When I first began working out in high school it was 1994. I trained at a gym that was down in the shopping center down on Finley and Butterfield. It was called "Yeager's". Named after the owner Mark Yeager. A big part of why I got into working out in the first place was due to Yeager's Gym. Picture any Balley's, or Powerhouse or whatever... then picture 1/10th the size of it. That was Yeager's... an above ground basement. About 80-90% of the equipment there was MADE by Mark himself, and it was the best shit I ever worked out with. He had something for everything there... something the clubs 10 times bigger STILL don't have.
Being such a small place, you had little choice but to get to know every person there. The great thing though, was that everyone there was fucking awesome. Everyone was your buddy, and they were all extremely supportive. It was "Gym" gym... 95% of the people working out there were competitive bodybuilders. At one time Carlton Fisk was a regular there, and a fucking asshole I might add. (side story available at bottom of entry)
I didn't really get to join any sports in high school, but I didn't mind so much, because I lived for when school would end, and I'd go to the gym. I'd workout, and then hang out. I'd spend 3-4 hours there. I'd train, and then as the other big guys were coming in after getting out of work, I'd hang out to watch them train. They'd explain to me what they were doing, why, and how. It became my hangout, I didn't have much of a social life otherwise, so I spent all of my free time there. Weekends... everday after school.
A close friend of my Father's... a man by the name of Larry Weiss, a Vietnam vet and the greatest guy you could ever know, met me there everyday after school to train with me. I'll be writing more about him, as I get closer to the show. But this placed fueled an interest in weightlifting and bodybuilding that has remained in me to this day.
Yeager's was sold in 97', and the new owner ran the place out of business within about a year. This was also in part due to Powerhouse opening in Lombard. This was obviously a sad day for me when Yeager's closed. I boycotted Powerhouse for a long time, until I finally accepted that it was the only decent place around at that point to work out at.
To this day, I don't know that I've ever had a workout like the ones I'd get at Yeager's.
(side story... Jason Holman asked me to get his Carlton Fisk baseball card autographed for him. So I said "Sure, no problem!", you know, I see the fucking guy everyday this should be easy. So I see him at the gym the next day and I asked him, if he'd mind... his response was, "$25". I was still too young and naive to realize that he wasn't joking, so I just laughed... holding the card out waiting for him to take it. He was for real. So I felt like an asshole going back to Jason the next day, and telling him it was actually going to cost him. Had I been in his shoes, I'd have said fuck it then. But he pony'd up the $25, so I took it back to Carlton the next day, and he took it... said thanks, signed the card, and walked off without saying anything... fucking asshole.)