What sounds easier: finding a group of local lifters and building them into the strongest in the world, or finding the strongest lifters in the world and recruiting them to join your gym? Which would take more time? Which would require more expertise? If you started a gym and found a way to convince the strongest lifters in the world to train there and go win national and world meets while representing your gym, how easy would it be to convince everyone you were the best powerlifting coach in the world?

It turns out it would probably be much easier to simply recruit than to build, and it's exactly what a lot of people have accused Louie and Westside of having done. A lot of people have slandered Westside's name by claiming that no one got strong in the gym, and that instead all the lifters were strong before they arrived. It's the same complaint levied at every professional sports team that signs the best players in free agency and then wins a championship: they bought that championship, they didn't build it. The implication is that success, true success, in any sport should be home-grown, built from the ground up, and not brought in from outside.

In this video, the third episode of Westside Misconceptions, Dave puts the Westside recruiting myth to rest. When Dave joined Westside in the 90s, he was the first person to have ever been recruited from outside the city. Every other member of the gym—with over 50 combined elite totals—had been local, living in the Columbus area. These lifters hadn't been recruited and they didn't come to the gym with elite totals, but they all earned them while they were there.

Dave and the very few others who were recruited to Westside at that time (John Stafford, Mike Ruggeria, and others) were subject to specific rules. For instance, Dave wasn't allowed to have his name on the elite board hanging in the gym until he hit elite numbers in a different class than he'd done it in before coming to Westside. Not only was Louie not recruiting people from outside the area, but once he did, as in Dave's case, he wouldn't even recognize their accomplishments until they achieved new feats.

In the 2000s Louie decided he was going to produce the all-time best lifters ever, and this is when he started looking outside to recruit. For almost 30 years prior to this, Westside was a bunch of guys from Columbus outside of a garage or a shitty gym, training together and getting stronger. The reputation of the gym was established long before recruiting ever happened. It was the reputation that brought in the lifters from outside, not the other way around.

WATCH: Westside Misconceptions — Program Design with Gear