About Bill Hinbern…
In 1958 a young boy was confined to his bed for 6 months by orders of his doctor. He felt it was the best chance the boy had to regain his strength since his bout with rheumatic fever nearly killed him. Be that as it may, 6 months in bed is like a life sentence to a 10 year-old boy. But the young man did what he was told and dreamed of his “release.”
Soon summer had passed and fall meant Bill Hinbern would be back in school and able to play football alongside his friends. At least it looked that way, until his doctor strongly advised his parents against it. He believed that the virus had damaged Bill’s heart, and combined with the physical demands of football would only ensure that he suffered serious issues by the time he hit his forties.
I believe there are two main things that keep people from pursuing their dreams: Fear and disbelief. If you are afraid, you will self-confine and create a comfort zone that will keep you from moving forward. The same goes for disbelief. If deep down you view tough obstacles as impossible to surpass, how can you ever achieve your goals? Bill Hinbern does neither. Even as a young boy his focus was on doing whatever it took to take his life back. To cut to the chase, he may have missed football that year, however, the resilient 11 year-old made the team the next season.
One day a “Charles Atlas” training advertisement caught Bill’s attention. He immediately decided he wanted to give it a try, so he mowed lawns to get the money to send in for the 12-lesson course. He faithfully committed to the body-weight exercises and eating recommendations, and conditioned his physique to the point that it spurned further interest. It was 1960 and most people still believed in the muscle-bound myth. The standard story was that anyone who lifted weights would become muscle-bound and, therefore, no longer able to perform normal activities with the same efficiency or effectiveness. Consequently, in those days coaches didn’t want players to lift weights. Bill’s was no different, so like his teammates, he honored his wishes and kept his focus on the game. But, by his senior year that would all change.
Bill was walking through the magazine section of a department store in downtown Detroit when he saw a copy of “Muscle Builder” magazine featuring Dave Draper on the cover. He immediately picked it up and began flipping through the pages. He was fascinated by what he saw so he, “…plopped down a whopping 50 cents”, and took it home. He said, “I knew that this is what I wanted to do.”
Bill needed weights so he decided to make a barbell out of coffee cans, concrete, and a pipe. Soon, he made a set of dumbbells as well. However, he said, “The pinnacle…the real day my life changed concerning physical culture and weightlifting, was the day I saw an advertisement for ‘Hoffman’s High Protein’ in a ‘Strength and Health’ magazine.” That’s because when he went to the local health food store to purchase it, his eyes caught a glimpse of an issue of “Iron Man” magazine. He said, “I was spellbound with the magazine and couldn’t put it down.” The articles on weight training, bodybuilding, power-lifting, Olympic lifting, and contest coverage, certainly fascinated him, but it was the ads in the back that had him going straight to pen and paper. He requested every catalog he could get, and sent for the lists of the “Buy-Sell-Trade” men of the day. Soon he started ordering back issues of magazines, and as his library grew he purchased duplicate copies in better condition to improve his collection. It was no longer just a hobby. Bill had become a serious physical culturist and collector.
One day he realized that he had amassed a good many duplicate issues and decided that, he too, could join the “Buy-Sell-Trade” arena. So he grabbed the family typewriter and began creating his own list, placed a three-line ad in the magazine that left him spellbound, and waited for the requests to come in. It was 1968 when he received his FIRST order and with that, in spirit, “Super Strength Training” was born.
Today, Bill’s company, “Super Strength Training”, publishes high quality reproductions and reworks of original materials by some of the greatest barbell icons of all-time. Like Bill, I have amassed a nice collection of many of these original publications, and the thing that stands out to me is the fact that many of Bill’s reprints are of such quality that they surpass the originals! This shows me three things: 1) His attention to detail is outstanding, 2) His true desire to please the customer is of utmost importance, and, 3) His pursuit to keep the old-school methods of the Iron Game alive is the driving factor in doing what he does.
Bill is not only a true Iron Game historian, he is a great guy as well. He is always willing to share his knowledge, and is one of the most honest and kindest people you will ever meet. Over the years he has made many friends while selling countless books, courses, and magazines to individuals all over the world. Customers have included Iron Game fans and fellow collectors, blue-collar workers, executives, doctors, lawyers, novice athletes, great champions…you name it. However, there is no doubt that his most famous patron was none other than the incredible Bruce Lee!
A handful of years ago, Bill and I were catching up at the annual “Association of Oldetime Barbell and Strongmen (AOBS)” dinner, when a young man walked up and asked if he could get a picture with him. Bill was truly humbled. He said to me, “Why would he want a picture with me?”
I replied, “Because you’re Bill Hinbern…”
Oldetime Strongman University
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