Training Site Spotlight: The Miller Gym

June 01, 2019, 12 p.m. (ET)

In brief, we learned that people don't want to try weightlifting for free, they want to pay for it. Our Try Weightlifting for Free Day was a bust but it was not for lack of trying.

We promoted the event quite heavily on Facebook and Instagram. In addition, we advertised with flyers at local businesses and schools.

We posted the same flyers at our gym and many members offered to distribute them at their offices and among their friends. We did a workshop at a local elementary school and distributed flyers there.

We posted the event to a local website promoting things to do in Santa Fe.

We even went on the local Richard Eades radio show for a half hour interview to talk about it https://santafe.com/ktrc/podcasts/kim-alderwick-shane-miller-on-weight-lifting-the-miller-gym         

We went large with our planning. Rather than one hour we offered two hours. We augmented Try Weightlifting for Free Day with a larger promotion by inviting three body work practitioners to offer services, too.

One is a physical therapist, another a chiropractor and the third is a sports massage therapist. A fourth person came to the gym with an In Body body composition assessment scale and for $15. people could have their composition analyzed.

The gym looked great. We intended an open house concept so that people could arrive at any time and be introduced to elements of the lifts. Our experienced volunteers, all state and some national record holders, were there and ready to instruct the deadlift on one platform, the power clean on another, the power snatch on the third and back squats on the fourth. We had signage made up for each of the practitioners and each of the platforms.

We were ready promptly at 2:00 with a reception table where visitors could fill out the required release and be greeted by someone charming and knowledgable in weightlifting. We had lifters suited up and ready to demonstrate the lifts on our competition platform.

And nobody came. Ok, one person came, a friend of a child of one of our lifters. And there was a second person who participated. He had dropped by to see someone assisting us. That was it.

Now this may sound dreary but it was not. It was great day and the

people who came to assist felt it was worthwhile. We think so too. Now we know what doesn't work.

In our view one of the challenges facing weightlifting and its growth is the complexity of it. Shane has been coaching for more than 25 years and Kim has been lifting for about as long. The issues have not changed. How does one persuade people that weightlifting is not power

lifting or body building?  How do we explain it succinctly enough that people's attention doesn't wander? How does one assure women they won't get bulky? The same is true in writing. Describing the lifts briefly, yet in a way that informs, is an endless challenge. Forget about explaining competition. Too many words.

There is an answer to these questions. It takes direct exposure. Watch for a little while and you get it. If you have a kid who lifts, or a friend, chances are you have some information and you'll get it more easily.

In our assessment, weightlifting is a throwback endeavor that reflects the values of an earlier time. It takes more than 125 characters to describe. Its hard to do and takes years to master. It requires patience. While this might be an impediment to growth it also explains why it persists and paradoxically, why the sport is now growing.  In its own throwback way, weightlifting now is very much ahead of its times.

On that note, we live in Santa Fe, a town of about 100,000 if you include the county residents. Our weightlifting club, Miller Weightlifting, has a membership of about 50 people, ranging in age 12 to 85. We offer a training hall model, so lifters train on their own schedule and we are there to supervise. Concurrently, and in an adjacent space, we have a program for general fitness and conditioning. The spaces are separated by a wall with large openings that allow us to oversee the entire facility with ease.   Many of our weightlifters cross over from our general conditioning and fitness program because they watch our weightlifters training. Increasingly, people also come to us specifically for weightlifting training on the basis of word of mouth and internet searches. Almost everyone has had some prior exposure to lifting when they come to us. 

We will do another Try Weightlifting for Free Day but next time, we'll do it differently. Same format maybe, next time we'll ask each of our club members to bring a friend. Just one. That's 50 newly initiated people practicing weightlifting elements.

Thanks for the opportunity to try something we might not have attempted.