Here is the scene. The exercise room at the Bettendorf Y was full on a Sunday afternoon just a week out from New Year’s Resolution Day.
To the right side of the room, nearly every treadmill, elliptical and bike lined up in couch formation in front of a bank of TVs was full. The middle buffer zone of weight machines was buzzing with folks sweating and reading directions. And to the left, not much was open in the free weights.
I was in the doorway with my son, Colt, with the inspiration to show the middle-schooler how to run on a treadmill. That wasn’t going to happen.
But, a squat rack at the back of the room was open. Coach Dad was in business.
Squats used to be a big thing with me, the perfect exercise for an offensive lineman is what I was taught when first introduced to them by Coach Ekmark my junior year in high school. From squats come explosiveness and power, strength to win at your very core.
Yeah, I was excited. Up until then, I had been pretty much on my own when it came to learning to lift weights. I had been that fat little kid who asked for a weight set for Christmas to change my lot in the neighborhood. Didn’t really work. I had no idea what I was doing and the set wound up gathering dust.
Then came coach, with his Bigger, Faster, Stronger lifting system and notebooks. Life changed. I was making friends. I became a starter. I grew confident. And, I almost asked a cheerleader out. I never did master that.
So, I took Colt to the squat rack and started the lesson:
“Feet shoulder width apart. No, wider. Not that wide. Here, point your arms straight down, put your feet where you point.
” OK, now straighten out your feet. Kick your heels out a little. Um, no, kick them back in. Ah, well, OK.
“Now we’ll, um, you don’t need to keep your arms pointing straight down anymore. Now, go like this, keep your back straight and squat this far. Yeah, like that. No, a little farther. No, not that far.”
We muddled on, and I started to get worried. It’s been years since I’ve consistently been in a weight room. What if I forgot something important? Turns out I did.
“Can I make a suggestion?” the man in a black turbin doing squats in the next rack asked.
“Uh, sure,” I stammered. “That’d be great.”
“Put a stool under him, have him go down, touch it and come up.”
I was awkwardly silent, but just for a second, because I was processing a thank you. He was right on and we did that — but he also reminded me of something bigger.
Remember my Christmas weights? How going it alone led to them just gathering dust? In a weight room, you are not alone. And while squats build one kind of core, the kinship among the weights builds another. It’s kinship you offer and receive.
So, Colt learned about building his core, and I was reminded how to as well.