In this three-part series, get to know Coach Mike Burgener, who runs the CrossFit Weightlifting Trainer Course and coached the American Women’s Junior National Team for about a decade beginning in the mid-’90s. He’s also the man behind Mike’s Gym, a two-car garage in Bonsall, California, that serves as a USA Weightlifting Regional Training Center.
In Episode 2, we learn where Burgener’s coaching career took him after he met and married his wife.
“I was invited to design and run the strength program at Rancho Buena Vista High School and was there from 1986 until 2008, when I retired,” Burgener says. “We had a lot of success at Rancho with, basically, high-school physical-education students, and we formed a team—Team Southern California.”
During his time as a strength coach at the high school in Vista, California, Burgener received a lot of resistance from the head football coach when teaching students how to snatch and clean and jerk.
“They thought I was crazy,” he says. “The head football coach told me not to do those. ... I’d go ahead and do it anyway, and (the students) became very explosive and powerful, and then he liked it.”
In addition to the physical benefits, camaraderie is another positive byproduct of weightlifting, Burgener says.
“Weightlifters in a gym, together we all have this passion for lifting heavy weights fast,” he says. “There’s nothing like lifting a heavy snatch. There’s nothing like lifting a heavy clean and jerk. You’re driven with your friends to make a 1-kilo gain.”
Burgener adds: “I’m still lifting at 50 years old. And competing.”
Video by Jordan Gravatt.
Additional reading: “Burg’s Eye View No. 5” by Mike Burgener, published Sept. 7, 2011.