Thursday, February 28, 2008

I Always Knew

When I was 10-12 years old I knew that if I was stronger I’d be better. I tried Charles Atlas, bodyweight training, Calisthenics (PT), springs, and grippers, anything I could get my hands on. Instinctively I knew I had to lift weights. At that time there was very little information to guide me. Strength Coaches were unheard of and most Coaches were against weight training of any kind. I did know some Water Skiers that did lift and they encouraged me. I bought everything I could read or use and tried to apply the information as best I could. At 14 I was involved in a real bad motorcycle accident that almost killed me. As I was in the hospital and finally at home, I read everything. I started making plans to return to training. I already had a decent home gym for the time. One of my Doctors made a statement that stuck with me. He said “If you hadn’t been lifting weights you would have been crippled.” I had major back injuries, plus a bunch of other broken or cracked bones.

I started a list of things I would need for my gym. I had the Old York Courses and also Courses from Weider. Did them back to back without much rest. Slowly but surely I got stronger. Still unsure if I was “Strong?” While everyone else was out doing what young people do I was lifting weights in my home gym. I was still working for the Water Ski Dept. at Cypress Gardens and had several role models based on strength and the respect it brought. As most guys have gone through, I had a friend that also worked at C.G. and was a real good skier. He was about my age but he was very strong and in great shape (genetics). He also liked to “bully” me to show me who was the boss. I liked him but didn’t like being embarrassed by him. Most guys know what I mean. I lifted weights quietly and rarely missed a workout. I was feeling pretty strong and starting to show an athletic build.

One day he and I plus his sister and some friends were at his house and were getting ready to go somewhere. Everyone went out to the car and I stayed back and waited on my friend. On the way out to the car (still in his house) He decided I needed another lesson. He was going wrestle me into submission one more time. THIS TIME, I just picked him up and body slammed him. I was surprised how easy it was. I was afraid he’d want to fight now but he just got up and went to the car. We never said anything about it but that day I gained his respect. He never tried to “submit” me again. This was directly because of my lifting weights. Even though I was boxing later, most of the time in street fights I could pick my opponent up and body slam him and the fight would be over. For a young guy this was a good feeling. I just knew I was stronger than most of the guys then.

Even though I knew I was onto something with my workouts, many Coaches were against it. Except one. Coach Bill Duncan lifted weights and talked to me about it. He was my Coach in grades 10-12. I was more interested in the weights than I was in School Sports at the time. I started entering Contests (Olympic Lifting) in my junior or senior year of High School. I also came under the guidance Of Bill Lemacks and later Al Christensen. Coach Tom Bowman was a great help also. These guys really knew about weight training and it showed. These men confirmed something that somehow I already knew. Weight training works. It can build confidence and a stronger body. It can also help a good athlete become better. I’m glad that as a youngster I was fortunate enough to get involved with weight training and that I stuck with it. I always knew. - Jim Bryan