South Vancouver powerlifting gym welcomes all ages

A good alternative to other forms of weightlifting without the same injury risks and technical challenges

Steve Pritula practises powerlifting at The Bar Strength and Conditioning in South Vancouver. Photo by Anita Zhu
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By Christopher MacMillan

Over the five years since opening, a South Vancouver weightlifting gym has cemented the city’s powerlifting culture among athletes of all ages — from six to 86.

Powerlifting attracts competitive athletes from a broad age range, said the owner of the club, because is it less technical than competitive weightlifting and has remarkably good health benefits such as building muscle mass and bone density.

“We have high-level lifters … and then we have a mom and grandma,” said Shawn Adair, who is the CEO and co-founder of The Bar Strength and Conditioning. “Even age isn’t an issue.”

Dominic Lu, a trainer at the gym who practises weightlifting, believes powerlifting is a good alternative to other forms of weightlifting as it builds muscles and improves body coordination, without the same injury risks and technical challenges.

Powerlifting focuses more on three heavy lifts known as the squat, bench press, and deadlift and is less technical than Olympic weightlifting, which requires athletes to perform two overhead lifts called the clean and jerk and the snatch.

Steve Pritula, a 31-year-old former bodybuilder, said he started powerlifting because he went to see a coach’s competition and was intrigued by the atmosphere.

Over five years, the weight he can lift has more than doubled from under 100 kilograms to over 200 kilograms.

“Everyone in the gym is goal-oriented. Not only are you pushing yourself, you are also helping others to push themselves,” Pritula said.

Pritula said anyone new to the sport should consider working with a professional trainer.

“It’s beneficial to work with someone to develop that motor pattern and learning to do the movement efficiently.”

Starting off, Adair cautioned, the first goal is getting a client used to moving their own weight before trying to lift hundreds of pounds or break records.

Most importantly, for beginners, is “not to rush to the big weights,” he said.

Lu explained to The Voice in Mandarin that even an 86-year-old person is also capable of powerlifting over time because it “increases muscle mass, endurance and explosive power.”

“It could increase people’s cardiovascular system, bone mineral density and body coordination,” he added.

Since they’ve been operating, the gym remains the only one in South Vancouver dedicated to powerlifting with faithful members from across the city. The fitness centre celebrated its five-year anniversary last Sunday with a party for its members.

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