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Stick, Stack, Stuck

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Word’s out I’m a big fan of supersets and I’m judicious in the exercises I choose. Oh, fiddle-d-poo! Not so, Jo. Work hard, but keep it plain, Jane. The American way, I always say.

However, as a trimmed and modified B-72, I have limited energy and might to disperse wisely in two 30-minute workouts a week.

Simply, obviously, each movement must be doable and easily accessible, multipurpose in effect and near its superset partner. It must be efficient in delivering maximum muscle growth, burn and pump with minimal oxygen debt, while providing copious delight and fulfillment.

Bingo! Pure and simple, neat and clean, clear and cool, basic, straightforward and undramatic.

Speaking of drama, I’m considering the assist of a cane at the gym to make my way around the equipment. As it is I stumble, wobble, weave and grope from here to there, which is dumb and dumb-looking, hazardous, enervating and irritating. Fellow Gold-diggers see me coming and don’t know what to do: stop or go, run for cover or step aside.

A cane in hand, my balance improves tenfold, precious energy is conserved, distance diminishes and -- Hi, kids -- the slick stick serves to alert junior warriors of possible hazards ahead.

I don’t use a cane unless I’m going to a doctor or hospital appointment, where I can expect long walks and long waits where everyone’s on crutches, in wheelchairs or on gurneys. But the gym, Gold’s Gym… I don’t know, I mutter, hand to chin and shaking my head in a forlorn downward gaze. Ain’t it a rub? Egotism. Vanity. Ego. Yikes!

Some sketchy history: Joe Gold’s original handmade, concrete-block and steel-furnished Gold’s Gym Venice of the mid-60s evolved into the World Gym by the mid-70s, a franchise that grew and expanded coast to coast by the mid-80s. The first digs on Main, where hearts beat to the tune of thumps and thuds, had expired, and Joe built and rebuilt several other Venice locations for himself and his core, and for the headquarters.

One fair-weather Sunday there was big World Gym get-together at Joe’s last site off Washington Blvd. Everyone was there, from Arnold to Zabo and Joe’s lifelong Venice Beach friends. Ah, the music, the food and laughter and the clutches of muscleheads, beach people, entertainers and champion bodybuilders from far and wide, catching up and exchanging stories.

Eddie Giuliani was behind the front counter with the boys, and the gossip and jokes and tales were flowing. I popped in from my northern California neighborhood to share in the festivities. I eventually wandered past the crowd and onto the cordoned-off gym floor. Quiet and alone I inspected the yet-to-be-completed lifting area, hoisting a few dumbbells and racking a bar to test, assess, confirm and get a quick fix.

A clang and clank pierced the silence, blood ran hot and hard, warm and kind. The more I train, the more I understand it’s not always the muscles that need the pump, the burn and the fix. 
A noise in the corner got my attention, when a hunky German Shepherd padded in from the shadows, followed by his best friend Joe Gold, in his wheel chair with a burdensome 4x12 precariously angled on his lap. “Draper! Grab a hold of this, would ya? My damn tires are going flat. City inspector tomorrow morning…”

I wrestled the hunk to his work table, suggesting he design and build a handy-dandy Joe Gold tow-cart to affix to his chair. I sat; we talked, everything was good and we went on to join the others behind the front counter. Thunder, his tail wagging, led the way.

Pride tears down; the proud build up. I didn’t notice Joe’s chair, just the tool bag hanging on the back. Pride disables, the proud enable. I saw no fear, doubt or embarrassment in his carriage or his eyes, bold determination allowing no space for the daggers of vanity.

That’s not a cane. That’s a speed stick.

Go… God’s Might… Draper


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