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Smitty's Iron Works - a Great Hardcore Gym

My hometown of Midland, Michigan is 500 miles away from me. In the 1960s and '70s, my formative weight-training years, all my iron pumping took place in The Community Center, which at the time had a grungy, old-school before it was old, lifting room. Big 'ol globe dumbells, ratty benches, rusty metal York plates with those deep dish sides... loved it.

I left Midland in 1978, moved to Detroit, and have used a succession of great and ok gyms since, in both Michigan and Wisconsin. Over the years, when returning to Midland visiting family,  I've returned to the Community Center to workout, but it's a big fancy complex now with lots of stuff but a dearth of true training gear. A couple of other gyms have come and gone, but I'd given up on the area for anything other than maintenance sessions.

A year ago 989 CrossFit opened in Midland! I was excited, have enjoyed sessions there a few times, and have nothing but praise for Jim Reaume. But he's not open on Sundays. What to do? In winter I need an indoor facility.

Last fall I "discovered" Smitty's Iron Works on the outskirts of town. Turns out the place has been in business for a number of years, but I wasn't aware of it's existence. What a nice facility. Everything is in the place - all the usual cardio and machine workout stuff expected in a modern gym, but that's not what excites me.  

How about a big Pendlay mono-lift? What about a competition-style chalk bucket next to a deadlifting platform?

My heart rate accelerated when I saw the big Reverse Hyper. It's been a decade since I was able to use one of those babies.

Chains of all sizes, big bands, little bands. Iron plates throughout the gym - no coating, no hand holes. Just big 'ol plates, including 100# sets. Nice squat racks, big benches, dumbells through 150#. Foam rollers, a Concept 2 rower, friendly helpful staff...

Last Sunday I ran through my entire body; warmed up well on the foam roller, rowed a couple thousand meters fairly quickly, then spent 90 minutes moving through heavy leg presses, moderately heavy squats, deadlifts, reverse hypers, flat bench press, then super-sets of triceps and horizontal rows, pulldowns and biceps. I love finding new (to me) gyms. Smitty's Iron Works would be special no matter where it is, but in my old hometown, it's like a mirage on the horizon that turns out to be real.


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