by Mike McIntyre
I am a graduate student at A.T. Still University, an Osteopathic medical school in Kirksville, Missouri. I have had the pleasure of meeting many great people while working on my master’s degree. I have also found the time and motivation to re-discover my passion for weightlifting. This is something I had been away from for many years prior to moving to Missouri. One of the people I have formed a great friendship with is Thom Van Vleck. Thom has written a story about the Osteoblasters before and I’d like to extend upon it. Thom has introduced me to the USAWA and Highland Games, both of which I have come to love for the competition and camaraderie. A few weeks ago I was able to experience my first USAWA event at The Dino Gym and this was just awesome! Well, that’s a little about me, now, on to my story.
“You are your own first healer”… “I am my own first patient”… These principles are repeated hundreds of times throughout the educational adventure known as medical school. However, the time crunch and fast paced learning environment make it very difficult for students to truly embrace this attitude. It seems as though one of the first things to be put on the back burner is personal health and wellness, especially when it takes so much time, commitment, and energy to stay afloat in such a demanding curriculum. Motivation quotes are plastered throughout the internet but one of the easiest to believe, and one of my favorites is that “a one hour workout is only four percent of your day, no excuses.” This is the very attitude that is pushed at A.T. Still University by the Osteoblasters Weightlifting Club (OWC). I put in so much time and work to officially establish the OWC as a University club because I honestly believe that the benefits of exercise go far beyond the body; to the mind and spirit. This trifecta, “Body, Mind, and Spirit” is another principle that is mentioned countless times at any Osteopathic medical institution. With the help of Thomas Van Vleck, the director of counseling, Dan Martin, the director of the Thompson Campus Center and Jared Nichols, a medical student, I was able to see my dreams for this club come true.
With the New Year (2012), came the beginning of the Osteoblasters. I started to design a fitness approach that would be fun, effective, and fit within the confines of about an hour. Even if I could reach out to only a dozen students I was going to consider this a successful endeavor. I designed a blend of circuit training, powerlifting, olympic lifting, strongman training, Crossfit, and I even incorporated exercises to promote the maintenance of basic movement skills, and what I came up with has evolved into the “Osteoblasters.” If people who cherish time so much are willing to devote an hour to me several times a week I figured I owed it to them to make every minute worthwhile.
At the end of my grueling workout, with several people near complete exhaustion, some people seemingly in pain, I walked around to ensure that everyone was okay and get some feedback. What I got back were “high-fives”, some “wows”, and even some comments that are inappropriate to put in print. Thinking I may have scared some people away I prepared for the next class to be smaller and have less energy overall. What actually happened was over 50 people showed up! It did not take more than a few days for the word to spread about how great this “Osteoblasters” program was and how much everyone enjoyed the challenge. I was in no way prepared for this influx of people and was forced to scramble to adapt a workout that would accommodate fifty or so people. It was not easy but I made it happen.
This blend of so many exercise styles seems to be appealing to everyone. We are not training for a competition, a race, or even to get better at a sport, we are training for life. Everyone can find at least a few things they are good at, and I force them to work through things that they may find difficult. One of the things that I never imagined would become part of this workout “class” was the camaraderie most people experience when being part of an athletics team. The majority of people do not continue competitive athletics after high school so this is an area that is easily lost as we “grow up.” The Osteoblasters are just that, a team. We are a team of individual working towards a common goal, not to win a competition or break a world record, simply to get better. Everyone is always looking to break their own personal records whether it is the number of pull ups, weight of a deadlift, or the duration of a hand stand, everyone shows up to get better. This camaraderie extends far beyond the gym as well. I see these people studying together, working together, and hanging out together. This makes all the time and work that I put into this program completely worth it.
I have been able to reach beyond the student population as well and have members of the faculty, staff, and even significant others of students as members of the OWC. We have established a great program that I hope will last for many years. Sometimes people need a push to remember that you are your own first patient. It is extremely important to study and do well while in school but it is also very important to remember your own personal health and wellness. The OWC takes this responsibility to the core of its mission statement: “The OWC will work to improve the well-being of its members through strength training and conditioning. The OWC aims to reach out to people of all levels of experience and offer a safe and structured platform for physical health and wellness.”
Hope you all enjoyed this little story of how I am keeping weightlifting and competition alive and well, even in the demanding environment of a medical school!