Welcome to Hamilton Barbell!
This is still a fledgling idea born over burgers after a day at the gym – to provide a structured format by which youth can be introduced to some lesser-known sports: powerlifting and weightlifting, as well as preparing them for an overall healthy, active lifestyle. Eventually a more formal document will be produced to explain our vision, but for now I’d like to give a brief overview.
A call to action
- Recently, a study found that Hamilton had one of the highest poverty rates in Ontario
- Our society is facing an obesity epidemic based on increasingly sedentary lifestyles
- As a result, there is a shortfall in ‘physical literacy’ within youth and adults alike
Sport as a solution
Organized play at a young age is key to develop skills that translate to a healthy, active life. Luckily, there are a myriad of opportunities with traditional sports around the community (hockey, soccer, baseball, etc). There is room for improvement, however:
- Some sports can be prohibitively expensive, more so for youth in a high-poverty region
- Some systems may overemphasize competition and/or sport-specific skill development too early, resulting in:
- Athlete burnout (the sport is no longer fun)
- Lack of overall physical preparedness (due to focus on very specific skills)
- Venues that would prepare them (gyms/camps) are either targeted towards adults (with means) or are seasonal (eg. summer camp)
A simple tool
Mastering the use of a barbell develops nearly all of the foundational movements and body awareness to be successful in most sports. It is for this reason that professional athletes from figure skating to football incorporate this training into their routines. Most say they wish they had found the sport earlier, so they wouldn’t have to spend so much time starting from scratch, and balancing that with advanced development in their sport.
Hamilton Barbell’s (envisioned) role
1. To promote the sports of Weightlifting and Powerlifting to Hamilton’s youth and larger community
These sports are simple to learn, and take a lifetime to master. We’d like to share the love we have for our sport to those who may not know it exists, or who may have misconceptions about the sports. We would like to be at the forefront of weightlifting/powerlifting advocacy in the region as they begin a renaissance across the country.
2. To provide a space and opportunity for youth to learn barbell techniques
There is a gap in what is currently offered for young boys and girls as far as barbell sports are concerned.
- Large gyms may be affordable, but members are left to their own devices (no training), or worse, youth aren’t allowed near free-weights
- Smaller gyms cost more almost by necessity, since they have fewer members. As a result, the majority are geared towards affluent adults, leaving out the youth demographic
Hamilton Barbell’s vision is to close that gap and get more youth involved so that they may get appropriate training at an affordable price.
3. To champion the use of the Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD) methodology in the community
Canadian Sport For Life is developing an LTAD methodology in partnership with each sport’s governing body. The aim is to create pathways “whereby athletes follow optimal training, competition, and recovery regimens from childhood through all phases of adulthood.”
We recognize that it may not be appropriate to drill advanced movement patterns into a young athlete – rather, we would use the LTAD methodology to determine what type of training is most suitable. For very young athletes, this would be an emphasis on general fitness, with a bit of lighthearted lifting techniques thrown in. As the athlete advances, so to can the training.
Should an athlete decide they would like to focus on another sport, ideally they will be in a position where they are physically literate, and have the basic lifting tools available to them as they continue to train.
If an athlete decides that they would like to pursue competitive lifting, Hamilton Barbell would like to connect that athlete with the provincial and national governing bodies, as well as provide advanced training leading up to competitions.
And if an athlete just wants to have fun, then we’d like to provide an atmosphere where they can challenge themselves and be fit for life.
I’d love to hear any feedback – send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org; find us on twitter @hamiltonbarbell; or leave a comment below!