"No chalk allowed." How many readers have ever seen or heard this statement? It struck me this morning that while the fitness craze is accelerating beyond anything men like Hoffman or Weider could have guessed, the strength sports are in worse condition than any of us suspect.
I was delivering an Atomic Ball to Bob Whelan when I mentioned the difficulty a buddy had in finding chalk in his area. Bob said, "Hey, don't tell me you carry chalk too! I need some!" Well, I knew I had hit a sore spot with Bob because he actually set down the giant smoked turkey sandwich that had been about twice its current size only moments ago. I had made an off hand comment and now I had Bob going. With his eyes bugging out, sweat on his forehead, and right in my face like a good drill sergeant, Bob goes off. As this could be read by impressionable youth, I will not repeat Bob's exact words, but believe me, they were colorful. The U.S. Armed Forces taught Bob well. Essentially, Bob has found it incredibly difficult finding chalk in Washington, DC, the Capitol of our country. So Bob Whelan and I talked about how it could be that pillars of the iron game could be having trouble finding chalk.
While more people are involved in fitness today, we have more and more corporate conglomerate, sterile fitness facilities. These are not gyms, at least not the classic kind we see in the old magazines. When the manager has more concern about a little bit of chalk dust on the pretty foam rubber grips, that cover his revolutionary new machines, than he does about the progress of his members training, then there is a problem.
I have talked to many gym managers who know that if they get rid of the chalk, the big scary guys will go with it. Their reasoning is that the big scary guys scare away the paying customers, defined as women. However, the scary guys paid for their membership and some women are serious lifters. I know that in many cases the manager is simply wrong in their opinion that serious athletes scare off the "paying" customers. I have made it my business to sell serious strength equipment, and I know someone is buying.
It may be that other members do not want the serious strength athletes in their club. Yet, it may surprise you and the gym owner that serious training and its results may catch on. The gym owner may even put in a good power rack, platform or bumper set. Don't laugh, I've seen it happen. There are potentially good commercial gyms out there. It is up to us to spread the word about training seriously and getting chalk back into gyms. If it is in gyms, the sporting goods stores will also carry it.
I hope that, regardless the source of your chalk, every serious lifter takes his/her chalk, puts it in it's container and uses it at the gym. Don't make a mess. Lift with respect given to others. But use your chalk. Whether it is accurate or not, the gym managers have made chalk the symbol of the serious strength athlete. Go to the gym and train hard. Help start the chalk revolution.
Want to create your own gym and free yourself from the tyranny of the commercia gym owner and start building strength like Hoffman and Grimek? Consider some of the following to get you started...
Garage Gym Guide - Another Atomic Athletic exclusive
Indian Clubs - no old school gym is finished without them