Strength and History
(Former Olympic Weightlifting Coach Jim Schmitz making Sara giggle at her snatch)
The stories are piling up yet they need telling. The last bards to sing the tales of the end of the golden age of Physical Culture are, one by one, led away from this mortal coil. Not even real strength is immortal.
(Weightlifting at the first modern Olympics)
The generation after them are thankful to share from sagacity’s trove, filled with hours of sweat, grunts, intensity and accomplishment. And the generation after that?
(Sacramento High weightlifting coach Paul Doherty, with one of his champion lifters behind him)
Blessed be, there are a few that avoid the curse of what has become modern fitness, the siren song of gadgets, fads and trends meant to suck the wallet dry in the comfort of your three easy payments or monthly membership dues. They, too, want to open dialog about how and why movement and strength build a better world, and possibly hand the keys of strength to the current crop of kids who might wanna play as well.
(Coach Doherty teaches a wide range of students and skill levels)
To collect these stories is a task of passion, like Pliny the Elder, but with worse funding. As anticipated, as the questions are answered, so many more arise. Like cultivating thought weeds, each collected seed of knowledge simply turns into another healthy batch of inquiries. Trains of thought don’t always follow timelines; instead their scheduled stops are often forgotten or sped past.
(Sara interviewing Dr. Susan Zieff, professor of sports and exercise culture and history at San Francisco State)
(Barbell Get Ups are nothing new, as this mid-century Barbell book shows us)
What’s the nutty wanna-be documentarian getting at? Point A to Point B is no longer the accepted geometry for a film about a history that is far more than just physical. A timeline is easy to tell, but an idea line is a bit harder to chart. Oh, but the journey is fun.
(Jim Schmitz at his infamous basement dungeon, the Sports Palace)
In the upcoming months we’ll be squeezing history out of more authors, historians, professors and athletes from around the country, working on building our History of Fitness documentary. Along the way, there might appear small mini-documentaries like the one below to remind folks what we’re doing, and hone our skills at the same time.
Some of my favorite stories are of filmmakers producing worthwhile projects on minimal budgets. Yet I’d sell an organ (I’m not telling which one) to generate the amount of ‘minimal budget’ these folks had. Heck, my bank account groans a little when I buy a packet of mini-DV film, and the luxury of actually owning any of the equipment I’m filming on currently escapes me.
There are those who are helping, whether they know it or not. I suggest lending these folks your support…
If you’re anywhere near Portland the first weekend of February, come to the Portland Brutal Recess Workshop that the folks at Recreate Fitness have put together. There will be more info posted on the Bodytribe website tomorrow.
If you’re in the Bay Area, contact Jim Schmitz and get some training in what many consider the most athletic lifts in the world, the clean and jerk and snatch. The sport of weightlifting is his specialty, and he’s a willing teacher.