Stepping up to the plates

Kevin Garrison
Kevin Garrison

Time doesn’t change some things very much.

It’s been at least 30 years ago — maybe a bit longer — since a burly kid from Albia High School was throwing me around at will on a wrestling mat and knocking me around on a football field.

His name was Kevin Garrison. Today, he is the safety and security director at Grain Processing Corp. in Muscatine. And early on weekday mornings, Kevin serves as the Mean Gene Okerlund of the Muscatine Community Y, announcing the arrival of many of the gym regulars.

There’s nothing quite like walking into the gym to the booming baritone accompaniment of: “Stepping into the octagon, ladies and gentlemen, CHRIS STEINBACH.”

And today, I really stepped into the octagon — otherwise known as the squat rack, the place where Kevin throws around a lot of weight. Way more than I can, so let’s just say not much has changed in 30 years.

To his credit, though, Kevin is a pretty good coach and very encouraging. He suggested I read Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training by Mark Rippetoe. And he didn’t even make fun of me for doing squats with only two plates on the barbell while he was easily hoisting six and even eight plates. For those who don’t know, a plate is a 45-pound weight, so Kevin was doing 10 repetitions or so for each set with anywhere from 315 to 405 pounds, which he made look pretty easy. On the other hand, I was at 185 pounds. But everyone has to start somewhere.

Last week, I published a blog post in which I spelled out some fitness goals for February. Those goals can be boiled down to:

  • Be more vigilant about what I eat and when and how I eat it.
  • Lift more weights — especially heavier weights.

In the nine days since then, I’ve been better about what I eat. I’m thinking I may stay more accountable if I keep mentioning it here.

And if I know anything, it’s that heavier weight workouts are guaranteed if I keep stepping into the octagon with Kevin Garrison.