from Brent Carter, a NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and Starting Strength Coach

I have come to realize the importance of community and a strength culture in my work space. Sure, it’s cool to be the lone wolf… But it is far more rewarding to cultivate a culture among your colleagues and friends.

The FOCUS strength culture really began several years ago as I was studying to pass my Starting Strength Coach certification. I volunteered my Friday afternoons to train students at our career school for personal trainers (Focus Personal Training Institute) in the methods and model of Starting Strength. We called this our “Barbell Club,” an “extracurricular program” that was actually more self-serving than anything else. (I needed to practice to pass the practical component for the Starting Strength exam.) What came out of this was something I never could have predicted.

Students started lifting with one another outside of Barbell Club as well. Other FOCUS trainers joined in. And as students graduated and became alumni, they still came back to lift! As the club grew, I was no longer the strongest person there. This in particular, I think, was the key for my continued progress. It is easy to rest on your laurels if you are the strongest person around, but this is a surefire recipe for stagnation.

As I continued to surround myself with strong people and other Starting Strength coaches, my “heavy” loads became the norm and even paltry at times. This changed my perspective for what ‘strong’ really is, and this keeps my sights set on that next PR.

They say success breeds success; I would like to add that strength breeds strength. If you want to get stronger, find yourself a community of strength and integrate yourself into it. And if there isn’t one in your immediate surroundings, be a trail blazer and create one yourself! At the very least, you will have some strong people to help you move that couch to your new place when the time comes.

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