Jane was super nervous about this episode before recording as she was familiar with @lesterhokw The Training Geek only from afar and was well aware of his reputation.
As a result she’s a bag of nerves for the 1st 5 minutes! But once you’ll listen you’ll realise that this guy is the real deal. He is so smart, so informed and yet hilarious, nice, fun and casual at the same time. His mission in life is to bring weightlifting to everyone and his inclusive, non-intimidating and personable nature is making this a reality.
This guy is next level and we all love him at Revolution Performance Training.
Have a listen. Your day and your life will be better for it.
To listen to this podcast or subscribe to any in the RevoPT High Performance Podcast series head here:
Lester: Hi. How are you?
Jane: I’m good. How are you?
Lester: Good, good, good.
Jane: Lester is a real guru and a real expert, and he’s kind of the talk of the town here at RevoPT a lot of the time because Luke, Nathan, and Darren all train with him, so I’m a little bit nervous to have him on the podcast today, and I really hope that I do him justice. Here goes. We’re going to start off today the same way I start off every single week, which is with a quote. I really like this one. This is a Napoleon Hill quote, and I came across it yesterday. It says, “The starting point of all achievement is desire, and I think that that’s a very appropriate quote with who I’m about to talk to because Lester is doing amazing things in the world, particularly in the weightlifting world, and you can just see even in momentary conversation with him just how passionate he is about what he’s doing.
What I’m going to do is I’m going to give you a little bit of an introduction on him and then let him give us a little bit more information. Lester is a weightlifting coach for Melbourne. He owns a gym here in Melbourne called South East Strength, which focuses predominantly on weightlifting and power lifting. He has pretty much studied everything at uni. He’s currently completing his PhD in the snatch, which I’m going to let him go into more detail about soon. For those of you who are confused by that just as I was up until very recently, I think we’re going to get a really great verbal description of what a Snatch is, so that should be fun. You want to give it to us now?
Lester: I’ll try my best. A snatch is basically you taking the barbell from the ground up overhead in one smooth motion and then performing an overhead squat to stand up fully extended with the bar over your head.
Jane: You’ve made it so much more simple than what it actually is. So basically Lester’s mission in life is to bring weightlifting to all, and his unbelievable knowledge paired with his passion and his personality is definitely ensuring that he’s doing that. Thank you so much for joining us, Lester, and I’d really love you now to give us a little bit of a brief introduction about who you are. Family, work, passion, and what gets you out of bed in the morning?
Lester: I’m actually from Singapore, so I started off in Singapore. A lot of people don’t know this but I actually started within the art site, so I did a lot of art-related stuff like art history, art drawing, sculpture, things like that. I think that was what actually drew me into understanding how the human body works or how I look at people as lines and angles. Then following that I went in the army and I had spent probably about 14 years being a national bowler, ten-pin bowler.
Jane: Oh, really?
Lester: Yes. That’s how I met my wife as well.
Jane: I was like, you were in the army for 14 years?
Lester: Nah, maybe two years. It was national service.
Jane: So you were a ten-pin bowler…
Jane: …and you met your wife ten-pin bowling.
Lester: Yeah, she’s a national Level 1, junior national Level 1, and the whole idea of being involved in that sport while being involved in arts got me interested in basically understanding what sport science was, how the body would actually work in relation to throwing an external object down the lane.
Then from there I was like, oh my wife, at that time my girlfriend, decided to fly over to Melbourne to complete her studies, and I was like, “Oh, okay. Maybe I’ll follow along, tag along and let’s see what I can do.” I looked at some design courses, so with ARM IP and all that, and I also looked at some sport science courses, and then I was like, “All right, let me try something different. Let me do some sport science.”
Enrolled for ACU in the bachelor for exercise science, never stopped from there, got into weightlifting because of my studies. In fact, I had a lecturer that was actually one of my supervisors for my honor’s year, and then now he’s a supervisor for my PhD. He was a weightlifter, but then he got me interested in it and said, “Why don’t you do some research in weightlifting.” I was like, “Cool. Let me try it out.” Did my honors without doing too much weightlifting, and then halfway through he said, “Now that you’re doing research for the sport, why don’t you jump into the sport and be a weightlifter?”
I got into a club and he said, “All right, you will realize that things will be very different. You need to understand it so that you can actually research it.” From then I never stopped weightlifting. You know, it’s been six years that I stepped into a club. The club is Phoenix Weightlifting. My coach is Robert Kabbas, and to this day I still see him as one of my mentors.
Family-wise I have a small little boy that you just met, Lachlan. He’s coming to two years old, I hope. Yeah, I. I think in regards to where my life is going, I think it’s basically more finding balance, having that work-life balance and being able to find time to spend with not only my wife but with him. Because of what he’s gone through as a kid, he had meningitis and all that, we kind of grew closer as a small family, and everything changed from there. Everything was like, “All right, regardless of what happens, regardless if it’s something financial, we can always make the money back.” Nothing is as important as health and being together with …
Jane: And time …
Lester: Yeah, with the family.
Jane: …with each other.
Lester: That’s me. What gets me up in the morning is being able to teach weightlifting, being able to hang out with the little man and my wife, and yeah.
Jane: That’s great. I love it, and you told a really cute story just before about you being a samurai.
Lester: Ah, yeah. That was actually in childcare because I think Lachlan actually has this look where he looks like a Japanese kid, and we do look like we’re not Chinese, Chinese. My wife always gets mistaken as a Japanese as well, and then I’m like. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with Japanese…
Jane: No, no.
Lester: …but the carer went like, “Ah, Lachlan, is your dad Japanese?” because someone suspected that he was Japanese. They had a Japanese intern or something like that. Then they went on to ask him, “Is your dad a Samurai?” because I have the top knot and all of that. Then he goes, “Yeah, yeah, yes, yes!”. That was actually the look I had in mind when I actually tied my hair up the first time. It’s, all right, I’m going to be this Mr. Miyagi-looking guy and try to-
Jane: “I want people to think I’m a samurai.”
Lester: Yeah, I have some little killing skills or something.
Jane: Goal achieved.
Lester: Yeah, goal achieved. That’s all I wanted.
Jane: I might have to add that to the introduction. So you’re a samurai and a weightlifting coach.
Jane: All right, so you’ve gone into some pretty good detail about what led you to weightlifting. What has kept you there? What then ignited the passion to open a weightlifting gym?
Lester: I think it actually stemmed from where I learned weightlifting from, so Phoenix Weightlifting Club. When I was there I actually had like, it might sound a little bit funny but I had this band of brothers where we actually come in regardless of what age we were. Some of them were … I was the oldest one there while everyone else was younger, and we went in, hung out, and all it was was about us being friends, brothers, watching over each other while we were training, even when the coach wasn’t around.
My coach did really well with growing that group of us. Suddenly we kind of had our own paths. I decided to move out and be a weightlifting coach on my own. A few of them are still there, and a few other people have joined in. I think the bond that I had or I experienced with these guys there got me starting sort of in strength because I wanted to bring that same feeling of a community out on my own and try to spread that word of weightlifting to other people so that they can experience that same fun and friendship that I actually experienced from them. I think that’s where it all started and what has kept me in weightlifting because when I see my guys enjoy the sport so much, I see Luke, Darren, and Nathan come down and have a good time together. It’s like Three Amigos lifting together and just…
Jane: Yeah, they love it so much.
Lester: …having a banter with each other once in a while. I think that kind of bond is very hard to break. To this day, these guys are still known as Lachlan’s uncles. They come down for his birthday party. They catch up with him at competitions, and he recognised them. I think that’s what I want to try to bring across to people.
Funny enough, I’ve gotten a lot of people coming, and they come from a technical expertise, but when they actually stay in the gym and they realise, “Oh, it’s actually quite a fun gym to be in.” Even though weight lifting might seem like a serious sport, and you need to concentrate and all that, but at the end of the day it’s about that social aspect of being able to catch up with someone who is of a completely different background, but you guys have the same purpose of learning the lifts. That’s what’s driving me day in and day out. If I get to see that I’m happy.
Jane: It’s the best, and I think that what you do as well with the… Because I’ve seen Luke come back from sessions with you for a long time now, and it’s you’re great with sincere empowerment. Luke, he’s not built to be the greatest weightlifter in the world because he’s very tall and he has very long, limbs, but he loves it, and everything, it’s not just that he’s learnt all about how to do it correctly and bio-mechanically correctly, and all this kind of science that you bring to it. He walks out of there feeling like he can do it, and he loves it.
Lester: Yep. I think the important thing is, you brought it up, my message across is always to bring weightlifting to all, and I feel like regardless of what shape you are, how old you are, how young you are, you have the opportunity to actually learn the lifts and to do the lifts in a safe and professional manner. Yes, you might not be the next Olympic medalist, but not all of us want to be a Olympic medalist. We want to be able to do what we do over a longer period of time, so if I’m 60 I want to still be able to lift.
Like yourself, you’re a runner. You want to be able to run still by the time you’re 70, 80 years old because that’s what you enjoy. I think if people can enjoy doing what they do for a longer period of time their quality of life goes up. That’s exactly it.
Jane: That’s exactly it. What kind of people do you work with?
Lester: I have a whole range of people that I work with. I work with junior athletes. I work with kids. I also work with middle-age adults, like older people, masters athletes. Level-wise, skill level-wise I work with complete beginners who never learned a sport before because I don’t want to limit it to, “Oh, I only want to work with someone who kind of understands the sport.”
Talking about the empowerment bit, I think it’s really important that people understand that if they feel their empowerment they’ll be more motivated to carry on learning about the sport. It drives that passion for that sport, so if I can do that, one person actually gets that passion. It spreads around, so it’s like paying it forward: One person enjoys it, spreads it to three people. Three people spreads it to nine people. Then the sport grows. That’s how sports get to be big sports rather than being a small community of, all right, 10 people who keep to themselves and not really open up enough. That’s my idea of it, again, with that mindset of you don’t have to always be elite. You don’t have to always be at an elite level. You can still train and maintain your lifting or even improving your lifting. Why not?
The journey is more important than where you actually end up, than the destination. That’s what I always like to tell people and say, “Don’t worry so much about where you’re going to end up.” It’s good to have goals and all that, but if you take the time to appreciate the journey it will be so much more fulfilling.
Jane: Yeah, that’s so good because that’s kind of my thing in what I do with people, is it’s focus on your every day like your every day is your life. We’re constantly working towards a wedding or sometime in the future, and it’s like, but how do you want to feel every single day? I want to look down at the rest of my life and be able to enjoy exercise for the rest of my life. I don’t want to go all in right now and then be injured and stuff.
Lester: Exactly, so it’s longevity, especially in a sport like weightlifting because you’re putting your body through quite a bit of stress. If you don’t have the idea of longevity, yeah, you can achieve pretty decent results within a short period of time, but being able to sustain that might not be possible.
Jane: Yeah, totally. There’s a common I think misconception with weightlifting that … It’s interesting that you’ve sort of described everybody can come and train with you, but there’s a common misconception that it’s kind of like a male domain and it’s grunty and dirty and stuff, and that’s-
Lester: Yep. Funny enough they mention it because I actually have more female lifters than male lifters. I even have to go to a point where I’m getting more 15 kilo bars so that it’s more suited for the females.
Jane: I thought you were going to say like you’re expanding your female bathrooms. That’s what I thought you were going to say.
Lester: Frankly I can’t really do that because I only have one bathroom, male and female, so they just have to wait and share, but I think there’s this whole, within our generation now, there’s this whole idea of women actually are capable of doing a lot more, and I think same thing with the empowerment thing. If actually ladies start picking up the barbell they realise and they have that commitment and drive to actually put effort into it improve themselves.
That, when they see the result, they go like, “Oh, I actually snatched like 40 kilos. That feels really good, and I want to do more. I want to do more. I want to do more.” That’s I think within them to push that desire or that passion even further. All you got to do is just allow them to take that first step. Once they’ve done that it’s like you can’t stop them. The momentum just keeps driving them, and that’s the things I have with a lot of my female athletes where they stepped on the platform for the first time competing, and then they go like, “Oh, that’s really fun. Yes, I was nervous and all that, but it was really fun.”
I try to get all the girls to compete together as a group so there’s that social aspect of it. It takes away their nerves a little bit, so every time they go to a competition they’re like, “Ah, we’re just having a good time. We get to hang out with each other.” They enjoyed it, and the next thing I know it’s, “When is the next competition?” I go like, “All right, cool. I’ll put you down for the next one.”
Some of them have goals like going for states championships and all that, and I go, “All right, awesome. We’ll work towards that. We may not be up to that standard yet, but we can work towards it. As long as you keep enjoying the sport, you keep doing it, that’s my goal for you. I don’t want you to end up going like, ‘Oh, I’m not motivated anymore, anything like that.'” Then I failed.
Jane: Yeah, that’s so good because the whole weightlifting world is very new to me, and what I love about it is I love that your body has to… In order to achieve what you need to do it’s not so much just about effort. It’s like your body has to move in the correct alignment. That then takes coordination, mobility, precision, timing, and I really like particularly with Olympic lifting it’s like there’s a sequence of how your body actually moves, and it’s learned behaviour, so yes, there are body types that are going to be a little bit more predisposed to be a little bit better, but anybody can actually be good at it if they put in the work.
Lester: Yes, exactly. Recently there have been a few studies, not to sound scientific or anything, but there have been a few studies showing that it’s no longer about training age that differentiates elite-level athlete to a beginner, for example. The top guys, they actually put in more deliberate practice. That’s the dominant model of control. If you put in that deliberate practice, regardless of what age you start from, you have the possibility of actually performing well.
Jane: Yeah, like not junk training, like actual, yeah, training with intent.
Lester: Exactly. Putting in the hours in the gym, training properly, putting the hours outside the gym to work on your nutrition, your recovery, things like that. It’s no longer a age thing. In the past it used to be, “Oh, you need to start at eight years old working with a broomstick, a bar, and do that for like 10 years before you actually put some weight one.” No longer like that.
If you actually have good quality practice, put in the hours you will be able to reach a certain standard. It’s that consistency that a lot of people don’t have. They get a small little setback and they go, “I’m done. That’s it. I don’t really feel like doing it anymore.” I think that’s the rule of a coach like yourself or myself where we need to try to, all right, regardless of setbacks, always keep in mind that you’re only broken. You’re not beaten, so you just keep pushing on. Even if you have an injury there’s always something else you can do.
Jane: Yep, it’s so true, and it’s that quote, “Start where you are with what you have,” and it’s like right now, which is totally fine. It’s amazing, obviously I’m a girl, is how much there is a really strong movement towards females being strong, and it feels so good to lift a bar, and it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t ever matter, for me, it doesn’t matter what I’m lifting in comparison to the next person. It’s what I’m lifting in comparison to me, and it feels so good.
Lester: The other thing as well is you got to see, yeah, you may be uncoordinated, movement is a bit clunky in the start.
Jane: Clearly you’re not talking about me, right?
Lester: No, no, no, I’m not talking about you. Come on. I haven’t even seen you lift, so it doesn’t count.
Jane: I’m the most uncoordinated person ever.
Lester: Nah, you’ll be fine. You start uncoordinated. You start clunky. You don’t even know your positions. You might not have the flexibility and all that, but across let’s say three months you look back and day to day you don’t see the difference, but three months later you see, “Oh, I’m actually doing more than what I can do,” or, “I’m moving a lot better than what I was.” How that actually transfers is it gives you added benefits like understanding what your body is doing, body awareness, being able to have a better mind-muscle connection.
Jane: I love that, yep.
Lester: Things like that. I think the important thing is a lot of people don’t realise that regardless of what your goal in training is, whether it’s just for body composition purposes or is it to learn new skill, you need to start being more attuned to what your body is telling you. If you work all day at a desk and then after that you come out and you go to a gym, and you just want to smash yourself, that’s not wrong as well, but then you realize day to day why you not able to do that on a consistent basis because-
Jane: Exactly, why you’re never improving.
Lester: Yeah, exactly, or why you not losing the weight that you want to lose, because there are a lot of other factors like is your body moving efficiently, effectively? You don’t know whether it is because you’re not in tuned with your body, so learning a new skill or being able to have the understanding of, “All right, I know what my body is doing,” or, “I know how I feel today. I’m not too sick.” That solves a lot of issues in terms of health or medically related problems.
Jane: It’s like being mindful and that’s something that you have to be when you’re lifting heavy weights. You’ve got to be completely mindful of what you’re doing and what your body is doing.
Jane: Whereas a lot of people want exercise that’s mindless. Then they’re missing out. You’re completely right. They’re missing out, on first of all, the most obvious one is the stress relief then you can actually feel, but yeah, there’s no longevity in that.
Lester: Yes, there’s no longevity in that. There’s no purpose. You don’t realise but you’re training mindlessly. You might as well go to just do 100 push-ups.
Jane: Yeah, just do as you’re told.
Lester: Yeah, do as you’re told. That’s it, but I think if you really want to push yourself a little bit more and know what your body is capable of, you need to have a goal. You need to have that desire to go like, “All right, I’ll put in the effort to experience the journey so that I can achieve that goal.
Jane: That’s really good. Now what I want to talk to you about is, we’ve touched on it a lot but in a really obvious way what are the main benefits you see with weightlifting?
Lester: I think the main benefits, the first one would be definitely mobility, flexibility. I think that’s an issue with a lot of people this day and age where they come to me sitting down in an office all the time or even like myself: I’m a keyboard warrior. I’m on Instagram all the time. I’m on Facebook all the time. A lot of structures are in the body.
I actually had this one comment once where I just came back from my U.S. trip and I was basically driving, sitting down, writing a lot, and my chiro is it, yeah, my chiro actually said that I actually look like a shape: I’m shaped in the shape of seat, a car seat. That was how my spine actually looked like. Imagine if you don’t train.
Jane: I’m sitting up really straight right now. Been hunched over this whole time.
Lester: What ends up happening is your body follows your lifestyle choices. The training itself will give you the benefit of understanding, “Oh, I need more mobility in this area. I’ll work on that, get arranged for it.” Then it becomes functional. You get to have better posture when you train. Strength, I think strength is really important. As we get older we lose a lot of our strength. Being able to maintain that as we grow older is just slowing down that ageing process a little bit.
I think coordination is also an important one. You tell someone try to bend your knees when you squat, and they don’t even know what their knees are doing, so having that body awareness is a key thing because it helps you in being able to go, “All right, my knees are sore. I need to move in a certain way, adjust to it,” things like that.
Lastly, I think it’s just discipline. I just feel like if you follow a certain program it instills discipline in you and you go like, “All right, I know I need to do this within the program. I need to do extra stuff outside.” Psychologically you bring that across to your life as well. You have a certain form of rules or set rules that you try to follow day to day and try to get that ticked off, and you know that, “Oh, I’ve accomplished quite a bit today,” which is like you said, living day to day and being able to do the things that you need to do.
Jane: Yeah, that’s great. Let’s do a bit of a case study. I’m 31 years old.
Lester: So am I.
Jane: I know, which we just figured out. So glad you didn’t say you were younger. I said to Lester, “How old are you?” and he was like, “Ah, how old do you think I am?” I’m like, “This is a trap,” but I guessed correctly, so that’s, whoo.
Lester: Yeah, you guessed correctly. Good job.
Jane: My key goals at the moment would be sort of I probably need to lose a little bit of weight, tone up. I’m very much the bulk of the demographic out there. I really like running. I like doing the kind of training we have at Revo. How would weightlifting benefit me?
Lester: Let me do the salesman thing, the sales weightlifting. Nah.
Jane: I’m sold, by the way.
Lester: If you think about it, if you’re trying to benefit your running, first of all, leg strength. If you’re doing a lot of the weightlifting stuff, you get to do squats, dead lifts. Dead lifts protect your back so that you have a stronger core. It gives you a better running economy. Going into strength in the legs, imagine if you’re able to squat your body weight or even more. You should be able to produce enough force to move your body weight over a certain distance.
Lester: I usually don’t stress out too much about weight because I would rather you be in a more natural weight class that you need to be in, but saying that, a lot of the girls that I work with have put on some muscle without looking too bulky, which is what a lot of people are worried about, still able to drop the weight, but still have the benefits of strength, power, everything related to the weightlifting movements.
Jane: Great, because that’s one thing that I know that all people that work in this industry encounter this question a lot from females: Will they get too bulky? Will they put on weight? Will a girl get too bulky doing weightlifting?
Lester: No. If you look at some of the … Don’t look at the really, really top-level ones because they’ve been training for so long and they’ve pushed their bodies to the limit for a certain degree. If you look at some of the weightlifters they actually look quite hot. Don’t tell my wife that.
Jane: Yeah, I won’t tell her. I agree with you though.
Lester: They don’t look like … They still look feminine.
Jane: They look still feminine. I agree.
Lester: Having been to the world championships and all that, if you look at some of them, hang around and you see them as not an athlete but a regular person, you can’t tell whether they’re a weightlifter or not. They’re different on the platform, on the competition platform. In training they’re a little bit more serious, but outside they’re still girls. They’re still like, “Oh, they want to look pretty. They want to dress up, things like that.
I think it doesn’t give you that notion of looking bulky. It gives you that notion of, “Oh, I actually feel like I’ve done something good with my body,” and that empowerment again, you know?
Jane: Completely. “Look at what my body could do?”
Lester: Yeah, “I know my body could do this, so I’m not really stressed out about how I should look.”
Jane: It’s so true. What you said before about the discipline of following the program, that then generalises to nutrition, and you want to fuel your body in the best possible way.
Lester: Yes, exactly, although I’m not the best example of it because my wife is a chef and she makes all that awesome food, so I get to really enjoy myself in the food department, but saying that, we’ve been going into healthy options, and she’s really good with … Recently she just got involved with Thermomix and all that, so it’s like that food processor thing that cooks for you. It’s you don’t have to.
Jane: Thermomix, did you say?
Jane: My sister has got one of those. They’re the best things ever.
Lester: Yeah, it’s incredible.
Lester: She makes really good meals for that. Recently I’ve gotten onto a diet plan that allows me to be… I’m testing it out so that if I need to recommend it to guys I’m able to tell, “All right, this is what I did, and this is how it works.” She’s been meal prepping for me. It’s still decent food. It’s still really tasty. I just have to balance out what I’m eating, like carbs, as to protein, as to fat, but life is short, and you want to enjoy it a little bit. Like I say, the journey is really important, so you enjoy it a little bit but you know you got to get it somewhere else. You make it up by, “Oh, all right, you can have maybe one cheap meal and that’s it.”
Then the rest of the days you try to be a bit stricter unless you’re saying, unless you’re telling me that you’re doing it for a competitive purpose, then yes, you need to be a lot stricter, but if you’re just living day to day, it’s important to have a good mindset, and being able to enjoy a smaller pleasure of chocolates or something will actually do you really good psychologically.
Jane: What I like about this that I’ve just, it’s sort of been brimming through this conversation is the way that I approach nutrition with a lot of my clients and with myself is through mindfulness. I think that when you’re training mindfully as well, then you are in tune with your body, with how it feels when you’re training this way, and then that transfers really nicely into nutrition because you become in tune with what you’re actually fuelling your body.
The interesting thing is I’m very pro you’ve got to enjoy your life, and the psychological benefits. I’m also very pro knowing how your body feels after certain things because your body will tell you exactly how it feels, and so tuning into that.
Lester: That’s what I mean. The people that I work with, they all have work parties. They want to go out on Friday night, enjoy stuff with their friends and all that, and I tell them, “Yeah, please do that. I don’t want to stop you from doing that.” To me it’s important that you understand you still need a balance. Yes, I want you to do really well with your weightlifting, but if you are always hung over, you’re always partying, you need to understand that something has to give. Then that might be in the form of the quality of your training, why you’re not training as well. Maybe because you’ve been stressed out at work, you haven’t been eating right, things like that.
Like I said, my students, if they are able to understand this is what’s happening, then they know that they… It’s like lifting. If you did a back lift and I’ve given you enough knowledge or ideas of, “All right, this is why you made the mistake, you can distinguish the mistake, and you can go, “What are the steps that I need to take to make that correction?” If I can do that in terms of lifting, my job is done because you are able to coach yourself. Then you don’t need me anymore. Then you can go on and enjoy-
Jane: But then it becomes about that they want you. It’s like, “Yeah, which is the best way for it?”
Lester: It’s like something like you give them the ability to distinguish mistakes on their own. Then seeing you becomes an affirmation. They go like, “Oh, they are in [inaudible 00:33:22].” You’re like, “Yeah, exactly. Good that you can feel that because if you can feel that at least you know how to change that.” It’s like being a parent. If your kid makes a mistake, but if you don’t tell him what the mistake is and how to change it up, he’s just going to think that it’s all right.
Jane: He’s never going to learn from it.
Lester: Yeah, he’s never going to learn from it, so it’s like weightlifting. It’s like anything in life, your food.
Jane: Yeah, everything. Learn from mistakes. Where is the training gig going? Where are you going? What does the future look like?
Lester: I have no idea. I just want to spend time with my family. That’s all. Good question because my primary purpose now is to get my PhD completed so that I can focus a lot more on aspects of the gym, growing the gym bigger or growing the South East Strength family bigger, being involved with not so much of the high-level weightlifting stuff, but getting the grassroots going a little bit more.
Earlier my message is to bring weightlifting to all, and I just want to do that as much as I can. Where it takes me, I’m not too stressed out about it. If I get to work with higher-level people even more awesome, but I always want to try to bring myself down so that I remember where the foundations are, where the fundamentals are, and that’s by teaching beginners, that’s by teaching kids, people that are keen on learning the lifts and learning about the sport so that the spectatorship of the sport goes up and it becomes a more enjoyable sport.
I intend to try to … Like I was telling you earlier, I want to finish it, my PhD, within a year, cross my fingers. It’s been six years. Not really the ideal amount of years, but after that maybe a bit of traveling with the family while teaching weightlifting. I’ve been doing that for quite a bit, like traveling interstate, going to the U.S. Now I want to be able to do that and bring the family along, but wherever it takes me I think I’ll still be very involved in weightlifting, still be very involved in teaching people like yourself, Luke, whoever just wants to learn the sport and enjoy it, like something different so you know that you have this skill set that you can go, “Oh, I know how to do weightlifting and I’m not stressed out because I can do it in a safe and professional manner.
Jane: That’s great. I love it. I feel like I already know the answer to this, but I ask everybody who’s on this podcast what do you feel your purpose is in life? I’m pretty sure you just answered that, bringing weightlifting to everybody, grassroots.
Lester: Yes. Regardless of whoever you are that’s my goal. That’s a good challenge for me as well because it keeps me on my toes, and I can go, “All right, I’ve never seen someone like you before. I can teach you the lifts,” or, “You’re super uncoordinated. I know how to actually correct you so that you can actually learn the lifts properly and even enjoy it.” That’s what keeps me going. That’s what’s my message to everyone.
Jane: It’s amazing because I never get to have conversations with people … Okay, that sounds terrible. Everyone in my life is going to be like, “Uh, Jane.” No, it’s really refreshing to have a conversation with somebody whose passion is so in the forefront of your every day. I didn’t even need to ask you the question, “What’s your purpose in life?” because it was so clear in everything you were saying. It was the foundation of everything you were saying, and I absolutely love that you’re so passionate about making it accessible to all people, because a lot of experts out there in the fitness industry really want to work with athletes and only athletes, which I understand that athletes are probably the most disciplined. They move the best. You’re going to see great results and stuff, but there’s just so many people out there that want to improve in their everyday life, and this is such a great way to do it. For you to be just as passionate about it …
Lester: Why I have that mindset is because there’s an athlete in everyone. Whether you’re a high-level athlete, whether you’re a recreational athlete, everyone at a point in time wants to be involved in sport. They may not have the opportunity or the feel like, “Oh, I’m not built for it.”
Jane: Or, “I was picked last in grammar school, so now I never, ever want to do it.”
Lester: Yeah, so that’s my purpose. I don’t want people to be restricted that [way 00:37:48]. Regardless of whether you are 40 years old and you haven’t even done any form of physical activity before, I think people need to be given the opportunity. If they don’t have the opportunity or at least if they’ve tried going for the opportunity and seeing where it takes them, and it doesn’t work out, then there’s nothing much more I can do.
I’m not going to push it but at least give it a shot. That’s what I feel and that is what has driven me to working with everyday athletes. Someone who’s sitting down or someone who is just hanging out, not doing much, I’m not scared to say that, yes, it’s going to be challenging on my part, but I think regardless of where you come from or what background you have, you can learn the lifts. I’ve done it. I’ve learned the lifts at a late age. I started weightlifting probably at 25. I picked it up. I learned it really well because I had a good coach. I had a great coach or mentor that guided me along and made sure that I enjoyed it and I learned it well. That’s what I want to try to bring across. I’ll never be half the man that he was, that I always say, and it’s my goal to just be even able to go like, “Oh, he’s my coach, and I-“
Jane: Yeah, and, “He’s made my life better.”
Lester: Yeah, exactly.
Jane: I know that after this conversation I’m dying to train with you, like actually dying to train with you. Where can people find you? How can we work with you?
Lester: On social media you can find me on Instagram. My handle is @lesterhokw. I put up a lot of posts almost every day about small lifting tips and pointers.
Jane: Yep, and some cool shoes.
Lester: Yeah, and some cool shoes, which I can’t really use now, but I’ll be all right.
Jane: Oh, no.
Lester: Yeah, I’ll be all right. If not, you can find me on my Facebook page, The Training Geek. My website thetraininggeek.net, you can contact me through there as well. I do provide private sessions even for people that are interstate or overseas. I do remote coaching as well. I don’t want to limit myself to just, “Oh, I need to see your face to face. I like it because it challenges me to go, “How do I actually describe a feeling through words? What do I need to exactly do?”
It actually allows me to go like, “All right, put it through words.” Then with my guys actually that I see face to face, if that works for that individual I can go, “All right, try this. I tried it out with someone and it worked.” I do run a few workshops and seminars across the year, but at the moment now nothing seriously yet. There’s one coming up in that people can actually come down and hang out with me. I’m not sure how many more spots there are. If not, just drop a text to the South East Strength account on Facebook or Instagram as well. Say that you’re interested in coming down for a lift. Say you want to try weightlifting out. I’m more than happy for you to come down and do a trial session and see how you go with that.
Jane: Awesome. Thank you so much for today. It’s been such a fun conversation.
Lester: Thank you for having me.
Jane: No, thank you.
Lester: Yeah, it was good.
Jane: I’m not nervous anymore. I’m pretty sure we’re really good friends now.
Lester: Yes. Oh, definitely.
Jane: Yeah, thank you so much, and thank you, everyone, for listening. Remember, make sure you go out there and live your very best life. Thanks, guys. Bye.
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