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Entries in #robbierobinson (1)

Sunday
Jan292017

Gym Passion (or, Where Many of Us Feel Very Comfortable)

Today I enjoyed a sweet workout at my favorite old-school training facility, Ford's Gym in Madison, Wisconsin. I've written about Ford's before, I've periodically worked out there for two decades (maybe more - I competed in their Backyard powerlifting event at the old location long ago), and always love the experience. I walked in and was enthusiasitically greeted by Sam Masino, one of their top trainers, who somehow remembers me from visit to visit. Frankly, I like that.

Energy was palpable this morning at Ford's. One guy was squatting, getting into the mid-400s. Next to him was a guy snatching, moving 155# like it was a PVC pipe. At the same time someone was climbing the tall rope in the middle of the boxing ring (yeah, a full size, pro boxing ring), with a 25# plate hanging from a hip belt. Oh, did I mention he was climbing with his arms only? While all this was going on, Sam and another trainer were putting ten female powerlifters through a group leg workout! They were doing extensions, curls, front squats, and partial back squats. Combined with a half dozen other members scattered around, the gym was rockin' and loud and shaking with energy. Everyone was yelling back and forth and encouraging lifts and banging fists. part of the dumbell rack at Ford's. Real weights!

Here's my point:  I feel good in Ford's Gym; but why? Hell, I'm comfortable in any workout place, any gym, but Ford's is special to me. I found myself wondering about this, thinking about my 40+ years working out, and remembering gyms of my past. They are places where I'm most comfortable, and feel very much like myself.

There are gyms I've used for years. On the other hand I've been in a hell of a lot of gyms around the country for one or two workouts. And I've liked all of them. Gyms have personality, they have a vibe, often brought about by staff and members, sometimes with an added kick from an interesting location or unusual equipment. I remember a second-floor gym in Dubuque, Iowa I used to go to in the 1990's when I traveled there often for business meetings. It was small and laid-out in a funny L shape, but the people were agreeable, the equipment was heavy and well-used. Frankly, it smelled like a gym and I loved it.

Joe's Gym in Marquette, Michigan is another old-timer. When I first began using it in the 1970s it was a pit; tiny, densely packed with equipment, and frankly, filthy. But I was young and it was fun. In the last couple of decades it's changed hands, been hugely improved, remains tightly filled with stuff, but damn, it's a competitive bodybuilder's environment and difficult not to get a good workout in.

For years I traveled to Austin, Texas a couple of times a year, and I've been to many gyms there. Gold's and World dozens of times, but I fondly remember a gym called Hyde Park. It was old, contained lots of funky equipment, and I remember didn't have music playing! I asked why, and was told the owner didn't like it, felt the music distracted lifters. I wonder what he thinks today?

There was an old bodybuilding gym in New York City I've worked out in a few times, but it's been 20 years and for all I know it's gone. Leroy Colbert, a Mr. Universe winner and at the time known for the largest arms ever in bodybuilding, owned or famously worked at this gym. He was there, always smiling, each time I showed up.

Of course I've been to the Mecca, Gold's Gym in Venice, California, and yeah, I felt damn comfortable there. In my three or four workouts I used plenty of old equipment in the back, and one night even had a past Mr. California ask to work in with me (wish I could remember his name, but it's a long time ago). 

I've read Robbie Robinson talk about why he competed for so many years, and worked out so hard and remained in competitive shape for so long (he's probably still in great shape). He said he loved the sound of the gym, the clanging of the weights, the verbal encouragement back and forth between lifters. Yeah, that clanging of the weight - I love it myself. Robinson didn't want to let it go.

Last week in their Road to the Arnold podcast series, Guy Cisterino talked about the same passion for the gym environment. Guy feels most at home in a gym, likes it so much he doesn't want to leave, and unless his trainers (Charles Glass and Chris Aceto) tell him to cut down on volume, he'll just about over-train from sheer joy and pleasure. Man, I so understand and share that feeling. I very much enjoyed Cisterino on the podcast. He spills over with passion and shoot straight with his opinions. Guy Cisterino

Let's not forget the crucial role training partners play in making a gym great. For years I worked out in a community fitness center that wasn't really appropriate, but it was five minutes from work, and I had a phenomenal training partner. Gary Reichert is a world-class competitive powerlifter, and our daily sessions were a wonderful mix of "what should we invent today" to serious, hardcore powerlifting sessions. Gary and I could workout together anywhere, any kind of facility, and make useful and fun training out of it.

Yup, give me some clanging iron weights and I'm happy!

@guycisterino, #guycisterino, #roadtothearnold, @arnoldsportsfestival, #robbierobinson, #leroycolbert, @fordsgym, #fordsgym,