At one point in history not too long ago, believe it or not, students all across America in all grades attended gym class. You would change into your gym shorts and head outdoors or to the gymnasium. The definition of which is a building that houses equipment for gymnastics and sports. We ran, jumped, climbed ropes and did some stunts on the Pummel Horse and Rings. We played many different sports and games including, dare I say…Dodge Ball.
I don’t remember anyone getting killed, most had fun and we actually built up a good sweat. I don’t know what in heck was wrong with us. We must have been crazy! Little John got picked last when we chose up teams. Fred got beamed in his big ugly head in Dodge Ball, and Becky couldn’t make it to the top of the rope. Man! Like life was this unfair.
In our infinite wisdom, gym became Physical Education, Health, Recreation and Dance (no, I’m not kidding). Take each one separate and none of these things are bad, but what exactly one has to do with the other, I’m not too sure. For example, I have been known to dance a little. If you have been to a wedding with me, it is possible that you may have seen me on the dance floor. The point I’m trying to make is, there are many types of dance. The one that always seems to be associated with gym class is Square Dancing.
I am certainly not the smartest man in the world and Square Dancing may be the greatest thing since sliced bread. But is it Physical Education though? Or are we trying to reinvent the wheel? Changing something that many of us loved and excelled at because others didn’t enjoy it as much and didn’t fair as well.
If that is the case, I want some changes to subjects I didn’t quite like and sucked at. What about little Willie’s feelings, self esteem and GPA? For example, I was about the worst foreign language student of all time. This should come as no surprise, as I have so much trouble with basic English. So let’s make it Foreign Language, Eating Food, Fun and Arcade Games. This would be great! I really am good at the last three.
OK Ellinger… so what does this have to do with anything? Well, let me tell you. Back in the day, men (literally there were no women allowed) went to GYMS! They trained hard on basic equipment doing the big exercises. This may not be news to you. What might surprise you though is even with your multi-million dollar health club, armed with Mr. Galaxies greatest super program and all the latest scientific movements and supplements, they where much stronger than you!
You may not believe me, but you need to look no further than the top of this website’s home page. There you will see an advertisement for Cornell Wrestling Camps. Please look at the scrolling photo of their weight training facility. What do you see? Now check other major colleges and professional sports teams with NEW facilities. That is right, the upgraded gyms have removed most of the machines. It kind of looks like what you may have seen many years ago, doesn’t it? I wonder why?
There are some pretty smart people up at Cornell, so maybe they are on to something? Why the dramatic change from machines to free weight? Well, the machines did not live up to the hype. You should take a look and try to understand more recent history. If you look sometime around the late 60’s early 70’s you would see the introduction of the Universal Gym. I think every high school I have ever been in has one.
The idea was pretty revolutionary and simple. You reduce many of the ‘problems’ associated with lifting free weights. By having weight stacks riding on tracks it all but eliminates things like balance, learning the proper technique, dropping a weight on your toes etc. I believe it served a purpose and was far better than having nothing in our lawyer-ed up, hope not to get sued, society.
Arthur Jones, the creator of Nautilus, one up-ed this concept with the invention of his machines. There were many factors that effected his overall development of his machines. He had his concept of how a workout should be done for example. The cam(which resemble the shape of a nautilus shell hence the name) that changed the leverage to go alone with the ‘natural’ strength curve for another. But the true brilliance of it (at least from a money stand point) was that of circuit training for the masses.
The gyms with free weights started dropping like flies as these huge clubs sprang up like weeds. No longer did anyone actually need to really know anything about lifting. Now a bunch of highly skilled trainers would teach you how to adjust the seat so you were comfy, and away you went.
The untold millions that Nautilus was making didn’t go unnoticed and soon there were countless machines on the market. This was the wave of the future. Everywhere you went, there were tons of machines and maybe if you were lucky, a little corner where you could find some free weight to actually do some lifting.
This may all serve a purpose for the average person. For the true athletes of the world and certainly the wrestler, the clubs have gone from bad to much worse. Here on Long Island it is hard to find a few rare places to train. I have had people from certain towns deemed too far away from my gym ask me to recommend a place to train. Most times I could not give them one. NOTE: If you know of a GYM where one can truly lift in, contact me and I will post it.
It has gotten so bad that the things that I would consider basic, like a good Power Rack, the ability to use chalk on your hands and lift weight from the floor, I basically gave up on. Now I am just looking for a place to recommend where one could actually lift hard without getting thrown out. Believe it or not, I had someone tell me of a gym they went to where there was no “grunting.”
Like you, I was confused too. ” What do you mean?”, I asked. He explained it to me like this, “You know sometimes when you are lifting a heavy weight and really pushing hard and straining. Sometimes you let out a yell or grunting type sound. This is not allowed.” I could not imagine why at first? So I asked and then it made perfect sense. You could intimidate the other club members!
So to make a long story short, if you are training at a club, where you use mostly machines and you do not have the ability to do the basic heavy lifts properly, you are fooling yourself and you need to leave and find a place to lift! Now you may want to be careful because there are many self proclaimed experts out there who want you to be a customer at their training studio.
If you have read what I have written and then done your homework, you will be armed with the truth and won’t waste your time and money. If you don’t want to spend some time and exert some effort and get the facts, then the ‘guru’ and his studio are probably a good place for you.
Let’s start with the gurus themselves. They are experts because??? Oh yea, they took a course that might have even lasted a whole weekend. Then they answered some questions, passed a test and got certified. Is that enough knowledge and experience for you? Is that who you want to put your trust in? Do they even look like they ever trained?
Now I’m not saying that you have to look like Arnold, but as my nutrition teacher once said, “If I stand up here in front of the class weighing 400lbs., smoking a cigarette and eating donuts, you may not want to listen to what I have to say about health.” In other words have they “put their time in” to learn the game? Or did they just decide they knew it all?
This is not to even say that they had to be a great athlete or lifter themselves. Two of the very best high school wrestling coaches I know of Sprig Gardner and Ted Petersen are reported to have never wrestled themselves. My current understanding is that both men put in many hours to become as great as they were. They became ‘students of the game.’ They didn’t just show up and declare that they knew it all.
Let’s take a look at the gurus ‘studio'(please do not call it a gym). Usually a small little shoe box shaped place. The floors tend to be very nice, many times carpeted. A group of nice shiny machines around the outside mirrored walls. The latest fad stuff is a must. Some stretch bands, an ab roller and some Kettle Bells may be some examples. Over in a corner there could be a cheap weight set looking new and collecting dust.
The ‘training session’ lasts a specific period of time (usually about 30-40min. then the next sucker er I mean customer comes in) and consists mainly of garbage machine movements and exercises designed to tire you out to show ‘intensity’. Most certain you will do no real Squats, heavy Deadlifts, or any kind of rowing. Forget about dragging a sled, chin ups or heavy military press. Your program is a meaningless mess with no true teaching, no learning/ conditioning phase, and no destination.
This may all sound too familiar to you and the results are predictable, there aren’t any! You might as well have banged your head on a wall at least it would not have cost you good money. I think I have made my point. It is my feeling that if I can help one more wrestler, and I have to make some enemies to do it, it is worth it to me. Now let me add a few more things.
You, who have no business teaching real athletes, who depend on their training to help them succeed, stick to what it is you do best. Go BS the stamp collectors, matheletes and tennis players of the world. For those of you who have the will to train, compare the work you do during wrestling season to the work you do during the off-season. Does one equal the other? It should!
The information here is presented to you in the hope that it will help you become a better athlete. Also, it may save you from wasting time and money. Many like myself have been preaching about the great results a real work out program can bring. I hope all of you will dedicate yourself to one. Questions, comments and concerns are always welcome.