Dan Roche Resurrects An Old School Gym

TAGS: Dan Roche, Mason Nowak, home gym

At elitefts, we emphasize the quality of our world-class equipment and the quality of our world-class educational content. After making some purchases on elitefts.com, Dan Roche reached out to us with his impressions of his purchasing experience. We are honored with what he has to say.

Nine years ago my family moved into our new house. Somehow I got approvals to convert the basement into a home gym, long a dream of mine.

I spent months looking at equipment, knowing a power rack would be the first and most important purchase. When you're internet shopping you're hit with a million options. Got a couple hundred bucks? There's a rack for you. You want more gadgets, more bells and whistles? You can find them. The temptation to go cheap on a power rack is strong. It's a few metal posts. Why splurge?

Matt Goodwin at elitefts walked through my options. He was very honest and direct about what I needed and what I didn't. I asked him about the Collegiate Power Rack. The top-of-the-line. Matt liked it, but hit me straight. I didn't need that much rack for a basement home gym. There were cheaper ways to go.

Long story short, I bought the Collegiate Power Rack. Was it more than I wanted to spend on a power rack? Yeah. Did it make for an awkward conversation with management? Also yeah.

That was nine years ago. I can confidently say I've never been happier with a major home purchase. The Collegiate Power Rack isn't an appliance, it's a piece of professional-grade equipment. It gives my weight room a polish and feel that makes me want to spend as much time there as possible. It demands respect. It inspires me to train harder and more often. Is it overkill? Yes, but that's the point. Over the last several weeks of COVID-19 family quarantine, my pre-teen daughter needed somewhere to practice gymnastics. So I strapped a couple of rings to the monkey bars of the Collegiate Power Rack and she was good to go. Could normal consumer-grade racks handle this kind of abuse? Maybe. Would I trust your basic rack-in-a-box with my daughter's safety? No way.

The thing about elitefts equipment is that it's not simply good enough. It's better. Stronger than you'll need. Whenever I use my elitefts gear I know it's build to a standard I'll never meet. Every weld, every attachment, every piece is top-of-the-line. And when you want to take pride in your home gym, your personal space, the place you'll bring your kids, these things matter. Sometimes good enough just isn't.

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More From Dan Roche

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Dan, and I'm a married father of two in the Washington DC area. I'm a Vice President at Publicis Sapient, a large consulting company.

When did you first start lifting weights?

When I was sixteen some friends dragged me to the local community center, where a local coach named George Mangouni had converted an old boiler room to a ramshackle weight room. There was a wooden box of random dumbbells, some very old and shaky benches, a barbell that didn't spin, and the least structurally-sound lat pulldown machine ever assembled. Everything was rusty. Nothing was shiny. We called it the Brahma Pit, and made cheap t-shirts, and hung banners. When lifters reached some milestone on a major lift, they'd get a new colored t-shirt and would wear it in the high school halls beaming with pride. It was amazing and to this day, the times that I spent in there are some of the happiest of my life.

What is your competitive lifting experience?

I won second place at a bench press contest in 2002, sponsored by the local police department. That's it.


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Why did you want a home gym?

My wife and I bought a house nine years ago, and my dream was always to have my own weight room. I had memberships to various gyms over the years, and they always seemed to let me down. Lincoln Park Fitness Center in Chicago was my favorite place in the world until I relocated for work. I went to the local rec center in DC until they decided to remove the squat rack for some reason. Then I joined one of the mega-gyms, but got sick of having to wait for people to complete their 8-10 sets of curls so I could squat. Having my own place to go became really important, and I fell in love with the idea of recreating what made my favorite gyms so great: minimal equipment, but good equipment, no machines or complicated pulleys, and a place I could unwind.

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How did you first learn about elitefts?

I don't remember, but when I was internet-shopping for equipment, the elitefts name kept coming up. I had an e-book of Wendler's first 5/3/1 program, and several pieces of elitefts equipment are featured within. It was good brand association.

What made you choose elitefts?

I've always believed that when you're buying a bike, you're not just buying a means of transportation. You're buying something that should make you want to ride as much as possible. I applied the same philosophy to weight equipment. I didn't just want a power rack to do squats. I wanted a power rack to make me WANT to do squats. Similarly, I wanted equipment that would make my weight room feel serious, a place I'd enjoy being in even between sets. elitefts equipment just feels serious. It demands respect. Is it more than I'll ever need? Absolutely. But that's the point. A Yugo is all I need to get to work but something tells me I wouldn't enjoy my commute.

What elitefts equipment do you have?

The centerpiece is a Collegiate Power Rack. Did I say I liked overkill? This thing is overkill. Beautiful, magnificent overkill. I also have an elitefts GHR, a flat bench, and a landmine which I use maybe once a year. Recently, Matt Goodwin helped furnish the rack with a fat bar attachment.

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What piece(s) of equipment do you have outside of the standard (barbell, power rack, dumbbells) that you think every home gym needs?

Every lifter needs a good set of bands. They're infinitely flexible (HA!) and are especially important for rear delt work like face pulls, to keep shoulder health.


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How do you plan on expanding your gym, or in general, what’s the future for your home gym?

I'm currently in the process of expanding the plywood/stall mat platform in my weight room to cover a larger surface area. I'm also looking at mirrors that I can use to check form or use for visual cues for squat depth. In the very near term, I'm hoping to upgrade my weight bench, which is a little shaky, with a more serious elitefts adjustable bench, but I have to save up a bit more before I do. There are always pieces of equipment I'd LIKE to have, like a chest supported row, but lack of space is tricky. The home gym ethos kind of forces you to get as much as possible out of a few pieces of gear.

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