Holy shit. Please excuse my language, but for the first time in 75 years since I learned to talk, I am at a loss for words. I just got back from visiting elitefts and also attending the elitefts Sports Performance Summit hosted on the campus of The Ohio State University. I'll talk more about the summit later, but first, let's talk about the newest elitefts development. Dave Tate has built a new facility in London, Ohio. It is bigger, better, and more efficient than the previous one. The layout ensures a smooth flow of information through the building and there are individual offices. The warehouse is better organized and there is room enough in there for a college football game. The facility is easily expandable and there is land enough for four of the buildings.

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But I digress. My interest is not in how much money Dave makes but in the S5 Compound. Like each of you, I have been in many gyms through the years — large and small, private and public, some good, some not so good. It is often thought that a gym is a gym is a gym. As long as there is the necessary apparatus and free weights to do the work, it’s okay. The S5 Compound is the Taj Mahal of gyms. It is Mecca if you will; it must be visited by every gym aficionado at least once and by meatheads regularly. If you took all the attractions at Disney World and combined them into one, it would not exceed the emotional high brought about by this gym. It is even better than being thrown into a vat of dark chocolate. It is the epitome of gyms. The décor is wonderful and inspirational. The weights and equipment are exceptional. I did not take a guided tour or even walk through to observe every piece of equipment. I did notice equipment that I had never seen before. I was appreciative of the utility of the layout. Whatever you want to do, everything you need to do it is immediately at hand. I had come to see what I could squat in my new squat suit.

It’s always fun going to elitefts. On this occasion, however, we missed a turn and ended up going through Ashland, Kentucky. Not good. Consequently, we spent over nine hours in the car. We arrived in time to see our friends, the staff, and have a little walk through the warehouse. You never know what may need (think lust) until you see it on the shelves. We thought about going to the motel or getting some food. It was already after five and the training was scheduled to start at six, and people were beginning to arrive and warm-up.

jeff guller monolift

Well, the hell with it, let’s get ready. By the time I got my old ass in the suit and warmed up, a guy was just finishing on one of the monolifts and I had it all to myself. He and his friend, both from Canada, stayed and helped work the monolift and took some informative videos. There were not as many participants in the seminar nor elitefts team members who trained. Their loss. Consequently, I had the monolift all to myself. A few others graciously helped as spotters. I worked up to a PR of 440 pounds. Honestly, this was not as much as I had hoped for, but a PR nevertheless. Inasmuch as that was my ninth set and adrenaline only can take one so far, I thought it prudent to stop. I was perfectly satisfied with my results and thankful to everyone who helped and offered encouragement. By the time we left, checked in, and ate, I slept the sleep of the tired and satisfied.

Bench Shirt and Squat Suit Help

With the help and instruction of experts at elitefts, I squatted and benched in my new Metal M squat suit and bench shirt. I am still learning how to properly utilize both of them. I learned, with regard to the bench shirt, to try to utilize the seam as a rubber band. The more it is stretched, the more it will rebound and move the weight. This is achieved by using a wider grip, bringing the weight down under control, then moving it as fast as possible and using that momentum to finish the lift. Now I understand the necessity of speed work. The more the stretch of the shirt and the faster the weight is moved, the more weight can be moved. All this is much easier said than done. I need more and more practice under expert supervision to get it right. I have had no formal instruction in the use of the squat suit. I have tried, however, to use the principals learned with the bench shirt while using the squat suit. I must stretch the seams of the suit to achieve the rubber band effect of the suit. This is accomplished by a wider stance, moving my knees out wider as I descend, and sitting back more to stretch the band in the rear. I understand it all, but putting into practice takes more and more repetitions. I’ll get it eventually.

Let me tell you what a meaningful experience this was for me. I am very fortunate to have had the once-in-a-lifetime experience of training at the elitefts compound on four separate occasions — three times at the S4 and now at the S5. Each experience has been unique. In common is the fact that I have PR'd on each occasion that I've been there. Why is that? I’m not sure, but I want to discuss it. I am usually overwhelmed when I walk into the compound. It has been and is the coolest gym in the world. I have trained at some of the best powerlifting facilities in North Carolina. Each is great, with great leadership and wonderful people. But I only get that butterflies-in-my-stomach feeling when I walk into the elitefts compound.

WATCH: Jim Wendler's 2018 elitefts Sports Performance Summit Presentation — Preparedness of Youth Athletes

Its equipment is beyond comparison, as complete as there is. Its history is also incomparable. The best lifters in the world have trained and do train there. Dave has set the standard for a world-class gym. No wonder a little old man like me gets excited when I walk in there. The physical facility itself establishes a certain atmosphere, but a physical facility itself cannot create the S5 atmosphere. The people that inhabit the facility create the atmosphere. Watching the best powerlifters warm up inspires me. Where else can you ask a question of anyone in there and get an expert opinion from a world-class powerlifter? Some faces are well known, others not so much, but make no mistake: everyone there will help, answer questions, demonstrate technique, and offer advice on gear and how to use it. There is nowhere else where these outstanding lifters will allow an old amateur like me to work in, offer advice and encouragement, and load and help as spotters. I have never been in an atmosphere where encouragement and help are screamed at me during every aspect of my lift. How can you not hit a PR? I just wish all of my meets were held in the S5 Compound. I know I could reach my physical potential.

Better than the physical facility and the atmosphere created by the great people, however, are the people themselves. In conversations between sets, before and after training, and over a beverage and food in the evening, I have learned what a great and outstanding group of young people these are. From the entire staff of elitefts to each and every teammate that wears the elitefts logo, this is the best group of young people I have ever met.

seminar sps

The Sports Performance Summit

No rest for the wicked! The next day I was up at 5:30 AM to be at The Ohio State University Fawcett Center by 7:00 AM for the seminar to begin at 8:00 AM. The seminar itself was quite outstanding. There were five strength and conditioning coaches, from high school to the NFL. Each was outstanding and made great points from their perspective. Each provided an insight into their respective program.

The first was Jim Wendler, of 5/3/1 fame and the books in conjunction therewith. Jim also coaches at London High School and has helped revolutionize their program. Next was Phil Matusz of The Ohio State University. We were playing on his home court. Next was Joe Kenn, formerly of Arizona State University, now in charge of the program for my Carolina Panthers. He was followed by Jeremy Frey of Missouri State University, who gave an interesting and informative program. We were then treated to Tom Myslinski of the Jacksonville Jaguars. I was amazed at the science and diagnostic techniques they used to keep players on the field. All of these guys were great athletes and lifters in their own right and are now great teachers. They know of what they speak. Perhaps the best athlete was Victoria Belkar, former dancer and now a PhD candidate at the University of British Colombia. She works across the fields of kinesiology, medicine, critical studies, and humanities.

The seminar was followed by food and libations at Roosters, a local watering hole near the OSU campus. They reserved for us a back room and treated us wonderfully. We trained again Sunday morning and I received great instruction on the use of my new bench shirt. Then we hit the road for the trek home.