Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Pomilujem šibka Americanski.

About six months ago my buddy and colleague Glenn convinced me that I should add some weight training to my exercise regime. He argued that there's natural muscle loss in middle age, that lifting would help strengthen the muscles around my hurt knee and my bad back, and that I could use some more resistance training. And, of course, that I could and should get ripped.

Anyhow, when he heard about our trip to Slovenia he challenged me to "find an old Yugoslavian gym from the Eastern European days.  No more soft American gyms for you!"  I am happy to report that I found the place.  Directly around the corner from us is one of Ljubljana's "Sportni Parks."  There appear to be three or four of them in a city just a little bigger than Knoxville.  The one near us has a bunch of clay tennis courts, soccer fields, and an olympic size outdoor track with stands and all.  Underneath the stands are some offices and what appear to be old olympic training facilities, called the Atletski Klub Olimpija.

In multiple places in the basement workout area they had these funny old-fashioned signs showing proper form for various track and field events.  Here is the one for the shotput (I think).

The indoor facilities included a weight room!  After some confusion with various staff members who spoke very little English they comped me and allowed me to lift.  The last staff member added ominously that if I wanted to return I'd have to pay five euros, with a heavy emphasis on "if."

Throughout the experience I kept hearing Glenn's voice calling me a soft American.  There were no weight machines (there was one broken one in the corner with no cables).  Glenn: "Machines make you weak!"  There were no handheld dumbbells, only the large olympic bars and heavy plates.  "Dumbbells make you weak!"  There were almost no light weights at all.  There were only two 2.5 kilo plates (roughly 5.5 pounds) and the next lightest plate was 15 kg (roughly 35 pounds).  "Light weights make you weak!"  The equipment was super old and the benches were all torn up.  "Clean or new equipment makes you weak!"

Here's the overview.  Note the basement windows and the lone fluorescent light.  "Soft light makes you weak!"

Here's a close up of the squat cage.
Here's one of the benches.  Needless to say I used this for my rows (and of course I just lifted a single plate, because there were no dumbbells), because "nice benches and barbells make you weak!"

I did, however, draw the line at what I think was the shower.
It was hilarious and super fun all at the same time.  I felt like Rocky working out in the Russian hinterlands in Rocky 4.


  1. $20 says nobody curls in the squat rack there

  2. So good! Forget the shower...I wouldn't go near any of it! Prefer Weakness. Think you and Glenn should produce a video/rap song. Just a suggestion!!! ...but could be a huge are the Two of You! lv mom

  3. That is very cool, Mr. Barton.

  4. What is missing are Hans and Franz... "Ve vill POMP you OP!"

  5. I doubt that it had anything to to with the official Slovene Olympic team. Google "Olympic Gym" and be prepared for 44 million results (the closest one to me is about 18 miles away) :-).

    The poster shows the correct form (at least what was considered correct form when it was printed) for shotput and discus. I remember a similar poster when I was on the HS track team (and dirt was young).

    Of all the constituents of the former Yugoslavia, Slovenia was the most cosmopolitan, westernized, and wealthy. They've pretty much maintained that, but, of course, compared to other Euro countries, they may seem a bit bumpkin-ish. Give 'em a break, they'll catch up.

    Full disclosure: Wife has cousins outside Ljubljana.

  6. This confirms Captain Kirk Karwoski's contention that 35-pound plates are communist.