by Al Myers
I have been in numerous club gyms, and one thing that sets them apart from commercial “chrome and fern” gyms is that there is always an abundance of old trophies, medals, plaques and award certificates hanging around. Some of these places have awards that are over 30 years old! Yet, they still bask in their glory of being visible for all gym members to see, as the day they were shiny new. I always marvel at these old awards, and take the time to check all of them out. I wonder, “who won this one?, and “what competition did this one come from?”. This is a sight full of mystery, but at the same time gives you the burning desire of motivation. Anyone who has won an award knows the satisfaction that it brings, and not because of the hardware itself, but the hard work that goes into earning it. The time in the gym pushing those extra sets, and the commitment and sacrifice training time takes away from the rest of your life. If it was just the trophy that gave you this fulfillment – go out and buy yourself a big trophy and put wording on it proclaiming yourself the greatest weightlifter of all time!! I assure you – that award would not mean near as much as the tiny certificate that you won the day you had a personal record lift.
In the Dino Gym I have a large collection of old weightlifting, strongman, and Highland games awards placed on a mantel overlooking the gym. This mantel runs the entire width of the gym – 40 feet. Most awards are “double stacked” on this shelf. I haven’t counted them but it has to be well over 100 trophies. The funny thing is that I have at least that many in boxes in the attic! When the mantel was full, I had to call it good. When I first put up this trophy mantel, my wife referred to it as “my shrine” to myself. I tried to let it slide, but her comment really hurt my feelings (even to this day and that has been a dozen years ago!). That was not my intention. I wanted to have a gym that any lifter would take serious when they enter the doors. I wanted us to not just “talk the talk, but walk the walk”. Displaying hard-earned awards shows a gym newcomer that we are serious about what we do – and that we have the proof to back up what our training is all about.
Most all of the other USAWA Clubs have a “trophy wall” as well. Last November at the Gold Cup, Frank Ciavattone took me down into his basement which holds Franks Barbell Club. I was overwhelmed by his collection of trophies and such. Just a quick glance at this, and ANYONE would know that Frank was a Champion. As we browsed through things, Frank had a story on each award. To him – these trophies were mementos that held a collection of memories from the competitions he has been in. I have been to the historic Ambridge BBC a few times now, and each time I spend a little time looking over their collection. Their collection is a lesson in weightlifting history – some awards date back 40-50 years. The JWC Training Hall has many very unique awards. Thom has on display some awards that were won by previous JWC members. Truly a compliment to those that had a significant part of the JWC history. Clark’s Gym is another gym that has a great display of awards that is rich in history. As you look over Clark’s Gym extensive collection of awards, it is a true inspiration. I could go on with several other examples like these.
The point I want to leave you with is that it is not egotistical to display awards if done for the right reasons. If it motivates one young kid to change their life by forming a commitment to training and physical fitness that keeps them out of trouble, it is worthwhile! But now I gotta go – it’s time to polish my shrine!!! (haha – THAT’S A JOKE!!)