First Things First

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Waste Not Time, Effort or Spare Parts


One of Dave's pier wood & leather dining chairs, 1970s

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I’m not one for pausing before the first rep of a workout or lingering after the last. I enter the gym with serious intention, do my business and depart promptly with a shrug and a nod. Settled, we’re done here.

Conversations with co-trainers are infrequent and brief, a minimal engagement of one-syllable words and faint gestures to convey only necessary thoughts. I’m on a mission and moment-by-moment focus, pace and precision of action decide my success. My breath is calculated, my effort is deliberate. No set is wasted, every rep counts.

We want big, we want strong, we want ripped, we want supple. And we want it now and forever. No game, not funny! Lift hard, eat smart! Never miss, never quit! You got it?

When you get it, then you can laugh, then you can play.

I like the hard line, though it contradicts my maturing training methodology. Looseness and quasi-spontaneity have come to define my contradictory parameters. Meticulous performance in my less-than-precise workout scheme is like addressing a mass of clay and molding it into an object of art.

Oh, brother! Gimme a break.

I am curious and without restrictions. I wonder, I wander, I am free.
  
My latest principles conceived just this moment: Enter gym, train with all your heart, leave with a smile and a groan. Do not suffer the workout before, enjoy and be grateful during and rest in the fatigue after. Repeat regularly, without failure or regret. Eat not but that which is necessary and good. Huge and ripped is cool, shapely and svelte is hot, healthy and fit is just right.

Gee, these sound familiar. Does anything change?

This weighty material I present is less self-centered than it appears. It is, in fact, all about you. I’m just a mere mortal genius in discovery offering the raw realities of the iron to my brothers and sisters of the ore.

There are few things you don’t know, bombers: Never let your training go, ingest the best and maintain the noble character of a devoted attendant of his tasks and deeds. Encourage one another; do not envy or complain. And do this while standing on one foot and leaning forward as the river wren defying a brisk north wind.

If this presents a problem, the two-footed, bent-kneed gorilla stance works well.

Knowledge and awareness provide fodder for us to ponder. I ask you this, ever-seeking bomber: What is the biggest difficulty you face within your weight training mission?

The cascade commences, a landslide of thought. There isn’t a single difficulty, there are many, and they collide.

The list includes motivation, or the lack thereof (like, why?), time (again, already?), place (distant and crowded downtown gym or the cramped and lonely garage), how (volume or power), pain ’n injury (hurts, won’t bend or mend), slow gains (are we there yet?), tedium (are we done yet?), discipline (can we go home now?), consistency (again? gimme a break), courage (strain, pain and cold metal? Oh, no!)

Or more precisely:

Motivation) What is more desirable than a thick and muscular physique with facility and power? Got me! Or a shapely and fit body that glides through the jungle like a panther? Got me again. Health and longevity beats money and material things by a long shot. Unless it’s a 1965 Ford Cobra 450...
 
Time) When is now, when time is on your side, not later when time has waned and beaten you back. Time is when you can fit 60 to 90 minutes of joy and loco motion in your seven days a week and 30 days a month, and 365 days a year until much later, the sooner, the better. Meet yourself at the gym for the first time and develop a working friendship over a pair of dumbbells. Cheers!

Place) Where you can, where there’s space, in the park or at your place. I know the best gym in the world, The Weight Room in Santa Cruz, or something resembling it in your neighborhood (good luck). Nervous? Get a trial membership and browse around. I call it shoplifting. Feels so good when it feels good. Do the metal rock, aka the iron ore.

How) Go to rack, pick up dumbbell and say, howdy, dumbbell. Clang loudly. Grab a bar with both hands, snarl and toss it across the floor. Not exactly!! How is what you have learned over the years and need to apply with focus and form and faithfulness.  Or, 'how' takes a few rounds with a thoughtful, generous and capable personal trainer who has a few durable calluses to match the muscle and doesn’t have dollar signs and vanity in his or her bright smiley face.

How is now.

Injury) Injuries are more fun in the past than in the present. They are the product of accidents, avoidable overloads and misguided adventures. They come like thieves in the night, or they strike us with the thunder of a bench press done too heavy, or too often. Be careful, beware, be aware. Injuries are mean, they are contemptible, they are avoidable, but they are necessary and show us the way. I’d rather get lost, you say. Not. They are the yin to the yang. Ohm...there I go again... drifting. Little hurts are worthwhile, big ones should be avoided at all cost. Learn from the experience of others where and when you can. Don’t miss your workouts. Train what doesn’t hurt, buffalo. Take two aspirin and see me in the morning.

Gains) With every workout gains are made. You heard it before in the serene song of the wild blue wind. Live, lift, ache, learn and grow. Gee, now you know everything. Don’t look too closely, trust more, work with your heart, mind and might and hold time in loose but loving hands. That which is before us will arrive on time and with glory and gratitude. Be thankful now.

Tedious) Poor baby! Tsk, tsk! Lifting weights and growing strong and able and fine is too monotonous for you, oh, exciting one. Get an iPod, or a chatty training partner, or a cup of coffee and a cigarette. You must choose a few basic exercises that feel good and do good, crank up the focus and form and engagement factor and visualize the achievements you are bound to realize. You don’t have the time or the right to be bored.

Consistency) You want the precious qualities, the virtuous possessions, the refined gifts of strong and toned muscle, agile fitness and enduring health. Good for you, an individual of noble purpose in a world of ignoble deeds and pleasures and causes. Perseverance is your key. Unlock the door and enter with excitement and resolve. Never quit, never let go.

Discipline) You read this far; you probably have discipline. If not, read “Brother Iron Sister Steel” and you’ll acquire it. Already read that one? Try “Never Let Go.”

It takes practice and love.

Courage) It takes guts to lift weights. Soon you’ll understand 'why wimps are not allowed.' ' No pain, no gain' isn’t a nursery rhyme, and 'only the strong survive' is not from a passage from Daphne’s Vegetable and Herb Cook Book.

Time to fold my wings and return to Hangar One before the sun sets. It takes an entire year of hard work and loving care to modify a B-68 into a B-69. No time to waste.  

Boom Zoom... Godspeed... The Bomber                

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