We should give as we would receive, cheerfully, quickly, and without hesitation; for there is no grace in a benefit that sticks to the fingers.” —Seneca

I became acquainted with Bob Youngs well over a decade ago when the internet and lifting forums were still in their infancy. Like many aspiring lifters, Bob served as my guide when I was somewhat lost in the dark, weightlifting wilderness. He was my Virgil. In the Divine Comedy, Virgil escorts Dante on his pilgrimage through hell and purgatory. Bob accompanied me on my trip into powerlifting’s dark side, everything Westside Barbell. I only had the pleasure of meeting Bob in person a few times, but he always served as a steady source of knowledge whenever I sought it. Whether it was in the flesh or by way of the computer, Bob reminded me of a big ole Teddy bear, soft spoken, reserved, and gentle. It seems as though a reassuring smile was constantly etched on his massive mug.

Beginning in the mid to late 1990s, I picked Bob’s brain on anything to do with Westside Barbell. I was restless for knowledge and relentless in its pursuit. The master I sought wasn’t easily accessed, so Bob acted as a gatekeeper. He allowed hundreds if not thousands of lifters to gain a glimpse behind the curtain to see the great Oz. What was once mysterious and opaque was no more. Bob entertained each and every one of my queries, graciously sharing information regarding innovative lifts, percentages, technique, and programming. Thanks to Bob I became well versed in max efforts movements, dynamic day, and GPP. I became like a missionary myself, spreading the word and philosophy of this new program I had discovered. Quiet education.

I always possessed an inner thirst to know how I stacked up against the best of the best, and Bob again served as my source. I bombarded him with weekly inquiries regarding how much the top guns at Westside Barbell were hoisting on various lifts. I anxiously awaited Bob’s email replies. I had the inside scoop on how much Kenny Patterson floor pressed, George Halbert’s close grip record, and Chuck’s training weights on speed day. This was like heaven because it provided me with goals or benchmarks to shoot for. Plus, I knew the information was accurate, not embellished. Quiet motivation.

I generally shared all my workouts and training weights with Bob as I prepared for an upcoming bench meet. He would offer insight, but he never told me exactly what to do. He allowed me to learn from my mistakes. Instinctively, he knew that I alone had to discover my own personal style. I consistently underestimated my ability, and Bob would prop me up where he knew I should be. I was afraid of failure and was trying to be too safe. Bob’s experience allowed him to suggest my opener and what I should ultimately shoot for in the meet. More often than not, he was right. Quiet inspiration.

Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. And today? Today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.” —Babatunde Olatunji

This past summer I became reacquainted with Bob when I clicked on a blog detailing his diagnosis and ongoing struggle with leukemia. I awaited each update by his girlfriend in the same nervous fashion that I used to when awaiting Bob’s replies to my now seemingly insignificant questions about lifting. There was lots of pacing, fidgeting at my desk, and chomping at my fingernails.

This past summer I took a six-hour essay test so I could qualify and become a licensed school administrator. The scores wouldn’t be available for a month after the test. I spent a week obsessing and worrying about not passing and the embarrassment that would ensue. While I was sweating this relatively small life event that turned out be nothing, Bob was fighting for his life.

This past summer I dealt with an aching knee that caused me much discomfort, so much discomfort that I often had to spend time contemplating how to devise my workout around the pain. While I was worrying about a workout, Bob was fighting for his life.

This past summer I routinely took my four-year-old daughter to the park and then for some ice cream afterwards. Sometimes we worried about what park to go to because some didn’t have shade trees and we might get hot. While I worried about what park to go to with my little one, Bob was fighting for his life.

Bob continues to be my guide. He taught me many things this past summer. I now have an even deeper understanding of the struggles someone with cancer goes through. Education loud and clear. I now know that it’s easy to complain, but I remember just how good my life is and that I shouldn’t take it for granted. Motivation loud and clear. Lifters take pride in being hardcore. I now know what hardcore really is by reading about Bob’s daily challenges and how he takes them on with fortitude and perseverance. Inspiration loud and clear.

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”—Lennon

Elite Fitness Systems strives to be a recognized leader in the strength training industry by providing the highest quality strength training products and services while providing the highest level of customer service in the industry. For the best training equipment, information, and accessories, visit us at www.EliteFTS.com.