The other day I decided I needed to get some lifting in and decided to go to the base gym where I work – Naval Support Activity Millington. I did my regular routine of checking-in, grabbing a towel, and I headed straight to the back to go to the only lifting platform they had in the gym. Okay so it really wasn’t a “true platform” but it was a designated area where the flooring had additional padding and there were some bumper plates.
As I got closer, I noticed that there were more colored plates than usual. Wait! What? I couldn’t believe what I saw. The athletic director actually bought more bumper plates. I was so giddy inside. Once I claimed my spot, I put on my knee braces and lifting shoes. Normally I would put on my headphones because I didn’t want to hear other people’s conversations in the gym. But today I decided not to…and I am glad I made that choice.
There were three older guys to my right doing seated barbell presses on the smith machine. Ninety percent of the time I come to this gym I see these three guys. They always workout together and I always make a point to greet two of them although I never knew their names.
As I was going through my warm-up routine I couldn’t help to chuckle at the things they were saying. They were “one-upping “ each other on reps, poking fun, bantering, and just plain motivating each other. One guy said, “If you want to be strong, you need strong hams and glutes.” That immediately caught my attention. By this time, I was about halfway through my snatch routine. It was a gentle reminder for me to engage my hamstrings. It just stuck with me. I can hear it over and over again - If you want to be strong, you need strong hams and glutes.
I could see from the corner of my eye them watching me. I was in the 4th set of doing 5 snatches at 115#s. I accelerated quickly from the starting position and whipped the bar overhead, pulled under the bar and…you guessed it! I fell directly on my butt while still holding onto the bar which landed right in front of me. The only thing that hurt was my pride. I dropped my head down and took a big deep breath.
What were these guys going to think? One of them shouted, “How often does that happen?” I humbly replied, “More than often, but I try.” And he replied, “Okay, keep at it!” That immediately brought a smile to my face. Those guys reduced the weight on their bar and began doing burn-outs to finish off as I peeled the weight off of mine.
Although the experience was a little embarrassing, I learned a few things from those guys. The kept each other accountable, they challenged each other, they motivated each other, they showed up consistently, they never let age be a factor. Most importantly they talked about fitness principles. At a mere 37 years old, I need every edge I can get to get stronger – mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
I was fortunate enough to snap a photo of these committed guys. I simply (okay it wasn’t so simple) and humbly walked up to them and said the following, “Hey guys, I’m Joe. I am an amateur blogger for the gym I coach at, CrossFit Mechanix. I couldn’t help to overhear all the great things you guys mentioned about working out. It really hit home when one of you guys stated to be strong, you have to have strong glutes and strong hams. I see you guys everytime I come in and only hope to be half as strong as you guys when I reach your age. I think a lot of us can take more advice from mature guys like you. I’d like to write a blog mentioning you guys. I think it would really motivate our members. Is it okay if I take a pic of the COMMITTED?”
One guy replied, “I like how political you were, you called us mature.” We all laughed and I was able to take a photo of my new friends. Make it a point to listen to the more experienced and mature athletes. You may just learn something...and it may be about yourself.
Pictured from left to right – Donald, George, Maurice. Location - NSA Millington Base Gym