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The Shadow Knows!

It has been my focus, and that of my adorable assistant, to gain an impression of the health and fitness demographic of the towns and cities I’ll be visiting in my forthcoming trip. Did you know that in and around the Kansas City area there are a total of over 100 gyms, health food stores and personal training facilities? There are enough way-stations, resources and attendants scattered about to get the whole community ripped and ready to go. One would think Kansas City was the Mecca of wellness and strength, the mountaintop (MO ain’t got no mountains) of vigor and a land of streamlined and athletic citizens. I wonder. In St. Louis there are twice as many and Chicago has too many to count.

I must be wrong in my observations of an unconditioned world, looking out of cynical eyes from a lat-flexed posture. My assessments need to be reviewed and dim conclusions revisited. The services available in the heartland for physical fitness maintenance and renewal appear to be plentiful. This is especially evident when one considers that, if necessary, you and I would make do with a chin-up bar and a 110-lb. set, tuna and water. (I tend to exaggerate slightly.)

Perhaps physical culture in the central states is booming and a renaissance of stout health and fitness is underway... perhaps the local enthusiasts buy only the organic carrots and sprouts and the cheapo brand of vitamins from their health food emporium, roll the little chrome weights around the gym floor like marbles and daydream as their coaches count the reps and assist them in the lifting. Who knows?

The Shadow knows.

I’ll keep my eyes open from Kansas City to Green Bay and let ya know the skinny -- or the fat -- upon my return.


Over the past decade we’ve seen and heard on our favorite boob-tube the obligatory blips and blurbs about mankind’s health, exercise and diet. Early on in scant, 15-second news trailers -- once a week or month -- it was mentioned that the three are related. As the ‘90s matured, we began to receive extended reports -- occasionally 30 seconds -- suggesting that heart disease and diabetes were on the rise, this dramatically communicated to us with people working out in a gym as the backdrop. Around this time the boom came down on tobacco.

As the centuries exchanged hands, man and his obesity graduated from 60-second spots -- big bottoms and over-the-belt waists with no faces moving en’ masse across rural roads and city streets -- to 60-minute specials on the networks and covers of Time and Newsweek magazines: Fat, our latest celebrity.

The sudden, startling truth was exposed: We’re fat, we’re under-muscled; we don’t exercise and we eat too much and we eat the wrong stuff. We’re sick and weak, though it was not presented quite so clearly. Last week someone made the news because he was suing one of the fast-food kingdoms for providing him with fattening burgers and fries.

It’ll be interesting to see how the tragedy unfolds. Might the citizens -- sad victims -- say, "someone else is to blame, of course, not me"? Will we neatly wrap fatness into agreeable or saleable or desirable or necessary packages? Fat’s cool, especially in designer clothes, and demonstrates our diversity of spirit and expression. Will blustering groups rally, deny the disadvantages, disabilities and diseases of obesity, and call for justice and choice and social alterations to accommodate largeness? Who are the most influential lobbyists, they who seek health and wellness in our schools and for our children, or the sugar pop and fast-food industries that have the bucks to make more bucks, though it brings us down hard? Strong nations depend on their able-bodied, clear-thinking populous, not troops of sugarcoated, slow-eyed, stuffed and complacent on-lookers in the bleachers.

I’m no more an activist than you are. I’m not about to take up the banner of muscle and might and crowd the town square, passing out leaflets that proclaim the unconditioned masses treasonous scum. But elect me for president and there’ll be tuna and water on every dinner table and a dumbbell in every closet.

Mark my words... and remember, citizens, 4 D 4 thee...

Dandy Dave Digs Deep


Tell you the truth, I haven’t gone to the gym yet and it’s getting late. I need some motivation, another meal, creatine and further hydration, a shot of inspiration, gas for the truck, a nap, a shower, deep purpose, more time; what shirt should I wear -- T, tank or sweat shirt, what color and what logo -- where’s my gym bag and sweats, did I say it’s getting really late? Some aminos and vitamins might help… and a quick shake of the old B Blend, that’s for sure, and some positive thinking -- visualizing. Perhaps I can visualize my whole workout really hard -- intensely -- and go to the gym tomorrow. No, I don’t think so.

Okay. I’m going already. Next week I’ll be on the road and the workout scenery is looking bleak. I need every WO I can get my hands on before hitting the lone prairie. Time for a solid routine that’s ordinary in appearance, but non-stop and riveted in application. Unordinary silence and solitude amidst the loud crowd arouses every muscle fiber in the body, makes it stand up on end and shout for joy. I’ll fatigue myself, but I won’t lock my body in the dungeon and flog it. Not tonight. There’s tomorrow and the weekend for that stuff.

What I train tonight will not be a total surprise. It will have something to do with arms mostly and whatever else gets in the way. Should I pick the right combination of exercises from the start I might cause an avalanche on the gym floor or one of those crazy runaway timber fires. Can’t be held responsible, either. The worse thing that can happen is I’ll crawl home on all fours, either growling, howling or whimpering... not bad for a late-night, out-of-sorts bombing session. Here goes...

Okay, I’m back already. Standing upright, I walked through the front door so as not to alarm Laree. "I’m home, dear," I said with a goofy grin and collapsed on our shabby futon from Costco. Laree got out the ammonium carbonate and applied the usual CPR.

This is what I did:

The gym was mellow, 15-plus devoted trainees of varying levels making their way about the equipment as the sun was setting. I would be here another two hours redistributing the weights and rearranging the benches to suit my oddball combinations. Before boarding the express of pump, burn, strain and pain, I wandered over to a friendly gathering of four females and one male with well-formed legs and exceptionally developed calves. Three of the gals were moms who looked like track stars and the guy their coach; they were simply longtime members and shared our great common love, the iron.

"What a group," I said and asked from what discount store they all got their calves and, "Are they still running a special?" I’m a regular riot. We stood around as the beautiful calf muscles basked in our conversation. It seems they were all born with grand calves and dear mom and dad, who never played sports or lifted a weight, handed them down, a gift.

Charged by their vigorous and muscled presence, I passed out compliments like Hershey's Kisses and it was humbly agreed that training consistency was the main ingredient to their uncommon good health and looks.

Learn something new every day.

All aboard. I warmed up with four supersets of rope tucks and weighted hyperextensions, 30 and 12 reps, respectively. Done right, this combination gets everything from the groin muscles through the arms and grip and from the hamstrings and glutes to the mid-back. You be breathing heavy too... aerobics at work.

Thick-bar wrist curls followed by close-grip lying Smith press in superset fashion put the arms in motion. 5x10-20 reps and 10-12 reps, respectively.

Heavy bent-bar curls supersetted with 15-degree decline straight-bar triceps extensions, the old standard that shines like brass, put alternating smiles and grimaces on my face. Do I hear the rumble of a distant avalanche, or is that a number-4 earthquake? 5x 6-8 reps and 12-15 reps.

20-degree -- maybe 19.5 -- incline dumbbell curls souped with dips stretches and strains the whole upper body, the bis and tris leading the way. 5x 6-8 reps and 12-15 reps.

Moving without stopping, talking or disembarking makes this routine most productive. The attention and intention promote closer understanding of the movements and their muscle-building action; the insistent and consistent pace promotes greater overload, which promotes a superior environment for steady muscle building. With express training there is less chance of delays, getting off at the wrong stop or running out of steam between stations.

All aboard, Bombers, train leaves on time.


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