His mentality dictates his path to success. Every hurdle. Every doubt. Each time he feels progress slipping away, he pushes harder.
David Chu, first year med student of Oakland University’s William Beaumont School of Medicine, enters the Rec Center, eyes straight ahead. He stands alone, requiring only one platform and one bar. He sets his gym bag down and immediately prepares his mind and body for the intense focus the sleek art-form of Olympic weightlifting embodies. Swiftly executing each movement using every ounce of his 6-foot-2, 210 pound frame, the 24 year old, orchestrates strength, discipline and elegance with delicate balance.
Hailing from Los Angeles, he did his undergrad at University of California, Berkeley, where he began general strength training as a freshman. He developed an attraction to Olympic Weightlifting just two years ago, from watching YouTube videos, admiring its beauty and complex movements.
“It’s a really unique sport because it’s such a unique combination of strength and technique,” says Chu. “There’s like an art to it. It’s beautiful.”
The main lifts Chu practices today are the clean and jerk and the snatch. Both of which require a high degree of flexibility and strength, that allows him to hoist close to 200lb directly over his head. His exceptional skill in the sport, is a testament to his tenacity and dedication during the early stages of training. His focus relied on building a strong foundation required to safely execute the technicalities this sport demands. He committed years to grinding out compound exercises, and staying in tune with his body, recognizing his weaknesses with certain exercises.
“Getting into the deep squat position with your feet flat on the ground with your back straight, that was always hard for me,” says Chu. “Even just doing a normal squat took me a while. That’s why I didn’t even think I could do Olympic Weightlifting. I watched it a lot, but I never really did it myself.”
Putting his own principles to the test and instilling belief in his capabilities, he constructed a plan and followed through.
The majority of his training was through the use of the YouTube channels, Hookgrip and AllThingsGym, which give access to some of the best lifting techniques in the world in slow motion and hi-def. Under these unique training circumstances, David trains slowly and remains attentive to technique.
“It is very technical so that’s why I keep it to a light or medium weight and then slowly move up to a heavier weight. It’s all about the technique.”
His belief in training with intention and repetition stays firm.
“To get good at something you just do it over and over again, it’s really simple.”
He began to see improvements just as expected.
Even without throwing up impressive PRs, Chu’s modest and humble approach during training, speaks volumes that attract onlookers who admire his display of pure power and skill.
Andrew Gudenau, a Fitness Assistant at the Rec, has witnessed the thoroughness of his training and attention to detail. During his shift, he takes a moment to observe and admire this notable skill.
“I look forward to watching him lift because it’s like watching the Olympics,” says Gudenau. “You can appreciate the complexity of the sport and the discipline required.”
The care he puts into his warm-up illustrates his commitment to the health of his body. After beginning each session with slow stretching and foam rolling, he further prepares with lifts using only the bar, weight-free, to ensure proper form and safety.
His exceptional abilities and discipline is the side-effect of his unyielding willingness to give 100 percent each day. As academics are his first priority, he views lifting as something to do to unwind; a mere hobby that is executed with the same vigor of one who is living their passion.