First Things First

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Rock On, Ironheads

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Boy, where do I begin? I have so much breaking information about muscle and fitness to reveal this week -- facts and figures, graphs and diagrams, research data and analysis -- that my mind is literally jammed. What I’ve discovered about building broad shoulders and a lean waist alone is enough to cause my mental gears to grind to a halt.

Let’s go back to the beginning. Man crawled out of the primal ooze and discovered a rock. He hoisted and tossed it and it was fun. He grew strong and built big gorgeous muscles and the girls said, “Momma mia!” Man rocked.

Later, he invented iron and shaped it into circles. One he called the wheel, which eventually proved to be useful, and the other he called the barbell, which revolutionized mankind’s way of believing, breathing and behaving. Life became a blast: meaningful, wonderful, challenging, purposeful and fulfilling.

Man was generous and cared for woman, and to please her, he made her a little barbell. Perplexed, she asked, “What’s that, dumbbell?” Man said, “Yes! A dumbbell!” Soon everyone began to shake, rattle and roll... kids, too.

It wasn’t long before iron hefting and muscle-making became a very large enterprise. The iron was cut and shaped into curious machinery to make lifting easier and harder and more costly all at once. Pulleys and pivoting arms and leverage bars were engineered into complex metal masses to work every muscle, every way, everywhere, any time. Soon there was more iron and more machines in more places than anyone cared to move.

Today, more and more, the iron just sits in garages and basements and downtown gyms and uptown clubs getting dusty and rusty. Lifting heavy circles is not what it used to be. Get this: The rumor is that functional training engaging small objects in spacious rooms and taught to groups by a certified personal trainer is primed to take over the mass fitness scene.

Hi, everybody! Foam rollers, mats, balls of various consistency and size, pulleys and flexy things -- toys -- comprise the implements of choice.

Egads, Olympiads!

Here’s a foreboding article by Thomas Plummer, a long-time friend and master in the fertile fields of fitness marketing. Thom (he speaks, people listen) goes back to the Vic Tanny days when chrome and mirrors and wooden rollers were introduced to the burgeoning tight pants, short skirt and svelte homemaker crowds of the ‘50s. Groovy.

Thom observed the fitness evolution from splash pools to spin bikes and confidently predicts the near-future extinction of steel mills as we know now them: They’re going down with a thud.

In speaking to gym owners, he says:

Gee. Makes me feel like a dinosaur in a cave as the sun sets on the wilds of mankind. I propose the tank-topped musclehead, the iron-browed Neanderthal, like the roach and rat, will survive this prescribed twist in fate. We’ll train in subterranean darkness, out of sight and away from the crowd and we’ll grow like old mold.

Take the machinery, you compulsive, texting revelers, but leave the bars and plates where they belong. We eat rust.

It’ll be a relief to slough off the impersonators of muscle and might and continue our lone deeds and heavy tasks of honor, truth and genuine sacrifice; our arrhythmic clink and clank and clunks.

This brings me to the contemptible subject of what to do in the gym when our passions are questioned, our motives doubted and our movements challenged. We don’t pause and consider the answers, as if the inquiries were valid. We press on with all our might, bombers. We never quit.

I’m from the old school. I knew Zabo and Eifferman, Grimek, Reeves and Sandow. We chewed on the bar before we lifted it. Freshly poured at the foundry, we curled the iron while it cooled in the mold. We caught buffalo on the open range and ate them raw. We were built the hard way with anvil and hammer.

Has anyone noted that we, Laree and I, Team Draper, offer both ends of the bar? I jump on the iron from the rafters and pound it into the platform till there’s nothing but bloody scraps. Laree presents balanced training, mobility and harmonious flexion. She’s as strong and enduring as a lion, tiger and bear, yet she proposes stability and correct range of motion and thoughtfulness.

She knows the names of muscles, even. I’ve got biceps and triceps down pretty much... pecs, lats and delts, too. Between the two of us, we’ve got you covered. Ever try Bomber Blend plus supersets for muscle hypertrophy and pure joy? It works.

You guessed it, masterful metal mutt. This has been one of those weeks. Rainy and gloomy, a cold a mile long and mile wide, coughing like a Harley with straight pipes going downhill in first gear, the red runny nose, the raspy raw throat and no indispensable iron. None! I know... the lattermost side effect, no workouts, makes one shudder. I’m fat and skinny and pathetic.

The iron is my wooby, my blanky, my teddy...my lucky star.

No worries, bomber! Better yet, no problemo, amigo boomzoom. I see red, white and blue and gold on the horizon. The industry has promised a stimulus package for all who push the steel. The sets and reps are gonna hit main street any day now. No new taxes. Bye-bye, fat. No more sugar. Free aspirin and band-aids.

I lied about Sandow.

Zoom... God’s Speed... B-67

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Scoop the blend into a glass, stir and drink with pleasure and satisfaction, when you need to, want to or should. All the time.

Soak yourself in a taste of bodybuilding’s Golden Era with Dick Tyler’s on-the-scene record, written in his easy-going, one-of-a-kind style, West Coast Bodybuilding Scene.

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Golden Era fans will rejoice in this excerpt from West Coast Bodybuilding Scene.

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Here's Dave's previous week's column.