Video by Chauncy Miller and JP Raineri
For Ray Anderson, lifting weights is more than just a way to get in shape, it’s a way of life. The 59-year-old weightlifter, originally from Chicago, is the father of three daughters and has four grandchildren and is married to Linda, who supports his every move.
Ray is the founder/owner of Maxt Sports Academy in Murrieta and has been a certified personal and sports performance trainer for the past 39 years and the type of weights he lifts usually can’t be found in your everyday gym.
Ray and Linda have every type of machine that you can think of, plus free weights as far as the eye can see, but it’s the huge tires and massive balls of concrete that are located behind their workout facility that are really what will amaze most newcomers when they see his workout regimen.
“Ray goes pretty hard about six days a week, from about 4:30 a.m. to sometimes 8, 9, even 10 o’clock at night,” said wife Linda.
Of course, that his not his workout schedule, that is the schedule of those he trains. From military, law enforcement and fire fighters to housewives, children, local athletes, and even those that just need something new in their lives. The husband and wife duo, through strategic cross-training methods, prepare people from all walks of life for the physical and mental challenges ahead of them.
Linda, who gave up her career in the dentistry field to become a personal trainer and mainly support Ray’s passion, says that for the most part, they had pretty normal lives while raising children.
“Ray is a great role model, father, and husband and when he wasn’t supporting our daughters, he was training or working out athletes and coaching. I was slowly getting involved in the training side of things, but mainly concentrated on working, doing the mom stuff and coaching our daughter’s sports. It wasn’t till the girls grew up and went on to their own lives did I see that Ray was missing something, somewhere,” said Linda.
Known to most as “The Mechanic,” his “Look Up…Get Up…Never Give Up…Never Quit” philosophy has helped many athletic teams and individuals over the years achieve their goals and though his resume is a mile long, Ray had his own goals that he tucked so far away, he almost stopped focusing on them.
As a kid, Ray says he was the scrawny, scrappy kid, always picked last for sports and weighed in at a buck fifty sopping wet as a senior in high school. He never let his weight or height get to him, in fact it fueled his passion.
He acquired a weight set as a kid and lifted regularly and says even though he was scrawny, he was in great shape. It was in high school where he really learned to properly lift and he carried that with him after high school into his adult life. Growing up he competed in football, wrestling, track & field, swimming, baseball and martial arts, but it was his life as a former competitor in Olympic weightlifting, power lifting, strongman and bodybuilding competitions that he missed the most.
“When our kids came into the picture I toned it down in a major way for myself and instead of competing I took up coaching what I had been taught and I loved it, still do,” said Ray.
Sharing his many years of athletic competition and training experience has enabled him to set the standards of excellence in strength conditioning by teaching others about proper nutrition, lifting techniques, speed, agility and quickness.
To date, Ray is the Olympic weightlifting coach for TEAM ELITE FITNESS with the USAW. The USAW (USA Weightlifting) is the national governing body for Olympic weightlifting in the United States where top competitors are selected by the USAW to compete in all major international events such as The Olympic Games, world championships, junior world championships and Pan American Games. He is also a referee for Olympic weightlifting competitions and is the AAU Assistant District Director of Strength Sports for the Southern Pacific Region as well as a committee member for the AAU Track & Field Area 33 of Southern California.
Some may also remember Ray from his time spent as the former head strength and conditioning coach and PE athletics teacher for Rancho Christian High School in Temecula and the PAC 5 Division head strength and conditioning coach for Lakewood High School in Lakewood.
In 2012, after reaching out to AAU’s Assistant National Director Martin Drake, Ray really became heavily involved with the backend of the competitions when something sparked inside of him. That spark, Linda said, “was the thing I could tell he was missing.”
“While judging at an event in November 2013 I got talked into competing in four events on the last day. I hadn’t competed in over 30 years so I was like, ‘Ah, I don’t know,’ but long story short, I ended up winning four gold medals and setting a couple American records which I wasn’t planning on doing. So I got the bug to do it again,” exclaimed Ray.
He competed again in Los Angeles at the LA Fit Expo in 2014 and won three more gold medals and set a couple more American records.
“It just showed me that my years of training had given me a foundation and I had some strength I didn’t think I had. So I got serious and began training heavily and a few weeks ago in Laughlin Nevada at the AAU World Championships I competed in the 275 pound weight class in my age group and came back with seven gold medals and I set seven AAU world records which was phenomenal. And it was heavy stuff, atlas stones, tire flipping, tire tossing, farmer walks, circle carries, sled pulls sled pushes, man we did everything and it was a good time,” he said.
There are more competitions on the horizon for Ray, but he says his biggest reward is seeing the athletes that he trains “take their performance to the next level.”
“My job is to ensure that these athletes improve their performance, prevent injuries and train with a variety of physical and mental challenges that they will be facing in competition. I want them to be able to enjoy life after sports,” said Ray.