weight for a competition by sweating excessively, but later realized that it led to not placing in the competition despite outperforming a competitor in a higher weight category.
- The speaker's coach, who follows an old-school, directive style of coaching, pointed out the speaker's mistake.
- The speaker is accustomed to this style of coaching due to similar experiences in graduate school and sees its value, despite the trauma it can induce. The film "Whiplash" is cited as a depiction of this intense coaching dynamic.
- The speaker, as a coach, prefers an open coaching methodology, supporting clients in developing their unique approaches rather than directing them strictly.
- The speaker notes that while their personal business coach is sensitive to their needs, she also uses a more directive approach.
- The speaker believes that a balance of open and directive coaching is needed, with the choice depending on an individual's needs and internal monologue.
- The speaker is developing a coaching style that is mostly open but includes elements of the directive approach to provide a variety of methods for clients.
- The speaker's coach continues to yell and be critical, which reminds the speaker and a gym buddy, Sanjay, of their experiences in grad school.
- The intensity of the relationship with the coach is appreciated by the speaker, though recognized as not suitable for everyone.
- The speaker values the camaraderie built through the shared experience with fellow gym-goers and the pursuit of excellence and quality in their performance.
- The speaker discusses their appreciation for powerlifting, noting that many competitors are much older and still outperform younger participants, like Sally Goldman in the 60-64 age category.
- The speaker explains that success in powerlifting is through attrition - the better one takes care of their body and the longer they continue in the sport, the more likely they are to win due to fewer competitors in older age categories.
- The speaker is aiming to enter the Masters competitive stage for powerlifting at age 40 and sees the value in pursuing something that can be enjoyed and done well into older age.
- The speaker shares the Zen philosophy of the purpose of practice being a happy old age, and encourages others to think about what they would like to do as they get older.
- They recognize that quality can arise over time and that through relentless pursuit in the past few years, they have gained expertise.
- The speaker's goal is to continue to improve and work on their craft, inspired by competitors like Sally Goldman, and appreciates the value of the pursuit as a whole.
- They hope the audience finds their message amusing and that the new format resonates, as they believe this is how writing is evolving.
- They express their interest in improving their storytelling craft and writing skills. With the advent of AI writing, they note the difficulty in proving the authenticity of personal experiences in writing.
- They want to capture the emotional arc of events, care for teammates, and appreciation for their coach's approach through their storytelling.
- They acknowledge the limitations of their writing craft but are continuously refining it and see the potential of combining video format and writing with the help of AI.
- The speaker concludes by saying they are writing and video recording for themselves as they notice the accumulation of experiences with age.
- The speaker discusses how they have noticed experiences are quickly replaced by new ones, leading to a sense of nostalgia for recent experiences.
- They mention recording their experiences as a way to remember details that may otherwise fade, using the recent competition as an example.
- They suggest this could be a new form of social media and personal knowledge management, blending public sharing with personal record-keeping.
- While the speaker is sharing content and ideas related to powerlifting, writing, and coaching philosophies, the ultimate purpose is to track their own experiences and emotional journey.
- They invite the audience to consider trying this format for their own experiences.
My process in writing this video essay:
- Think of the key point I want to share in a “block”
- Film a short loom (try not to exceed 5 min per video)
- Pull the transcript and ask ChatGPT to summarize key points into bullets
- REWRITE the bullets by hand, no ChatGPT involvement in the craft of writing
- Piece the blocks together
- I can share my somatic responses and feelings through facial expressions, tone of voice, body movements to complement my writing
- I can work “out of order”—as someone who is not a linear thinker, it is sometimes hard for me to tell a story from the beginning to the end! This way I can start in any order.
- Loom removes filler words and generates the transcript instantaneously after upload for me to export into chatGPT and request for a summary
- Need to shorten the video blocks into 1 idea instead of several ideas, run into Chat GPT transcript summary limit