It is with mixed emotions that I submit this article. Mixed emotions as on January 13th, 2021, the legendary powerlifter, my friend, and my mentor, Ernie Frantz passed away at 86.
As I submit these 70+ pages on Ernie Frantz in the form of the chapter, “Ernie Frantz And The History Of Frantz Multi-Ply Gear,” I wish to take a moment and convey to his family my deepest and most sincere condolences for the loss of Ernie. I cannot imagine the emptiness they must be feeling.
My heart is broken from losing Ernie, but my soul is so amazingly rich and full from having him in my life. Ernie was someone I revered for the person and man he was and how he lived his life, and I am ever thankful to his family for sharing him with me and with so many others whose lives he changed for the better. I am forever a better man for having known him.
In retrospect, our chance meeting nearly three decades ago was not so chance as I believe the Universe put us together at that given time and that given location. A meeting for each of us on our own life timelines to intersect and forever be connected. From that single meeting and his gracious invitation to come to his fortress of solitude, his life-changing Frantz Gym, where he took the time and chance on someone so young and so unformed, I am forever changed and forever grateful.
Ernie Frantz has been, on many occasions, my North star. On many occasions, my guiding light illuminating the course of my direction when I was unsure of life’s path ahead. On many occasions, Ernie was my litmist test whether to make one decision or the other as I would ponder what decision Ernie would make as he always made the morally right and ethical decision.
Since the pandemic and the shutting down of meets and such, I have enjoyed my phone conversations with Ernie, even a few beautiful conversations when he was in the hospital. I feel so fortunate that I was able to tell him on each occasion what he meant to me and how much I looked up to and cared for him.
Some months ago, I received a text from my colleague at elitefts, Dave Kirschen. Dave, who is an exceptional geared powerlifter is also a columnist with me at elitefts. Dave was in the process of working on a project he had been chipping away at for some time, in total, his 472-page manifesto about all things geared powerlifting that he planned on putting out as a free eBook for those interested in geared lifting. A way for Dave to give back to this sport. As Dave toiled away at his chapters, he also called on some other geared powerlifters to consider contributing to his larger eBook. Dave contacted me and inquired if I would be interested in writing about the history of powerlifting gear. That meant writing about Ernie Frantz, as Ernie Frantz was an extremely pivotal figure in the history of our great sport of powerlifting. Pivotal for the huge numbers he posted, for his absolutely massive positive impact on other lifters, and for this eBook’s purpose, his creations, innovations, and modifications with regard to powerlifting gear.
Over a few months, the piece came together, resulting in a document comprising some 22 parts and 91 total pages once in eBook form: “Ernie Frantz and the History of Frantz Multi-Ply Gear.” Although I implore you to read the entire eBook, The Legacy of Ernie Frantz begins on page 374.
While writing the chapter, Ernie and I would talk via phone, but later, calls became texts. Sometimes my texts were answered by Ernie, sometimes through a family member.
As the time in between my texts and Ernie’s or his family's responses increased in length, the speed in which I would write also increased. It increased, as did my sense and deep fear of what could be on the horizon. On December 9th, 2020, I emailed his family my completed draft of the chapter to share with Ernie. That chapter ultimately became the final chapter in Dave Kirschen’s eBook, GEAR, The Ultimate Guide To Equipped Powerlifting.
Closing in on 15 years ago, I opened my own gym, Monster Garage Gym, in the likeness of and modeled after the eternal spirit of Ernie’s gym where I trained in the 1990s and early 2000s. Although we have had many powerful men and women training at my gym over this nearly decade and a half, the real purpose beyond the obvious of strength, power, muscle, and numbers was and always has been to provide a place for those looking for some sort of family and for lost souls who need a place to feel pride in themselves, as well as a place for those needing some type of redemption. Although many could only grasp the stronger and more powerful aspects of the gym, that was OK as Ernie and I knew the real purpose and we were just fine with that. We talked about that on many occasions. I learned through the many experiences Ernie shared of his gym that some would understand but that others simply would not have the acuity to see the big picture. But Ernie’s point was this, you plant those seeds and over the years lifters will come and lifters will go. As the roster changes over the years, some take that opportunity, those planted seeds, and grow into a better version of themselves, building their self esteem and become massively powerful in the process. In turn, they pass that on and build up the esteem in others in hopes that this iron sharpening iron cycle continues and repeats itself. Dave Tate would call that, Live, Learn and Pass On.
Many of my life’s most fulfilling adventures were via the world of powerlifting. The sport Ernie guided me through took me to many, many places. Meets ranging in location from the west coast to east coast, meets just a good road trip away, meets up North to our friends in Canada, and meets overseas as far as South Africa. This was the case for so many lifters, but the common thread that formed the fabric between so many lifters was Ernie’s belief in them and being the best and strongest version of themselves. Ernie instilled that into all his lifters. Some only picked up on his strength aspect but for those astute few, they saw that he also was teaching life lessons along the way. Life-changing lessons from a man who was pure of heart.
Ernie and I often talked about the journey of life and the pursuit of strength and power, and the role a gym can play in that endeavor. To the end, Ernie Frantz was about doing for others, and that will be remembered far longer than any of his truly legendary lifts.
I thank God for gracing this good Earth with his wholesome and a fully lived life. I thank God for putting Ernie in my life. I thank his family for sharing the greatness of Ernie Frantz with the rest of us mere mortals.
I will love and miss and smile broadly always when I think of Ernie Frantz, and I feel highly blessed and favored that Ernie got to see the final version of this small portion of his story before it was published.
With all that said, I humbly present to you my contribution to Dave Kirschen’s eBook, GEAR The Ultimate Guide To Equipped Powerlifting, this eBook's final chapter, titled, “Ernie Frantz and the History of Frantz Multi-Ply Gear”—page 376.
Wishing you the best, stay well, and Ever Onward.