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A Bomber is Not Hard to Please

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You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. And so, you can lead a man to the iron, but you can't make him lift. He's got to be thirsty, spirited and smart.

You can lead the same man to the couch, TV and a platter of munchies and he'll sit, watch and eat. At this exercise, he's quite natural. In fact, you needn't lead him; he'll stumble upon self-indulgence single-handedly. Man is a resourceful and devious, ill-behaved creature.

Give an authentic ironhead a barbell and he'll swap the couch for a utility bench, the TV for a squat rack and the munchies for tuna and water. He'll then brush up on his math skills -- 4 sets x 8 reps, 6 exercises per workout, 4 workouts per week.

A bomber is not hard to please and secretly he's very bright. Skeptics call him a musclehead, adding a snotty snicker of superciliousness. The joke's on them, as they try to pry themselves from the slouch-couch, avert their eyes from the mean-screen and remove their mitts from the fatter-platter.

Sloth is addictive and achieves no good thing.

The gym (any place where dumbbells gather), on the other hand, is the workshop of opportunity; a place for making and breaking. Some lifters are known to attend its confines for the single purpose of bombing and blasting the body, their ultimate intension to rip the structure of flesh and bone into shape. Pump it, burn it, overload it, stretch and strain it, push and pull it, feed and starve it.

Gee. Sounds like fun.

It seems more than a few lifters are a complicated mass of twisted brainwaves, dislocated emotions, faulty intelligence, fractured personalities and contradictory social indoctrinations.

Nice, but nuts.

Bodybuilders fall into this category with a thud, especially those whose ears, eyes and nose are focused on winning a title. They struggle feverishly and in vain against immovable objects seeking muscle size, density, shape, symmetry, definition, skin tone, agility and power. But what they achieve are muscle tears, swollen joints and exhaustion, disillusionment, depression and despair.

Gee. Sounds like fun.

These lifters are in too much of a hurry for fame and glory and elusive satisfaction. They hustle the routines and schemes and diets and plans. They force, they shove, they seek shortcuts, they eliminate common sense, they worry and they whine. The body is disregarded, the training is a suffering means and the imagined end result is worshipped like a god, a golden bull.

Brains go out the window and the ego bandito enters the door.

Note: I was a bodybuilder once, until I recognized the dreadful nature of the beast. I later considered myself a musclebuilder, healthy, sane and free of aberration. A bomber.

Nice, but nuts.

I have a handful of friends who go to the gym to play aggressively. They're not obsessed, driven by big goals or stretching for things out of reach. They simply love the energized atmosphere, the lively communication, the robust physical engagement and the unstructured, undetermined improvement of strength and health. Lucky guys and gals, they are characters to emulate.

Streaming through the doors of brightly lit gyms -- expansive athletic clubs, trendy spas and dazzling health emporiums -- are a breed of the national community who pursue image and approval and identification. Looking good while pretending to exercise is good enough. They come and they go, reflections in the polished mirrors.

They're not us, bombers. We come, we stay and we stay some more. We won't go. You can't make us go and, if you try to make us go, you answer to all of us. Now, beat it, chump, or you're in for a thump. We're losing our pump.

Only those who persist enjoy the manifold rewards weightlifting offers. The tough endure.

But it often happens that we start and stop, start and stop and start again before grasping the rugged action and forming it to our lives. I call it steely perseverance; perseverance stimulated by hope, accented by growing confidence, enforced with courage and practiced with spirit. This muscle-bound quality represents one of 5,280 commendable aspects of a true bomber.

But you knew that.

Word's out: If you can't do the time, don't do the crime. If you won't strain, don't complain because you remain the same. There's a breed of lifters slipping through the gym daily who execute exercises with precision, but do not apply effort. That's like telling a joke without a punch line -- no fun, no laughs, not even a grin.

Like the coach said, team, you've got to push the iron and lift the steel. This isn't a picnic in a park; it's a slam in the gym. These are dumbbells, not petunias, and this is a barbell, not a hotdog on a stick. Strain, pain, sweat and gain. It's wonderful. It's delightful. It's delirious. Try it, you'll like it. Go, you'll grow.

I respect the non-aggressive trainee who displays care, consistency, discipline and good form. I simply and brazenly encourage an increase in exercise output to increase the benefits of the time and attention invested. Add effort to the performance and add power to your life. You're here: Put fire in the furnace, zeal in the steel and vim in the gym.

"What is the gym, really? the bright-eyed student inquired with profound curiosity. The gym is home to the alone, a training camp to the robust, a prison camp to the suffering and a playground to lighthearted. It's a workshop, a foundry, a refuge, a rendezvous, an emergency room, a solid place, a mighty space...

It's also alien territory to the anxious, fearful and shy. Oh, no, not the gym. There are people there -- huge people, gorgeous people, smart and confident people who know who they are, where they're going and why. I'd rather die than go to a gym. They are vigorous and hard-working, motivated and gleeful. I wanna go home.

Not exactly. People in the gym are people like us, with arms and legs and belly fat and hang-ups. Yeah, there are a few jerks in every gym. So what? That's life. That's their problem.

Come to think of it, there are a lot of jerks in gyms, more in some than in others.

We can walk circles around those people and those places. Arrogance, childishness, rudeness and ignorance are the behavior of fools. Let their poor performance strengthen your character, as the weights strengthen your muscles and bones. Neither hate them nor pity them. Day by day they'll grow stronger, as will you.

Clink, clank, clunk, thud.

Today is the day before tomorrow. Don't miss it, bombers. It's a gift.

D. D. Bomber


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