In the early 90s I was a part of a gym that was an absolute IRON Palace.
It was housed in a large warehouse of 7,000 sq ft between two highways and there was NO AC.
There were big industrial fans scattered around the gym but I didn't care.
I loved the heat and sweating.
I remember training at the old YMCA and the AC was too cold in the Summer time where the sweat on your shirt would feel cold and make you feel like like you were battling between hot and cold.
The IRON Palace was different and it was anything but a "Palace".
Dungeon was more like it.....
One of the guys there who really stood out was Eddie.
When Eddie wasn't around, the guys all called him "Crazy Eddie".
I wanted to learn from Crazy Eddie because he was strong and ripped.
He weighed about 185-190 lbs. Looking back at my memories and knowing what I know now, Crazy Eddie reminds me of the legendary Chuck Sipes.
Crazy Eddie could bench 315 for 5 reps and when he benched 315, it was fast!!!
I would see Crazy Eddie lifting hard and heavy all the time. Eddie favored reps in the 1-5 range.
You would often see Eddie perform the 1 Arm Preacher Curl using a 100 lb dumbbell. His veins were prominent all over chest, shoulders, biceps and forearms. Crazy Eddie would wear cut off jeans for shorts and his top was either a sleeveless flannel shirt or a white tank top.
Crazy Eddie would perform Weighted Pull Ups with over 100 lbs. You could hear the deep dish IVANKO plates rumbling together as he strapped on three or four 35s or three 45s to the belt.
Deadlifts for Eddie was always over 5 plates. Sometime he did the RDL, other times conventional deads. NO straps, unlike the other bodybuilders.
Dips with over 100 lbs for Eddie was common place. In the rare instance I saw Eddie using machines, he used the heavy cable machines for tricep pushdowns or cable rows but he always added an extra 45 lb plate to the stack. Pushdowns for 5 reps? Yes. They didn't call him Crazy Eddie because he did things like a normal guy, that's for damn sure.
I wanted to be STRONG like Crazy Eddie. Being a young teenager, I didn't realize that I needed a different attitude. I wasn't Crazy. I was following the rules of bodybuilding and of course knowing what I know now, following the rules held me back.
Eddie would always train on Friday evenings and that was always my opportunity to ask him questions when the other guys were not around. Friday evenings were pretty dead at The IRON Palace and from 6 - 10 PM, there would be less than 10 people in the gym. In the Summer time, some Fridays was just me and Crazy Eddie.
Every Friday I made sure to never miss a training session so I could learn any of Eddie's "Secrets".
Ironically, I found a letter Crazy Eddie wrote me because about 6 months into our friendship, Eddie moved for a new job.
The word from the other guys in the gym was that Eddie was insanely smart and graduated top 3 in his engineering class from NJIT. Crazy Eddie is no longer alive but his intensity and the lessons I learned from him will live on!
Eddie sent me a hand written letter after he had left for his new job and I copied it below:
I pen this letter with utmost respect for your dedication to physical and mental strength.
I will miss our Friday evening conversations on training, nutrition and life.
In a world rife with distractions, it's refreshing to connect with men like yourself who seek to surpass their limitations and embrace the pursuit of greatness.
Please allow me to share with you the advices I was given from my mentor when I spent a year in California going to prep school.
I learned from a man named Vince who was a trainer to the stars and top bodybuilders.
Let me transport you back to the vibrant days of the 1960s when iron forged bodies, and the true grit of men was palpable.
My friend, life is a relentless battle.
The responsibilities of family, work, and the demands of modern society can test even the strongest of spirits.
But I stand here today to tell you that you possess the indomitable will to conquer it all.
So, let's embark on a journey of transformation, old-school style.
In the realm of training, simplicity reigns supreme. Never forget that!
Forget the convoluted methods and fancy gadgets that are beginning to clutter the modern fitness industry.
Instead, embrace the basics—the fundamental lifts that have stood the test of time.
Squats, bench presses, overhead presses, and deadlifts are the bread and butter of strength training. They cultivate not just muscular power but an IRON Will within you.
Vince tried to stop me from heavy barbell lifts but once a week, he didn't know, I would learn from a man
in his garage and his fellow training partners.
This man was Bill "Peanuts" West. We were taught in that garage that we should worship Strength. Period.
One day I will tell you about Bill "Peanuts" West.......
Now, my friend, let's talk nutrition.
In an era dominated by processed foods and quick fixes, I championed the potency of natural, unadulterated nourishment while training with Vince. I used to sell supplements and do the nutrition consulting for the movie stars as a student of Vince's.
Allow me to introduce you to the virtues of steak and eggs.
These humble yet mighty foods fuel your body with high-quality protein and vital nutrients.
Embrace them, for they will fuel your muscles, nourish your mind, and awaken the true potential that resides within.
These lessons from Vince extend far beyond the physical realm.
A man's success lies not only in the strength of his body but also in the fortitude of his mind.
Let me share with you three timeless principles to forge a mindset of unyielding determination:
1) Harness the Power of Focus:
In this age of constant distractions, discipline your mind to concentrate on your goals. Visualize your objectives with unwavering clarity and channel your energy toward their attainment. Forge an unwavering focus, and watch as the world bends to your will.
2) Embrace the Challenge:
Life's hardships are not obstacles; they are opportunities for growth. Embrace them with open arms, for it is through adversity that true strength is born. Each setback is a chance to learn, adapt, and emerge stronger than before.
Remember, a Man is defined not by the battles he avoids but by those he confronts head-on.
3) Cultivate the Champion's Mindset: Believe in yourself, my friend, for your self-belief is the catalyst for all greatness. The world may doubt you, but you must never doubt yourself. Cultivate an unwavering faith in your abilities, for it is the cornerstone of all achievement. With the heart of a champion, you shall conquer mountains and leave a legacy that echoes through time.
As you embark on this journey of self-discovery, remember that you possess within you the fire of the iron era.
Embrace the simplicity of the old ways, infuse it with your unwavering dedication, and become the embodiment of strength in all aspects of life.
Stay true to the path, my friend, for the rewards that await you are nothing short of extraordinary.