Lifting in the Great White North – Fort McMurray, Alberta

Lifting in the Great White North – Fort McMurray, Alberta

Oct 4, 2012

This past week I visited Fort McMurray, Alberta for a reliability and maintenance conference. This was at the famed ‘oil sands’ where I was presenting and keynoting for a maintenance and certification organization named PEMAC. The talk was on electric machine maintenance and testing and the keynote was on leadership and communications surrounding powerlifting and how that carries into business (I outline the key points at the end of this article).

The gym I visited was the World Gym which was less than five minutes from the Sawridge Inn where the conference was held. There were several other gyms in the area that came highly recommended (other powerlifters referred to this World Gym as a ‘bodybuilder’s gym’), and I tried to find one associated with the local college, but for some reason my GPS could not find the address! My intention was to visit both as I wanted to do both a deadlift and bench day.

IMG 1974

The World Gym had plenty of equipment, the staff was friendly and during the day it was not crowded. There was a ‘warm-up’ room with foam rollers and balls, they even had an EliteFTS sled! The equipment was well kept although of commercial gym grade. For instance, once I was in the area of 500 lbs on deadlift the bar flexed significantly and there was very little knurl. The equipment was painted a super-bright yellow and the walls were painted blue – making it somewhat difficult to pick out what equipment was available.

IMG 1975

I was, because of the assortment of equipment and weight, able to get in a good deadlift day and a good bench day. On the Monday I completed the initial morning sessions at the conference and took a break to work deadlifts and ten back in time for lunch and networking with my technical session being in the afternoon. On Tuesday did bench and support work after my morning presentation and before my keynote. The benches were oddly shaped but were wide enough in the upper back for good support to make a few good lifts.

The change rooms are in pretty good shape and include showers, although the towels were about the size of a face cloth. I would recommended bringing your own towel.


There were several personal trainers working with clients and the members who showed up came in and did their work. I saw very little socializing. The gym is more suited for bodybuilders, but has enough of the right equipment for a reasonably good power training session.


My challenge this week is that I have finally succumbed to a cold. I was taking Aleve Cold and Sinus (reference my last posting) but staying well hydrated. The challenge more had to do with dizziness during heavier lifts. For instance, on my final of four sets of 505 lb singles deadlift I got dizzy and had to stop just below the knees. I held back a little more on Tuesday, just getting up to weights I felt comfortable with as I did not have a spotter and just had safety bars.


One other item that was appreciated – the gym is open 24/7.

Ratings: Hours – 5/5; Equipment – 4/5 condition and 3/5 powerlifting friendly; Ability to Train – 4/5; Atmosphere – 3/5; and, Location – 4/5.

Training in Fort McMurray:

Monday (Deadlift Day):

Deadlifts – 135×8; 225×5; 275×5; 315×5; 365×4; 405×3; 455×1; 505x1x3.5
Safety Bar Box Squats – 135×12; 225×10; 315×8
Safety Bar Good Mornings – 225×8; 2x315x2
Hips and Glutes – cables and bands

Tuesday – Bench Day

Bench – 2xBarx8; 135×8; 225×5; 274×4; 3x315x3
DB Rows – 3x100x12
Pulldowns – 2x160x15
Rows (wide, supinated) – 2x150x20
Cable Tri’s Wide – 2x150x16
Cable Bi’s Wide – 2x90x20
Rope Cable Tries – 2x150x16
Rope Hammer Curls – 2x90x20

The Keynote Presentation

Key points from the keynote on powerlifting, leadership, communication, and teamwork. I was happy to be asked to keynote and have done so in my industry before, but was truly honored when I was asked to speak on my sport. First I related some key points on what is involved in the sport and then covered leadership. I then discussed communication and teamwork – no man’s an island and that powerlifting is actually a team sport. Went through the steps involved in communication during a competition and showed video of when things go right and wrong. Discussed safety and any other number of opportunities in powerlifting and bridged them over to reliability/maintenance and business communication.

A summary of points made in the 55 minute keynote address:

– Leaders are born and then improved;

– Experience is developed through adversity;

– No man is an island – everyone in an organization has purpose or they shouldn’t be there;

– Safety is paramount! – things happen very quickly and the results are permanent!

– Training, trust and teamwork – If you don’t have these you WILL fail.

– Goals must be set and programmed – If you do not set a strategy and the implement tactically, you WILL fail;

– There are variations in leadership:
~Strategic leadership
~Technical competence
~S/He who rises to the occasion and takes charge


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