Google "Diane Fu" and on the first page of google what do you see? Our favourite Olympic Lifter. Diane Fu is a fresh new talent in the world of Olympic Lifting. In a world that is stereotypically dominated by middle age men, Diane pumps new blood and provides a refreshing outlook. Don't let her looks deceive you. Although small, she's an absolute beast. Watch the speed, power and precision of her lifts. In this interview we get to know the real Diane Fu and how she got to work with the legendary "Supple Leopard" Kelly Starret at Crossfit San Francisco. Get ready to be smitten.
"Diane is a product of her dreams and the environment she is submerged in. Diane is one of the hardest working people I know plus she has the brains and looks that simply make you turn your head and pay attention".
-- Carl Paoli
For readers who do not know, tell us a little about yourself. What did you do prior to coaching at Crossfit San Francisco and how did you land the job?
I've been in the fitness industry since 1998. I worked for major commercial health brands here in the United States until roughly 2006/2007 when I was introduced to Dr. Kelly Starrett through a mutual friend Adrian Bozman. It was at this time I decided to step away from the corporate world to pursue CrossFit coaching.
What is it about Olympic lifting that got you sucked in and what keeps you interested?
I got into Olympic-style weightlifting around 2008. I went in with the attitude of wanting to improve my lifting skills to become better at CrossFit. With some guidance from my coach at the time, Jim Schmitz, I decided that I wanted to really give weight lifting a shot and that I could always return back to CrossFit style training when I felt I achieved a certain skill level with the sport. What I didn't realize then that I do now is that you'll never feel like you're skilled enough. The perfect snatch is like saying you've achieved the highest level of mastery; and if you practice any form of martial arts, you know that’s something you might be able to do if given an entire lifetime.
As Crossfitters we often get asked “Why Olympic Lifting?” What would your answer be to that? In your opinion does Olympic lifting beat other forms of strength work? If so, why?
Why not Olympic lifting? If you're in CrossFit and you want to compete. The Games every year places a very high emphasis on competence in the Olympic lifts. Based on CFGanalysis.blogspot.com the snatch and Clean & Jerk in the 2011 and 2012 games were worth 20% of the total allotted point value. If you include accessories, that number goes up with 36%. So if you're looking to be competitive, you better be pretty well versed in the Olympic lifts.
If you're in CrossFit and you're not competing, then practicing the Olympic lifts on a regular basis would allow you to learn and develop more explosiveness. Along those lines, I believe that practicing skills with a high level of technicality will allow the athlete to develop a broader capacity to handle skills that are less technical. For example, if I clean and jerk on a regular basis, I'm pretty sure I’ll be okay when it comes to handling a wall ball given that my conditioning is up to par but not vice-versa.
Did you ever feel that being Asian and petite a limitation? If yes, how did you overcome this? What was the hardest thing to master?
I suppose that I don’t see myself as being petite. I'm a mental giant that way. Achievement is a mindset supported by determination. I don’t believe there’s anything that I can’t do. As far as being Asian, I see it as a benefit given that my shorter legs and longer torso work well with the sport of Olympic-sytle weightlifting. It keeps me more upright where the position is most valued.
What makes you so good? And what advice would you give to beginners wanting to improve their Olympic Lifts.
I don't see myself as “that good” but thank you for the kind words. I practice – a lot. It helps that I love weightlifting. For me, it’s not just a sport or a form of exercise. Weightlifting is my form of martial arts. I come to my gym (dojo) everyday to practice, meditate, and learn. Weightlifting is very centering and calming for me.
You've developed quite a niche following, appealing to a younger generation in a market that has been stereotypically dominated by middle age men. How do you feel about this? Was this what you headed out to do? What do you think is the secret to Fu Barbell?
I feel very fortunate that people enjoy hearing what I have to say. I will always be appreciative of the support. I actually wasn't quite sure what I wanted FuBarbell to look like when I first started the concept other than I wanted to share information. I'm still learning and discovering as I go.
The secret to FuBarbell? This I don’t know. I hope to offer a voice that is void of judgement and dogma. Many times I hear coaches say this is bad or that some method is the only way to do something. I don't believe this to be true. I believe there are many styles of movement being expressed in weightlifting and that everything, if used properly, is a tool. To say that one movement is good and that another is bad doesn't resonate with me. There may be efficient or less efficient depending on the individual but never good or bad.
In your opinion what makes a good coach? What should people look for when finding a coach?
I can relate well to people. I didn't start out a great athlete so everything I do today was through a lot of trial and error along with practice. Not being particularly talented to begin with allowed me to experience the pieces that I otherwise would have just taken for granted.
Trust and comfort are big pieces. I do a lot of things by feel. If it doesn't give you a good feeling, that’s probably something you should pay attention to. I would advise people to do the same when looking for a coach. Talk to them. Find out about their history, credentials and then see how you feel during the conversation.
What’s your most challenging coaching moment?
Letting beginners be beginners. Often times coaches want to come in and fix everything right away. This can confuse the beginning athlete that’s just trying to develop a flow.
It’s hard to sit back and let someone struggle but that’s sometimes the best way for them to learn. The brain can pick up intellectually what needs to be done rather quickly but the body needs more time.
What are your views on nutrition? Do you eat Paleo? If not, what would you recommend? Do you believe in pre or post supplements for recovery?
It depends. I believe weightlifters fall into a unique category because they need to maintain a certain weight for optimal training and competition. For the general public, I feel paleo-ish is good. I personally avoid grains and processed sugars. Everything else is fair game.
I don't advocate supplements, but I'm not against them either. I take caffeine pre workout and then a glutamine and whey protein recovery drink post workout. I do fish-oil at night along with some vitamin D and then an egg protein drink before bed at night.
How many days per week do you train? Do you recommend having days focused on mobility vs strength vs cardio OR a little of everything each time? How many rest days do you have a week?
I train 5 days per week with Fridays and Sundays as rest days. I mobilize a little everyday throughout the day so it doesn’t seem so daunting in one session and then I focus on more specifics right before my workout. I do what I call “Cardio Abs” twice a week with a fellow coach of mine where we take trunk work and turn it into a little metabolic finisher for conditioning. Below are some examples:
Many female Crossfitters are concern on not fitting into their skinny jeans. I know “Strong is the new Skinny”. What would your response be to this? I personally have found my jeans getting a little tight. Are there movements we should avoid overdoing and movements we should focus more on? Or should Crossfitters just accept that it’s part of getting stronger?
It depends on what the goals are for the athlete. Are your goals purely cosmetic or are you looking to meet your own personal genetic potential? If an athlete wants to get stronger, then a little muscle mass is pretty much unavoidable after the beginning stages. If it’s purely cosmetic, well, that’s not my area of expertise anymore so I'm not sure how I would really respond to that. Maybe I've spent too many years around athletes, but I think men and women look much better with some “meat” on them.
What does a day in a life of Diane Fu look like?
We might not have enough word count left for this last question. I kid. It’s pretty crazy but in a great way. I coach 10 hour days that include 1-on-1 athletes, CrossFit classes, and FuBarbell club. On top of that, I find time to fit my own training in and stay on top of the never ending list of projects I need to get done for myself and FuBarbell.
Weekends I travel and perform seminars on Olyimpic-style weightlifting. That part is a ton of fun for me being able to go around, meet new communities and visit different boxes.
With the time I have remaining, I try to spend as much of it with my family as possible. Without them and their support, none of this would be possible.
Did you know Diane's provide remote coaching? Her honesty, humbleness and talent as a coach is definitely unique. Visit www.fubarbell.com for more information. You can also follow Diane on Instagram or Facebook.