Renewed barbell club is finally ready to lift

Photo courtesy of Catherine Chapman

The heavy lifters of the Georgia Tech Barbell Club (GTBBC) have reformed and renewed the club after a nine year hiatus. The coed club focuses on lifting and achieving personal fitness goals. Obi Anachebe, a 4th year ME, is the current president of the club.

“The Georgia Tech Barbell Club is a competitive power-lifting team, and it’s a community of dedicated lifters, people that like going to the gym, people that lift competitively and recreationally,” Anachebe began. “The main thing we’re trying to build is a community alongside our competitive team.”

The club focuses on training for competitions, but also helps members achieve personal fitness goals and aspirations. GTBBC   strives to build a fitness community at Tech.

“There are three lifts that make up powerlifting: the squat, bench press, and deadlift. [There are] weight classes kind of like wrestling, and if you total the most in that class, then you win the medal,” Anachebe said.

The combined weights of the three types of lifts makes up a personal record (PR). At competition levels with enough participants, lifters are judged by gender and age in addition to their weight class. Thus, for example, a young, heavyweight competitor’s high raw score will not overshadow an old, lightweight lifter’s PR.

The original Georgia Tech Barbell Club met and lifted in the O’Keefe Gymnasium, now the volleyball facility.

However, Title IX law “requires gender equity for boys and girls in every educational program that receives federal funding” according to the Margaret Fund of the National Women’s Law Center. Therefore, the volleyball players’ locker rooms had to be moved to the same facility they practiced in, and the lifters were displaced.This part of O’Keefe’s nearly $1 million renovations left the club in shambles.

“If I remember correctly, they had hundreds of members. The difference between the old barbell club and the new one is the gym was their reason for being; they didn’t really have a competitive team. The gym made that club. After the gym was taken away, there was no more club.”

The idea to renew the club came to Anachebe about two years ago.

“The idea came about between my roommate, Phuong Ninh, and me. It was kind of on a whim: that it’d be cool to have a club of guys who liked to lift like a bunch of meatheads,” Anachebe added. “We didn’t really go anywhere with it. Then I met a couple of Delta Sigs that powerlifted, talked to them, and mentioned the idea to have a club. Then I saw one of them at the gym two weeks later and asked if he wanted to meet up.”

After discussing and laying out the groundwork for the club, it began to take off. Having been recognized as an official sports club by Campus Recreation, the Georgia Tech Barbell Club grew even faster.

“It was a smallish community of maybe 10 to 20 guys that knew each other really well. After we got official club status, that’s when it really started to expand and grow,” Anachebe said. “[As for] members…we have about 80. We’re still collecting dues, and we have 45 who have paid. The easiest way to join the club is to go on JacketPages, email me,… and I can set you up on there.”

The club was recently sponsored by Citadel Nutrition, a supplement provider which happens to be made up of Tech alumi. This gave the Georgia Tech Barbell Club the funding it needed to rent out a space which will eventually act as the club’s gym, less than two miles from campus off Chattahoochee Ave. The club even received additional funding from SGA in order to purchase equipment for the gym. There has been a lot of support from the alumi community who also would like to see this renewed sports club thrive.

“They are Tech graduates and probably some of the coolest, most generous people I’ve met. Immediately they were on board with all the aspirations we had; they were down to help out with that,” Anachebe said.

Despite the club’s reputation of being serious lifters, it’s not necessary to be swole, jacked, huge, or even yoked to join.

“No, you don’t have to be swole to join, but it would be nice,” Anachebe chuckled. “You can definitely still join. I don’t even look like I lift, but I still run the club. We have programs that try and help people reach their goals.”

One of these programs is a mentorship program. New members are matched with experienced members who have aligning interests in order to set and help achieve goals, whether setting a new PR or becoming more fit.

In order to regain its reputation outside of Tech, the club is looking to compete in official meets around Georgia and eventually host a meet of its own that would be open to anyone on campus.

“As far as competitions, we’re trying to compete in one that’s coming up in late October. That’s a USAPL meet. USAPL is a powerlifting federation. I think we have 12 to 14 guys competing in that one. Then we’re planning to do one next spring,” Anachebe continued. “The reason we do USAPL is that if our athletes do well enough, they can qualify for collegiates. We’re planning on doing a mock meet amongst ourselves in preparation for that meet. That will be at a place called ATL Barbell. I know UGA does the ‘Strongest Dawg’ meet, and the goal is after we do this mock meet amongst ourselves, if it runs smoothly, that maybe we can do something campus-wide.”

Lifting is not something that everyone worked into their lives many years ago; Anachebe began lifting just before coming to Tech.He encourages curious students to come to a meeting before deciding that it is too late to begin lifting. “I started [working out] my senior year, the summer before college,” Anachebe reminisced. “I was going to the gym for aesthetics. I just liked the idea of pushing your body’s limitations and building your body. I got into powerlifting a year ago. The main reason it interested me is because I thought it was cool to lift heavy, and the guys in the club got me more and more into it.”

Lifting isn’t all about looking pretty or winning competitions. As with any sport, there is a psychological game to play as well. “It’s honestly like you’re competing with yourself. Unlike basketball or football, someone can’t play defense on you from hitting a certain PR. Someone can’t keep you from putting on weight or reaching your physique goals. The only person who can stop you is you,” Anachebe asserted. “At the end of the day, when I go to the gym, it’s like, ‘Let me try to be better than the Obi who was here yesterday.’”

With the funding and support of SGA and Citadel Nutrition, the Georgia Tech Barbell Club, under Obi Anachebe’s presidency, has what it takes to become a powerhouse in Georgia and possibly in countrywide collegiate competitions.