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Quality Equipment Matters

by Dr. Ken

One of the difficult things in anyone's life is to admit they are wrong, were wrong, or can possibly be wrong. Another is to admit that they have benefited or learned not from a teacher, a coach, an older mentor, but from a peer. Guys who train with weights tend to think its all right to learn something from a wizened, experienced old hand but it is somehow unmanly to learn from someone who is an equal.

When you make as many mistakes as I have in the course of a lifetime, admitting you're incorrect about something becomes second nature. As one who has always learned everything the hardest way possible, it is also not difficult to admit that I have learned from peers or those younger or less experienced than me. As one of the "older guys" in the Iron Game, I have been fortunate to train with and/or correspond regularly with and/or been coached by and/or been friends with some of the great names in the sport.

Among these I would include Bill Starr, Dan Riley, Ken Mannie, Hugh Cassiday, the late Pat Casey, Bill Pearl, Bill 'Peanuts' West, Bob Zuver, the late Joe Don Looney, the late Alvin Roy, Dick 'Smitty' Smith, Jan Dellinger, and others I can't think of now.

Having so many who fall into 'the late' category only emphasizes my age and experience. One of those who is a peer in age is Kim Wood, John's father from whom I learned a tremendous amount, who forced me to reconsider what I was doing in my training and that of others approximately thirty or thirty-five years ago, and who continued to serve as a sounding board for training ideas. Kim has included some commentary on John's site, tidbits that barely scratch the surface of all he knows about effective training.

One of the things that Kim stated and which made my wife and I chuckle because it put our age, our experience, and our passion for training into perspective was the comment, 'I don't know how many reps I have left but I want to enjoy all of them as much as possible.

I agreed.

Although I see myself and treat myself as I did when I was nineteen and still expect record performances in the garage or basement, that just doesn't happen very often as one nears sixty years of age. However, the attitude that records can be broken remains and the desire and drive to train as hard as possible never wavers. I too want to enjoy every rep because I always have and understand the benefit of doing each rep correctly and passionately so that the reps add up to a great set and with a few great sets, there grows a great workout so yes, each rep does matter.

That brings me to equipment. I don't want to go to Home Depot and buy a piece of rope and be forced to re-wrap it with duct tape every third workout, I want a quality climbing rope, one that reminds me of the rope climbing I did over and over during lunch time while in high school in order to get stronger.

If I am going to enjoy hanging on the rope as it is attached to the support pin of my power rack, I am going to do it while grasping the best piece of rope I can. I might be the only one who feels and understands and enjoys the difference relative to just any other piece of manila rope but I'm the one who counts, the only one who counts when I'm training. I want thick-handled dumbbells and bars because they make me work harder and make the workout more productive and for me, more fun. Kathy and I have been very fortunate and blessed in being able to make a living but in a lifetime, I have been on both ends of things financially and even when poor and barely scraping by, I never scrimped on my training equipment. I might have had little of it but it was all good, solid, safe, and enjoyable equipment, at least the best I could afford.

We all train for our own reasons and if enjoyment is one of them and using equipment that is different, more challenging, fascinating, and inspiring to you makes each rep a bit 'better' than that's what you should be using.

Dr. Ken




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