In today’s high tech world most people think the ultimate workout entails going to some fancy health club climbing on the latest treadmill equipped with all the latest toys with overhead televisions tuned to CNN. The latest craze in this technology savoy world of exercise so sophisticated now it is almost impossible to remember especially baby boomers the exercise equipment and facilities we grew up with. Back then the YMCA and Jack LaLane were the two athletic facilities available for most of the population. I particularly remember my first professional YMCA job. Back in ’69’ the largest YMCA in the Chicago area. In the Y itself was the Chicago Dearborn Club, the men’s health club within the YMCA. Back then most of the inner city Y’s were all men’s facilities and nude swimming was the norm. It was at this time that all the professional athletes particularly in Chicago from the Black Hawks, Chicago Bears, The Chicago Bulls, The White Sox, and The Cubs all used the YMCA for their off season conditioning and some even chose the Y to hone their skills for the next game.
Dick Woit was the Fitness Director for the Y in 1969. It was through his direction, influence, and extraordinary inner strength that enabled all who partook in his conditioning classes experienced the ultimate workout. The philosophy and the equipment were so simple it is a wonder today how every one accomplished their own physical goals. No matter how simple this program regime was, it worked.
The philosophy was this: anyone no matter what physical handicaps one has through vigorous exercise they will over come their handicap and be able to function so much better. Call it the Teddy Roosevelt philosophy where President Theodore Roosevelt as a young boy through rigorous persistent exercise over came all of his illnesses and handicaps that plagued his early child hood. This is the same approach that Dick Woit used in his philosophy and became an internal part of my philosophy all during the rest of my YMCA career.
There was no fancy equipment, the latest Boot Camp experience or aerobic classes that are now so prevalent with today’s latest health club craze. All there was were benches, barbells, free weights, floor mats, and the basketball court. Using a combination of timed sets of exercises everyone who endured 45 minutes of the ultimate physical challenge gained a confidence and physical presence that today individuals who leave health clubs are so lacking. The physical and mental toughness that was gained by all who participated in Dick Woit’s workouts has yet to be matched even with using all the latest equipment in health clubs today.
Long before there were physical enhancement drugs and steroids the athletes of that era had a certain quality and humbleness that are so lacking by today’s professional athletes. A large part of the success to all those that passed through the Dick Woits Chicago Dearborn Club and endured this simple, but most intense and aerobic workout went on to greater success in life.
45 minutes of sit ups, leg raises pushups, presses, curls [these were with 50 lbs bar bells ] leg lifts, 25 yard sprints, and warm ups and warm downs in rapid succession of a set number of sets came to be the ultimate aerobic, strength, and endurance program that if incorporated in schools all across the United States today starting with Kindergarten through High School 45 minutes daily imagine what a healthier society America would become.