Where do you train? A commercial gym, a YMCA, a powerlifting/strongman gym, a basement gym? Wherever you train, it’s an atmosphere you like. You train with people you like, and you go to a facility that has the stuff you need at a price you can afford. Maybe it’s loud and boisterous, or perhaps it's quiet and sedate. Maybe yours is full of meatheads, or perhaps it's populated by preppies or blue collar guys. In any event, it’s yours. It’s where you go, it’s where you train, it’s what you have chosen.

My gym is different. It’s not like any other place I’ve been. It’s a giant box with every machine known to man. There is a section for aerobic machines (treadmills, stair-steppers, elliptical machines, and more), and there are a few rooms off the main area designated for classes. One room is used for group exercise classes, one is for pilates, and another is for spinning. Then, at the far end, there is a small area with two bench press stations, two squat racks, a Smith machine, and dumbbells ranging from five pounds to 100 pounds.

No one under the age of 35 may be a member, and each time someone works out or trains, he/she is required to wear a heart monitor. (I guess they don’t want us old folks to stroke out). The gym also hosts the Silver Sneaker program, and if you pay the premium for supplemental medicare insurance, you get a free gym membership. I’m sure it’s more cost-effective for the insurance companies to keep us old folks active and healthy than it is to pay for all of our ailments. In any case, can you imagine how many men and women over the age of 65 take advantage of this program? I’ll say this: there are a bunch. If you’re a gym owner, can you imagine getting paid like clockwork from insurance companies and not having an accounts receivable problem? Nice.

To be fair, it isn’t a geriatrics center. Many members fall within the 35- to 50-year-old age group, and there are a few body builders, a few CrossFit folks, some runners, and some yoga enthusiasts. For us men, there is a little eye candy, but just a little. The trainers, two young men and a young lady, are very thin people, all with a degree in Sports Science. However, I have never seen them have a client do a single strength exercise. There’s no chalk, no music, no one lifting enormous heavy weights, no meatheads, and no one dropping weights to the ground. And then there is me: a little old man trying to be a powerlifter. No one else in the gym does a single powerlifting exercise except for the occasional bench press. I can get all the weights I want or need at any time, day or night. It’s great! Yet, while lifting alone may have some advantages, it is not that great. If I miss a bench press, as I did today, I had better be able to crawl out from under it. If I fall off a box on a box squat, I just gather it all up, re-assemble all the stuff, and do it again. No spotters, no one to critique my form, no encouragement, no criticism, no comradery. To those few who know that I hold some powerlifting records, it’s absolutely meaningless.

So, by this point, you might be thinking, "Then why don’t you go somewhere else, dumbass?" Well, I just might.

There are three other commercial gyms in town, two of which are chains and two of which are branches of the YMCA. My daughter trains at one of the chains, and when I mentioned that I was going to look around, she said, “You will have to put up with loud, redneck meatheads who are not nearly as strong as they think they are and make lots of noise for no reason.” Then she said, "Also, you may not be able to get the weights and racks you need when you want to train.” Do I need that? I don't know. I’ll look around. I’ll grumble, bitch, and moan, but I’ll probably stay where I am. My gym is a two-minute drive from my house, and I get all the weights I want. For as good or bad as it is, for me it’s free. You see...I’m a member of Silver Sneakers, too.