Barbells & Bios: Iron Boots

Barbells & Bios: Iron Boots

Iron Boots are an item long since forgotten by the fitness industry. Difficult to put on, dangerously loose at times and quite awkward to use, it is unlikely that the boots were built to last the tests of time. Tucked away in the back end of the Stark Center’s archives are several pairs of Iron Boots made by manufacturers like York Barbell, the Weider Company and several others. For those unfamiliar with this item, Iron Boots were exactly that – heavy boots whose attachments allowed you to add plates to either side.

Admittedly, it’s an unlikely favorite in a collection featuring real life paintings of bodybuilders, Professor Attila’s kettlebells and innumerable other treasures. For me, however, Iron Boots signify everything weird and wonderful about mid-century bodybuilding in the United States. For those without access to leg extensions, leg curls or a host of other machines, Iron Boots allowed individuals to train their legs, back and core in ways previously unimaginable. They were a stepping stone toward the modern fitness world where machines, and trainees, are plentiful. More than this however, I’ll always hold a special place in my heart for Iron Boots owing to the time when, first discovering the Boots, I nearly dropped a 25 lbs. plate on my head during a set of leg raises! 

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