by Thom Van Vleck
I have a lot of weights. I don’t think of myself as a collector, I use everything I have in my gym. Nothing gets put in a “glass case”. I have to say that some things I have for practical reasons. Certain bars work better for Deadlifts, some for Push Presses, some weights just have a “better feel”. But sometimes I just like the “looks” of something. I think it goes back to when I was a kid reading all those old Weightlifting mags. Most of them were basically advertisements for barbells, supplements, and other related stuff being sold by the publisher. I remember looking at the advertisements and generally you would get these weight sets that had various sized plates and they load them all on the bar for a photo. Basically, you ended up with what’s in the logo above. A bar loaded with plates that not only decrease in weight, but in size. Keen eyes may have noted I actually drew one extra plate on the drawing for the JWC logo….that’s been a long held secret of mine and to date if anyone has noticed, they didn’t say anything. As far as being an artist….all I know is I know what I like. When I was drawing that barbell, it just “looked” right to add one last little set on the ends. Purely aesthetic!
Sometimes, when I lift, I want to load up the bar and have that “assortment” on there. No reason other than it just pleases me! It is aesthetic which to me always meant that it was cool to look at but doesn’t have any real reason other than that! I recently bought some 7.5lb, 12.5lb and 20lb solid 1″ barbell plates to go with my 1.25lb, 2.5lb, 5lb, 10lb, and 25lb plates. Why, just so I can load them all up and get that “look”. To me, its a classic look, and it looks cool…….but I do think there is a reason for wanting all those odd little plates on there.
When I first started lifting I was spoiled having all kinds of weights at my disposal since my Uncle’s had quite a collection from the early days of the Jackson Weightlifting Club. But I recall my Uncle Wayne telling me how they initially had cement weights they had made using buckets and scrap metal for bars. They had saved up for the York set….a pretty penny in those days! When they got that first 300lb set it became their goal to put that overhead. My Uncle Phil told me that Gene Thudium joined the club and at 145lbs of bodyweight, he clean and pressed 165lbs and declared he was going to “lift that whole 300lb” set. To Gene’s credit, he did do 280lbs at 181lbs in competition….a great lift and had he not been disillusioned when they dropped the clean & press from competition in 1972 I think he would have done it! My Uncle Wayne recalls the day Thudium walked in the gym and Wayne told him they had dropped that lift. Thudium, who had been on that mission for a dozen years, threw his hands up, quit, and NEVER came back to the gym! At any rate, they wanted to lift that whole set which meant all the smaller plates loaded on there. So, I think there was that challenge of “lifting the whole set” that came along! As a side note, they ordered a 400lb set and my Uncle Wayne ended up Jerking that out of the rack.
So, for whatever reason, I like the look and honestly, anything that will motivate me to lift is a good thing in my book. Even if my wife wonders why I had to order those “odd” sized plates when I have about a 1000lbs of 1″ plates already!