You Win, You Lose, You Crawl
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do I drag myself to the gym unwillingly. It’s not often I
stand before the barbells and dumbbells with drooping shoulders
and hesitation. And though I don’t feel like Superman, never
do I question why I’m about to fatigue myself and inflict
hard work and pain upon my body for several hours. That’s
all behind me and has been for a long, long time. Today, I roll
out the ole Harley, run a cloth over the chrome, crack the pipes
and let ‘er rip.
all began years ago.
remember when I was a kid; no problem, the weights were playthings.
You push, pull, toss, lift and grunt. Great fun. Clank, rattle;
where’s my wrench? As a teen lifting was like a sport you
played; you win, you lose, the days came and went and skipping a
workout was no big deal. Let’s see, should I lift weights
or play stickball at the park?
day -- who remembers when; it’s all a haze -- I noticed guilt
had taken up residence in my ever-present shadow, a nagging, smirking
wise guy -- a jerk, really -- that made me irritable when I missed
a workout, miserable if I was delinquent a week. Training became
important, a thing I had to do, and the fun was leaking away. Most
anything became more desirable than the weights; studying Latin,
changing the oil or cleaning the garage. Thank heaven there was
no TV. I pressed on.
some raggedy habit took form and the walk to the weight room became
regular, and labored and cheerless. It’s lonely on this bench,
under this bar and counting sets and reps. How many do I have to
do today? The number was a pain in my head and completing the prescribed
task before me was a dull feat. 20 (ugh), 19 more (aay), 18 (oof),
17 (urp). “Will the workout ever end?” was my approach.
The color around me was gray. This must be done, press on.
wasn’t long before anticipation, the kind with a sour puss,
started hanging around with guilt. Put these two thugs together
and we have tension, nervous tension. Now it’s not only hard
work and lonely under the bar, it’s tiresome and exhausting
thinking about it, all day, at work, at lunch, on the road and in
the sack. By the time I got to the gym, I’d been there, I’d
done that. Not another rep! I’m beat. Push that iron.
but that’s not enough. Besides feeling guilty for missing
a workout I haven’t missed and badgered by a workout I haven’t
hit, I’m feeling disappointed with the progress I haven’t
made. A mob is gathering in my shadow and I’m just a skinny
kid. We have Guilty Gus, Big Al Anticipation and the notorious Duke
of Disappointment conspiring in the dark. Step aside, mutts, I’m
using that squat rack.
calls when you’re still and listen to your soul. Taking the
three pot-bellied bums down became my mission and I knew it -- the
first sign of instinct, survival of the fittest, which plays no
minor role in the muscle-builder’s life. Instinct rules.
this life you win, you lose or you crawl. It’s not that I
wanted to win, but I cannot lose and I will not crawl. Elementary,
really, and I worked by elimination. I gathered from their focus
on me that what I was focused on was very important and very good
‘cuz they’re so bad. Despite, or because of, the combined
efforts of the gloomy threesome, I pressed on.
discovered devotion and intensity.
my shadow grew larger with my body and the three wise guys grew
smaller. In time I replaced guilt with discipline, a stern but agreeable
character. Negative anticipation submitted to positive preparation
and psyching up, a pair of confident spirits with lofty goals. And
disappointment, sour and ungrateful, left one fine day without a
word. Like mistakes, the scoundrels taught tough lessons. Their
departure was an unconscious relief, dirty snow and slippery ice
slowly melting in the spring.
walk to the gym became hurried, not soon enough, and excitement
accompanied my footsteps. Miles were behind me and miles were ahead
and somehow I knew the way. You never know the way unless you walk
it and climb it, get lost, lose ground, grow cold, hungry and insist
on walking again. Nobody can tell you, exactly, what, how and why;
they can only offer their hopeful presence, wise suggestions and
solid encouragement -- gold ore and uncut diamonds.
word, what’s the big deal? It’s only lifting weights;
it’s exercise and good food. It’s not life, liberty
and the pursuit of happiness. Think twice. The train is leaving
the station; the bombers are taking to the air.
now where am I -- where are we -- in my recollections? When did
the pleasure of training settle in my bones? When I stepped back
and realized its worth; when I resumed doing it for its adventure
and immediate reward; when I trusted its permanence; when training
was no longer an obligation, but a wise choice, a desirable means
to eliminate barriers and overcome obstacles and to express myself
without screaming for an hour or two, several times a week. And
it’s no big ego trip to enjoy physical strength, endurance,
reasonable confidence and a body that doesn’t resemble a pear
balanced precariously on two tooth picks. No more ego than a long
list of letters after one’s name on a letter head, a tattoo
in the right place, a red Carrera in the driveway, a 1,000-dollar
suit or a shaved head. It took some time pressed together with considerable
doubt, curiosity, pain and sacrifice to make the discovery, but
it’s worth it. To settle into your training with confidence
is like sitting back in an easy chair, comfortable and relaxed.
Just don’t fall asleep on me, bombers, we have work to do
-- clearing the runway, fueling up, checking the landing gear and
course, the choir agrees, and loves to be reminded. How about you,
whose T-shirts are getting snug and triceps are forming horseshoes?
who are relatively new (though proudly invested) and struggle to
maintain their training balance, focus and zeal can reduce the less-than-delightful
learning and growing curve by accepting today the precepts put forth
on the well-shared pages of IronOnline. A mouthful; read that again,
out loud. Trust, press on toward your sensible goal and put in your
time with renewed enthusiasm, because it’s happening and it
happens no other way.
how far you’ve come and imagine -- visualize with certainty
-- where you want to go. The only thing that stands in your way
is time and doubt. Time will pass, but doubt must be removed. What
you need to correct or alter in menu or exercise arrangement, attitude
or workout intensity, you will surely attend along the way. Today’s
questions are tomorrow’s answers. Mistakes and injuries are
strong, keep your sense of humor, stay alert, be positive and hopeful,
drink your protein shakes, be nice to your neighbor, squat, of course,
and don’t ruin your shoulders with heavy bench pressing. As
far as it is possible, allow no unsightly gaps to develop in your
eating scheme or your training thrust; they have a way of growing
out of control and they are unbearable. Beware.
we are aware of what we must do places us well above the rest. That
we practice what we must puts us on top.
taxi down the runway, bombers, and take off one by one in fine form
till we fill the skies with roaring and fill our hearts with inspiration.
You first, I’ll follow... Draper
pallets stacked with “West Coast Bodybuilding Scene”
have just arrived and rest outside our door. Laree, the cute kid
with a big smile and a dance in her step, is preparing several hundred
of her little darlings for shipment... today. Tomorrow we leave
for The Ironman in Pasadena and rendezvous with Reg Lewis, Dick
Tyler, Franco, John Balik, Gene Mozee, Leroy Colbert and Bill Pearl
(and others, I suspect), no small pile of muscle and memory. This
will be interesting and fun.
have just enough time to send off the newsletter minus the trailing
thoughts of the editor-in-chief. She’s ironing my socks.
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