The Schwerdtfeger brothers compete at USAW Olympic weight lifting meets monthly and work out at Cornhusker CrossFit under the guidance of Nebraska Weight Lifting Club coach Stewart Venable, back right. Pictured with Venable are front row, Grant and Caleb, and back row Dawson.

Brothers Dawson (back), Caleb (front left) and Grant (front right) Schwerdtfeger work out at Cornhusker CrossFit to prepare for Junior Olympic Weight Lifting meets. Dawson started lifting two years ago, and Caleb and Grant started a year ago after watching Dawson and trying out some of the lifting moves on wooden barbell (pictured).

Collaboration between CrossFit franchises across the nation and weight lifting clubs is boosting interest in the sport for all ages.

CrossFit offers a group personal training format that takes participants through high intensity functional movements, including weight-lifting, gymnastics and body weight exercise to build up the core and increase explosiveness. “All the power comes from the hips and core,” explained Cornhusker CrossFit owner Jordan Klasek.

Cornhusker CrossFit is also home to the Nebraska Weight Lifting Club. Brothers Dawson, Caleb and Grant Schwerdtfeger lift four times a week with Coach Stewart Venable at the gym. Each had different reasons for starting to weight lift.

“I just wanted to build myself physically and mentally,” said 12-year-old Dawson. Nine-year-old Caleb looks forward to competing in USAW Olympic weight-lifting events, while Grant, 7, said his goal is to get stronger. Dawson started lifting weights two years ago under Venable, and Caleb and Grant joined him about a year later after watching from the sidelines. Venable would let them try out lifts with a wooden dumbbell to practice their technique.

Now all three compete on a monthly basis year-round. They returned from a Junior Olympic event in Des Moines at the end of July and will be competing in a state championship in Kansas in September and at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs in October. They also plan to participate in a meet hosted by the Nebraska Weight Lifting Club at Cornhusker CrossFit in October.


Caleb finds satisfaction in reaching his goals. He can lift 33 kilos for his snatch and 40 kilos for his clean and jerk. Dawson finished second in his weight class at the Junior Olympic competition in Des Moines in July. Event finishes are calculated by taking the best of three lifts in both the snatch and clean and jerk categories and combining the weights for a grand total.

Both Dawson and Caleb qualified for the USAW Youth Nationals in June. They didn’t compete, though. “That was their first year qualifying, so I want them to have another year of training to be competitive,” said Venable.

Venable has nicknames for each of the boys. He calls Caleb “the bull” because of his mental strength. “He is determined and he’s going to lift that weight regardless,” Venable said. Dawson is “the technician.” “He always wants to know why. He reads a lot on the sport.” Venable shared. Grant is “the fighter.” “There’s no quit in him,” Venable said. “He will not give up. He will not stop.”

Kids fitness program

Over the summer months the boys attended Cornhusker CrossFit’s new kids fitness program for additional conditioning and strength training. “They’re learning multifunctional skills and patterns and increasing skill sets that will transfer to major Olympic lifts,” explained Klasek. The program was designed to help participants become more compact, agile and more competitive with themselves and others. “The way the workouts are scheduled they have new goals each time,” Klasek said. “They’re having to constantly adapt.”

Dawson and his brothers like spending time at Cornhusker CrossFit. “I like that it just keeps us healthy and active,” Dawson explained. He finds it really motivational, too. “My coach has really motivated me to get stronger. It’s helped me to gain confidence.”

Parents pleased

Parents Dave and Lucy have been pleased with the atmosphere at Cornhusker CrossFit and the competitions they attend on a nearly monthly basis. “This whole community just rallies around everyone,” Lucy explained. “It’s the same at the gym. It’s like a family.” Even when the boys spend two hours at Cornhusker CrossFit, she said they have to drag them out.

The Nebraska Weight Lifting Club has 22 USA registered members who train weekly at the gym. Cornhusker CrossFit members are also allowed to train with NWLC members a couple times a week for a fee. “This is a big part of CrossFit, so this is a good niche for us,” Venable explained.

Classes at Cornhusker CrossFit continue to evolve and now include Suspended Yoga and Suspended Aerial Performance, which uses slings that hang from the gym’s beams. “The slings allow class participants to do acrobatic movements similar to those performed by Cirque du Soleil and Pink and make it easier for traditional yoga participants to get into yoga positions they might not be able to otherwise," Klasek said.

Cornhusker CrossFit offers punch cards for yoga sessions and monthly memberships based on the number of weekly training sessions attended. There is no membership fee to join. Discounts are available for families, First Responders, academic personnel and businesses. For more information about Cornhusker CrossFit programming, visit www.cornhuskercrossfit.com.


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