Recently, the powerlifters at Monster Garage Gym (MGG) had a string of sanctioned meets. As each meet approached, the tone of the gym grew a little more intense, and as the training cycle started for the third big meet in a row, the training vibe had pretty much reached shark feeding frenzy status. The music in the gym grew louder, the amounts being lifted became heavier, and the stress the lifters were putting on themselves increased. That stress isn't always the healthiest thing.

Dr. Al training for the APF Chicago Summer Bash X meet. Photo by Bent Nail Photography.

Following the third meet, I felt that a good chunk of the team flat out needed a break—not a break from lifting because we love lifting but a break from self-induced pressure. After all, powerlifting is supposed to be fun, too.

Several MGG lifters decided to do a "just for fun" meet—the Wisconsin State Fair meet. This was a non-sanctioned meet, but there were knowledgeable judges running it as well as huge sculptured trophies, a ton of sponsors, and zero expectations. The plan was to make it just another workout, celebrate the fact that we're powerlifters, and demonstrate what our sport, the greatest sport on planet Earth, is to a crowd of non-lifters.

Crowd at the 2013 Wisconsin State Fair meet. Video by Monster Garage Gym

From the weigh ins to the rules to the lifting to the medals ceremony, the meet was everything that is right with powerlifting. It was a reminder, for me at least, that not only is powerlifting fun but powerlifters, as athletes, are what's right with powerlifting. Being a non-sanctioned meet, there were lifters from the APF, the USAPL, 100% RAW, and the SPF and some lifters who just wanted to try a meet.

There were some eighty lifters all cut from the same cloth. They were misfits at their corporate gyms, secretly sneaking chalk into the gym in their gym bag or shorts' pockets, hiding their Ace Pro briefs under their shorts or they were the garage lifters, training at home with their elitefts™ power racks bolted down in their garages and two cars sitting out in the driveway all year long.

The original Monster Garage Gym 1.0 started with the elitefts™ power rack in an actual two-car garage years ago. The same rack, minus some paint, is seen here at Monster Garage Gym 3.0. Photo by Bent Nail Photography.

Those "at home" powerlifters were managing all three lifts in 300 square feet of space in their garages. In other words, they were just like us at the MGG and just like you—training to compete, working to make weight or move up in a weight class, and always trying to set a PR. They eat to lift and take note of who is lifting what in their division. They know the history of the sport and have an idea of where the sport is heading in the future. They know who Ed Coan, Dave Tate, and Louie Simmons are and they talk training and meet results like we all do.

I always say that powerlifters are like roaches or Keith Richards—they just keep surviving and thriving no matter what the environment. Regardless of where they train, the training setting, or the federation, powerlifters just love to lift and compete. This meet, this non-sanctioned meet, was the magnet that pulled all these lifters together to compete, represent their sport, and connect with new powerlifting friends.

You see, true powerlifters represent everything that is right with our great sport. They are the silent majority. What we tend to see or hear are the loud voices on the internet commenting on YouTube videos and making negative comments with every opportunity they have about the sport. These folks aren't the majority and tend to find the negative in anything. They are the folks who are always trying to pit one federation against another or put down either RAW or equipped. They aren't the mass majority of powerlifters.

The majority of powerlifters can find some merit in each and every federation. The majority of powerlifters are the thousands of quiet voices that go about their training, day in and day out. The naysayers can, if we let them, make us question our sport, but folks, I'm here to tell you that when you go to a powerlifting meet, it's the complete antithesis of that skewed portrait they're trying to paint. What you find at a meet is huge respect for fellow lifters and genuine goodwill. Every lifter wants to see the other lifter do his best and nobody wants to see an injury.

Eric Maroscher (owner, Monster Garage Gym), WPC World Powerlifting Championships (2008), West Palm Beach, Florida. Photo by Monster Garage Gym.

From my first meet in 1989 to three WPC World Championships to this fun little Wisconsin State Fair meet in 2013, I've seen lifters helping one another out and lifting one another up meet after meet and decade after decade. Helping with a lift off or loaning out a weight belt, true powerlifters are each other’s keepers.

At this meet of many federations, gear, no gear, tested, non-tested, 132 pounds up to SHW, the crowd cheered about men and women competing against their own mental and physical limits and the loaded bar. Nothing more, nothing less. That is at the essence of this sport that we love so dearly. What is right about powerlifting? Powerlifters!

Related Articles

Monster Garage Gym: Foundational Training

Monster Garage Gym: It Is Not If But When

Monster Garage Gym: Rest Time for Meet Time