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Dark Iron Fitness Presents: “Customer Spotlight” with Jon Nikcevich

Jul 07, 2018

Dark Iron Fitness Customer Spotlight with Jon Nikcevich - Dark Iron Fitness logo

Welcome to our new series, Customer Spotlight, where we will be doing Q&A articles with customers just like you!

Here at Dark Iron Fitness, we know the importance of fitness, physicality, exercise, weightlifting, activity, and everything that deals with enriching your life through movement.

For our first customer spotlight article, we are talking with someone who isn’t primarily focused on weightlifting nor bodybuilding.

Sounds weird, right? Especially coming from a fitness company.

Well, not really…

Everyone out there has a story that details their level of physical fitness, whether it be through weightlifting, sports or casual walking.

Somehow, our featured guest today stumbled upon Dark Iron Fitness and made the choice to become a customer of ours.

Join me as we figure out why this person ended up trusting us with his patronage and decided to rely on one of our products to help facilitate his goals!


Dark Iron Fitness: First of all, please tell the readers out there who you are.

Jon Nikcevich - Dark Iron Fitness Barbell Pad
Jon with his Dark Iron Fitness Barbell Neck Pads that he uses for both barbell and resistance band training

Name: Jon Nikcevich

Location: Laguna Woods

Age: 65

DIF: At what point did you realize that fitness and staying active were important to you — or were these values you’ve always held and followed?

JN: The swishing sound of the net, the crack of the bat, and catching a football was what I loved as a kid.

Later, hooping for school teams and playing basketball in Finland, my focus was staying in shape and being ready for games.

I fully appreciated fitness and staying active after I stopped playing basketball in 1988.

Daily exercise over decades reinforces a healthy habit and considering the alternative makes staying fit an easy decision.

I continue looking forward to that daily release of endorphins.

DIF: What are your preferred forms of exercise and why do you think those are the most beneficial workouts for you?

Customer Spotlight with Jon Nikcevich Fitness - YogaJN: Primarily weightlifting and yoga.

I lift weights twice a week, with a session lasting 50 minutes and I spend a couple hours per week doing basic yoga poses.

Resistance training is important at any age and essential as we get older.

Losing 3 to 5% of muscle mass every 10 years is reason enough to maintain strength.

Other benefits include boosting metabolism and reducing the risk of injury.

I alternate for 15 minutes between upper and lower body movements and finish with 10 minutes of core work.

Upper body includes pushups, pullups, rows, pullovers, and medicine ball slams.

For lower body: deadlifts, squats, lunges, glute thrust, and hamstring curls.

Planks and ab wheel for my core exercises.

Yoga improves flexibility and focus, and induces a sense of calm — I won’t become a yogi or even be able to pronounce or spell the poses — but I like starting the day getting into those basic yoga poses.

BELOW:  Jon Nikcevich shows off some of his basketball skills and fitness techniques

DIFAs we’ve seen from your videos, you have a strong grasp of ball-handling skills and free-throws.

Outside of basketball, how do you think these two movements enrich your overall life?

JN: I dribble a basketball for creative fun and for a mild workout.

Customer Spotlight with Jon Nikcevich Fitness - BasketballI shoot free throws for increased focus and proficiency.

Ball handling has similarities to drumming in inducing a meditative trance-like state or flow.

I get a good rhythm going and 15 minutes feels like five.

Free-throw success requires repetition, focus, and good form.

I have four rounds of 100+ consecutive made with my right hand, and twice have done that with my left hand — and continue trying to improve.

It is more frustrating to miss than it is satisfying to make, and humbling to know the world record for consecutive free throws made is 5,221.

Ted St. Martin, a farmer did that, and please let that sink in.

Tom Amberry, a podiatrist, at 71 made 2,750 and hadn’t missed when the gym closed.

Was another gym open in the vicinity?

My grandmother was a consistent 60% free-throw shooter well into her 80s.

She shot 100 free throws every other day while charting her results.

I don’t recall if she challenged me but I would make sure to get in a few extra practice sessions if she had.


DIF: As you know, Dark Iron Fitness primarily creates weightlifting accessories, so how did you come to purchase products from us and what led you to do so?

Customer Spotlight with Jon Nikcevich Fitness - Dark Iron Fitness Barbell Neck PadJN: I read wonderful reviews for the Dark Iron Fitness barbell pad on Amazon and decided to buy one and liked it so much that I bought a second a day later.

I plan on getting stronger and the pad is great for squats, deadlifts, and glute thrusts.

My wife likes to use the pad with a resistance band.

She does deadlifts, good mornings, forward raise, and curls.

The snug and soft fit barbell pad really enhances our workouts.

DIF: Do you think weightlifting can play a role in the longevity of physical ability for those who are over the age of 50?

We’ve had several potential customers write in who are older in age and are concerned that weightlifting is simply too dangerous at their age.

What are your thoughts on age and fitness and balancing rigorous exercise with physical safety?

JN: The benefits of weightlifting for those over 50 is well documented.

Customer Spotlight with Jon Nikcevich Fitness - Lifting WeightsA carefully planned weightlifting program with an emphasis on proper form increases bone density, functional strength, and slows the aging process.

Research indicates lifting weights reduces back pain, improves balance and flexibility.

There is a decrease in bone density beginning at 35 and lifting weights slows that decline.

Lifting weights is good at any age and essential as we get older.

DIF: What would you say are the three most important things you’ve learned when it comes to fitness and what are three things you wish you’d known earlier or wish you’d avoided when it comes to fitness?

JN: I have learned that simply lacing up my sneakers prompts me to start moving and then afterward I am glad for the completed work out.

I have also learned it is best not to compete with others.

I can only control my efforts, so I simply do my best.

Third,  the experiences with basketball teammates and workout friends have been invaluable.

I still talk to a friend about an elementary game we played back in 1963.

We are not sure who won.

Another longtime friend helped inspire me to get past the long distance pain threshold to become a good runner.

I wish I had known how very important it is to focus on proper form.

Running, weightlifting, basketball or any other activity is improved with the correct technique.

Looking back I would replace some running with a cardio/strength workout which would include KB swings, DB step ups, med ball slams, and lunges.

I sacrificed some on-court quickness by getting my mile time down to 440 and my knees would be better off with better low/high impact balance.

I would definitely practice yoga and mobility type exercises.

Improved flexibility increases range of motion and decreases the risk of injury and could have only helped me play better.

Zen moves to the hoop.

DIF: Do you have any specific role models in the sports world, and if so, what characteristics do you admire about them and believe are worth striving for?

JN: Tim Duncan, Nate Archibald, and John Wooden are three of many to choose from.

Customer Spotlight with Jon Nikcevich Fitness - Tim DuncanDuncan is a five-time NBA champion and three-time finals MVP.

His quiet determination to succeed and selfless play inspired his teammates and was a big reason for the San Antonio Spurs success.

Nicknamed the big fundamental, he might not be the first superstar you pay to see, but as a role model, you won’t do better.

Archibald is the only NBA player to lead the league in both scoring and assists.

He was exciting and low-key and like many players of that era let his game do the talking.

Off the court, he has gone back to his New York neighborhood to help run community programs and homeless shelters.

He is my favorite all-time NBA player.

He would create an opening and then shift into high gear going to the hoop.

I modeled my game after Nate, but with only a single, low gear.

It’s difficult to fathom that John Wooden’s UCLA basketball teams won 10 championships over 12 years.

He saw himself as a teacher focused on player growth and teamwork.

Those traits carried over after the players left UCLA.

Wooden’s teams combined exciting fast break play with sound fundamentals.

Four perfect 30-0 seasons, an 88-game winning streak, 98 straight home wins, 38 consecutive NCAA tournament wins. Some teaching.

DIF: What are your current goals in fitness and who/what helps motivate you towards reaching them?

JN: In general it is to get stronger, more flexible, and improve my balance.

Specifically, I would like to be able to dunk a volleyball before my 66th birthday.

I like setting unrealistic goals and being satisfied with getting close.

Close would be a ping-pong ball.

My motivation primarily comes with the challenge of meeting the goal.

Caution has to take precedence with dunking, so the box jump set up cannot be higher than 24 inches.


DIF: What are three books you believe everyone should read and three exercises you think everyone should do (or at least try)?

Customer Spotlight with Jon Nikcevich Fitness - Starting StrengthJN: Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength.

Rippetoe is considered the weightlifting expert.

His book has helpful illustrations with details on proper form.

Also, ideas to help program your work out. Highly recommended!


Customer Spotlight with Jon Nikcevich Fitness - Never Let GoDan John’s Never Let Go.

John is a great storyteller and his book is a joy to read.

If you are interested in fitness, nutrition, and living a more balanced life, this is a great read.


Customer Spotlight with Jon Nikcevich Fitness - Women's HealthAdam Campbell’s The Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises.

I bought this for my wife and she keeps borrowing it from me.

Illustrations with exercises based on muscle groups.

User-friendly from the beginner to the expert and with the latest research.

The book is easy to use and effective; for men, too!


Three exercises. ONLY?! Planks, deadlifts, squats.

Then there is rowing, walking hills, pushups, pullups… oh, only three.

DIF: If you were in the NBA, what team would you play for and what would you want to be remembered for after retirement?

Good handling skills? Perfect free-throws? An unbeatable spirit on the court?

JN: I want to join the newest NBA expansion team, the Hawaii Hippies.

Customer Spotlight with Jon Nikcevich Fitness - Free ThrowsOur starting five consists of MJ out of retirement, Kawhi, Giannis, AD, and LeBron. Solid five.

We take deep stacked warriors to seven and the inevitable Draymond sets up my game series winning FT, unless there is a delay of game violation.

We might not make playoffs, though, and not because MJ has slowed or too much Waikikii sun, but the bench is weak…

Seriously, I would like to play for a low free-throw percentage team.

I’m convinced by combining conventional teaching, with what’s worked for me, their percentage improves dramatically.

I have made +100 consecutive FT’s with both right and left hand and in those critical close game situations, my help means more wins.

Unbeatable spirit on the court — absolutely! — Play smart, hard, and together.

And be gracious in defeat!

But, I really, truly want to play with Kyrie Irving.

He is the greatest ball-handler of all time, possibly; excluding Meadowlark of Globetrotter fame.

Even if Kyrie keeps the ball in games, we duel it out at practice.

But no speed dribbling or two balls, please.

DIF: Bonus Question: In one sentence, can you give some advice for the beginners out there, young and old, who are apprehensive about starting a workout routine?

JN: Have fun and progress at your own pace.

Dark Iron Fitness Customer Spotlight with Jon Nikcevich

If you would like to be featured in our next Customer Spotlight Q&A, and you currently use one or more of our weightlifting accessories, please feel free to contact Alex directly with the reasons why your weightlifting story deserves to be told!