Discovering life beyond the barbell / by Dana McMahan

Going old school

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time (or met me) you know about my Rocky obsession. No matter than I’m the wrong gender, in the wrong sport, and a good 100 pounds too light to be the Italian Stallion, I still want to be like Rocky –  show grit and heart and determination like him, and most fun of all, train like him. In my mind that’s a zero-frills, intense atmosphere where the only thing that matters is pushing your body past its limits.

I learned last week my coach was leaving the gym. There was not a moment’s hesitation that I’d keep training with him. It wasn’t the gym that made me stronger — it was Ben’s coaching.  Some women follow hairdressers. In this world we follow coaches.  And I was thrilled with the new locale.  I thought our gym was old-school, what with no  AC and no machines, but now we were going into a whole new ball game.

Our new training facility is a garage. There’s a squat rack, bench, pull-up bar and a few weights. No frills like AC, of course, but no bathroom, no bottled water and no website either. Train by appointment only in the garage or out in the alley.

Doing leg curls my first day there with strap-on weights wrapped around my sweat-slicked legs, I tried to contain my idiotic grin as I played Rocky training scenes in my mind. It wasn’t all fun and games, mind you — alley sprints interspersed with sets of squats at about 75% of my max left me gasping for breath, shaky and positively drenched in sweat — but despite the demanding workout, I was nothing short of giddy to be training so old school.

I am coming up on my one year anniversary of this journey to getting strong, and it just keeps getting better.

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