This is the first in what will likely become another series of posts I intend to undertake. The concept is really inspired by those in the industry that have inspired me to train harder and attempt to inspire others to do the same. It’s those that think outside of the typical parameters present in our sport, lifestyle or whatever word you want to attach to what it is that we do. The number of those that meet with the above criteria and are trailblazers of a different sort within a culture that doesn’t welcome individuality all that openly are few. It’s those few that I’ve been lucky enough to happen upon purely by chance that I would like to share with you.
The first of those is someone whom I have never met, but has had a profound influence in both my passion for Olympic lifting as well as my general attitude towards life. He is fearless in his willingness to be himself and speak his mind regarding what he believes. He does so in a manner that is not at all confrontational, but such as to make you think. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone to promote the equality of the sexes, especially within the sport of weightlifting, more than he.
Staying on that topic a little longer, I’ve read posts of his suggesting that women may actually be better suited to excel at the Olympic lifts more than men. He makes very compelling arguments such as the physical advantages women have with a lower center of gravity and a wider hip structure. He also mentions the likelihood of women accepting the long road to success in the lifts, whereas men typically want immediate results. I’ll vouch for that part as we males in general tend to be rather impatient in all that we do.
He also openly questions such ideas that we as a society have put onto women in an attempt to hold back their progress. Ideas like women shouldn’t bulk up. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone warn a female that she probably doesn’t want to do that exercise lest she bulk up. I mean obviously the last thing a woman in a gym would want to do is build muscle. That was meant to be read as sarcasm. Why else would someone be in a gym other than to build muscle or strength? Why is that a domain belonging exclusively to men? I’m getting off topic here so end of rant.
One of the first articles I read over at his blog that focuses primarily on Olympic lifting theironsamurai.com, was a post on depression in which the author Nick Horton, whom this piece is about, discusses his own battles with depression and suggests some amazing ways to cope with it. Who does that in a weightlifting blog?
In the hopefully changing, but still stuck in reverse at times, macho world of weights and strength, it is a very rare thing to have an opinion at all, let alone tackle such huge issues and doing so somehow within a blog that is geared towards the gym rat.
Not that gym rats can’t be intelligent. I’d like to think I’m at least on the fringes of those that truly are, but still I can’t ever recall reading anything that dealt with such issues so effectively. Not in the ranting kind of in-your-face way, but in a manner that should you belong to the group of people that might not welcome hearing things of this nature, you at least would be forced to rethink your stance.
I guess the word I’ve been looking for while writing this is exclusive. That is the culture that is perpetuated in gyms throughout the world, and I personally feel that most of that atmosphere is created by insecurity. Those that pick up weights for the first and ten thousandth time tend to have something to prove to someone. Yet this is exactly the opposite vibe I get from The Iron Samurai.
The feel that you get when you visit his site is one of inclusion. It’s a place where you’re welcome regardless of what level you are at or what your preferred discipline is within the world of weights, even though Nick is very much an O lifter through and through. Competitions and heavy singles are common verbiage for him, however he openly supports whatever your interests are and views them on an equal plane.
For lack of a better way to put it, I use those same Olympic lifts, but in a more cross fit type of way. They’re a part of my program whereas with Nick, it is the program. Yet when a novice in the Olympic lifts like I was when I first asked questions in the comments section a year or so ago over at his blog, it was with infectious enthusiasm that my questions were answered and with a tone of encouragement. By all accounts he’s a ridiculously busy guy too. He got married at one point and still wrote me back! Granted it was in response to me congratulating him on his nuptials, but the sentiment was still present. That’s the aura of inclusion that I speak of that radiates from this guy.
I know this whole write up sounds somewhat over the top and only focusing on the great stuff he’s done, but seriously he seems to be made up of that kind of stuff. If there’s one person that showed me that writing about weights and all that go along with them can be more than just cut and dry, as well as someone who inspired me to try my hardest to get at least passable in the Olympic lifts, then that person is The Iron Samurai, Nick Horton. I will continue to read and follow with much interest.