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.
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.
THE MUSCULARLY DYSFUNCTIONAL SOCIETY
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
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
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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