I’ve been meeting my coach at the gym a few nights a week for the past month or so. I’m in the early stages of training for an Olympic lifting meet in April. Basically I’m testing my strength and working on some flexibility and technique. That was the plan last night.
I get to the gym and my coach is already there. There is one platform. One bar. One set of bumper/kilo-plates. We are the only people that ever use the platform, the bar and bumpers. The gym management built a locker for us that we keep some of the smaller kilo-plates in, along with some chains and band, chalk, small stuff that tends to ‘walk-off’. As I walk in, I can see he’s upset. I thought someone robbed our cabinet again because he always forgets to lock it. I ask him about it. He tells me he’s had a run-in with this kid, the kid using the platform right now. It seems my coach asked him if he could work in - my coach has a (Master’s) meet in November - and he said, “The JV room’s over there, old man!”. My coach is 59.
The “JV” room, I guess, is the section on the other side of the building with all the Nautilus stuff, aerobics equipment, and the bank of TVs. I walked up to the platform to speak with this fellow. He’s a pretty small guy and it doesn’t look like he’s been lifting all that long. Actually, it doesn’t look like he lifts. But he’s pacing around the platform, ready to attack the bar. Very intense stuff.
I stepped on the platform. “Excuse me? Hi. You just insulted my friend here. I think you need to apologize.” He looks at me. Then my coach. "I’m sorry. I’m just really intense on “POWER DAY”.
Power day, huh? So I say, “Hey! The “old man” here is my coach. I’m an Olympic lifter. Actually, he’s a former National Champion. He can probably help you out.” He’s already shaking his head.
“Don’t need it. I’m walking on at Notre Dame next year. I’m getting ready. I got me a set program.” Wow. This guy’s a dick. He’s about 150 pounds of…well…not muscle. I think that he clearly has brain damage. So I want to actually try to help him out.
He does a ‘rep’ of something. I THINK it’s supposed to be a power clean. It’s a reverse curl with a jump and he almost falls down. The he tries another rep and misses it. Drops the bar. It bounces all over hell because it’s only two 15 kg. plates. 50 kilograms. Oh, lord. Something seems off to me. I want to help.
I interrupt again. “Hey. You need to control the weight a bit more off the floor.” I figure I’ll start there and then mention the jumping thing and the reverse curl motion.
“Come on, man!” He’s talking. At the same time he’s approaching me with his hand extended until his hand is in my face. Not touching me. Inches from my nose. “I’ll be done in a few. Then you can do your thing!” Very rude. I grabbed his wrist and very gently took him from the platform.
“You’re done. But, I’ll tell you what. Pick a lift. Any lift you can think of. If you can beat the old man in the lift that you name, you can have the platform to yourself. From now on, when we come in, we’ll sit in the office and wait until you are done. Won’t bother you at all.”
Now my coach is 59, as I mentioned, but he’s 6’2" and 220 pounds with about 11 percent body-fat. This kid, seeing my coach for the first time as something other than an old man, starts to realize this. At least that’s what it SEEMED like. To my shock he snaps, “Bench Press. Now.”
Next thing we know he’s on the bench taking 135 for 10 reps. The bar’s all over the place. Not moving really fast. Starts to get really hard at around rep 7. Not really a warm-up. He finishes. I say, "So, what? Are we doing reps or max weight? He says he’s warming up. My coach is pissed. At me. He does not bench. Hasn’t for about 3 years. He DOES do overhead presses and can standing press about 105 kg. right now. So, I’m not really worried. Though, clearly, he is.
My coach does the 135 for 3 explosive reps and stops. The guy loads on 185 and does 3 BALL BUSTERS. I mean each one looked hard. My coach takes the same and rams up one quick rep. The guy seems smug. I think because he’s doing more reps with the warm-up weights than my coach.
We jump to 205 and the guy is psyched. Yells. I give him a lift. He’s got it to arms length. Lowers it like a shot…and get’s pinned. The bar does not move upward at all. It just sits there. I grab it and pull it up. He’s off the bench right now, screaming and cussing. He’s pissed. “That’s punk weight. I do that for 10 reps!” It hits me. This guys insane. Not just a little off. He’s crazy. He shouts, “I’ll have to drop down and hit 195!”
“Uh. Well. You missed THAT. So if he does this or more then you lose. Sorry.” Starting to feel bad for the kid. But my coach is clearly a little pissed off now. He says, “You gotta be fucking kidding me.” He goes over to the tree and takes a couple of 45s and slides them on. 255. Says, “I don’t need a lift off.” Un-racks the weight and does two perfect, easy reps. Racks the bar and get’s up. Says, “Pack up your shit, asshole.”
The kid starts to pack up. Saying how he was down because he benched yesterday. I asked him why he picked bench then. He didn’t answer me. I’m feeling bad for him and I say, “I’m going to be doing some cleans if you want to watch. I can show you a couple things.” He says, “Nah!”. But he drags ass and watches. Sticks around.
He’s still there when I take a 145 kg. power clean. I make the power clean easy enough but miss the power jerk. I’m pissed and I slam my belt down. I go to get a drink of water from the fountain and the kid is over in that area. I stopped to explain to him what happened and why I’m upset. I still feel bad for the kid and how we treated him, even though I still think he had it coming. He asked me a few questions.
He stuck around and watched us squat. Watched my ‘old man’ coach take 180 kg. for an easy triple, Olympic style. No belt. No wraps. Ass to ankles. The kid stuck around for over two hours.
Anyway, what started out as a funny story to tell about some crazy kid at the gym, might turn out to be the story of how some kid doing all the wrong things in the weight room got started in lifting. He says he’ll be there on Saturday when we train again. I hope he is.