Many people, especially those interested in fitness and weightlifting, have heard the name “Barbell.” The name appears on many of the industry’s leading exercise equipment and has been synonymous with fitness since the 1930s. But did you know that this American-made industry has its roots in York, PA? It’s true! Taking a trip to the York Barbell Museum and USA Hall of Fame is just a drive away, and makes for a fascinating day trip outing, especially for weightlifters and fitness buffs.
The history behind the York Barbell Company can be traced back to the mid-1930s when Bob Hoffman, a World War I hero and then owner of an oil burning business in York, PA purchased the company from the bankrupt Milo Barbell Company. Named the “Father of World Weightlifting” by the International Weightlifting Federation, Bob Hoffman strongly promoted the benefits of fitness and exercise, even going on to write several articles and books on the subject. The York Barbell Company developed and distributed the first lines of exercise equipment in the industry as well as introducing a line of nutritional supplements in the 1950s. The first energy bar was developed by the company in 1966. The famed York Barbell Club was formed and dominated the Olympic scene with 40 national championships and numerous Olympic Gold Medalists.
From the lasting legacy of training equipment to the establishment of the famed York Barbell Club, the history behind the business is rich and still very much alive. The corporate office location in York eventually opened up a museum in 1958, and this museum, also known as the “hall of fame” is what people come to see.
It’s easy to spot the York Barbell Hall of Fame on a drive by. Aside from spanning 7,500 square feet, the large revolving statue of a weightlifter atop the roof holding a barbell makes for a very noticeable sight overlooking Interstate 83. According to some sources, the statue’s body was modeled after Olympic weightlifter Norbert Schemansky. Just outside the Hall of Fame Museum guests will be greeted by another statue. This statue is modeled after Bob Hoffman and is made of bronze and stands 7.5 feet tall.
You can take a guided or self-guided tour throughout the museum, which depicts the overall history and evolution of strength sports. Exhibits illustrate the earliest depiction of this form of sport dating all the way back to antiquity and the Olympic Games of Ancient Greece. You can also see later historical developments through history such as early 19th and 20th century amateur and professional strongmen competitions, and the various equipment and practices set into place throughout the entire establishment of fitness history.
York Barbell Museum and USA Hall of Fame also features a wonderful gift shop onsite. Admission is free. So in addition to its convenient location in York, making for less gas money to spend, the entire venture is free as well. The Museum is open year-round, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Museum is closed on Sundays and on most major holidays. York Barbell Museum and USA Hall of Fame is located at 3300 Board Road, York, PA 17406. For more information, visit the website here.