Olympic weightlifting, Athlete doping and corrupt boards

Oh My!

What a world we live in these days. Seriously!

Gyms closed down for far too long due to pandemic, then reopened (some closed permanently), and now gyms are being shut down again in Ontario and other parts of the world. And yesterday, we find out of yet another moment where politics and greed are getting in the way of athletic progress.

The International Weightlifting Federation has recently ousted two interim roles that were put in place due to corruption, bribery, doping scandals and more. These leaders in the interim roles were helping make substantial progress in cleaning up the sport, seeking retribution for the athletes directly impacted by competitors that are/were doping and helping clean up the perspective of Olympic weightlifting in the eyes of the International Olympic Committee.

Finally! People in a position of power doing what is in the best interest of the masses that they are there to represent, protect and stand for. But alas, nothing good lasts forever does it.

Currently, Olympic weightlifting stands a chance of being dropped from the Olympics due to the rampant doping infractions that are happening. You can read more about the challenges that one of the greatest sports in the world (biased, I know) is facing here.

And here. And here.

To my point, I have been thinking about this since the news dropped and the Olympic lifting lifting community has turned on it’s head in frustration. From an executive standpoint, I have no power (I am no executive). From a coaches standpoint, all I can do is hope that my athletes understand the impact doping can have on their life and that they don’t choose that route (if they do and I find out, they will be removed immediately). From an athlete standpoint, because I know I will not make the Olympics (that ship has sailed), all I can do is continue on my path of competing clean and go back to a guest blog post I wrote for my former coach, now CEO of ALTIS, Stu McMillan on reactions to Lance Armstrong and his doping violations…
{ full blog here }

I gotta live with that…500 words from Lisa Szabon-Smith

(Stu originally set up his blog to be 500 words or less, so this perpetual rambler has challenged herself to do just that. 500 word response to a black cloud that hovers over not just the cycling world, but every athletic world…)

“I gotta live with that”: Five words that trickled from Lance Armstrong’s lips as he shared with Oprah what 99% of the world already knew to exist. 

These are words I have chosen to think about before making any choice in my life:

Can I live with this?
Can I continue to live my life with the step I am taking right now? If I even falter at answering YES then I hope to the heavens I will stop. (I went through the same process when deciding to close the gym)

I’m a clean athlete. I even refused Creatine for the lack of long-term knowledge on what the increased intake (additional to that of which my body naturally produces) would do to me. The most I supplemented with was protein and a one-time ingestion of Beta Alanine; of which the physical reaction from was enough for me to say “this is not for me.” 
I chose to be among the strongest females, third fastest female pilots (in a physical sense) and powerful athletes of the Canadian program at the time of my involvement with terms that I could live with.

There is no secret that there is cheating, banned substance ingestion, doping and many other unethical and down right inappropriate behaviors that happen in the world of sport. Cycling is not immune. Bobsleigh is not immune. Track and Field is not immune. No doubt swimming is not immune. We are all human and we make mistakes but are they mistakes that we can live with?

Despite being human and prone to making mistakes, we are still given the foundations and the ability to make choices; the right choices hopefully. 

We all like to win.

No high level athlete will tell you that second place, third, fourth and so on down the line is ok. No high level athlete will tell you that they can handle looking up to the top of the podium rather than looking down from the top. We all want to win.

But at what cost? 

Are we in a society that is so desperate to be number one that we make choices that 5, 10 years down the road we may never be able to look ourselves in the mirror again? At what level of desperation do we go forth and become frauds?

It seems to me that almost every person I have heard of, watched, or read about in regards to doping/cheating was already an amazing athlete before they began to dope. So what changed? 

What made this already powerful and talented athlete think, “If I take this banned substance – that I know is wrong – I’ll be #1”. Do they forget that there are always repercussions when dancing with the Devil?

Call me naïve or perhaps too grounded for ultimate success (after all, I missed out at going to the Olympics) but I’d rather know I missed the podium because I made a choice I can live with; not one that brought me a title that, in reality, 10 to 15 years later will be forgotten.

Because after all, I gotta live with that.

(510 words – I can live with that)

Think on this. Would you cheat in order to win?
If the answer is yes, I don’t want you in my corner, let alone the arena.
Boundary #1.

As always, conquer great things,

When no one’s watching

These days much of what we do is “for the ‘gram”. 

Seems there is always a camera rolling; an athlete filming their movements, a snapshot posted somewhere on social media, and a coach constantly sharing a “new” movement video. That feedback loop is great; not only do we build our personal brand and retention, we also have another way for the world to see us, to access us. 

But ask yourself this, “What if no one was watching?”

Would you still do it for “the gram”?

I get it, social media is fun and it feels good to show off a little, especially these days with no crowds and in many cases right now no coaches present to give us the token head pat* for a job well done or feedback on how you can improve. 

As humans we are naturally drawn to communal acceptance and our community is growing by the minute.

I can chat with a former teammate in another country and comment on her training. I am able to reach out to coaches across the ocean and make sure they are ok with the pandemic and all that it is impacting. We are able to connect with people to ask for help, for coaching support and insight in how we do things so that we can build the best athletes and programs out there. Heck, I have even taken to filming my own training to send to another coach via WhatsApp to get feedback from him as of late, and it has helped.

Don’t get me wrong, the filming, posting and constant sharing is now ingrained in us. It’s becoming who we are, akin to the stories that were told from generation to generation around campfires centuries ago. Our technology has opened up many doors to connection and reach.

But what happens when it becomes unhealthy?

Athletes, do you stress about the right angle, the light and your appearance before you train? Coaches, do you worry that you need to keep posting information, videos, blogs, etc just to stay relevant and continue to build or maintain your business?

Might this unnecessary “extra” take away from what you are really here to do? 

So how do we combat this?

Recently, I have told my athletes to not post or tag workouts that are done when I am coaching them. There are many reasons why I have made this rule but one is because I found they spent more time on their phones, setting up for the shot, asking the other to film, etc and less time really internalizing what they are present to do, train and improve.
Call it a Media Free Monday if you will.

As a retired athlete, I am so thankful that over 10 years ago social media really only equated to YouTube videos and Facebook asking us “How are you feeling?” so we posted stupid comments on how we actually felt, not videos of training. No phone had that power then. Imagine that, Facebook had to prompt us on how to interact with its technology just to get it functioning as designed. Now it has to limit our interaction so it can manage the design.

Now let’s take this question of “when no one is watching would you still do it?” beyond our technology and social media days.

Would you still lift weights, train hard and sweat until your shirt is soaked if no one is watching? Would you continue to challenge yourself, to grow, to improve if you had no global outlet to brag a little? Would you, as an athlete or a coach, do a better job without these social demands?

Perhaps it’s time to reflect on this, leave the phone behind and truly train. No distractions and only your personal head pats and support from the people that matter most – yourself, your coach and your family. Likely in that order too.

*head pat – I had a coach who, on my first day with him, said “If I don’t say anything to you, you’re doing good, change nothing.” I later learned that if he patted my head, I was doing great. The highest honor was a head pat.

Thank You ❤️

There is never an easy way, nor a way that “feels right” for a business to announce that they are closing their physical location.
Three months is too long.
Despite all of our efforts and the efforts of our faithful members and coaches, we have considered and reconsidered the hard decision to close the doors to our physical space, and to remove as much overhead as we can, instead continuing to work online or as contractors to groups that are able to provide the space while we provide the know-how.
Our decision has been based around the future. Concerns for the future really.
Our economy is hurting, our people are hurting, and while we have worked hard to try to get through to the other side of this, it’s becoming obvious that the greater concern lies 3, 6, 9 months from now, not tomorrow.
Due to the many challenges we all face, our team is thankfully honest and self-aware enough to know that we will not survive the many new restrictions and guidelines that so many businesses like ours face.
There are many factors that would challenge our operations, tax our energy levels and put a strain on our break-even. Especially as we cannot in good conscience raise our rates just to pay our bills. Nor can we lower our rates to lure more people in.
Then looking at the proposed cleaning requirements, the schedule for such additional practices and the uncertainty to how long it will all last, it’s too much. With all the stress we have faced, all the sleepless nights and all the efforts to offer everything we can online, we have come to the decision to press the “pause” button on our physical space and to wait patiently for when and if the time is right to return to this capacity.
I refuse to become financially and emotionally bankrupt just to fight to hold on as we enter the unknown.
So now, we say a heartfelt “Thank you”. Thank you to the community of High River and surrounding area. Thank you to our members and our gym family. We will so dearly miss seeing you all in one space, working hard and having fun.
Thank you to all the athletes and teams that I have been so blessed to work with. I will miss the Foothills Eagles, Bisons, Flyers and Castle Mountain Freestyle Ski Team constantly improving between the four walls that have been our home for nearly four years. I hope we will meet again soon.
I am sorry that our involvement with Canadian Tire JumpStart will change and that our Christmas Lift Off for the food bank will be affected as well.
This place has been my home for nearly four years. It took three years to plan, prepare and make happen before opening in the fall of 2016.
A whole lot of tears, cuts, blood, blisters and sweat have happened here along the way. Of course a whole lot of cheers, hugs, high fives, Personal Bests, and celebrations too.
Thank you for all the support from those that stood by our sides and cheered us along. I have contacted those that have payments that need to be settled and do encourage you all to keep watching us.
We may not have four walls for us to gather in but we certainly are still around to connect and guide you on your fitness and athletic journey.
For now, I will be a mom to Hadley, a wife to Brett and take this chance to enjoy summer.
Much love to you all and many thanks.
Lisa Szabon-Smith
Owner/Operator/Head Coach
The Hub Performance Training
Online and ready to help.

Bad mood busters

Recently, on Facebook, coach Lisa asked everyone “What methods do you use to knock yourself out of a bad mood?

The response was amazing and we figured it would be valuable to share here with all of you for future reference.

Add your own thoughts in the comments!

  • Kitchen dance party and naps. Lots of naps. 😀
  • Buti yoga
  • Exercise bike until I’ve worked through the grumps!
  • Hitchin post milk shakes!!
  • Well lately it’s really hard and everyone is really annoying!!
  • Music, deep breathing, being outside.
  • Working out – or cooking.
  • Naps
  • Music, Get moving, Dance
  • Music
  • Funny memes, Enjoying having my kids home
  • Music, fresh air and YouTube funny animal videos
  • Wine and shopping on Amazon 🤣
  • Exercise!
  • Walking my cat, it’s so ridiculous it always makes me smile!
  • Creating art while listening to music
  • Do a happy dance 😄
  • Usually escaping to the mountains with my faithful friend.
  • Gym session, yoga, walk.
  • Hot shower, heavy lifting, hugs from those I am isolated with, good music I can turn up and sing along.
  • Naps. Going outside.
  • Deep, purposeful breaths reminding myself that whatever it is, is temporary. That or a good work out with some good music.
  • Going outside for a walk. It’s my medicine
  • Meditate. Sit there until you feel better!!!
  • A good workout and FaceTime with girlfriends!
  • Accomplish a goal, small thing off the todo list or even doing laundry. Not dishes though, I do them but it doesn’t boost my mood 🙂
  • A walk for sure it nature, time near water
  • Music, dancing
  • Well I’m currently averaging 4 home workouts a day. Every time I get anxious it’s my stress relief. Not sure it’s the best coping mechanism. Also working on learning to play piano.
  • Exercise. In all of the ways. Outside. Inside. Intense or gentle. It always fixes my head. If all else fails.. a hot bath and Harry Potter ⚡️
  • I run till all my thoughts are out of my head… then a good cry and call my BFF. Sometimes I punch and yell at the air lol🤪😉💕.
  • Pet funny videos…
  • Cuddling with my kitty
  • Getting outside. Dance parties and my oils. My favorite is “Forgive”. A couple of breaths and it resets me. It’s my go to every time.
  • Go shoot some gongs
  • I usually say what the hell is wrong with me and self isolate 🤣🤣🤣
  • Cuddling with my babies it seems lately at least one wakes up early and snuggles into bed with me best way to start the day. Then sewing, walking outside
  • I go out in the field with my dogs, breath in deep and slow, calm my mind chatter…
  • Prayer 🙏
  • Baking
  • I sew, and then I sew some more, Its very rewarding for me.
  • Dance party!!!!
  • Take my dogs to the woods does the trick.
  • Baby calves, it’s baby season!! You can’t be upset when they frolic outside your window.
  • Run… inside or outside. Music on, don’t think…. just breath…. and run!
  • Meditation
  • Hike in the woods, or a morning walk in the neighborhood when the birds are all out singing.
  • My go to is Exercise 😁
  • A great book!
  • Music.
  • CleaningWrap 30’ of rope around one of the pillars in the basement. Practice striking at arms length and move in until you can only use elbows and work backwards. If still in a bad move do the same with kicks. Once done find bottle of Favorite beverage pour and repeat 4 f this stuffs and go about your day. Lol Or find something that makes you laugh.

Pretty cool to see fitness, music and dance as some of the greatest answers! Also a good insight to the “types” of people Lisa interacts with, we truly do flock to those with shared values.

We are really curious, what do YOU do to bust a bad mood and shift the mindset gear?

Until there is Nothing Left to be Done.

Making the best of unique situations

Currently, we sit in really unique times.
So much uncertainty for small business owners, employees, families and frankly, the whole world.

The impact here feels astronomical.

As we all know there is always a trickle down affect and it seems since the beginning of 2020 it’s actually the Hoover Dam breaking wide open and gushing out, not a slow trickle.

Grab your boat and build the paddles as you go.

Yup, it’s rocky and full of wild rapids but it certainly is a great chance to work on those resourceful skills and to see what you are truly made of.
Will you sink or continue to stay afloat?

No matter the actual challenge you face, be it now or something twenty years from now. Start practicing the belief that you will do all you can until there is nothing left to be done.

Go through anything that gives you little to no choice but to fight with the readiness to be creative. To challenge the unknown and to try to open doors that once were locked.

Hire you own coach, against the advisory of your federation that broke your trust. Build your own equipment with the knowledge you have gained and the help from the smart people around you. Add practices that feel right, feel good and are beneficial to your mental health through the whole process.

Ask so many questions of all the people that they flag your file and send you to “upper management” during times of disaster. That’s right, be that person.

Enter every meeting, every room and every situation with all the information you could gather and then some. Do all that can be done until there is no more to be done.

Do this so that when and if it truly is over, you can proudly walk away knowing there is no fault, for the end was never due to a lack of try.

Currently, in order just to pay the bills that we are still unable to avoid, we are renting out as much of our gym equipment that we can, quickly building an online training platform with the hopes of bringing in a little more support and filming more videos of workouts than we ever dreamed of doing. All this, in the hope of being able to maintain our business so that we can open once the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

Obviously, with that statement alone, it’s clear that we were basically operating on a month to month basis. It’s time to get real and honest here. We had enough funds to sustain us for one, maybe two months. That’s it. Since May 2019, our income generation has plummeted. We had a steady decline in memberships and class users, despite changing much of our price points to try to reflect the current state of affairs in our small town.

Gyms are not flush. Not the small ones. Not the ones where the owners still clean the toilets and mop the floors rather than a cleaning company.
The gyms that have owners that remember your names, your kids, what you like to do in the summers and what type of music you prefer to listen to – those gyms are not prepared for this. Those gyms, the small gyms, the family, community focused gyms are not financially set to weather this storm. And on top of that, the owners, after paying all of their trainers for March and March bills first, need to somehow pay themselves. These days, an impossibility. And no, an interest free loan is not helpful.

What’s worse is that we uniquely do not fall well under any government assistance program because we are a “business”, most of us are incorporated to try to protect a little bit of personal from business and we for some strange reason are not considered employers because we are owners. Yet we employ people. We make a lot of work for a lot of people in this world, us small, privately operated businesses.

While I speak of The Hub directly in this, I know that The Hub is not alone in the foothills, or Alberta, Canada and even the world. We represent a handful of many businesses and families drastically affected by this situation.

So, for now, I continue to do all that I can do. But I tell ya, I feel like I am beginning to run out of possibilities.

Coach Lisa