Athletes Need a Gym Culture

By now we have all heard the terms community and culture so many times that it’s kind of old news.

But why are those terms important? The new popularity of CrossFit and the barbell sports, along with the magic of the Internet, has spread these terms around the world and back. The main reason CrossFit became so popular was community.

CrossFit created a community of people coming together to get in shape and be healthy. Let’s face it – when we become busy adults, it’s not easy to go to the gym and work some more just to get in shape. However, when there are other people at the gym who are going to work and suffer with you, the whole process of getting in shape becomes fun and exciting. The common bond of working hard forms a family-like atmosphere that most of us are drawn to. Weightlifting, powerlifting, and strength and conditioning clubs all have a community as well. Whenever there is a group of people coming together to work on a common or similar activity, you have a community.
 

WHERE THE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD

At Mash Elite, we have weightlifting, powerlifting, strength and conditioning, and adult group fitness – so we have a bit of everything. The community is simply a group of people coming together to reach their goals.

What about culture? That is where the rubber meets the road, as my father-in-law always says. Our gym is divided up into a front section, where all the adult group fitness and a lot of the accessory work for the athletes take place. In the back of the facility is where all the grinding takes place. The gym is separated by two big curves that allows for a nice flow from the peacefulness of the front to craziness in the back.

Once you’re in the back, things get way more serious. The athletes are there to be the best in the world. We still have fun, but there is a totally different feel in the air. The weightlifters, powerlifters, football players, and track athletes are there to do extraordinary things. They are trying to make an Olympic team, world team, earn a scholarship, or play in the NFL. That’s the difference in the back room and the front room. Everyone is trying to reach a goal, but the folks in the back are there to perform the extraordinary.

Our culture has been developed carefully over the last year and a half. Some people have moved on, and some have been added. All of it was for the best. Now we have a group who works together, trains hard, and likes to be coached. We support one another. We might pick on each other, but no outsider is allowed to pick on our teammates.

This is why we so carefully choose our members now. We require a 100% approval rate from not only the coaches but also the team members. It’s a tough process to join the team now, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love these folks. I am not looking for a new athlete like I did in the past. I have all the ones I want.
 

SMASHING RECORDS

The main reason I am writing this article is to explain a phenomenon that occurred last week. Our team as a whole hit an astonishing amount of personal records then. It was really one after the other. I am talking about amounts you rarely hear about.

Nathan Damron snatched 170kg from blocks. Ryan Grimsland snatched 113kg and 115kg, hitting two personal records in the snatch and PRing his total as well. Morgan McCullough made personal records in the snatch, jerk, clean from deficit, and his total on Friday. 14-year-old Hannah Dunn snatched 70kg/154lb to get over the hump for a long awaited PR.

It wasn’t just my world team members. It was the entire team both on-site and online. We hit so many personal records that I can’t get them all posted, as they are getting lost in the photo stream.

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MOMENTUM

So how does this happen? That’s the question that has been ringing in my ears. I mean, it is the time of year, as most everyone is peaking for the American Open Series 3 happening a few weeks from now. But I have still never seen anything like this before. I’ve seen days that seemed to stick out but never an entire week of extraordinary feats.

I’m calling this phenomenon gym momentum, and I wish Greg Nuckols or Andy Galpin would perform a study on this supernatural happening. We’ve all experienced it in some form or another. If you’ve ever been to a Jon North seminar, you’ve probably witnessed exactly what I am talking about. It starts by someone getting jacked up and hitting a big lift, and the next thing you know the entire room is slamming personal records.

As a coach, this is one of the biggest reasons you are trying to cultivate and nurture a solid culture. This is the reason you might have to cut your top athletes if they don’t fit the culture you are trying to develop. You will never have a room like the one I have if you have the one bad apple who doesn’t allow the room to blossom. You know who I am talking about. I am talking about the guy who demands the attention to always be on him – or the grumpy athlete who makes everyone walk on eggshells. If that’s you, you need to change. No amount of victories or records gives you a right to steal the attention of the room. If you are a true champion, you would never want that.

When I was a world champion, I wanted my teammates to experience the same feeling. I remember bombing out at the world championships in 2006, and I immediately started coaching my teammate and best buddy, Ox Mason, in hopes that he would win. I promise you all that one day all of your athletic days will be behind you, and you don’t want to look back on a career that was totally self-absorbed. You will be pleased to look back and remember being a great team member and inspiring others to succeed.
 

THE GOAL

The type of momentum that we experienced last week will never happen at a gym unless a proper culture is a primary goal. If you want to be a world champion, this type of environment is mandatory. You will need a coach for direction and a team for support. When you are trying to be the best at something, a strong support base is crucial. You will have days that are harder than others. Having a teammate and coach to support you during those dark times is a must in all sports. On the other hand, it’s just as important to have teammates to inspire each other to higher and higher levels, which is what happened all last week.

Here's the key to unlocking even more gains in 2018...

Become a member of the Mash Mafia.

* Fully Customized Programming

* Unlimited Technique Analysis

* The Best Coaching in the World

Remember, forming a community is the easy part. The moment you open a gym, you will have a community. Culture is the hard part. It’s something you need to think long and hard about before opening a facility. What kind of culture are you looking to create as a gym owner? What kind of person fits that culture?

As an athlete, what type of culture do you want to seek out? How can you help that culture develop?

It’s more important than many might think.

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