Little Old Man Update

The calendar has registered another year alive. The numbers keep coming but physically I can’t tell any difference. I did get a great practical gift for my birthday—a senior GPS. It not only tells me where I'm going but why I am going there. I also used the downtime from the virus to catch up on some minor surgical procedures. My left knee that was reconstructed in 1974 is trash aka bone on bone. It needs to be replaced but my orthopaedist won’t replace it as long as I'm competing. To deal with the fact that it always hurts, we decided to do some nerve blocks. It's supposed to block the pain but not hamper function. Nothing works perfectly! It has blocked some pain, but it has also hampered some function. I’ve been told to give it some more time and be patient but it's hard to do at my age.

RECENT: Coping with COVID-19

In 2007 my back was so screwed up that I was told surgery wouldn't help. As an alternative, a spinal cord stimulator was surgically inserted in my left glute (think a pack of cigarettes) with a wire to my spinal cord. This helped a great deal for about three years when I thought I was better and stopped using it. Well, all the symptoms came back, and I wanted to start using it again. However, the battery was dead. On August 4 we did it all over again. The old battery was cut out and a new one was installed (a smaller pack of cigarettes) and hooked up to the wire to my spinal cord. Now I can stand straight again without holding onto a chair or shopping cart. The procedure was a little more invasive than I thought.

Home Gym Construction

At the end of June, a friend of mine sent me a picture of a power rack that his enterprising son had made from some plans online. It really looked good. At that time the virus was worse than it had been in late March when the gyms closed. It caused me to think that it would be a long time before the gyms opened. I was tired of floor presses off unstable pickle buckets and the inability to squat. I knew that if I tried to make a power rack; it would never get done. And if it did, it would be a piece of crap.

I sent the picture to a dear friend of mine who is a genius with his hands and has his own shop. I asked if he could make it and he said he could. Most power racks are eight feet tall and 42 to 48 inches wide. Now that I was having a rack custom made, I could use any dimensions I chose, within reason. No longer would I crush my hand between the weight and the rack because I use a very wide grip when I squat (blame it on my crappy shoulder).


There is nothing in this world that I need eight feet tall, so we lowered the height to seven feet with a bar across the middle. I won't use this bar for pull-ups but for a back protocol where I can decompress my back. We made the width 36 inches on the inside, that way, my hands cannot be crushed by the rack or supports. Also, it allows me room to bench at the rings that are 32 inches wide. The rack was made entirely with 4x4s. It certainly will last longer than me.

I asked if there were some scrap 4x4s with which to make a bench. There were and I went to my friend’s house and we cut two 4x4s that were 14 inches high. I don’t know the standard height for a bench or if there is one. In competition and training, I use three-inch blocks for leg drive. I can reach the floor with this bench. We topped the 4x4s with a three-foot-long 2x10. Then we put two feet 2x4s at the bottom for stability. The bench is just long enough for my short torso so I can bench, but not long enough to take a nap. All in all, it’s a damn good setup.


I have always envisioned a home gym with all the equipment I need or want. I have been training with a BUFFALO BAR®. I have ordered and am awaiting shipment of a straight bar from elitefts. I won’t be able to use it for a while until I get the go-ahead from my surgeon. Since I’ve been at my present gym, a home gym is no longer a priority of mine. With a home gym, I can train whenever I please and never have to wait for equipment. Cost is really not an issue for me. I have been a member of Silver Sneakers for a long time and can train at gyms across the country.

As a social animal, I need my gym. The people there are family and I feel like a parent or grandparent to many. Sometimes at home, I feel like a white dog in a gym full of Dalmatians—I need a spot! Not only do I need a spot, but I need help getting in my gear. As long as I enjoy teaching, I’ll always want to be at my gym. Even after my days on the platform are over, I’ll still go to my gym as that’s where my people are, my kindred spirits. But on those cold winter days, when the snow is up to my ass and I’m unable to get my car out of the driveway, I have a place to train.

At what lengths will you go to build a home gym?

custom-built-bench home