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Why You Want To Work Out With Ex-Felons

Tips From Tim Larkin

Thinking back to lessons I learned from my friend, Charles Poliquin.

If you don’t recognize the name, Charles was a living legend in the Strength and Conditioning world. Over the years he trained countless professional and medaled Olympic athletes and teams from various sports. Every Professional Sport had athletes training with him as well because he got results … big results.

First responders from all over the world from Tier One operators to local law enforcement trained with Charles. His principles were rock solid and his methods constantly evolved to get the best results.

He was a controversial guy because he didn’t suffer fools and was vicious with his sarcastic remarks to dumb questions. I appreciated his raw approach to stupidity which is why we got along so well.

Of his many contributions to the world of Strength And Conditioning others in his circle have already written about and documented his accomplishments far better than I ever could… but when it comes to his contribution to your self-protection… well, only I can give you that gem.

While writing my book “When Violence is The Answer" I heard Charles in an interview tell an interesting story on how he chose a gym in a new city. I scheduled a call with him to re-tell the story for my book.

Both Charles and I spent too much of our lives on the road and one of the big challenges of travel is where to train. Who is the best source to ask?

Early on in Charles career, he learned to ask the local police, “What gym in the city do all the ex-felons workout?” The local cop would tell Charles and that’s where he trained in every city.

I asked him to explain his thinking.

Charles told me he found that the facilities where the felons trained were culturally different than “the popular glitzy nice gyms with all the nice people”.

No one took weights you were using, spoke loud on a telephone, tied up equipment doing dumb lifts, nor was anyone overtly rude nor walked in front of you during a work set.

Whereas all of the above tended to occur where the “nice people” trained.

So why was this the case?

Charles had a great answer. He spoke to many of the clients at these “felon gyms” and basically learned that prison protocol was followed at these gyms.

It’s not that these felons were trying to be courteous and polite, they just understood if they weren’t then they have to back their behavior up with violence. Disrespecting someone in the gym by doing something rude or ignorant was dealt with swiftly and violently.

This dovetailed with all the prison gang research I did for my book. This idea can best be summed up by a quote from the Creator of Conan The Barbarian, Robert E Howard who wrote:

“Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing.”

This is the crux of what you understand when you truly know how the tool of violence works. You end up, by default, being more tolerant and more polite because the alternative isn’t worth it.

Charles, my savage friend, your knowledge, humor and kindness will be missed. I look forward to having a tankard of Mead with you in Valhalla while watching you regal the room with yet another politically incorrect joke that makes even a Viking blush.

1 comment

  • Ah, old school gyms. I spent countless hours in old school gyms where grunted, groaned, sweat, bled and threw up. You were always courteous and repacked your weights or the owner would tell you to leave and we would help out the door if you didn’t want to go, your choice bruises or no bruise you decide. Not like the clubs of today where the people who feel entitled go. Rick

    Rick Winkel

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