MARSHALL- Straight across from the left side of Bisbee Plumbling in Marshall sits a green building that doesn’t have much signage on it except for the “For Rent” sign on the side facing the street.
In the middle of this building sits a silver door that is cracked open into Jackal’s Gym.
A walk inside doesn’t reveal much.
It’s broken off into two small rooms with chalk-covered equipment, making the already old, Craigslist-gathered machines appear generations older.
Its patrons even describe it as a storage shed- a storage shed that produces some of the best powerlifters in the world with locations scattered all over the country.
Three days a week, one will also likely find Luke Klein, a Marshall High School graduate, who is making his name known- like so many others who have stuck to Brad Gillingham’s training regiment- on the world powerlifting stage.
Klein recently returned from the Raw Classics World Championships in Potchetstroom, South Africa, where he brought back silver medals in the squat and deadlift competitions as well as a bronze in the benchpress.
He competed during the first week of June.
This was Klein’s second international competiton and, he was pleased with his overall performance.
“It was fun,” Klein said. “We stayed at a really nice hotel; it was built for when they had the World Cup and it has been used as an athletes place to stay.
“People were very friendly,” he added, “They speak about 11 languages so it was very easy to communicate.”
The experience in both competition and the overall experience trumped his first international trip in 2013 to Russia.
“You could just tell he was a lot less nervous for the South Africa trip,” said Wade Gillingham, Klein’s lifting partner and brother of Brad Gillingham. “He had grown so much more and was a lot more confident, you could see the maturation.”
In Russia, Klein felt the elements were working against him even more than in South Africa.
There were times where he felt like a complete outsider despite being there for the same reason as everyone else.
“That trip wasn’t as easy,” Klein said. “You felt hated a little bit. You were disrespected. There were times where you could be charged more for a bottle of water than someone from the Eastern Bloc. We made it through that one.”
The main difference, outside of the skill level and intensity in competing internationally as opposed to in the United States, comes down to judging.
“They get a lot more strict when competing internationally,” Kline said. “You have to listen to the commands, when you’re at an international level. Now, if a guy is going to break a world record, maybe there is some leniancy. Other than that, there is no room for error.”
Klein has been putting time in Jackal’s gym ever since had had his own car and was old enough to drive.
He started competing officially in 2011.
One could ask any other lifter in there- Luke, like all the other Jackal’s gym patrons- is on a mission the moment he walks in the door.
Worth ethic is one of the many reasons Klein has been able to compete well in international competitions.
“He’s really focused,” Gillingham said. “He comes in and works really hard. He seldom misses a workout and he seldom has a bad workout.”
Klein weighs in at 335 pounds and has benchpressed up to 435 in competitions.
His maximum weight in Jackal’s came to 455 pounds for at least one rep.
At the world competitions, you are doing heavylifting for long periods of time, with little rest inbetween.
Considering Klein puts in an average of nine hours per week of heavy lifting the week leading up to the competition, having little rest in between events has a tolling effect.
“In a meet, it’s your max squat, your max bench and max deadlift all within a few hours,” Klein said. “It’s draining. I’ll do the same thing after every meet. I’ll find a chair and sit there and zone out until we have to go out for awards. The next day, you’re cramping up and moving pretty slow.”
Being a 22-year-old college student (Klein is majoring in justice administration at Southwest Minnesota State and is doing an internship with the Minnesota Department of Corrections) means having plenty of discipline outside the weight room as well.
“It’s really hard to explain why I can’t go out until 3 a.m. like my roommates can and have cheeseburgers at 2 a.m.,” Klein said. “I have to make sure I get seven hours of sleep and eat clean and take vitamins.
“As adults, it’s easier to understand why I can’t do those things, but to explain it to my friends was probably the hardest part.”
Being in the superheavyweight class, Klein doesn’t have to watch his diet as much as some other lifters in lighter weight classes.
He is able to enjoy plenty of steaks and also has a high intake of turkey, potoatoes, rice and noodles.
Another factor to consider is the funds of competing.
Klein is a part of the Team U.S.A. Raw World Team, but he has to pay for all his trips on his own dime and pay for his uniform.
This is why a lot of powerlifters rely on donations from area businesses.
In advance of an upcoming compeitition, Klein will send letters to area businesses in hopes of having help to fund his trips.
When he gets back, he returns the favor by taking out an ad in the newspaper thanking them for their sposorship and listing the names of the businesses.
While Klein can’t name his favorite part about the sport, the comraderie is what has kept him in it.
“The gym I’m at is full of competitors,” Klein said. “Brad Gillingham is pretty much everyone’s coach in there. He’s a multi-time national and world champion.
“All the guys at the gym, were all friends. Aside from training really hard, we’re hanging out. We’re not down at the bar drinking beers like a lot of guys would be. I wouldn’t trade the gym itself for a whole lot.”
Klein is set to compete in the Raw Classics National Championships in Colorado this July.