Having come from the corners of bedrooms, garages and basements, I doubt if I know how to behave in a large gym, one of those sprawling 25,000-square-foot supermarket affairs, an immense room with acres of rug and black mats underfoot and florescent tubes overhead. The seasons come and go and still you can't find the Roman chair or a water fountain, a friend or a familiar face. The iron you lift shrinks in size yet moves with increasing difficulty as its weight is compounded by its echo from across the vast gym floor; a flea on a big dog's back.
The gym we own is one of those 8,000-square-foot shoeboxes with two open staircases leading to a balcony where the aerobic equipment and stretch area are located. The railed loft is quiet and offers a broad view of the working bodies below. Once a high-ceiling warehouse, the scattered skylights and glassed-in oversized garage doors at either end give the muscle-building, health-seeking occupants a welcome connection to the vital outdoors -- multiple freedoms united.
Dave At His World Gym!
The other day I sat atop the staircase overlooking the length of the gym floor and gazed at the activity. I don't perform the leisure thing often 'cuz there's always something that needs to be done: fix the broken whatsit, clean the ever-messy corners or blast the chest and bomb the back. However, among the things I do best, daydreaming -- imaginative thinking, that is -- ranks high in the top 10.
What I saw was a hopeful and warming sight, 20 or so men and women of various shapes and sizes and ages, the relatively few who are following through with their health, fitness and muscle-building programs. Now this group was not tiptoeing through the daisies or sipping on Perrier as they chatted senselessly about hemlines or stock prices; they were working.
The energy, devotion and spirits were high and I wondered why so few, really, choose to care for themselves. I mean fewer than five out of a hundred exercise for their health and fitness, while 25 out of the same hundred smoke and drink. Oddly, we as a society tend to abuse ourselves -- subtly and unconsciously, or blatantly and deliberately -- rather than care for ourselves; and then we hide it with clothes, make-up, attitude, drastic fixit schemes and medications and goofy distractions.
I shouldn't wonder and I don't judge (too harshly) as I have been known to wander empty wastelands for days on end myself.
Out of social convention bad habits are born. Come to think of it, social convention is a bad habit. Let us, you and me, continue to break the common molds cast by a society that, given a choice, sits on soft pillows with one hand in a sack of [sugar-coated, deep-fried, chemical-dense, nutrient-sparse] tasty treats and both eyes glued to the screen, wasting precious time. We are all heroes and winners and champions, yet pervasive forces threaten to hold us back and bring us down, a fatigue of spirit and the gravitational pull of emotions, lethargy due to ailing creativity and apathy fed by second-hand inspiration. Too much sugar, not enough meat.
Here's our edge: Awareness of the symptoms keeps us from the sickness. Knowing the dangers and pitfalls we bypass the destruction. We peer at our weakness and failing, procrastination and ignorance, excuses and carelessness, lack of will and lack of incentive as if on display under sterile glass, a reminder of our past and a research project in process. We are safe, self-inoculated, humbled and mildly proud.
Here's our duty: One day at a time, with an eye on the next and a glance at the last we put both hands to the task. Now lift that steel and push that iron. We've got work to do, brothers and sisters: Set the direction, clear the path and be the light. We've got to shine for those who don't.
A rough bullet-summary of a devastating decline of modern mankind. Laugh it up. Pretend it's a badly scripted, poorly directed B-flick from Hollywood starring the Osmond family.
- Fitness takes hold in '60s and erupts in '70s. Swell. Big biz and big bucks do their dirty work: feeding frenzy, deception and hype, confusion and gluttony. No comprehensive education intended or achieved, just sell, exploit, sell.
- Fast food arrives in '60s -- just what we needed -- waistlines and appetites grow, time shrinks.
- Schools drop athletic programs and classes on nutrition. Junk food and fast food installed in school halls and cafeterias instead.
- Fast track living increases across the fruited plains to accommodate rising costs, God's replaced by a second job, second car, second mortgage and declining morality.
- Generation gap in understanding critical need for sound exercise and right eating widens... going, going, gone.
- Less family life, more single parent families, less home-front education from the now nutrition and exercise-ignorant moms and dads results in the development of horrible eating habits and passive lifestyles.
- Computers and video games replace physical play and sports for adults and kids alike. Standard game rules: 1) Sit on butt and 2) Press the buttons.
- Governments miss the picture by light-years. FDA and other agencies are 70 years behind the times in the nutrition information they offer to the populace.
- Sugar and grain lobbyists and fast food bosses control the government and they control society, the herds, the sheep.
- Terrorism, wars, serial killers and small and large thieves -- wickedness -- removes the prevailing wind from the ship's sails and strain at man's hopes.
The match is not over yet. It's time to get back up and fight like a man, like a woman, right here, right now. Exercise, eat right and grin with joy... build enabling discipline and enliven the weary character as you do.
It's easy to shine in the world today. You need a good protein-high breakfast when you rise and four more equally nutritious meals throughout the day. Put aside that special time of rejoicing alone or with like minds three or four days a week... 60 exhilarating minutes of vigorous exercise.
Do you have any idea how the simple paragraph you just read can change your life? I bet you do and you're rare. Re-read it, 50 words. Further, if you actually practice the outlined precepts, you are extraordinary and have more life here and now and before you than the poor individual to your left and right and behind you who doesn't. This big old world was built for Bombers.
Get Up And Fight
This is one of those "8, 9, 10 and you're out!" routines for the active champ bouncing on his or her toes in the corner of the ring, arms hanging loosely by their sides, shoulders bobbing and weaving and eyes focused: Tough, confident, the fight is won and the fight is yet to start.
Let's get out there, hit it hard and get it over with. We've got things to do and places to go. We can play around some other time, use finesse, focus till our eyes bug out, polish the sets and reps like they were silver pistols and gold bullets, become one with the burn and pump and all that stuff. Today, we take the metal down. Load the bars and move the iron. Nobody loses, but we are the winners.
Hand hanging leg-raise - 4x20 reps
Works abdominal region, hip-flexors, grip and muscles throughout forearms and biceps and a variety of muscles that control suspension -- lats, serratus, etc.
Clean and press - Warmup set, then 4x6-8 reps
Works midsection and torso, range of muscles throughout thighs and back, traps and shoulders, triceps and ample grip and forearm. Lots of deep breathing and blood flow. Systemic benefits (whole-body response due to massive muscle involvement, which exerts certain muscle-growth changes in body chemistry -- enzyme and hormonal).
Heavy barbell curl - warmup set, then 4x6 reps
Works biceps and muscles throughout torso that support the heavy assistance movement. Limited systemic response.
Pullover (bent arm) - 4x6-8 reps
Works lats and serratus, pecs and triceps, front delt and bis and grip and abs. Limited systemic response.
Squats - Warmup set, then 4x6-8 reps
Works everything from head to toe. Lots of deep breathing and blood flow. Systemic benefits.