No Layoffs

by Sterling Brown
(Egg Harbor Twp. NJ )

I began training when I was ten, in 1958, with a set of springs. I still have them, along with the instructions.

For my twelfth birthday I received a 110-pound set of York weights. I still have them, too. No matter what, all through the years, I have worked out at least three nights per week. There were only two extended layoffs: when I paddled a canoe from Pittsburgh to New Orleans, and when I built a house. On days off I kayaked, bicycled and ran. This approach has kept me fit.

For fifteen years my wife and I were in the gym business. Despite what you may have read about the origins of step aerobics, my wife Dawn invented that form of exercise, and teaching it almost every day kept her in great shape.

Now we both use a gym I built over our garage. I have dip bars, pull-up bars, a flat bench, rack of dumbbells, three long bars, an EZ curl bar, an H-bar, and a knee-high box for step-ups. With this simple equipment I can exercise from almost any angle.

My routine is simple: a push night, leg and deadlift night, and pull night. One week heavy, the next week light. Usually three sets per exercise. Sometimes I'll go to a five-day routine: push, pull, legs/abs, shoulders, arms. That's a lot of stress on shoulders and elbows. The three-day approach is safer.

My emphasis was always on building and maintaining strength. I eat no red meat, some chicken and fish. No dairy, lots of egg whites and vegetables, nuts and fruit. Whole grains. For breakfast, a blender drink for the past fifty years.

I've found that bench presses and most long-bar exercises are tough on the shoulders, wrists and elbows. Dumbbells are kinder. Parallel bar pull-ups (two bars) are easier on the joints than pull-ups with a single straight bar. Consistency is the key to strength and health.

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