Q+A: Meet oly weight coach & competitor, Wil Fleming

It’s hard to imagine Wil Fleming weighing in at 155 pounds. But, years ago, he did. It was the late 1990s, and he was a 3-sport sophomore in high school. He was playing defense in a football game against his cross-town rival. That’s when it struck him. Literally. The Indiana all-state fullback from the rival team ran him over. “I decided in that moment, that I needed to be bigger. Stronger. Faster,” Wil said. So, he walked into an olympic weightlifting club and met renowned coaches Paul Fleschler and Frank Eksten and discovered the power of lifting.

“I started lifting and just became obsessed with it,” he told us. “I realized that if I put the work in, I would get a result. If I put more work in, I’d get more of a result.”

It was that drive and love for training that led him to become an All American track and field athlete, a Jr. National Champion in olympic lifting, and today the owner of his businesses: Wilfleming.com and his accompanying Indiana-based gym, Force Fitness and Performance.

Needless to say, Wil knows lifting. He knows throwing. And, he knows shoes. We caught up with Wil to learn more about his journey into the weightroom and uncover his growing relationship with Velaasa.

When you think about weightlifting and athletics, what hooked you?
To put it simply: It’s fun. You can actually see yourself getting bigger or faster or stronger. Training is a door-opener. Thanks to constant pursuit and good coaching, by the time I was a senior in high school I had scholarship opportunities all over the country. That was because of weights.

There are many components that make up your business today: coaching, speaking, etc. What do you love most about it?
It’s the reward of results. At Force Fitness and Performance, we work with all sorts of people, from the competitive athlete to the person who wants to finish a 5K race. A lot of talented young people come through my doors and I get to help mold them. I get to teach them this complex art that has so many cool benefits.

In your years of experience, tell us what role a good shoe really plays in training?
In lifting and track and field, the shoe is your connection to the ground. The only way to create force is to push against the ground. So, you need a super solid source of power on your feet to impart that connection. The shoe is everything. When it comes to lifting, and especially the olympic lifts, you need adequate mobility in a number of joints. If you’re going to pull from the floor and receive the weight in a full squat, for example, elevated heels will improve the dorsiflexion in your feet and provide the right support.

We know you’re a shoe guy. You’ve had a unique chance to lift in the Strake. First impression?
It’s striking to look at. In terms of construction, it doesn’t feel like a shoe in development. It feels like a shoe coming from a company that’s been around for awhile...from a company who knows how to make a quality shoe. The wood heel is the first thing I noticed. I grew up watching all the great lifters in wood heels. Many long-standing records were made on a wood heel. It’s nostalgic.

What role will you play in Velaasa's growth?
I met Lynden (Velaasa’s founder) when we were both competing in the Big Ten. I’ve known him for a while and actually sent a few of my athletes to train with him when he was coaching. I was excited to hear that he was beginning this company and I’ve played an intricate role in terms of advising Velaasa on the construction of the weightlifting shoe. I can’t wait to see the final product.

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