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gymOne could be forgiven for thinking that a powerlifting event is filled with brutish, testosterone-fuelled, muscle-heads with little regard for their fellow man. The reality is a long way from that picture. Powerlifters are courteous and respectful of their fellow competitors. They also come in all shapes and sizes, and some of the best are very slim. It’s all about how much a person can lift relative to their bodyweight, and, in fact, being bulky and heavy is often a disadvantage.

Having been an active powerlifter for three years, one of the main reasons for staying in the sport is that it is populated primarily by Gentlemen. The weights room certainly has its fair share of locker room banter, and some fairly uncouth language, especially when psyching up before a heavy lift. But when it comes to consideration and respect for their fellow sportsman, powerlifters are second to none. It is the only sport, alongside strongman competition, in which competitors cheer on their opponents and rivals. All those participating – judges, scorers, audience and competitors – are willing each man and woman to achieve their own personal best. It is about making oneself physically and mentally stronger, and surpassing whatever one has achieved previously.

Competing in the sport requires dedication and willpower. All athletes understand this, and appreciate that their fellow athletes require both the space to prepare themselves and the support from others to achieve their best. Powerlifting requires a great deal of help. When doing a heavy squat one needs anywhere from two to five ‘spotters’; those at the ready to catch the weight if one is unable to complete the lift. Without this support we simply would not be able to compete. Sharing of equipment is also commonplace, even during competition. Maybe a lifter has forgotten his weight belt or chalk, other lifters will happily step in and offer their own equipment.

Powerlifting also has a its own code of conduct. Potentially it is a dangerous sport, and being aware of other lifters and respecting the weights is vital. Alongside learning the technical rules of competition, lifters will learn where to stand, when it’s their turn to lift and how to share a weights bar between various lifters all of whom may have different strengths. The task of loading and unloading bars is also shared evenly among lifters.

Being strong has its benefits, but it also imbues one with responsibility. If one can help carry a heavy bag for someone at a train station, then one should do so. Physical strength is considered by many to be a particularly manly trait and it can lend an advantage in romance or wooing, such as the ability to hold up a lady while dancing or maybe even carry her to the bedroom.

There is much to be learned from the dedication of powerlifters as well as their openness, sharing nature and respectful attitude. Learning to lift heavy objects can actually help one to become more of a Gentleman.

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