Mr. Universe Dave Draper
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Dave Draper's Iron Online

Weight Training - Bodybuilding - Nutrition - Motivation


How many times have you said, no way do I want to be as big as Ronnie Coleman? I know what you mean. What are we going to do with all that extra, weird muscle? I just want to be half as big. This I can work into my schedule... it's a lot more realistic and not so freaky. Furthermore, I don't need to win a Mr. Olympia title, do you?

A couple came into the gym not so long ago looking like a pair of middle-aged porcupines in a field of wolves. I stood close enough to say, "How are you?" but not so close as to get a quill in my sweats. After I assured them that I wasn't there to sell them a membership, rob or mock them, they relaxed and pointed out that they weren't interested in building massive muscular bodies.

"We simply want to get in shape for the summer and our 20th High School Reunion in July." He eyed the menu hanging above the juice bar and ordered a Jucy Lucy with extra Mango extract. She fussed with her pantsuit that was beginning to gather around her thighs, "Where's the pool and hot tub?"

I stood my ground and contemplated the typical and sad catastrophe before me. No pool or hot tub to be found, I suggested that perhaps they consider a more aggressive approach to getting in shape by applying sensible weight training and sensible eating for the next month or the rest of their life. Her name was Millie and I think she actually hissed under her breath. Biff was content scanning the gym floor and slurping his hefty protein drink in disguise. He thought out loud that maybe the weights were the way to go. "We could hire a personal trainer for a few weeks and learn the ropes, dear." She frowned and took a gulp of his drink, then another and another. She drained the 28-ounce plastic cup and tossed it.

We have a selection of aerobic equipment neatly laid out on an L-shaped balcony with plenty of height, light, viewpoint, breeze and TVs. This pressed Millie's button (living treadmills, climbers and such... civilization) and I promised Biff an appointment with our trainer the following morning at 10 AM. They both were relieved when I offered them a free week, giving them a chance to try out the ole shoe to see if it fit.

"There's something you need to know." I called out as they headed for the door of escape. We made it. Well, almost. I walked over and looked them directly in their eyes. "What you are mildly undertaking this day is probably the most significant responsibility of your lives: your physical health and welfare. We grow up and grow older and watch from a safe distance. Today you've decided to participate. You're going to love this. Get a good night's sleep."

They showed up early — their day off —revealing a humility and reserve undetectable the day before. New sweats, gym bags, sneakers and water bottles — matching bookends ready for a marathon. I greeted them and we headed for the bikes without preamble. A ten-minute warm up before crunches and leg raises was the order of the day. I remained with them and told them about high intensity interval training and promised we'd be doing that in no time to accelerate their progress. In five minutes the sense of involvement was achieved and they began to feel loose, sweaty and comfortable.

It turns out he had recently been diagnosed with adult onset diabetes and she had been... er... sort of binge eating regularly. Married for a bunch of years, their small thriving business is in the convulsive industry of computer engineering. Stress had a strangle hold on them. They were overweight, under-muscled, weak and vulnerable. They were brilliant yet ignorant. I think they were lonely. They were riding the bikes, smiling and I was filling them with propaganda. The Goodwill Conspiracy.

Crunches and leg raises on floor mats were less of a delight but they endured like champs. We hit the gym floor and decided that the Hammer Chest Press for shoulders, chest and tris mixed with the seated lat pull for back and bis was enough for one day. Three sets of twelve reps, pushing and pulling alternately and they were pumped and pooped. Hey. It was their first workout in a tired and mishandled lifetime.

Here's to commitment, discipline, courage and fear. They come in four to six days a week around sunrise to get a giant step on the world stress-makers and spend some exhilarating time with new, like-minded friends. Millie eats the right foods in the right amounts (usually good nutrition accompanies good training) and Biff no longer takes medication. All the symptoms of diabetes are gone. They are really good people and didn't know it.

A true story. Only the names, places and circumstances have been changed to protect the innocent. Till next week, as the frolicking sun sets over our endless and hopeful horizons, this is the Bomber signing off... may your squats always go up and your bench press never go down.

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