Building a Training Hall

by Roger LaPointe

The Ambridge Barbell Club can be classified as an "Old School" Training Hall!

Training halls are not built over night. What do you think of when you hear about a training hall? My guess is that a different image is conjured up from when you hear “fitness facility”. Am I right?

The old gyms and YMCAs, where many greats in the iron game trained, tended to be dingy after thoughts, as far as facilities would go. The great old training halls that I think of had beautiful woodwork. They may have had lines of old globe type barbells and Indian clubs lining the walls. There would always be a heavy duty, slightly raised wooden lifting platform in the center of the room. There was always some boxing equipment, or even and full ring.

These were the genuine “man caves” of a bygone era. You didn’t see pastel colors or ferns. There might be a mirror on one wall, but the art work would typically be nicely framed instructional courses, anatomical charts or promo photographs of strongmen from the past. There would be a bulletin board with the information on the next weightlifting contests or wrestling matches. Guys like Sig Klein would be your instructor, not a “personal trainer”. They were genuine record holders who had actually competed and set records. Respect was implicit and you asked them questions. You would never question them. You want to see training halls? Is it time that your place started morphing into a training hall, instead of just “weights in the basement”?

All the best, Roger LaPointe
“Today is a good day to lift.”

Club Champs REMINDER

by Al Myers

The entrance of the historic Ambridge Barbell Club!

It will not be long now and the USAWA CLUB CHAMPIONSHIPS will be taking place.  This meet is hosted by one of the oldest clubs in the USAWA (the Ambridge BBC) and directed by a couple of the oldest guys in the USAWA (Art Montini & John McKean).  The equipment in the club has been around at least a century (some forged by Bob Hoffman), and I believe the building was one of the first ones built in the Pittsburgh area (an old VFW hall).  

All of this adds up to a GREAT PLACE for an ALL ROUND WEIGHTLIFTING CHAMPIONSHIPS!  Ambridge Barbell Club has been the site of the Club Champs since it started, and is the perfect location for it.  Ambridge is in the “center” of the USAWA membership, and is within a long day drive for most everyone.  The Dino Gym will have a team present again, as well as the JWC, Ambridge BBC,  and Habeckers Gym.  There may be a couple of other clubs entered as well. 

All it takes to enter is three club members to form your club’s team.  This is a team competition, and NOT an individual competition.  The point scores of the three club members are added together to form a club score.  The club with the highest team total is declared the USAWA Club Champion of the year. 

DATE REMINDER – SATURDAY MARCH 2nd

Entry information is available under  USAWA Future Events in right column of the homepage.

Club Challenge

by Al Myers

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT – 2012 CLUB CHALLENGE

The Ambridge VFW Barbell Club will be the hosts for the 2012 USAWA Club Challenge.

It’s hard to believe but this will be the THIRD YEAR for the USAWA Club Challenge.  It seems like just yesterday that John McKean and myself  “dreamed up” this meet, and now I would have to say that it has become one of the most prestigious meets on our calendar.  This meet will again be held on the second weekend of March, as it has been the last two years.  The Ambridge BBC will be the hosts again – directed by the Ambridge BBC FATHERS -  Art “the MAN OF STEEL” Montini and John “the BIG FISH” McKean.  These guys know how to conduct a quality competition.  They both have been prior National Meet Directors in the USAWA. 

This competition is different than most “other competitions” within the USAWA.  It is titled the CLUB CHALLENGE for a reason, because it is not about individual performance, but rather club performance.  Each club is invited to bring a three person team representing their club, and the accumulation of each lifter’s individuals scores will be added together to form a TEAM SCORE.  If you can’t get three people together for the competition, you may come with a team of two, or just by yourself.  But doing that is like John has said in the past, “bringing a knife to a gunfight” because you will still be scored against the other 3 person teams. But come regardless, because you will have a fun enjoyable day lifting weights. 

Even though it is preferred to have all members registered to the same club, this is not mandatory.  If two clubs want to “join together” and form a team that is acceptable.  Our main goal of this competition is to encourage club participation within the USAWA.

MEET DETAILS:

Date:  Saturday, March 10th

Venue:  Ambridge BBC

Meet Directors:  John McKean & Art Montini

Entry Fee:  None

Start Time:  1:00 PM

Sanction:  USAWA

Lifts:

Swing – Dumbbell, One Arm

Pullover and Press

Hack Lift

There is no entry form for this competition. If interested, contact myself (at amyers@usawa.com) or John McKean.

Awards as Motivation

by Al Myers

This is part of the collection of awards present in Clark's Gym.

I have been in numerous club gyms, and one thing that sets them apart from commercial “chrome and fern” gyms is that there is always an abundance of old trophies, medals, plaques and award certificates hanging around.  Some of these places have awards that are over 30 years old!  Yet, they still bask in their glory of being visible for all gym members to see, as the day they were shiny new.  I always marvel at these old awards, and take the time to check all of them out.  I wonder, “who won this one?, and “what competition did this one come from?”.  This is a sight full of mystery, but at the same time gives you the burning desire of motivation. Anyone who has won an award knows the satisfaction that it brings, and not because of the hardware itself, but the hard work that goes into earning it.  The time in the gym pushing those extra sets, and the commitment and sacrifice training time takes away from the rest of your life.  If it was just the trophy that gave you this fulfillment – go out and buy yourself a big trophy and put wording on it proclaiming yourself the greatest weightlifter of all time!!  I assure you – that award would not mean near as much as the tiny certificate that you won the day you had a personal record lift.

In the Dino Gym I have a large collection of old weightlifting, strongman, and Highland games awards placed on a mantel overlooking the gym.  This mantel runs the entire width of the gym – 40 feet.  Most awards are “double stacked” on this shelf.  I haven’t counted them but it has to be well over 100 trophies. The funny thing is that I have at least that many in boxes in the attic!  When the mantel was full, I had to call it good.  When I first put up this trophy mantel, my wife referred to it as “my shrine” to myself.  I tried to let it slide, but her comment really hurt my feelings (even to this day and that has been a dozen years ago!).  That was not my intention.  I wanted to have a gym that any lifter would take serious when they enter the doors. I wanted us to not just “talk the talk, but walk the walk”.   Displaying hard-earned awards shows a gym newcomer that we are serious about what we do – and that we have the proof to back up what our training is all about. 

The trophy case in the Ambridge Barbell Club.

Most all of the other USAWA Clubs have a “trophy wall” as well.  Last November at the Gold Cup, Frank Ciavattone took me down into his basement which holds Franks Barbell Club.  I was overwhelmed by his collection of trophies and such.  Just a quick glance at this, and ANYONE would know  that Frank was a Champion.  As we browsed through things, Frank had a story on each award.  To him – these trophies were mementos that held a collection of memories from the competitions he has been in.  I have been to the historic Ambridge BBC a few times now, and each time I spend a little time looking over their collection.  Their collection is a lesson in weightlifting history – some awards date back 40-50 years.  The JWC Training Hall has many very unique awards.  Thom has on display some awards that were won by previous JWC members.  Truly a compliment to those that had a significant part of  the JWC history.  Clark’s Gym is another gym that has a great display of awards that is rich in history.  As you look over Clark’s Gym extensive collection of awards, it is a true inspiration.   I could go on with several other examples like these.

The point I want to leave you with is that it is not egotistical to display awards if done for the right reasons.  If it motivates one young kid to change their life by forming a commitment to training and physical fitness that keeps them out of trouble, it is worthwhile!   But now I gotta go – it’s time to polish my shrine!!!  (haha – THAT’S A JOKE!!)

Club Challenge

by John McKean

THE 2011 USAWA CLUB CHALLENGE – THICK AS GRAVY

The Ambridge Barbell Club hosted this years USAWA Club Challenge. Pictured left to right: Art Montini, Phil Rosenstern, and John McKean.

I sure hope that nutritionists will discover that the Maple Restaurant’s famed thick, brown beef gravy is chock full of protein, vitamins, and minerals!  Our hungry Club Challenge competitors sure slurped a lot of the delicious sauce down with big beef platters!!  Joe Ciavattone Jr had been looking forward to this stuff all day (he even had his girlfriend research online the restaurant BEFORE he, his dad, and brother had left Boston!), and I think Chad and Al ordered an extra quart of the gravy as their beverage!!  But it was an absolutely wonderful meal that capped off a perfect lifting day – truly a family gathering of happy and starving USAWA men who had traveled from Kansas, Boston, Lebanon, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Aliquippa!!

Actually air flight arrangements were a bit off, with our Kansas group not being able to arrive before 2:30, but that eventually proved to be a big plus. While waiting, the rest of us hit the Ambridge gym at about 11 AM, and ended up setting sort of a record in itself – we actually completed FOUR meets within one afternoon!!  That is, we conducted a “Record Day”, 2 postal competitions, and then, well warmed, the Club Challenge.

Joe Ciavattone Sr., of Joe's Gym, performing an outstanding 2-Barbell Deadlift.

We have to give a huge thanks to co-meet director Art Montini for his skillful airport pickup & delivery system!!  Joe Ciavattone & sons were obviously a bit concerned when arriving at 9 AM on Friday morning at the big Pittsburgh terminal, heading toward the outside doors, and there was ole smiling Art at the ready!  They spent a relaxing day & night at Art’s place -as Joe told me  “I can’t ever remember being this relaxed going into a contest!”  Then, on Saturday afternoon, after lifting most of the day, ever energetic Art headed for the airport with perfect timing to intercept Al, Chad, and Darren ! They were back almost before we could get our second breath, and put us in real pain, as we entered into the main event !

As we warmed up, we had an unexpected treat -longtime powerlifter and Ambridge VFW member, 57 year old Phil Rosenstern, of deadlifting fame, was so impressed with the goings on (Phil was just innocently doing a normal Saturday workout when the craziness overtook him!)  that he immediately joined the USAWA, then hoisted a world record hack lift of 450 at 198 pounds bodyweight !!  It was fast, easy, and perfect, performed in front of 7 top level officials!!  Welcome aboard, Phil !

Scott Schmidt joined the Ambridge Club for this team event and is showing perfect technique in his 253 pound Bent Over Row.

The meet went in our usual “scatter fashion” with groups doing the 2 barbell deadlift, bent over row, and neck lift in various corners of the VFW pit. It worked to perfection, with everyone encouraging another to the very best efforts. Even the jet lagged crew from Kansas summoned their “inner animal” toward the end, with both Chad & Al neck lifting phenomenal 750 pound fourth attempts!  Their newcomer (to the Steel Valley) team mate, Darren was awesome in leading the Western men into battle, earlier having done a terrific, balanced 470 pound 2 barbell deadlift.

What more can be said about the Ciavattones – other than they are the strongest family team in the USAWA ?!!  It was just fantastic to see old buddy Joe & his teen sons Joe Jr and Jon!  And these men came to lift heavy, sticking at it all day,with records vanishing through their strong hands!  Not to mention thick NECKS – these three guys set the bar for neck lifting standards at this contest; it was their collective performance that inspired me to include this lift in the contest (despite all the grief EVERYONE gave me about this painful harness event!!!).

Dino Gym teammates Chad Ullom and Al Myers both ended the day with record performances in the Neck Lift, each with a lift of 750 pounds.

Denny and Kohl once again brought “knives to a gunfight”, as they were the two man team in a three man event!!  So, naturally, they won the two man team award with their usual record breaking prowess. I think they also had the meet record for the longest TIME traveled during that day with a round trip to/from Lebanon (PA) of about 12 hours (despite moans & groans about layovers from a certain group of cowboys!).

And what would a meet be without the smooth talking (he convinced the Maple restaurant over the phone to remain open for our after meet dinner!!) Scott Schmidt to drive over from Cleveland to be Ambridge’s third team member for the day? Scott did his usual stellar, perfect form performance, and even inspired old Art into setting 4 new Master’s records!

As Al summed up over dinner, the Club Challenge is certainly well established now as one of  the USAWA’s premier events. We just may have more fun & comradary at this contest than any other!  Next year let’s shoot for 10 teams!!!

FULL MEET RESULTS

2011 Club Challenge
Ambridge VFW BBc
Ambridge, PA
March 12th, 2011

Meet Directors:  John McKean and Art Montini

Officials: (3-official system used on all lifts):  John McKean, Art Montini, Denny Habecker, Scott Schmidt, Joe Ciavattone Sr., Al Myers, Chad Ullom, Darren Barnhart

Lifts:  Deadlift – 2 Bars, Bent Over Row, Neck Lift

1. Dino Gym – 3192.35 Adjusted Points

Lifter Age BWT DL Bent Neck
Al Myers 44 248 590 300 550
Chad Ullom 39 238 510 285 550
Darren Barnhart 43 285 470 285 400

2.  Joe’s Gym – 3066.05 Adjusted Points

Lifter Age BWT DL Bent Neck
Joe Ciavattone Sr. 42 254 410 285 600
Joe Ciavattone Jr. 17 220 410 205 550
Jonathon Ciavattone 16 234 350 184 550

3.  Ambridge BBC – 2773.84 Adjusted Points

Lifter Age BWT DL Bent Neck
John McKean 65 175 370 209 350
Art Montini 83 179 238 100 250
Scott Schmidt 58 251 363 253 264

4.   Habecker’s Gym – 1679.02 Adjusted Points

Lifter Age BWT DL Bent Neck
Denny Habecker 68 188 290 209 270
Kohl Hess 16 285 410 220 300

All lifts recorded in pounds and adjusted points are adjusted for bodyweight correction and age allowance.

Extra attempts for Record:

Chad Ullom – Bent Over Row 300#
Chad Ullom – Deadlift, 2 Bars 550#
Chad Ullom – Neck Lift 750#
Al Myers – Neck Lift 750#

Record Day Session

John McKean – 175 pounds BWT, 65 years of age

Hack Lift – Fulton Bar: 195#
Squat:  225#
Jefferson Lift – Fulton Bar: 300#
Deadlift – Fulton Bar: 300#

Phil Rosenstern – 198 pounds BWT, 57 years of age

Hack Lift: 450#

Scott Schmidt – 251 pounds BWT, 58 years of age

Pinch Grip – Right Hand: 136#
Pinch Grip – Left Hand: 99#

Club Challenge

by Al Myers

MEET ANNOUNCEMENT – THE 2011 USAWA CLUB CHALLENGE

John McKean and Art Montini of the Ambridge VFW BBC are the hosts for the 2011 USAWA Club Challenge.

After the overwhelming success of the USAWA Club Challenge last year, John McKean has announced plans to host this unique team competition again this year.  The date has been set – March 12th.  The Club Challenge will follow  along the same guidelines as last year.   This competition is a “team” competition – with each club bringing three members whose adjusted points will be added together to form a “team score”.  No awards will be given for individual performance.  The Challenge will occur at the famous Ambridge Barbell Club in Ambridge, PA.  John has set an afternoon start time to allow for lifters to fly in the morning of the meet.  This is a great opportunity for all USAWA Member Clubs to show their “team spirit” by pitting themselves against other clubs in the USAWA.  Even though I would like to see teams composed of USAWA members who list their club as their affiliated club on the membership roster, this is not required.  So if you are the only one from your club that wants to attend and you can find two other team members, that is allowed. If a club wants to bring more than one team – that is ok as well.  The Ambridge BBC is a very interesting gym, and contains equipment that you will not see anyplace else!  Plus after the meet, John knows the best places to eat in town and you will not be disappointed in the post-meet celebration!

2011 USAWA Club Challenge

Date:  Saturday, March 12th

Venue:  Ambridge BBC

Meet Director:  John McKean

Entry Fee:  None

Start Time:  2:30 PM

Sanction:  USAWA

Lifts:

Bentover Row

Deadlift – 2 Bars

Neck Lift

There is no entry form for this competition. If interested, contact myself (at amyers@usawa.com) or John.