Barbell Club: Behind The Scenes
The Level Barbell Club trains 6 days a week at Robinson Road, and is made up of an interesting assortment of people. Led by Coach Wu, the Barbell Club seems to be doing the same thing, week in, week out, yet we still see them coming back! We caught up with Daniel, Sherling, Manoj and Jacintha and asked them if they get tired of lifting, of Coach Wu, or of each other.
Tell us about yourselves!
M: I’m Manoj! I’ve been working in consumer businesses across Asia for over 25 years, and I’m 50 years old this year (I wouldn’t want to be a day younger!). I picked up CrossFit in 2013 while living in Shanghai in an effort to get in shape, because I did zero exercise of any sort before the age of 40! That was the intro to some weightlifting moves. Two years ago, I came to level, saw folks doing weightlifting and realised that after coming from CrossFit, it’s like having dessert without having to eat the salad or mains (burpees and god knows what!)
J: I’m Jacinta! I get paid to make your problems disappear, which sounds like I’m a cool AF assassin, but I’m just a sleep-deprived legal counsel. I started weightlifting 2 weeks before the circuit breaker started, at Level’s barbell club.
SL: Sher Ling, I started weightlifting about a year and half ago. I got to know about Coach Wu from his seminar at a CrossFit box, and then came to train with him in Level’s Barbell Club.
D: Daniel, I’m a lawyer and I got into barbell club/weightlifting because I wanted to learn the technique after a couple injuries doing Crossfit. I told myself I would give it 6 months and I would go back to Crossfit but here I am, 2 years later still loving weightlifting.
We see you guys pretty much every day! Does it ever get tiring or monotonous?
M: Weightlifting is a surprisingly nerdy sport. There is always something to learn and it’s amazing how a small change in movement can make such a large impact. It’s really about understanding how the body works and the optimising movement patterns that fit your body. I love the constant learning every day. And I love the banter with the other regulars.
SL: Weightlifting is very much like Flappy Bird, that addictive mobile game that frustrates you so much because you’re pretty much just tapping the screen for progress. When you die, all you want to do is try again to get a bit further.
D: Life is pretty busy and hectic for me, with work and three women in my life (wife and two young daughters). The Barbell club is my refuge where I clear my mind. It gives me the energy and clarity to be the best husband/dad/lawyer that I can be.
J: I think you’re hinting that you’re sick of our faces!
How is Wu as a coach?
M: He is incredible. I’ve had coaches/mentors at work and encountered coaches through various sports over the last few years, and Coach Wu is right at the top of the pile. He is just incredibly knowledgeable and so humble to share his knowledge so patiently with amateurs like me. The Barbell Club with Coach Wu is easily the highlight of my day. Every day.
J: He is ridiculously patient. I’m amazed that he hasn’t recorded his voice on loop going: “CORE, LATS, CORE!”
D: Coach Wu is incredibly knowledgeable about the sport of Weightlifting, as well as mechanics of the human body. He is also like a Jedi master. He could be coaching one person in barbell club but at the same time he can sense if someone else has made a good/bad lift. He also uses easy analogies for people to understand challenges concepts and techniques.
SL: He is patient and funny! I agree with Daniel about the analogies!
What is it like training with each other?
SL: It’s like training with my brothers and sisters. We tease each other a lot!
M: It’s great fun. There is always some friendly competition and just tons of encouragement. Each new achievement gets celebrated. Love it!
SL: Are you celebrating PRs or winning coffee? (We place bets on how much we lift, and the winners get coffee)
J: I buy a lot of coffee here. It’s dangerous training with these people. Sherling will “accidentally” step on your fingers. Manoj and Sherling have no hand-eye coordination when throwing trash into the bin or clips into the bucket, so there is collateral damage.
D: The Barbell Club is filled with friendly and caring people, they make the gym an inviting place to be. The Level Barbell Club is like a second home to me.
People often think that only serious people do weightlifting, and that the barbell club is a serious, no-nonsense place. How true is this?
D: I wish it was a serious place, I think I’d get alot more done! Honestly, the barbell club is a place of good laughs, encouragement and camaraderie. I have made lasting friendships here, even with those that no longer attend the barbell club.
J: False. Ask Sherling to show you her socks.
SL: Actually, Coach Wu is full of nonsense.
Weightlifting is such an individual sport. Is training with each other better than training on your own?
D: Always better together. I’ve done training on my own (during Covid CB) and I hated every moment of it. Human are social creatures and no one can exist or train in isolation.
SL: It’s a whole lot better training with people who support and encourage each other because weightlifting is not easy, there are weeks or even months that you don’t see any progress but the challenge is part of the fun.
J: Yes, it’s nice to compete with one another when you’re feeling less motivated. Manoj, you still owe me 126 more cups of coffee from our volume snatch balance competition.
What are your goals and aspirations for 2021?
J: Don’t get fired so that I can pay for Barbell Club, coffee and beer…? Maybe do my first handstand push up without losing 20 IQ points and getting a concussion.
M: 1) Earn back 128 cups of coffee lost through stupid bets, 2) Win respectably at a Master’s competition, not because I’m the only one lifting in the 50-55 age group, 3) Be able to grunt louder than John while lifting! 4) Beat the other Barbell club members at the bar (the drinking kind).
SL: Keep training, get stronger every day, keep coming back to tap the screen after I die.
D: My goal in 2021 is to break 80kg on the snatch and 100kg on the clean and jerk, ideally at the Singapore Open in March.
The Barbell Club lifts twice a day at 12.15pm and 1.30pm at our Robinson Road branch and rests on Sundays. Due to the continuous and progressive nature of the class, we do not offer complimentary sessions. Access is granted with a Level membership, or a separate “Barbell Only” class pack (see Rates). Send an email to email@example.com to arrange a time to drop in to take a look at the class!
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