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Omaha Magazine


Apr 06, 2014 08:42AM ● By David Williams
The rapid-fire click of scissor snips and the droning hum of electric razors form the soundtrack at most any barber shop. The percussion section of the orchestra over at Goodwin’s Spencer Street Barber Shop adds yet a third instrument to the mix, thus rendering a symphony of “snip-buzz-clank-snip-buzz-clank.”

Owner Dan Goodwin’s bench press and its metal-on-metal clinks and clanks may seem out of place amid the barbering tools marinating in jars of blue disinfectant, but it is just one way that the champion weightlifter keeps up his iron-pumping regimen.

Oh, did we mention that Goodwin is 82 years old?

Taking up the sport at the tender age of 68, Goodwin has since gone on to capture 13 national titles to go along with three world records. He has competed on four continents and is the bench press, squat, and total points world record holder in the 80-and-older age group called Master’s 4.

Goodwin works to encourage good fitness habits among people of all ages. He’s been cutting hair in the same space for more than half a century, meaning that he now has four generations of clients as a captive audience to hear his message of wellness.

“I gave this young man his first haircut,” Goodwin says with a nod to the occupant of chair No. 3. The boy is Damon, a 5th grader at nearby Sacred Heart School. “And I’ll keep on him as he grows to make sure he knows to get plenty of exercise to live a long and healthy life.”

The three-chair barber shop is also steeped in the city’s history of civil rights. It was prominently featured in the 1966 film, A Time for Burning. Nominated for an Academy Award as best documentary, the film chronicled attempts by the pastor of Augustana Lutheran Church to integrate his then all-white congregation. Both Goodwin and one of his employees, a young barber named Ernie, were prominently featured in the documentary. Ernie, of course, is now State Sen. Ernie Chambers, the implacable civil rights advocate and longest-serving member in Nebraska Unicameral history.

“I like being healthy,” Goodwin says. “I like to exercise. It makes me feel young. I don’t think about my age very much and am usually reminded about it most when people say they can’t believe it when they learn how ancient I am.”

Judging by the chiseled figure in the photograph above, it’s an experience Goodwin must encounter about a bazillion times each and every day.


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