A version of this article originally appeared in the Craftsmanship issue of Gear Patrol Magazine as part of the “In Good Hands” package. Subscribe today
Fitness technology is a booming business — it seems every day there’s a new activity tracker, sleep monitor or bioscanning kit hitting the market. But there hasn’t been much innovation when it comes to good old heavy metal. Dumbbells and kettlebells look much the same now as they have for decades, and for good reason: such essential fitness tools are best when kept simple.
But simple doesn’t have to mean basic. Since 2016, Mark Ruddy of Acme Sledgeworks has been handcrafting unique weights by molding recycled rebar into forms we don’t typically think of when picturing modern exercise equipment, like maces and sledgehammers. Today, Ruddy’s beautifully functional creations would be as at home at a CrossFit gym as on an old Game of Thrones episode.
Ruddy makes each of the weights himself in a 2,000-square-foot hangar at a private airport in the San Francisco Bay area. It takes four to five days of welding, sawing, molding and pouring to make a single piece.
Weights aren’t Ruddy’s primary gig. For more than 20 years, he’s designed furniture, stairs and other decorative elements for bars and restaurants under his Vendetta Deluxe brand; finely crafted and obscurely shaped weights are just a side hustle. But Ruddy says he’s constantly surprised by the excitement around recycled rebar.
Acme Sledgeworks continues to add new designs, like bronze pours of its mini-sledges and Acme knuckles, to its growing catalog of fitness accessories. To weaponize your own fitness routine, give Ruddy’s personal favorites like sledges and mini-maces a swing — and don’t worry about being gentle with them, because they’re built to outlast you.
“I have my first hammer ever made,” Ruddy says. “I’ve had it for almost twelve years. It will probably break the person before the person breaks it.”
If you’re looking for one functional tool that’ll work with every move you do, pick up a kettlebell today. Read the Story