How Do We Keep Them Going Next Year?

Dave Draper's Bomber Blend

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Time for the year’s end review: Who am I, where have I been and where am I going? I do pretty well on the middle question, but have yet to answer the first or last with any accuracy. This year, just like last, went by like it was on fire and I was busy putting it out. It smolders at the edges while I gather yet one more bucket.

What have we learned, what shall we do differently -- as if life was predictable, as if we had control -- and what goals shall we seek in 2016? Life without plans, hopes and dreams is not life, but existence. I plan to create less fire and do less fire fighting. I lost five more pounds this year, up in smoke and I’m burned out.

I write these things only to see how silly they look. They’re the noises, the grunts, of the enemy. Bombers don’t burn out; they just blast away.

Part of a New Year plan at our gym to interest people in caring for their body, muscle and might was to offer an inexpensive six-week shape-up membership, complete with two solid personal training sessions to set them in motion. It always disturbed me to see a hopeful new gym member dismount a piece of aerobic equipment after 10 boring minutes of plodding along, and then pass through the gym floor like it was a jungle of lions and tigers and bears. Intrigued, but frightened, he or she tugs improperly on a bar mysteriously attached to a cable or sidles up to a pair of light dumbbells (assured nobody’s looking) at the far end of the rack to finally confront the notorious rascals they’ve heard so many rumors about.

Big deal -- clank, clank -- they’re not so heavy. Hey, what’s this contraption… do you sit here and pull or stand here and push? Oh! It’s the turnstile to enter the locker rooms… I knew that.

The trick, the challenge and key, is to gain the person’s full attention, curiosity, fascination and confidence. As long-time trainers, we want to introduce people to the benefits, simplicity and joy of exercise. With just the right amount of conviction and energy, they are convinced that exercise is absolutely necessary and positively works.

It’s tough, yes, but a good tough that lifts you up and makes you better.

Too much conviction and they hear declarations of bravado for proud Olympians; too much energy and they’re intimidated. Too little of each and they start yawning. Talk about rejection, have a student of physical culture yawn in your face while you define the systemic attributes of the weight lifter’s single most important movement, the full squat. Heartbreaking.

Treat the new or returning athlete as a child and that’s what you might produce, a dependent, shy and un-assured little person, obedient and imitative. Place them in the gym alone and they might go out the back door with their gym bag over their heads. This is tough stuff for tough people and tough teddy bears. Give it to them straight: It’s real work to make the body strong and useful; it’s invigorating activity for a long and energetic life, and honest muscle resistance to exert discipline and bind stress.

Make it complex and you’ve lied… okay, you’ve exaggerated. You’ve also failed. Not even Dr. Frankenstein wants “complicated” on the gym floor. Make it simple and basic, like building blocks and jacks. Speak in your own voice and drop the obscure European accent. Get rid of the clipboard and monocle, for Pete’s sake.
Just kidding.
New gym members need to be told what to do, why and how, clearly, in good order and with plain demonstration. The point you want to make needs to be sure, but not necessarily sharp. The objects of your teaching will do the sharpening in their own time as they practice. Practice of the fundamentals should be underlined as the master trainer. It is during practice combined with focus, determination and patience, feeling and eventual knowing, that development surely comes.
Need proof? Look around. It’s a law of life. “We’ll get into a few details later,” I tell them with reassurance.

Assure the greedy trainee that he can’t do it all at once and all those other unique exercises and pieces of equipment will be included in the routine at just the right time…later.

Form should be accented over the weight used, though a weight sufficient to cause a good stress in the repeated sets of 10 reps is good. This is a significant contributor to the advancement known as training intensity.

Deliberate pace should be maintained, while allowing no more than a minute between sets. Training focus and exercise and muscle concentration are of primary importance. The seeker of physical improvement will improve to the degree he applies himself. Regularity in training and effort and good attitude -- perseverance -- are essential.

These fine aspects of weight lifting to build muscle and might (form, intensity, pace, training focus, exercise and muscle concentration, perseverance) are absolutely required, demanded and developed. They constitute discipline, commitment and courage. With them and the health, strength and wild good looks they produce, the trainee will be a better, more humble human being… plus or minus a few hang-ups, personal issues and uncontrollable oddities.

One more thing: There’s no urgency. Urgency kills. Urgency causes stress and disappointment -- in you and me and those around us. We have arrived, or, are arriving.

Being on our way to growing -- to getting better, to improving and to developing -- is the place, the on-going process, the voyage to wrap our ever-growing, ever-loving arms around.

Be intelligent, strong and daring, but most of all be smart. Push too hard and it breaks. Don’t push at all and it halts.

We want bigger, stronger and faster; let’s think, worry and plan less. Let’s do it and enjoy ourselves more.

Just keep pressing, leaning, hoping and grinning, bombing and blasting.

God bless us in the New Year.



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