May 29, 2024

Together We Lift: CPSL Mind catches up with Liam Baker

Fitness trainer and CPSL Mind fundraiser Liam Baker is continuing to unite the community and raise vital funds for the charity. Liam and his fitness community are organising a bespoke strength training event on 14th July 2024. Our very own Olivia Hubbard headed down to the Buds Fitness studio to find out more.

How Liam Baker is supporting local people

Liam Baker is all smiles when he opens the door to his well-equipped and welcoming fitness studio in Sawtry – Buds Fitness HQ. We are only inside for a moment before he disappears to get branded up in his CPSL Mind t-shirt before our chat. His enthusiasm and passion for the charity and for fitness is infectious and we are delighted that Liam has continued to fundraise for us. We both sit on a fitness bench and before I dive in to ask about the summer event, I wanted to know how strength training has helped Liam’s mental health.

“I experienced being mentally weak and I was physically weak – there was a real parallel because as I got physically stronger, I got mentally stronger, too,” says Liam.

“I went from being eight stone to 16 stone after I began strength training. For me the benefit was having these small measurable goals. Sometimes, it can be hard to evidence what you’ve done during a day. I think that’s what really helped me in my journey and why I want to encourage as many people as possible to try strength training.”

This will be Liam’s third year raising money for us, the importance has always been to give back to a community that’s helped him. “CPSL Mind drives awareness through its training and services delivered in the community. I know that by doing the event locally in Cambridgeshire and working with CPSL Mind, it allows us to give back and we know the money raised is going to an actual community – I know that we are raising money for the right charity. Every penny that we raise in profit from the event will go to CPSL Mind.”


An inclusive community

‘Together We Lift’ is a new brand (previously, known as Deadlifts Over Depression), and Liam is keen for as many people as possible to get involved, regardless of fitness ability. Commenting on the rebrand, Liam explains, “The earlier branding of ‘Deadlifts Over Depression’ was probably a bit niche to the strength scene. We feel our new brand will appeal to a lot more people (including beginners) to grow participation and get more people involved in strength training.”

Having taken these weightlifting events to Scotland, Yorkshire and the Midland and achieved national success, Liam is really looking forward to being back in Cambridgeshire with this one.

Liam has gained the support from highly respected and talented fitness coaches who give their time for free to support the events. At the Scotland event in March 2024, the most decorated man in UK Strongman history, Terry Hollands, helped with coaching and promoting the event alongside professional strongwoman, Nicola Buchan, at Nicola’s Gym in Peterhead. The events are so inclusive and challenge strength training perceptions and stereotypes – more women attended the event in Yorkshire than men and three-times Strongest Woman winner, Rhiannon Lovelace, shared her coaching tips with attendees.


Together We Lift

The event is taking place at Academy Leisure in Sawtry on Sunday 14th July (10:00am – 4:00pm). The venue is in a sports hall and not in a gym – Liam says the venue is key to inclusivity. When booking a space at Together We Lift, you will submit your current personal bests for the event stations that will be available on the day. At the event, you will be in a group of lifters of equal ability.

Together in the group, you will have 40 minutes on each of the event stations working with a qualified coach to help maximise lifting potential.

These four event stations are:
* Standard Barbell Deadlift

*Standard Overhead Press
* Sandbag To Shoulder
* Sled Drag and Push

The day will conclude on a 9ft Deadlift Bar that will work in pairs to lift, so whether you have just met on the day, or wanted to attempt to lift with your husband or wife, your brother or sister or even your best friend, this is a great chance to see what you can lift together!


Spreading the message

The legacy to the events is that there is a growing community – Liam tells me that conversations lead to conversations and why we must encourage people to keep talking about mental health long after the events. “People will leave the event with an event t-shirt that has mental health written all over it – which means that when you go to the gym, you wear that t-shirt and you’re spreading the message and saying it’s ok to talk. So, there’s a legacy beyond the event, which is much bigger than the event. I’m confident that we will be doing these events in Cambridgeshire for years and years to come and when I’m too old, someone will hopefully take over.”

So, what does success mean to Liam? “I don’t care if 10 people turn up or 400 people turn up, so long as I make a difference to one person’s life – I’ve done it, I’ve nailed it. Of course I want as many people to come as possible! I remember after we did our first events back in 2022, a woman came up to me and said it actually inspired her to talk to her husband about her own mental health. For me, it was a real big win because that’s what these events are for.

You don’t have to be deadlifting 400 kilos for it to be big, it just has to be you versus you and if you’re progressing yourself, that’s all that matters and at these events, that’s what we see all of the time. There was a complete beginner lifter in Scotland, never lifted before, came to our event and on the day she got to 60 kilos and that was her personal best and she was absolutely buzzing.

“The beautiful thing about these events is that people do reach out to me personally. It’s really nice to know that they trust me with personal information. I don’t take it any further than that but hopefully I can signpost them to places where they can talk more freely and get advice. From my side, I am seeing all types of stories, from people who have experienced mental health themselves in terms of detrimental mental health or have relatives who have taken their own life, or they have had friends who have. They are using these events to raise awareness and money in memory of their friends and family, which is just as important.”

Getting back on the ice

Just in case you thought Liam is all about strength training – you might like to know he has a hidden talent and he recovered from an incredibly frightening experience on the ice rink. As Liam said himself – conversations lead to conversations.  So, what is this other sporting talent? “I played ice hockey! I didn’t play for about six years due to an injury and I’ve just started playing again. Four weeks ago, I bit the bullet and got back on the ice. I’m a goalie, so I’m in line of the pucks. Eight years ago, I had reconstruction surgery on my throat because I got hit with a puck at 100mph. I smashed my voice box and my larynx.

The lifting legacy

We are meeting just after the London Marathon 2024 so naturally; I must ask if Liam is a runner. He’s run multiple marathons himself. Were they enjoyable? “No!”, he replies. But we both agree that there is something rather wonderful about exercising in nature. “Nature is massive for me; you realise how small you are and that some things really don’t matter.”

There’s no stopping Liam and he’s working on some exciting projects. He shares how he’s in conversations with rugby clubs to help people who have experienced head injuries or are looking to retire but fearful of life after Rugby. Just because you have retired from one sport, it’s not the end. There is so much more out there”, he says.

I thought there couldn’t possibly be another fitness activity that Liam Baker has put his name to – but then he goes and surprises me again. “I also like to play lawn bowls,” he laughs. Well, there you have it. It’s never too late to try a new sport. Liam puts the music on and springs into action to deadlift, the sound of Rhianna’s All of the Lights accompanies his rhythm as he squats and rises. The Together We Lift legacy is really something powerful and without him realising it; there’s a whole legacy building because of one man – let’s call it Liam’s legacy.

Book your ticket to Together We Lift Cambridgeshire today

Date: Sunday 14th July, 10:00am – 4:00pm
Location: Academy Leisure, Sawtry, Cambridgeshire. PE28 5UY
Price: £40

Included in the price:
– An event t shirt
– Chance to train for 40 minutes on each event station with a qualified coach.
– Event Goodie Bag
– Knowledge that all profits will be donated to CPSL Mind.

Designed to make lifting events accessible to all with the mission of raising awareness and money for mental health.

To enter, please visit the booking page.



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