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Powerlifting Fort Lee Instructor Teaches As He Trains

Chris Della Fave dead-lifts nearly 500 pounds at his Bergen County Barbell gym on Broadway.
Chris Della Fave dead-lifts nearly 500 pounds at his Bergen County Barbell gym on Broadway. Photo Credit: COURTESY: Chris Della Fave

FORT LEE, N.J. — Former college football player Chris Della Fave has long found comfort in knowing that his teammates would have his back if he messed up on the field.

On the powerlifting platform, the Fort Lee High School teacher has only himself to fall back on.

“In football if you miss a block the team can still score,” said Della Fave, who placed first in his weight class at his first national competition in Pennsylvania in 2010. “If you mess up on the platform, it’s all on you.".

After a monotonous year of working for J P Morgan in 2011, Della Fave of Park Ridge switched career paths to teach, coach and train local youngsters and athletes.

He gives his students and athletes the same advice: "How well you do depends on how much work you put in.

“If you don’t put in work in class your grades will suffer," Della Fave said, "and if you don’t put in work on the practice field you won’t see results in the game. It all translates to real life.”

All Della Fave needs to chase his dreams is his Bergen County Barbell gym on Broadway in Hillsdale and 1,000 pounds or so of iron bars and plates.

Powerlifting is a way of life for both Della Fave and one of his gym charges, Nicole Balkau.

“It’s shown me what I’m capable of and that has carried over into my everyday life," said Balkau of Wallington. "It’s given me a type of mental strength and resilience that’s allowed me to get through some pretty tough times.”

Bergen County Barbell’s athletes compete individually and placed first as a team last May at a regional competition.

The reason was simple, Della Fave said: "It's more work ethic than anything."

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