Athletes on Display? Coming Up.

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Get the Sharpie out, run to the calendar on your refrigerator door and write the words Powerlifting Party all over the box of April 17th, making sure to cover up anything else that might be written there. Aunt Gertie’s 127th birthday? Now just a smudge. Nephew’s Bris? Forgotten. Pap smear appointment? Not anymore.

At least 8 members of the Bodytribe lifting team, as well as a growing collection of our strength friends from around California (and beyond) will be bitch-slapping gravity within Bodytribe walls that day, and you don’t want to miss it.

For just a smidge short of a decade now I’ve been hosting APA powerlifting meets, about dozen of which have been here at the Tribe. As we’ve always adhered to the less popular RAW philosophy (lifting with no more aid than a belt and maybe some wraps, sans the super fancy lifting suits in vogue amongst many folks), last year we decided to make all of our meets RAW, and the strangest thing happened.

MORE people started signing up. And this meet looks to be no exception. Maybe they’re folks like me who simply get claustrophobic in lifting suits that take 3 people to get on, but the golden days of one person/one bar and not much else seems to be on a slight return… like a trend or something. Odd, since we’ve never been one to be even remotely cool enough to know what is ‘in’ at any given time.

In a post not too long ago, the term ‘athlete’ was being contemplated. Let’s review and reflect, since one of the big goals of Bodytribe is to embrace ‘athlete’ as a term of personal accomplishment through movement and strength…

Tonight I’m almost obscenely caressing a barbell before getting under it and squatting with the darn thing. I twist it, tug at it, grip it, all the while knowing I’m going to lift it. But this ritual is to know that I know I’m going to lift it. But today I have help. Often I lift alone during the fairly quiet time at Bodytribe, early in the afternoon when people who actually do important things are at work. But today finds the battle between me and gravity in a much more public scenario, later in the afternoon surrounded by multiple wars/parties going on around me. I’m slow to understand the process, but by my last set, magic sinks in and the barbell and I dance, no longer a battle but a celebration.

I’m slow, but not totally oblivious. Around my squat cage bubble was hard work. There were demons being slayed, angels being embraced, hateful regimes being toppled and bridges of opportunity being built, all within the other cages and platforms around me. The Tribe was alive with strength and before I knew it, I was inspired. My bar knew it, my legs knew it, and eventually my consciousness caught up.

Webster has this to say about the word “athlete:” Any one trained to contend in exercises requiring great physical agility and strength; one who has great activity and strength; a champion. Our little power dojo was spilling over with athletes. I saw a room of champions, even if most of them haven’t competed on any public stage. There was no quest for celebrity status, and no worship of corporate logo sponsors going on this night. Instead there was a hive of activity, brutal activity. This iron war dance wasn’t for fame, bragging rights, scholarships or medals. What I witnessed this evening, and experience everyday with my tribe, were winning battles against personal foes. This locks the door against laziness, and if small tribes like ours can do it, maybe the big tribe has a chance. Our heroes are us.



Upcoming stuff:

I’ve updated the events page, with some more things to come soon. For you folks less-than-local to Bodytribe, we’re taking our show on the road to Portland and San Diego/Carlsbad area in the near future (and the rest of the country after that), so keep an eye out for our out-of-town travel plans.


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  • Craig in Sacramento

    Chip, I really enjoy reading your eassys. May the 17th be a spectacular victory over gravity.

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