In today's August 1, 2011 newsletter . . .

  • A Brush With Greatness

  • Dietary Supplements: 
Promises vs. Reality

A Brush With Greatness

My first gym membership was with the famous Yarick's Gym in Oakland, California, owned by Ed and Alyce Yarick. And what a gym it was! Not fancy, for sure, but iconic for certain.

Imagine a single gym where so many famous mid-century pre-steroid bodybuilders worked out: people like Steve Reeves, Clarence Ross, Roy Hilligenn, and Jack Delinger. Or where world champion lifters the likes of Tommy Kono and John Davis might show up anytime while passing through. That was Yarick's, and these were everyday occurrences.

By the time I joined, in the 1950s (I was 16), Steve Reeves had won the Mr. America, Mr. World, and Mr. Universe titles, and had just recently moved to Southern California for opportunities in the movies. Clarence Ross opened his own gym in nearby Alameda. But Jack Delinger was still a regular.

Big name strongmen might drop in unexpectedly for a workout anytime. There was always something going on. One evening the great Canadian heavyweight Doug Hepburn came in. People said he was the strongest man in the world. He got into a friendly competition of oddball feats of strength with a few of Yarick's local strongmen.

One of the events was trying to explode* hot water bottles by blowing into them. Hepburn could do it but no else could. Yarick's had a backyard with outside weights and benches. They stepped outside and discovered a tall ladder leaning against the building. Hepburn was able to balance it on his chin as he walked around the patio. But one of the other lifters succeeded in doing it, too. The tie had to be broken.

They went back inside the gym and got a 12-inch ruler from Ed Yarick's desk. Hepburn broke the tie and won the event by balancing the ruler vertically on his chin as he walked around the gym while everyone cheered.

So it went at the first gym I ever belonged to. And I was hooked.

*Warning: Attempting to explode a hot water bottle by blowing into it can be dangerous.
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Dietary Supplements: 
Promises vs. Reality

The subject of diet and supplements is a controversy minefield. And I'm about to risk entering it.

To start with, I agree with the quote by Carl Sagan, who said: "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." What fair minded person could argue with that?

Applying Sagan's logic, dietary supplements should be looked upon with a degree of skepticism. Skepticism because unregulated or barely regulated dietary supplement manufacturers bombard us daily with dubious claims and promises. And no one can argue with the fact that many of their claims have been found to be exaggerated and deceptive. While some have been found to be dangerous.

At the same time, some promoters of unregulated products try to scare us of "Big Pharma." Big Pharma is regulated by laws and agencies, they remind us, created by legislators beholden to drug companies. There is some truth in that. Yet, where would we be without the life-saving drugs the "evil" drug companies develop, test, and provide?

I don't pretend to know enough about all of the issues involved to argue about regulation vs. deregulation. But I can imagine that eventually the dishonest and irresponsible manufacturers could be the undoing of the supplement industry, the good companies along with the bad.

If you would like my more complete observations on the pros and cons of supplements, please go here.

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Gray Iron: A Fitness Guide for Senior Men and Women

Newsletter Policy

The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter is a free publication sent twice monthly to subscribers. The purpose is to provide honest and realistic fitness information for people age 50 and above.

I have never been paid or received compensation of any kind to write a positive review or endorse a product. If I say that I personally use a product or service, it is because I find value in it and have paid for it with my own money.

Like newspapers, magazines and television, this newsletter and my web site contain advertising and marketing links. Naturally, I am compensated for these.

The newsletter and web site provide information to help users establish and maintain a fitness lifestyle. But fitness information is not the same as fitness advice, which is the application of exercise and dietary practices to an individual's specific circumstances. Therefore, always consult with your physician for assurance that fitness information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate for you. Your comments and questions are always appreciated.


Logan Franklin
The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter