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Growing a Weightlifting or Powerlifting Club
How do I start and/or grow a weightlifting or powerlifting club? I get this question a lot. My answer is that it isn’t easy, but if you love the sport, it is totally possible. In 2011, I started dabbling in Olympic weightlifting again. Up until that point, I was focused on athletic performance for athletes trying to improve their skills for football, basketball, wrestling, etc.
Rebecca Gerdon was the first athlete to ask me to train her for weightlifting specifically. I jumped at the chance to train someone for a sport that I love with all my heart. At that point, I had been away from the sport for about eleven years, so I was pretty excited.
I was already teaching my athletes the clean and overhead squat, but this prompted me to take things up a notch. I started teaching a few of my younger athletes the snatch and clean & jerk. It was amazing how some of them took right to the sport. By 2012 I was taking a couple of athletes to the Youth Nationals and three to the University Nationals.
In 2013 I took a pretty big team of seven to the Youth Nationals and two to the American Open. In 2015 I took about thirty to the American Open, and my team placed 2nd in the entire Nation. The progress has been remarkable. Now weightlifting is my full-time job, and I love it.
Here are a few more of my team’s accomplishments over the last couple of years:
• Four Junior World Team Members
• Three Junior National Gold Medalists
• One Pan American Bronze Medalist and One Silver Medalist
• Countless Junior and Youth Medalists
• Canadian Senior World Team Member
• 3 Silver and 3 Bronze Medalists at Senior Nationals
• 2 Senior National Gold Medalists
• 2 Athletes Projected on the 2017 World Team so far
It has been a whirlwind over the last few years. I have enjoyed every second of it. My team is part of my family. I am constantly thinking of ways to provide them more. For weightlifting in America to progress, coaches in America need to think a little differently. Here are some things that I am currently working on to provide my team:
• A University Program at Winston-Salem State University
• Weekly therapy with Chiropractic and Physical Therapy
• Profit sharing on some new ventures that I am working on
• Different avenues of income like seminars or coaching
I am already providing stipends for three of my onsite athletes. This might seem like a far cry away for most of you, but it is something that you need to start thinking about now. I always try to begin with the end in mind, which is something I learned from Stephen Covey. I was dreaming of a team that I have now, when I only had 2-3 athletes.
Now I realize that most of you are just starting out, so I am going to address ways of growing a brand new club. I will say that weightlifting clubs are great for CrossFits or Strength and Conditioning Gyms. Both of these types of facilities have a built in population that are perfect candidates to try out Olympic weightlifting. However, just starting a stand-alone barbell club is fine too.
Either way there is going to be some work that needs to be done. Here are some of those steps:
1. Define the population that you are going to target like youth, juniors, seniors, or master level athletes, or a combination of more than one of them. Once you know the population, you now know where to market.
2. Create awareness- Olympic weightlifting is a beautiful sport, but most of the world doesn’t realize it. Most people haven’t heard of the sport, or they confuse it with Powerlifting. Your job is to educate your area. I recommend a series of FREE seminars in your area. Then I recommend that you invite everyone that you know, their friends, and their children to attend the seminar.
The key is to explain the benefits of the sport like power production, flexibility, speed, and balance. That will encourage them to try it out to improve their other sports if nothing else. Parents love the fact that weightlifting has such a low injury rate.
Several of my weightlifters compete in another sport. Some of them used to compete in other sports, but quickly fell in love with weightlifting. If you are a great athlete that happens to be undersized, weightlifting is the perfect sport.
3. Social Media- You should at least have a Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Facebook and Twitter are awesome because for a few dollars you can target the exact population that you defined earlier. You can grow your followers based on that population, and you can boost posts based on that population. You should also form a Facebook Event for all your Free Seminars, and then invite the people that have liked your page.
The content of your social media pages should be educational and/or entertaining. When people see the beauty of a snatch and see people having fun doing it, they are more likely to try it out. I personally like to make at least three posts per day. Here are some quality times to post:
8:30p is prime time (save your best post for this time)
4. Other places to market- Most of us have all the clients that we could ever want right under our noses, but we simply do not open our eyes. Take a piece of paper and write down all the people that you know like friends, family, church family, co-workers, classmates, etc. Then you have to remember that all of those people have friends and family. If you show them that you sincerely have a love for weightlifting and for other people, they are going to at least check it out.
5. Results- This is the best way to grow a club. If your athletes are killing it, other people are going to want to visit your club. This is the number one way that I have grown my club. Plus if your athletes are doing well and having fun, they are going to invite their friends. A referral is always the best source of new business.
Growing a new club isn’t easy, but nothing worth having is easy. If you want it bad enough, I have given you a few of the first steps to take. I recommend that you use your own creativity to come up with ways to grow your club.
I had a powerlifting team long before I had a weightlifting team. For some reason, the powerlifting team had dwindled, but now I am focused on having both. I will grow my powerlifting team the same way that I have grown my weightlifting team. I will create awareness, provide the perfect equipment and facilities, and do my best to offer my athletes as much as possible.
We are in an era where one can actually make a living coaching weightlifting and powerlifting thanks to CrossFit. It is up to us to keep that momentum. Personally I want rest until I can provide something substantial for my weightlifters and powerlifters. I hope that all of you reading this will join me in taking strength sports to an all-new level.
Please share this if you believe others might benefit from the content. Ask any questions in the comment section and I will answer promptly. This topic is something that I am passionate about, so I will do my best to help any of you.
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