February 26, 2003
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
relationship between training and adversity is personal, often philosophical
and can be complex. It can be black and white and simple as jacks.
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
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.
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?
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.
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.
be happy! The enemy falls into his own trap. The good guys live
Draper, the Bomber
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