Coach Spotlight: Wu Chuan Fu
We caught up with Wu Chuan Fu, our beloved weightlifting coach and asked him about his history as a weightlifter, his love for finding beauty in a sport that’s often associated with brute strength and whether there’s hope for us as uncoordinated people.
How did your story begin?
I was born in Fu Jian, a town in the Southern part of China, and am the youngest child in a family with three older sisters. I started weightlifting when I was 10 years old; I went to a sports school, and because I was performing better than most kids, got scouted by a weightlifting coach on a provincial level.
That’s young! Was there a point when you felt like you lost some steam or felt burnout?
When I was in my 20s, I lost my first national competition. I felt really defeated, and my coincidence took a hit. Weightlifting was a big part of my identity and I had failed, so I became really lost. I didn’t know how to process this failure. I left the sport for 2 years and ran my own business for a while.
One day, I was tending to my shop when a weightlifting competition suddenly came on the TV. After watching the athletes lift for a while, I said to myself “Damn it, this should be me!” At that point I reevaluated everything and came to a realization that perhaps this two year break was what I needed to gain some life experience; any work is not going to be easy, but work that fuels you with a special purpose is work you should be doing.
What is different training people here and on the (Singapore) national team?
People from the national team are more career-focused– they have their eyes on very singular goals: to win their next competition, to be the best athlete they can be. Clients at Level do weightlifting as a hobby and everyone has different goals, whether as a business person or as a parent or student. Because of this diverse background, their expectation of the sport is different too, so I take care of them more and consider their other pursuits; I adjust the training accordingly as I learn more about the client. As with anyone though, I train them to the highest standard they can be.
How would you describe your coaching style?
I guide them, I don’t teach them. I guide people to “arrive” at the movement by increasing their flexibility, mobility, agility, strength and coordination. I don’t believe in spoon-feeding.
If I teach you how to solve a math problem and test you again in 2 years, you’ll probably remember a gist of it but if I only told to memorize the answers, chances are you’ll probably forget everything.
If anything, I teach them how to appreciate the nuances sport; it’s more than just lifting heavy weights. There is beauty in being a fluid mover. People don’t watch Michael Jordan for his shooting percentage. People watch his movement, his beauty and his fluidity – that’s what makes him an artist in his sport.
We are all afraid of the unknown; we are afraid of things we do not understand. You must first be open to the experience. It’s just like swimming. You have to ‘test the water’, play with it and understand your relationship with it. Like, the more you struggle, the faster you sink. In the same way, you must play with weightlifting, get familiar with it, understand it, feel the movements.
What would you tell someone who has never done weightlifting before but may be too scared to try it?
You must let the weight become a part of you, like how you become part of the water when you swim.
Learn more about Coach Wu on his Trainer profile.
Coach Wu dispenses his wisdom on a daily basis in our Barbell Club. To hear more analogies that will help your life in a positive way or to get better at weightlifting, drop us a line at email@example.com.
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The Level Barbell Club trains 6 days a week at Robinson Road, and is made up of an interesting assortment of people. 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.
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