By Jim Schmitz
U.S. Olympic Weightlifting Team Coach 1980, 1988 & 1992
Author of Olympic-style Weightlifting for Beginner & Intermediate Weightlifters Manual and DVD
Secure Your Gear
Always keep your training and competing gear secure. I’m referring to your lifting shoes, belt, knee wraps or bands, wrist wraps, athletic tape, analgesic rubs, training log, and whatever you can’t do without for training and competing. They say lightning doesn’t strike twice—well, I’ve had four strikes and almost six!
My gym, The Sports Palace, wasn’t in the worst part of San Francisco, but not the best part either. One Friday night after a big workout, several of us went out for some pizza and beer. When we returned, one of the lifters, Dan Lang, had had his car broken into, and his gym bag with all his lifting gear was stolen. Naturally we were all upset, but what can you do, it’s a fairly common crime and not very high on the police department’s priority list of crimes to solve. Dan had to buy new shoes, belt, sweats, and wraps, which he did, but it took a couple of weeks to acquire. Soon after he had replaced his gear, I spotted a homeless person walking down the street in blue suede Adidas lifting shoes. They were Dan’s, but they were pretty trashed, so I didn’t do anything, but I did tell Dan where he could get his shoes if he wanted. He didn’t.
A few years later, another one of my lifters, Thanh Nguyen, 1996 Olympian, also had his car broken into in a seedy neighborhood and his gym bag stolen with all his gear. This was two weeks before the National Championships, and he was really in a bind, with important final heavy workouts coming up. The next evening I went with him to the neighborhood to see if we could get his gear back by offering a reward. Nobody knew anything, but we were offered various services. Luckily Thanh got new shoes and belt before the Nationals, but his final heavy workouts weren’t what we had planned, as snatching and clean and jerking maximum weights in jogging shoes is extremely difficult. Thanh lifted okay at the Nationals, but not what he had lifted in training with his gear that he had been using for several years.
Recently, I had my car broken into and my gym bag and gear stolen. They got my blue suede Adidas lifting shoes, which I bought in 1980, my lifting belt, which I had custom made in 1975, my Rehband knee bands, and a couple Sports Palace t-shirts. This happened one week before a contest that I was going to compete in. I got another belt and pair of drug store knee bands, but had to lift in jogging shoes. I had two workouts with my jogging shoes and it felt weird, but it was going to be okay because I don’t lift really big weights. I did lift okay, but my warm-ups were very unstable as were my competition lifts.
Even more recently, Anne Lehman, presently The Sports Palace’s top woman lifter, several times national and world masters' champion, had her car broken into in broad daylight in a public parking lot and her gym bag stolen with all her gear. It can and will be replaced, but it is a significant expense: shoes $150+, belt $30, Rehband knee sleeves $60, sweats $50, gym bag $30+, towel, t-shirts, socks, etc. $$$? Besides the money, it is extremely maddening, frustrating, and big-time inconvenient until replaced.
My recent personal experience, plus my lifters', really stressed to me how important your training and competing gear are and that you had better secure them so you don’t have them stolen as that could cost you a personal best performance or a championship or a qualifying total. And of course there is the expense of replacing your gear.
Also, whenever you travel by plane or any other means, keep your gear in your possession or in as secure a place as absolutely possible. Never, ever check your gear when you travel by plane. And never put liquids in your gym bag. I know of lifters who have had everything from bottles of Coca Cola to Jack Daniels break in their gym bags. Try lifting in gear soaked in Coke or whiskey!
Secure and take the best care of your workout and competition gear, and hopefully you won’t have any of the above experiences.
For more information on Olympic-style weightlifting, weight training, lifter profiles, and competition reports, visit our Weightlifting Resource Pages.
Jim Schmitz’s gold-medal articles on weightlifting and weight training are regularly featured in MILO: A Journal for Serious Strength Athletes.
Take advantage of what Jim Schmitz, absolutely one of the best American coaches in the sport, can teach you in his Olympic-style Weightlifting for the Beginner & Intermediate Weightlifters Manual and DVD.