Thursday, February 16, 2012

My so very AMAZING Catalyst experience.

Lori and Loraine
Most people long for thrill rides and cotton candy, or sandy beaches, sunshine and a cold cocktail in their hands, when they go on vacation. I opted for black mats, lifting platforms, overcast skies, a tepid water bottle. . . And the super awesome company of Aimee and Greg Everett. I traveled to the happiest place on earth for lifters. . . Catalyst Athletics!

Getting there wasn’t easy however. Loraine, my lifting partner, and I arranged our trip months beforehand. Booked seminar. Check. Air travel. Check. Hotel and car. Check, check. Massive snow and ice storm in the Seattle area 3 days prior to our departure? What?!?!? No! We did not plan for this.

After our flight was cancelled, we contemplated that maybe our trip was not meant to be. Not wanting to wait until the next seminar in July, we opted to fight the nightmarish roads to the airport and the even worse nightmarish temperaments of the Alaska airlines employees -- and ended up flying out of SeaTac on standby to San Jose. A very lucky break!

The next morning, when our cab dropped us at the front door of the CA gym, we were a mixture of excitement and a dose of nervous energy. We walked in the front door and saw Aimee’s smiling face behind the front counter. She said, “You made it!” We had exchanged several email and tweets regarding our travel dilemmas. I was immediately warmed by her friendly demeanor. It seemed to melt away a bit of the intimidation I was feeling.

Our new friend Corey.
This wasn’t my first Olympic Weightlifting seminar or cert, but this was Catalyst Athletics! I have been visiting their website almost daily for around 3 years. I’ve bought the book, the videos, read every Performance Menu article. I scrutinize every collected training video and search out every Aimee YouTube video I can find. I’ve even written a blog a couple years ago entitled, “I want to be Aimee.”. Needless to say, I have felt motivated by and in awe of this group, from a far, for a very long time. So to be actually standing inside waiting to get hands on training from them? Well as I said, it was simultaneously, intimidating and also very, very cool.

We found a place to set our bags, and were asked to circle up. I didn’t want to miss a word, so it wasn’t by accident that I found my place at the front of the room in close proximity to Greg. I quickly realized that Greg was not only a gifted and knowledgeable coach, but he was also very, dryly, hysterically funny. And Aimee reminded me of a bubbly  fairy -- a freakishly strong fairy -- flitting and bouncing around the room, spreading joy, and giggles, and making everyone feel like they truly belonged there. Greg and Aimee are a dynamic duo, to say the least.

As Greg taught the progressions and the lifts, we had the opportunity to interact with the other coaches. They were all helpful, knowledgeable, and spot on with critique. For me it was awesome to meet them and see them in person after watching them lift in videos for so long. I found them as personable as I hoped they would be. And they made everyone feel completely incredible when they gave out a complement.

It was amazing to have such talented eyes watching you lift. Telling you what you did well and what needed to be better. I tried to soak up as much as I could every minute. I felt like the attention was distributed equally around the gym, among all of the attendees. Although I did ask Steve, if perhaps he didn’t like our end of the room because he’d been rather scarce. Of course he stayed and watched our jerks. And I’m so glad I cornered him. Because his personality is infectious and just makes you smile! That being said, absolutely everyone we were able to interact with, was great beyond belief.

With so much to learn and remember, Loraine and I sat in the Embassy Suites bar at the end of both days, writing notes to ourselves of cues that resonated with us, and technical issues we were having and how to fix them. We talked at great length about the amazing lifters we were about to become. Some of the best life plans are made in bars. I truly believe this.

Anyway, I ended my last day at Catalyst with a couple videos of me lifting on one of the platforms. I bought my CA sweatshirts that I proudly wear. I thanked Greg and Aimee for the wonderful weekend, and I said a silent prayer that this wouldn’t be the last time I was going to see the inside of this incredible place. And I left with a skip in my step and fresh goals in my head. To say I was inspired by this experience doesn’t seem to do it justice.

Yeah! Me!
For anyone who loves to lift, this seminar is something you should not miss. Go!!! You will learn from the best. You will be made to feel at home. You will laugh. You will meet remarkable people. You will take away a love for the sport of weightlifting, even greater than you had. You will wish you lived in Sunnyvale CA, and could be around these talented people on a weekly basis.

I walked out of Catalyst Athletics feeling like it was possible to be an Olympic Weightlifting rock star. This morning, in my little garage, lifting alone, I am back to feeling a bit more like a fan. . . But a fan who got to interact with the coolest cats in the weightlifting community!

Thank you, Greg and Aimee and all of the Catalyst coaches, for an unforgettable experience.

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