So many ask me the meaning and the reason for having Skiba’s Gym. The original gym was started over forty years ago in the backyard gym, where many hardcore lifters started. But where did the original seed come from? I remember, as if it were yesterday, walking into the Menlo Park Mall to the Edison Health House. It was the first health food store I ever visited, and the myriad of different food products amused me. One thing didn’t though — a magazine proudly displayed atop the others called Health and Strength. It highlighted a massive, powerful lifter psyching before a monumental lift. The weight seemed to be ponderous. Somehow seeing the man in front of this weight, I knew was up for the task. From that point on, I wanted to be a lifter, whether bodybuilder, powerlifter, or Olympic lifter.
I enjoyed the pursuit of strength and consumed any material on the subject of becoming strong. My father, who looked the part of a professional powerlifter, loved to see his son have interest in sports, as he was himself a legend in local football. He told my godfather of my interest, and my Uncle Pat immediately bought me a Sears’s vinyl plastic weight set, including the fake metal bar cement-filled weights. I was in heaven. I quickly outgrew that set, and my father (who was policeman) introduced me to his fellow officers who were guerillas!! I was mystified by their size and strength. I hung on their every word and secretly swore I would beat their records.
I still remember being a youth at St. Elias Greek Byzantine Church and hoping I could have shoulders as wide as the men had. Hell I was from a Russian/Polish/Ukrainian Church where the men looked like they were carved from blocks of granite. I wanted to be just like them, so my journey begins to be the man I am today.
During my high school years, I was always known for strength and extreme conditioning. For my early years of football prep, I ran as far as 12 miles in weekly sessions to build wind. I also was a track person early on and competed doing 100-yard sprints for the team. I won my first race, but gaining size for football caused me to push the weights more and more. I remember early on learning to deadlift and wished I would have continued to put effort into it as at 145 pounds I deadlifted 475 on a York non-revolving set.
During this same time, I began trying for six-pack abs, but they never really got that defined as we ate horribly back then. One accomplishment that sticks in my mind was sit-ups. I spent every night doing them until I reached the ridiculous number of 3600 sit-ups in a marathon one night. My abs never got any more defined, but my deadlift soared. By my junior year, I benched 372.5. During senior year, I lived football and became recognized All-County and several other all area type recognitions.