October 3, 2011: Garage Strength, in the gym
I went over to the gym this morning at 8:30 to train for a bit before Dane wa scheduled to throw. I got there before him, and found Brant’s dog Pippi roaming around outside. She looks like a full-grown version of the smiley dog from St. Lucia, and made almost the same face through the open barn door. She jumped up on me and was very excitable. Brant came out of the farmhouse looking for her, wearing a red sweatshirt and grey sweatshorts. He remembered me, but only after I told him who I was. He corralled the dog, and I followed him into the farmhouse to find Dane making a French-press of coffee. He told me he only drinks it three days a week (on days when he trains), but when he drinks it, he drinks a ton of it. One day this summer he drank nine cups in 100º heat, and had to excuse himself from the gym to go back in the house and sit down while his caffeine headache wore off. He thought he might faint. Dan, the other trainer, was there that day, so he took up the slack for a bit until Dane recovered.
Jen related this story to me. She looks to me to be 40-something, slightly overweight, but solidly overweight, not quite the flabby fat that you see in a lot of Americans. He calves are like grapefruits, the first thing I noticed about her. She had on a blue and white stripey t-shirt and gym shorts, and was very outgoing and articulate, and we chatted throughout the morning, the three of us bantering on about this and that in the training world. She was giving Dane shit for some of his personal eccentricities. “He usually does things for himself,” she told me, which is definitely Dane. Jen started training with Dane a year and a half ago. Back then she was 65 pounds heavier and on sixteen different prescription medications. Dane had her tested for celiac disease, which came up positive. He started her on a diet which included raw eggs and liver milkshakes, but she came fully around to his way of thinking and is all the better for it now. She is on a supplement plan Dane prescribed, but no longer takes a single prescription drug. Dane spotted her doing dumbbell bench presses and pulling the big sled across the room with a 5” diameter hemp rope.
Today was an upper-body day for me, and after the reasonably good day I had doing power cleans and things with my legs (which are very strong, and make me feel good about myself), I was embarrassed today by my feebility at doing anything with my shoulders and arms. Dane started me doing “pornos,” external shoulder rotations with a light dumbbell, followed immediately by ten pushups on the soft astrotuf middle of the gym. We followed this up with fat bar incline bench press, progressively increasing the weight and lowering reps, with sets of the climbing rope in between. Towards the 4th set I could no longer make the top of the rope unassisted, so started wrapping a leg around it for some leverage. The last set of incline bench was with a much lighter weight, and to failure.
Next was flat bench, with rubber-band assisted curl-ups (chin-ups) between sets, again increasing the weight and lowering reps until the last lightweight set to failure. I am pitiful at the bench press. Then we did the sled-pull, which quickly became my favorite exercise, utitlizing the twisting motion of the body to gain leverage. Dane told me if I did it correctly, my abs should be sore tomorrow. The workout was finished with band-assisted dips, a fore-arm torture device that is essential a fat piece of pipe on which a thin line is attached to lightweight plates…you have to ‘reel’ the plates up to the level of the pipe while your arms rest over a bar. Then came another tortuous lightweight shoulder exercise and overhead dumbbell tricep presses. These last three were performed as a circuit. I am not going to be able to wipe my butt tomorrow. I left with another chicken, 18 eggs and a gallon of raw milk, some of which I just had in my coffee. I cannot believe that anyone would ever drink skim milk after tasting real, raw milk. It’s not even the same product – if someone says yes, they like milk, but only drink skim, then, no, they really do not like milk. That is something else entirely.
When I left at 9:45, Dane had just gone out to his throwing circle, alone, in the 45º temperature and with a light mist falling, and would be out for the next several hours, practicing his technique.
- Do you think your PR throws are a result of mental stability now that you have a family and a feasible business? Something to fall back on?
- Is it safe to compare the throwing motion to that of the golf swing? And if it is, does it take the same repetition and muscle memory earned by spending hours on the ‘range’ each day practicing?
- What are your long-term goals for the gym and your career? Do you want to expand, or stay on the farm?
- For Jen: What was your initial motivation in coming here? Did you know Dane beforehand? How did he convince you to eat liver smoothies? What are your long-term health goals? What would you say to a skeptic? Do you feel strange working out in such an unorthodox gym? Did you exercise before? What were some of the drugs you were on prior? Does what your doing with Dane clash with practices you see at the hospital? Is it difficult to go back to work as a nurse knowing now what you’ve learned from Dane? Do you view your participation here as a political statement?