Just as Bracebridge’s own school of arm wrestling has found a new home, a hometown arm wrestling champion is preparing for a flight to take on world-class rivals in Brazil.
The school, which was set up earlier this year by professional arm wrestler Ashley Maher and her coach Joey Costello, has moved into a newly expanded wing of the local SNAP fitness gym. Gym owner Sandy Long says the move means aspiring young arm wrestlers will have much more equipment and space to train with.
“There’s room for them to do their arm wrestling … half the group can actually go and work on sports-specific training exercises with Joey in the main gym,” said Long. “So he’ll show them what machines to use in order to best practise their arm wrestling.”
Until now, Costello has been leading the school in a small conference room at the Bracebridge Sportsplex.
Though arm wrestling clubs and instructional programs are offered elsewhere in the world, Costello says most are socially oriented.
By contrast, Costello says the Bracebridge school of arm wrestling is the first formal school for the sport in the world. On top of technique, students learn the history of the sport and rules for professional tournaments. Participants are also given a final exam before finishing the curriculum.
With the move, Costello said he is also anticipating greater enrolment when arm wrestling classes resume in late September.
“I think it’s going to be at least close to double,” he said.
On top of offering the school’s students a space to train, Long said the gym is offering them a special discount to take advantage of the facility’s other amenities.
“If they’re serious, then it gives them a chance to use the gym,” he said.
Along with Brown’s Appliances of Port Carling, the gym is also sponsoring Maher’s trip to Sao Vicente, Brazil, where she will be competing in the 2012 World Arm Wrestling Championships next week. The event runs Sept. 10-18.
Maher competed internationally for the first time last November in Kazakhstan, just months after recovering from a devastating arm wrestling injury. Despite the setback, she has since gone on to win a slew of competitions. Recently, she successfully defended her title as Canadian champion over the Canada Day long weekend, and wowed the crowd at the Loaded Dog Smackdown tournament on Aug. 25 in Toronto.
“She did so well the promoter threw her into one of the guy’s classes just for fun,” said Costello. “She just smoked him … Ashley’s a little wee girl and this guy was probably six feet tall.”
However, Costello said she can expect to face much stiffer competition on the world stage.
“If she can get herself into the top 10 this year in Brazil, it’d be absolutely phenomenal, I’d be tickled pink,” he said. “This is the elite.”