A few months ago, the Los Angeles Times reported on a man from Southern California who picked up discarded dumbbells from dumps, flea markets, and dark corners of the internet, and then sold them for absurd profits. He described his process with a certain amount of pride: soaking the weights in vinegar, scrubbing with a steel brush, spraying black. He sold a pair of $ 50 weights for $ 500.
It’s a predictable, Mad Max-like endgame in a world where demand for home fitness equipment has far exceeded the production capacity of a broken supply chain for almost a full year. The dumbbell shortage is real, it’s still going strong, and Americans – unable or unwilling to return to the gym – pay more for someone’s 30-year-old 10-pound weight than the most respected fitness maker in the country usually does would ask for a pair of 125 pound dumbbells.
In short, it’s a bummer. But your strength training routine doesn’t have to succumb to price measurement or panic. You can do body weight exercises. Or learn to exercise with a household chair. And most importantly, you can look elsewhere for weight training equipment. Cast iron, rubber, and stainless steel have long ruled the gym floor, and for good reason, but there are young brands experimenting with alternative materials. Their products are just as effective and far more available right now.
The Many Lives of Sarah Apgar, FitFighter CEO.
Earlier this year, that search led us to FitFighter, a New York-based company founded by Iraq war veteran Sarah Apgar. If a studio lacks biopic ideas, bookmark Agpar: after graduating from the Princeton Army’s ROTC program (where she was a two-time All-American college rugby player), she served as platoon leader for the 52nd Engineering battalion 2003 member of the 101st Airborne Division in Mosul. She then completed her MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College and served as Warby Parker’s director of new business and facilities.
Longing for the camaraderie of her days in the military, however, she joined the volunteer fire department in her town on Long Island after marrying her husband. It was there that Apgar registered some of the most sobering modern realities of the profession. That the job requires extraordinary strength and endurance, two qualities that men and women find difficult to retain in old age. The number one cause of death for firefighters in the United States isn’t fire fighting. It’s a heart disease.
Apgar went fully DIY. She collected three-foot pipes of recycled tubing from trucks and taught herself to sew. She filled each with steel balls (pellets five times the water density) and then attached brass eyelets to both ends of the weights. The goal was to get Huntington, New York’s fire station, in shape. But the Steelhouse, as Apgar called it, soon became an integral part of the FDNY Fire Training Academy. And made it to the other coast and became part of the San Diego Fire Rescue Academy’s training plan. Last year, she earned a $ 250,000 investment from Daniel Lubetzsky, CEO of Kind Healthy Snacks, on Shark Tank.
While it may not have been Apgar’s original intention, it seems fitting that a first responder exercise device should be so popular with lay people and women looking to build muscle. The functional movements required to face a disaster or carry out a mission – all that pushing, pulling, carrying, and swinging – are also needed in everyday situations, albeit with lesser stakes. The steel pants are an ideal bed companion for functional fitness movement. And as far as home equipment is concerned, it is a true Swiss Army Knife that, depending on how it is used, can be used as a dumbbell, kettlebell, sandbag, medicine ball or sledge hammer.
This versatility can be attributed to the clever design. I’ve now recorded several workouts with the steelhose (alternating a pair of 10-pounders and a single 15-pound weight), and I’m particularly impressed with the semi-solid filling. In other words, the steel hose is designed so that its steel pellets slide and flow around like water, forcing a trainee to hold onto its handle all the time. As a form of imbalance training, it’s difficult. But that’s exactly why it works. The outside of the hose is double-walled and feels indestructible. However, this gentle “yield” means that you can comfortably throw it in the air or swing it against a tire.
I did shoulder presses with my steelhose weights. Box jumps. Russian twins. Hammer beckons. Squats with one leg. It’s a tool, but for the fitness junkies out there, it’ll feel more like a toy. You can have fun with it like it is unaffordable with a dumbbell – unless you’re looking for a broken toe. For those who tend to buy gear and feel lost when they pull it out of the box, Apgar has also launched a full online class library (many of them live!) Where the FitFighter community does everything from the basics up to the free training course – cycling circles.
Decades of infomercials swearing that a new wellness product needs to get into every household in America have rightly made many lifters question new technology. But it’s hard to imagine a house that, especially in times of equipment shortages, has nothing productive to do with a recycled fire hose invented by a seasoned entrepreneur.
To buy the steel pants, click here. (Enjoy seeing “Add to Cart” instead of “Notify Me”.) To purchase and receive free training courses for a year, click here. And shop knowing that FitFighter supports the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, which serves first responders, wounded veterinarians and their families, with every purchase.
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