I recently visited the Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports in Austin, Texas. The Stark Center is unique because it’s a museum that is dedicated to the history of strength training for sports, the athletes that changed what it meant to train and the cultures of training for different sports. They chose the term ‘Physical Culture’ to be all inclusive of activities:
“people have employed over the centuries to strengthen their bodies, enhance their physiques, increase their endurance, enhance their health, fight against aging, and become better athletes.”
You won’t find any trophies or medals there. Showcased are the tools, the stories, and the coaches responsible for the training that enabled athletes to become world class performers. There is a wide range of representation from different sports; Olympic weightlifters, bodybuilders, powerlifters, strongman, and even a wall dedicated to Tom Landry and his athletic career.
I had the opportunity to tour the museum with Stark Center Director Dr. Jan Todd (once the strongest woman in the world). The tour was packed full of interesting stories about featured lifters and the equipment they have collected over the years, and even what she had trained for.
The history of weight training is mind blowing. You see the introduction of equipment that resembles barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells dating back to ancient civilizations to the modern equipment, the development of weight training programs and everything in between. Whether you are an athlete, coach, or just enjoy training, take the time to view some of the history of strength training for sports here. Fun fact, even Ben Franklin picked heavy stuff up. I’ve also included some photos from the Stark Center, including some of the first barbells ever made that weren’t on display and a 300# dumbbell that has never been lifted.
Walking through the halls of the Stark Center was extremely motivating being surrounded by hundreds of athletes with their own unique story of putting in hours, suffering and achieving greatness. It was like watching Pumping Iron meets Over the Top meets Blood Sport. This is the museum dedicated to the process, no one is up on a wall unless they earned it. Each athlete knew what they were training for and had a goal. These are the most essential tools for success in your training.
You can follow the perfect program, dial in your nutrition and sleep to the most minute details, and have all the athletic potential in the world. If you don’t have reason to grind, keep focused, and push your mental and physical limits then you are destined to fall off.
‘What are you training for?’
The answer to that question needs to be sought out. We ask it to everyone who contacts us. IF they know the answer, we follow up with ‘What are your goals?’. Two intentionally separate questions.
‘WAYTF?’ goes a lot deeper than a goal. Goals can be measured and quantified. They are the directional components of bio-markers of performance. What you are training for cannot. It’s a spark. It’s that persistent pursuit of perfection. It’s whatever you make it and it’s yours. There is a lot of power and inner strength behind knowing what you are training for. A lot of us do not get paid to train and our game days ended in college or high school, but here we are, still grinding.
What are you training for?
It’s more than a goal, it’s a state of mind.
John Welbourn is CEO of Power Athlete and Fuse Move. He is also creator of the online training phenomena, Johnnie WOD. He is a 9 year veteran of the NFL. John was drafted with the 97th pick in 1999 NFL Draft and went on to be a starter for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999-2003, appearing in 3 NFC Championship games, and for starter for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2004-2007. In 2008, he played with the New England Patriots until an injury ended his season early with him retiring in 2009. Over the course of his career, John has started over 100 games and has 10 play-off appearances. He was a four year lettermen while playing football at the University of California at Berkeley. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in Rhetoric in 1998. John has worked with the MLB, NFL, NHL, Olympic athletes and Military. He travels the world lecturing on performance and nutrition for Power Athlete. You can catch up with John as his personal blog on training, food and life, Talk To Me Johnnie and at Power Athlete.
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