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Weight Training - Bodybuilding - Nutrition - Motivation

The Closet
February 26, 2003

Before I train in the early afternoon, it is my sacred duty to tidy up the gym floor. 10 hours of previous grunting and groaning have shifted the plates and bars around, left sticky finger prints and sweat on the mirrors and deposited ample amounts of lint and litter on the black rubber mats. No one notices the disgrace except me and it’s a gnawing distraction as I forge my training focus. I move quickly with mop, sweeper, Windex, rag and crumpled newspaper. No disorder, no thing unclean goes unattended; the mirrors shine and the equipment is smudge-free. I need my aerobics and I’ll be darned if I’ll sit on a stationary bike for 30 minutes suffocating with boredom. Out of my way, I see a footprint.

Gym patrol is energetic and I feel a sense of involvement, order and accomplishment that carries over and into the workout. I’m warmed up, wound up, balanced and ready to go. The training gear I depend on to deliver me through the next 90 to 120 minutes is collected and strategically positioned. It too is ready to go (water, straps for this ‘n that, leather lifting belt, foam grips, compass, oxygen, first-aid kit, walkie-talkie). I lied about the last four. Wash my face, change my shirt, toss down some aminos and creatine and settle into the action. Gonna fetch me some muscles.

We need a little ritual in our routine to set the stage and put things into motion. Preparation for our workout can be brief, rather mindless, yet precise and defining: arrange gym bag and favorite training rags the night before, timely pre-workout feeding and a deliberate pause, no matter how brief, to notice yourself and your good intentions. Every afternoon at 3:00 you’ll find the same two guys leaning on the front counter scanning the headlines of the local newspapers and checking the ball scores. They claim the practice punctuates their day, ending the work and beginning the play. Another guy dressed in his training gear pads by in stocking feet to the front door and vigorously claps his footwear free of dirt and grit. “It rids my sneakers and me of the outside world,” he says, with a dopey grin, “Now I’m clean and prepared for renewal. Take me to your leader.” Easy, smooth and unobtrusive habits provide investment in your workouts, secure them in place and add to their permanence.

You know what else holds them in place, the hammer and nails of courage, the nuts and bolts of determination and the crazy glue of desire?

Thanks. Just what I needed: A little advice from the self-help philosopher for Home Depot. Take notes, Mr. Fix-it. Life’s a mess. I‘ve had the same cold for three weeks, some clown backed into my candy apple red pickup truck, my taxes are overdue and the tendonitis in my right hand and wrist has never been worse. Our borders are porous, the enemy lurks, nobody understands us and gas is $2.49 a gallon. Take your precious courage, determination and desire and pound it into a pulp with your hammer; throw in your greasy nuts and bolts and blend well with generous amounts of your crazy glue and swig it down. Now go to your swell gym and work out.

Let me guess. Adversity is at your doorstep. Interesting subjects, training and adversity. Who can face the cold iron and forced reps and sting of lactic acid when your bones ache, your head is spinning and you can’t stand up. Though I’m considered a hardcore musclebuilder -- after all, they call me The Bomber -- and I’m not a jocular, permissive training partner, alas, there are those days when the best thing you can do for yourself and the rest of the world is to crawl under a rock, or go to bed. Get out of sight and lick your wounds. Just don’t make a habit out of it.

The relationship between training and adversity is personal, often philosophical and can be complex. It can be black and white and simple as jacks.

What adversity is to one might be a challenge to another. What is adverse on one day might be incidental on another. Hard times are daily times and the workouts must be achieved in spite of them and to overcome them and to prepare us for them, tomorrow, the next day and the next. Difficulties fill the air like toxins and we must be resistant and ever ready, strong and supple and well-trained. Vigorous exercise deposes adversity and its awful attendants, stress, anger, fear, depression, sadness and more. I read somewhere that unless you’re bleeding from a major artery, unconscious or hooked up to life-support, have a good workout. It’s not the workout, it’s the getting there that’s tough. Go to the gym.

Got a minute? My concern is this: You miss one workout, you’ll miss another. You know how it goes. You eat one chocolate, you’ll eat another. Before you know it the whole box is gone and you’re looking for a reason to go downtown so while you’re there you can buy another box of chocolate. And this is the person who didn’t want to leave the house in the first place to go work out. It doesn’t take long before you’re getting fat and amped and a little bored and lazy and watching TV. You’re latest proposition is this: You’ll call in for the pizza if somebody else pays for it. No takers. You’ll go get it if somebody pays for it. No takers. You’ll steal it if somebody drives the getaway car. Nobody.

You consider taking a shower to kill time, change your pajamas and weigh yourself, seeing that you’re up, out of bed and all the way into the bathroom. The stupid scale has not yet been fixed -- no surprise there -- as it registers another incredible gain since last week -- or was it yesterday -- and your first box of candy. Cheap springs in these Chinese knockoffs, though they do make some good imitation chocolate-covered cherries. On the way back to the recliner during one of your excursions you trip over your gym bag and sitting there in a painful heap you slowly recognize the thing and its primitive contents: sneakers, straps, gloves, lifting belt. Did you wear these bizarre items, and whatever for? They look nasty. The doorbell rings at the end of the hall (maybe it’s the pizza man) and you can’t get up to answer it. It seems you’re wedged into the corner of the hall closet where your gym bag full of dark gadgets was hidden from sight. You reach overhead and pull, you reach behind and push, you wiggle and squirm and slide and flop, but it seems your girth, roundness, largeness, over-sized-ness can’t be overcome… and you’re out of breathe and the doorbell stops ringing… Drat. Now what, Mr. Chocolates?

It’s Friday night and the gang’s out of town skiing and you’re flat out in the closet and can’t aright your pudgy body. With a free hand you dig around in the old gym bag and discover a bottle of water, cool, clear water. You take a few lusty slugs and immediately feel refreshed. You reach deeper searching for a snack and pull out that lifting belt thing built for gorillas. With it comes the aroma of the gym (I’m gonna die) and a cascade of associated thoughts and feelings. The gloves tumble out along with the straps and the odd looking mixture presents a solution to the dilemma created by a mistake so long ago. Guided by inspiration you put on the gloves and straps, tugging here and there until the fit is good. The buckle of the belt is held in the right hand so that it can be tossed a fair distance and the loose end is held tight in the left. The toss is made toward your feet and the buckle reaches your bare ankle with a clunk. Perfect. You slide your right foot through the buckle built for a gorilla and with both hands, powerfully be-gloved and be-strapped, you pull yourself upright, as if performing a seated lat row, arm over arm, rep after rep. The old muscles respond. Another swig of water, more deep breaths and in a few more improvised movements I’ll leave to your imagination you’re up and about like a champion… never again to miss your scheduled workout.

Chocolates anyone?

Hey Bombers. I’m a few days from the Arnold, got bronchitis, missed two scheduled workouts, it’s pouring, there are no chocolates, Laree’s darning my socks and ironing my underwear for the trip to Ohio, adversity has seized us and this is all I can come up with till next week.

Smile, be happy! The enemy falls into his own trap. The good guys live forever.

Dave Draper, the Bomber


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