We had the good fortune of connecting with Paul Fleschler and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Paul, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Well, Front Range Weightlifting Club is not really a business per se if you look at my bottom line. It’s definitely more of a passion. I started Front Range Weightlifting in 2001 to try to introduce youth in the community to the sport of Weightlifting. I was working for USA Weightlifting as their Technical Director at the time and I did not have any interaction with the resident athletes at the Olympic Training Center and I wanted to actively coach. So I reached out to the Colorado Springs Park District and began a relationship with them. They would advertise for me and I would split the $50/month fee with them. So, as you can see, not really a moneymaking business. However, where I received the most gratification was molding these young men and women into national level athletes while getting to know their mindset, mentality, physical limitations and attributes, getting to know their families and of course, seeing them succeed on the platform. I believe I instill in them what my coach instilled in me which is dedication, structure, accountability, mental toughness, physical growth, emotional positivity and general preparation for all aspects of life. I really think, in a positive way, being a part of a club separates one from others who are not part of social or sports clubs.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My love and passion for the sport of Weightlifting started very early in my life. At the age of thirteen the National Weightlifting Championships were held at my high school Glenbrook North in Northbrook, Il which is a suburb of Chicago. I was able to see all of the highest level lifters in the country compete. It really inspired me to seek out Charles Hansen who was the Strength & Conditioning Coach at our high school. Yes, our high school had a S&C coach who also believed the Olympic movements and their derivatives would make you a better athlete. So he implemented them for all the athletes who played high school athletics. Coach Hansen also had a Weightlifting Club where he would take athletes in their off season to compete in local competitions. So this is how I got started and continued on after high school where I mainly trained with Roger Nielsen at Sayre Park.

In January of 1991 I moved out to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and trained there through the 1992 Games when I moved back to Chicago to finish my undergrad in Psychology at University of Illinois at Chicago. After I finished I had difficulty finding a job in the field of psychology. I was still training because I wanted to try to make the 1996 Olympic Team. One day I got a call from Frank Eksten who was the S&C coach for Coach Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers. He asked if I would ever consider being a graduate assistant for him. I jumped at the opportunity and went to IU and received a Masters in Kinesiology with an emphasis in motor learning & control. Perfect for working with athletes!

Shortly after I received my masters degree, Frank decided to take another coaching role in the private sector and recommended me to take his place. Thus began my three year journey with Coach Knight and Indiana Basketball while also coaching Hoosier Weightlifting Club with Geoff Eliason in the evenings. They were long days but I learned so much while being in the weightroom all those hours. When Coach Knight’s career ended prematurely at IU so did mine and I then took a job with USA Weightlifting as Technical Director for about three years and then as resident coach for about five years. All the while starting and continuing Front Range Weightlifting.

At that level of coaching as you can imagine there are a lot of politics so in August of 2009 I left USA Weightlifting and opened Front Range Weightlifting in downtown Colorado Springs and later RedRocks CrossFit. I did that until 2015 when health issues began to set in with all the stress and long hours of running a business. I decided I needed to find a different line of work which is when my good friend and fellow weightlifter and coach Geoff Eliason introduced me to Cook Medical. I interviewed for a sales position in the surgery division and got the job. I was now in corporate America! Although I was no longer coaching full time, Front Range Weightlifting was still active now in Denver which is where I currently am with Nikki who I would like to give a huge Shoutout to accept Front Range Weightlifting in her facility and continue on there.

It’s been a long, crazy ride but I believe my past experiences and education have prepared me for my current role for Cook Biotech as a clinical specialist. I help surgeons treat patients with our biological hernia mesh called Biodesign. It’s a unique way to fix hernias and soft tissue injuries with no material left behind. It’s material is porcine small intestine submucosa and it’s healing properties are amazing. It’s definitely a change from coaching full time but it’s very rewarding.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well I really enjoy the outdoors and I love watching sports so that would have to be part of the itinerary, I also enjoy eating and having a beer or two! So, depending on the season, I would try to go to either a Rockies or Avs game. I like to hang out in LoDo prior to the game so I would visit some of the local fare around the ballpark or Ball Arena. If it’s winter I would go skiing at either Keystone, Vail or the Beav and maybe a snowshoe or hike. Again, visiting the local restaurants and bars. Road biking or mountain biking at the resorts are always fun in the summer as well.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Well definitely my parents who were very supportive. They would follow me around the Midwest as I competed as a teenager and as I got better they traveled around the country and even went to a couple World Championships and of course they were at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. But a supportive family is just the beginning. Sayre Park Weightlifting Club in Chicago also deserves a shoutout. My coach Roger Nielsen and all of my training partners Rich Schutz, Jeff Michels, Jeff Nootens, Mike Gattone, Gary Kostrubala, Geoff Eliason, Mike Karchut, Steve Sakoulis and I’m sure I am forgetting several others but it’s been about thirty years! Also, my coach Dragomir Cioroslan and teammates at the Olympic Training Center which there were many but the OG of Wes Barnett, Jeff Macy, Jim Hewelt, Tim McCrae and Mark Henry all played an instrumental role. Finally, my Indiana University club coach Frank Eksten who was there at the end of my fifteen year career and transitioned me from athlete to coach. There are so many more people who had an influence on me but these are some of the more important ones.

Website: https://frontrangewlc.org/

Instagram: @frwlc

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/paul-fleschler-oly-ms-35620a19/

Image Credits
Front Range Weightlifting Club

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