Hassle Free Barbell…it’s tough here


Since moving to San Francisco I have made my home at Hassle Free Barbell Club lead by Coach Kevin Doherty. Needless to say that Coach Doherty has developed some of the strongest lifters in the USA: D’angelo Osorio, Ian Wilson, David Garcia and more. It’s hard to argue with success so there’s very little to question.


Hassle Free is a highly competitive atmosphere. I can see why some people have shared with me why they don’t want to train here. There are coaches here and for the most part are friendly and will help you out. There are high school kids training but at the same time there are nationally ranked lifters here getting in training. Masters lifters are present here as well as strong female lifters. And almost everyone is competing. Practically everyone is on a competition program projecting their energy into the next meet. This competitive environment can be uncomfortable at times but comfort is the enemy of growth. If you are comfortable chances are you’re not growing. I like this environment. This is the place where I want to be.

Don’t Get Too Comfortable

That’s what one lifter told me here. This is a tight family of lifters who have been training together for years. I can understand when you have been lifting together for years why some people have reservations toward new comers. You don’t want bad apples in your group to ruin what is already established. I’m the outsider coming in. Not everyone is welcoming but at least you know where you stand with them. As a newcomer coming in it feels great when people welcome you and place you in the family. However, I must say that Coach Doherty was the first person to welcome me and make me feel welcomed at his gym. And he always makes me feel welcomed every time I’m there. I’m forever grateful for that. Other awesome people who have welcomed me: Steve, Sam, Maddy, Carolina, Mike, and Ben. Coach Ben Hwa made me feel at home from day 1. I have a lot of respect for him.

First Day at Hassle Free

My first day at Hassle Free I was welcomed by Ben Hwa and Coach Doherty. I made myself in the weight room and started to feel good. I was strong this day as I was peaking for a meet. I was cleaning big weight for me and making it feel light and flawless. Technique this day was on point. Next thing you know Big Anthony Yurich a youth lifter from the south came up to me and challenged me a clean and jerk faceoff!!!! Apparently, Coach Ben saw how I was lifting and suggested to Anthony to come and train with me. I was confused, perplexed and dumbfounded. I didn’t know if he was kidding or being serious. I said, “Are you serious? I don’t even know you.” He literally was flexing on me. Where I grew up when you flex on someone it’s because they have trouble coming their way. So it took me less than a minute to accept the challenge and we went at it. I was talking SHIT and he was too. We pushed each other hard that say. He pushed me to a 150 clean but no jerk. He hit 2 PR’s at 161 and then came back to hit 164kg!!!!! If Anthony had not flexed on me we both wouldn’t have taken it as far as we did.


I’m thankful for the tough environment at Hassle Free because it’s going to make me the better lifter I have dreamed about. I’m still trying to find my place here. I’m still trying to find my voice. However, I know what I have to do. I have to give, I have to support, I have to welcome, I have to stay focused, I have to come everyday if I have to. However, I know that I’m supported, I know that I’m not alone. Thanks to Coach Doherty and Coach Ben Hwa for having me.



Josue Cano

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