Glenwood Springs brothers a powerful pair |

Glenwood Springs brothers a powerful pair

Jeff Caspersen
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Matt and Wes Ehlers have always been into lifting weights.

The brothers from Wisconsin played sports growing up, so lifting always commanded their participation as a form of training.

Now in Glenwood Springs, the Ehlers’ affinity for lifting has taken on a competitive mold. Through their membership at Exclusive Athletic Club, the burly siblings were turned on to the sport of powerlifting.

And they’re pretty good at it. Evidence: Each came home with a gold medal from the July 24-27 State Games of the West in Colorado Springs.

Wes competed in the bench press-only version of the 125-kilogram, men’s open raw division, topping out with a lift of 402 pounds. That topped a state record of 363 pounds he set in May.

Participating in the men’s open division, 100-kilogram weight class, Matt bested the full-meet field with a three-lift total of 565 kilograms (about 1,243 pounds) to earn his gold medal. Full-meet competition consists of three disciplines ” the squat, bench press and deadlift.

Not bad for a couple of guys who only took up powerlifting back in March.

“We’ve both always been into lifting,” said 30-year-old Wes, who played college football at Bemidji State University in Minnesota. “Powerlifting’s something we started when we started working out [at EAC]. That’s how we started at the competitive end of it.”

Wes and Matt got a taste of competition at the club’s yearly meet in May before setting their sights on the State Games. Next they’ll compete at the December USA Powerlifting Colorado State Championships in Denver.

“It keeps you motivated,” 26-year-old Matt said of competing. “It gives you a goal.”

What Matt likes most about powerlifting is its broad appeal. With multiple weight classes, you don’t have to be huge to compete.

“It’s not as popular as it should be,” he said. “People misunderstand it. Just about anybody can do it, not just big, strong guys. You don’t have to be a freak of nature.”

The Ehlers train as part of a team at EAC ” one flavored with quite the pedigree and one that EAC owners Kim and Randy Henrie hope to see grow. Every Sunday afternoon, Ehlers and a handful of powerlifting teammates gather to train.

“We have state record holders and gold medal winners in our gym,” Kim boasted.

It’s all part of the Henries’ hope to build up the sport on the Western Slope. Since buying EAC two years ago, it’s been their goal to give local athletes an outlet for weight training. A customer survey alerted them to a desire for it, and a partnership with powerlifting quickly became a no-brainer.

“In doing research, we looked at powerlifting and bodybuilding. We looked at different organizations,” Kim explained. “We liked what Robb Grisham [the Colorado state chair of USA Powerlifting] had to say. The philosophy of the sport was a big driving force, how they’re big on doing drug testing. … The first step was getting a powerlifting program.”

EAC hosted its first meet ” the only of its kind on the Western Slope ” in May 2007. A bigger, better version returned in 2008, with turnout jumping from about 10 lifters to nearly 30.

In just two years, the Henries have become ambassadors, of sorts, for the sport in Western Colorado.

“They’re both really knowledgeable about powerlifting,” Wes said. “They’re just kind of getting into it too. They’re great. They kind of let us do our thing. Lots of gyms are touchy about using chalk or pushing hard weight. They have a good place to work out.”

And Randy and Kim Henrie are happy to have them ” and anyone else who wants to ” training at their club. So much so that they open the Sunday powerlifting sessions to the general public, free of charge.

“It’s great to see how it’s caught on and growing,” Kim said. “I think I’d like to see it continue to grow, to see our meet next year have at least 50 [competitors].”

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