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Time Races On


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A third of the year has moseyed (dashed) across the skies, trudged (darted) a winding path about the deserts and prairies, pushed (zipped) through the forest and underbrush and stolen (ripped) its way amid grim city alleys and towering buildings.

You were there, I was there, and here we are now. Time plods (races) on.

I'm not at its rear with a whip in hand, a yelp in my mouth and a spring in my step to hurry time along. I'd stand before the unstoppable force if I had to, if it would do any good, but it won't. As this is the case, I, to save face, accept my due space and agreeably join the race at its immutable pace.

I'm an ace. The stress and energy I save is timeless.

You thought I misspelled ‘ace,' didn't you, inserting a C and an E where a pair of Ss belong?

I remember thirty years ago when my partners and I completed our first World Gym, paint still drying on the walls and a pile of mats yet to be positioned, and we decided to grab a workout while waiting for the first wave of enthusiastic cash members to mob the place. A pair of hefty dumbbells in her hands, Laree perched on the bench I was planning to use. I don't think so! I blurted emphatically, articulately and songfully, "No, no, no, no. I'm using that...I'm supersetting."

The attitude was palpable, 'Scram, girl' was in my tone.

Laree had been on her own since she was fifteen; spent four years in the Air Force, during which time she monitored suspicious military aircraft, was a powerlifter and was hired by firms across the country to detect fraud long before she met Mister New Jerseypants.

"Oh, yeah. I'll show you no, no, no, no," she said, and pulled out a Glock, Smith and Wesson intercontinental ballistic missile and mowed me down right where I stood. Well, not exactly, but it was in her tone. I'll never forget it.

Lessons: Be nice to your wife; there are things a man cannot live down; there are things a woman will not forget; rage has no bounds; and humility follows a fool's folly.

It's like I always say, team: We live, we lift, we suffer, we rejoice, we learn, we grow.

Time to lift.

I would no longer share a workout with someone as I would share my Lamborghini or my Legos. Over the years I've become selfish with my toys and playtime. I like to do what I want to do, when I want to do it and I need to be first, last and always.

Of course, with those parameters I don't have a lot of bombers lining up to be training partners anyway.

Nevertheless, I manage alone and highly endorse it. It's just me, the lone rider, the free spirit, the top dog—pilot, copilot and bombardier. I mess up, nobody knows.

Fact is, there is no messing up when chucking the weights unless you injure yourself, and even injuries prove to be valuable. Mistakes teach, and a good lifter depends on them. These are the true personal trainers.

I must admit I had the best training partners back in the day, the day being those days I spent in the Dungeon, '63 through '66. All the other days were just days.

One at a time, line 'em up, something like a year with each: Dick Sweet, Fritz Sills and Rick Josephson. We put away press behind necks and side-arm lateral raises like they were gumdrops. I still do, only they're jawbreakers and seem to act similarly on the shoulders.

I miss those guys. Fritz left us young and early, Dick vanished into the shadows of LA and Rick, after timeless solitude in a cave in Maui, is a monk who reconnected with me recently to say hi.

My training with Frank and Arnold and the Joe Gold originals was touch 'n go, our nearby, alongside presence enough to power us on, inspire, teach and encourage. That's all it takes when energy and vibrations are strong and contagious.

I'm back there as I write and my mind is looking around. I see all there is to see, barbells and Olympic bars and sturdy dumbbells from five to 150 and Joe Gold's handmade pulley systems and benches and racks.

If a body could be built into something magnificent, it could be built there. Determination and guts were at the door, blood, sweat and tears distributed abundantly across the gym floor.

No, we never cried, but we did work till we bled. Gee, that was more than fifty years ago, when gas was thirty-two cents a gallon.

Another thing I notice as I mentally roam about Joe's hunky equipment and the colossal, ill-fitted wooden constructs of the Muscle Beach Dungeon: The workouts that worked then are the ones that work now. Reassuring. Nothing's changed—the same routines, sets and reps, movements and schemes, exertion and attention, only the weights have changed to protect the innocent.

Fritz and I did seated lat rows and wide-grip pulldowns with frayed twisted cables across oversized pulleys bolted to the ceiling. Fritz was the closest thing to Steve Reeves other than Steve Reeves, down to the square pecs and diamond-shaped calves and tall good looks.

Sweet and I managed steep incline dumbbell presses with 125-pounders for commendable reps. The guy reminded me of a panther on the prowl and introduced me to wide-grip chins, authentic focus and supersets with rhythm and song and dance.

Rick was a skinny teenager; I saw him grow two inches taller and gain forty pounds in the year we blasted it from six to eight every morning. Last seen, 6'4" and 230.

My partners and I did things like standing barbell curls, lying triceps extensions, bent-over barbell rows, front presses and squats and deadlifts. We focused, we spoke just enough, we encouraged one another from the soul, we exerted with all our might, we had ferocious fun and we never quit.

I wish I had a training partner.

The Lamborghini is jet black and made in Taiwan of cheap molded pig iron. The doors actually open and there's a teensy scale engine under the hood. It's sooo cool.

dd


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