DisPatches, April 1999
Instructor wins world Championship
Adaptive Physical Education instructor Homayoun "Homi" Shivaie captured the World Amateur Athletic Union Power Lifting Championship for his age and weight class at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando in October.
Competing in the 132-pound, age 45-49 class, Homi hefted 1,040 pounds total -- 395 in the squat, 205 in the bench press and 440 in the dead lift.
Homi, a native of Iran, came to the United States in 1977, and has been an instructor at College of Marin for more than 10 years. He holds a BA in Movement Education from Dominican College, and has studied Special Education in the Masters program at San Francisco State.
"I never thought I'd do any lifting," says Homi. "I started going to different places to learn what I could do with Jon."
Jon is Homi's protégé Jon Shapiro, a 25-year-old power lifter with Down Syndrome who also works as an instructional aide in CoM's Adaptive PE program. Homi first met Jon in a Dominican College day camp in the summer of 1983, and has worked with him ever since.
"At age 10, he looked like a six-year-old," recalls Homi. "I had to come up with creative ways to teach him basic movement -- hopping, jumping, catching, throwing."
For example, Homi would make Jon walk on a four-inch-wide balance beam, set on the floor so that falls wouldn't be dangerous. It was very difficult and frustrating for Jon at first. Sometimes he cried, but he learned. He is now extremely well coordinated for a person with Down Syndrome, and is even a very graceful dancer.
"When he was 16, we started on weights," says Homi. "He wanted to be like Arnold (Schwarzenegger). In September, 1990, we came to Gold's Gym" in Corte Madera, where they still make their headquarters.
Jon had a knack for weight lifting. He had great powers of concentration, and very fluid moves. Before long, he was winning trophies. Lots of trophies. Big trophies, some of which were taller than himself. Homi was intrigued.
"Jon kept pushing me," recalls Homi, "telling me I should get into lifting, and compete."
Thus the student became the coach. Jon still lifts (he's ranked third in California, fourth in the country), but he went to Orlando as the coach of Team Shapiro. In addition to Homi, team members Marcia Harp (another CoM instructor, who also sang the National Anthem), Lindy Blast and Dusty Pedersen also came home with World Championships.
Homi lives in San Rafael with his wife Shapar (also an Adaptive PE instructional aide) and 12-year-old son Shamim. He trains a wide variety of people, and has founded a company called Iconfit, which combines physical conditioning and nutrition.
On Christmas Day, Homi was featured on the "Mornings On 2" television show, hosted by another of his students, Ross McGowan.
"I love helping people to recognize their potential," says Homi, "and then live up to it."