Barbell club brings Olympic training to UCCS

23 April 2019

Travis Boren

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    Christopher Salazar, who goes by Sal, spoke to the group of students gathered in a half circle on a basketball court at the Gallogly Recreation and Wellness Center, each holding a white length of pipe, while he explained to them the next step in the motion.

    Sal, a first year student working on his Master’s in Business Administration, is the vice president of the Barbell Club and his wife, Ashley Salazar, is the president. Salazar is a nationally ranked competitive weightlifter.

    The Barbell Club is new this semester, having its first meeting early in April. Meetings occur regularly on Thursdays at 5 p.m. and Sundays at 11 a.m. in the Recreation and Wellness Center.

    At this Thursday meeting, the students focused on Sal’s instruction, coming with various levels of weightlifting experience, while music played from a large speaker in the corner.

    Matthew Hartshorn, a junior studying mechanical engineering, stands on the far side of the circle. He said he was there to learn Olympic lifting. After the meeting, Hartshorn spoke animatedly with Sal about different training techniques for squats.

    “You can’t do just back squats, you have to do front squats and overhead squats,” Sal said to Hartshorn. “Every variation. They all train different things, mostly balance.”

    Both Sal and his wife Salazar have a level one USA Weightlifting certification from the Olympic Training Center (OTC), and Sal also has a level 2 certification.

    “I’ve been coaching for two years already,” said Sal. “Prior to this, I already have 5 athletes I have been coaching.

    While Sal demonstrated a lift technique and the club members imitated his moves, Salazar watched closely and gave quiet, one-on-one advice to improve their developing form.

    “My favorite part is seeing the athletes progress already,” said Sal. “The adaptability and durability of athletes and their bodies: seeing that progression really makes me happy.”

    Sal’s plan is to emphasize safety first, and work on efficiency afterwards.

    “As a coach, I’m not really pushing competition,” he said.

    Sal, who retired from the Army at a captain’s rank as a communication officer, also went through Ranger school. He said that Ranger school really pushed the physical limits of his body, and where he got into weightlifting.

    Amanda Trenkel, a sophomore studying exercise science and enrolled in the Army ROTC program, is the club treasurer. Trenkel played basketball in high school in eastern Oregon, and said she has been doing Olympic weightlifting for two years.

    “When I decided to go to college, near the end of my junior year, I decided I didn’t want to play collegiate sports because I saw my sister go through it and it took up her whole life,” said Trenkel. “I’m still an athlete with ROTC, but it’s a different kind of athletics.”

    According to Trenkel, Sal is able to develop training programs specific to each members’ needs..

    “As an officer, he takes my goals and tailors training for me. Every one of the officers are at different levels,” said Trenkel. “Chris knows me, and knows I’ve been doing stuff. So he’ll give me a different program and a different starting point.”

    In order to give club members an additional boost, Salazar teaches members about a  block diet system, which figures out macronutrient needs by looking at a person’s non-fat body mass and physical activity level to calculate the amount of fuel their body needs to operate at as an athlete. A menu of foods helps estimate what a block should look like.

    Camille Aiu, a freshman biology major, and Grace Rummel, a freshman nursing major, stood next to each other during practice. Both said that they joined the club to learn correct technique.

    Aiu also wants to use the club as a chance to make new friends, and Rummel wants to make sure she does not injure herself.

    With how closely both Salazar and Sal watch their athletes while they train, and the experience they both have, injury seems unlikely.