Publication Date: 1990
Two girls at the beach were admiring the passing scene, which included a bodybuilder who was strutting his best. "That's my type," said one. "Well, I don't know," the other replied. "I have a friend who married a man who owns a two-car garage, but he just keeps a bicycle in it."
Years ago Merv Griffin hosted a program that included a few bodybuilding guests. Merv asked them "What do you use all those muscles for?" The bodybuilders answered by throwing a few poses. Merv asked again, "No, I mean what do you use them for?" The muscular guests again struck their poses, to which the unanswered host said, "I don't think you understand. I asked what do you use them for?"
Merv didn't get his answer that day, or maybe he did. If he did, the bodybuilders were not only missing the point of his question, but they also missed the point of their daily training.
Like the strutting beach fellow, most of us spend our lives striving forward toward goal after goal, PR after PR, pay raise after pay raise, remembering only occasionally that it's a journey, not the destination, that's so vitally important. As you move from workout to workout, are you satisfied and joyful, or do you feel accomplishment only after a monthly bench press PR?
Using Your Muscles
One way to appreciate your training more fully is to use your muscles in your daily life. As Merv questioned, are your muscles useful, or do you wear them only as your beach attire?
Dave Draper (my confidant and source of material) tells the story of Reg Park and him in South Africa in late 1969. The two strong men were on the way from Johannesburg to Pretoria where they were to guest pose in less than an hour's time. They stopped at a fruit and vegetable market at the outskirts of Johannesburg, and discovered that their car had a flat tire.
At the edges of the bush country and already late, they realized that they had a spare, but no jack. Without choices, they matter-of-factly loosened the lugnuts and lifted up the car, taking turns holding the car for the several minutes it took to jockey the wheel into place. Without words they tightened the lugnuts, threw the flat tire into the trunk and rolled on toward Pretoria.
What Dave remembers most vividly was not that they raised the car and changed the tire, but that the feat took place without conversation. They were late and the tire needed to be changed. Both of the men had spent years pushing heavy weights around the gym, so when they needed the strength, it was there. They knew it and they used it, all without thought, doubts, or discussion.
A Few Helpful Hands
The following year in New York City after a Mr. America/Mr. World contest in a Broadway theatre, Dave remembers walking with four other bodybuilders from Nichol's Steakhouse to their hotel accommodations. It was 1970, before muscular men and women had whatever vogue they now possess - a time when five 230-pound men in a New York street at midnight were more intimidating that impressing. Dave says he can't imagine what they looked like, spread out across a side street, arms full of trophies and excited to be in New York for a National competition.
A half block off Broadway, they noticed a glamourously dressed woman standing on the sidewalk trying to direct the driver of a car out of a much-too-tight parking space. Back and forth, back and forth; as they approached, the driver got more and more desperate, eventually hitting the cars in front and back, damaging his own car but no longer caring.
The five bodybuilders walked up to the now damaged car, put their trophies on the sidewalk, and, each taking a position at the frame, moved the car literally into the street. Finished, they picked up their trophies and moved on toward their hotel, not looking back or waiting for thanks, astonishment, or appreciation.
Moving A Car
That time again, Dave remembers the matter-of-factness of the chore. Picking up and moving the car was simply a part of their trip down the street. They'd never done it before, and perhaps never would again, but it was almost a common experience to them. They had the muscles available, and when needed, they used them.
But these auto-moving experience are one or two in a lifetime, and if you don't have a physically demanding job, it's essential to derive your fulfillment daily in your training, lest you be a stuck strutting the beach in search of your internal rewards. Some of the attributes (aside from the gain of physical strength and endurance which make all of life's chores a little less taxing) are the enhancement of heart, lungs and respiratory system, strength against injury and therapy for injury repair.
Weight training will help put order in your life, eliminate useless fat, reduce deadly stress, improve your appearance, body harmony, and concentration. Mixed into the journey of a good training program are profiles of character such a perseverance, patience, discipline and sharing, all of which are foundations for self-esteem.
In Dave's case, the qualities of the physical activity - the training - have recently been significant. In 1983, Dave made an emergency entrance to a hospital with congestive heart failure. After weeks of intensive care where he was not expected to live from day to day, Dave began his recovery. Over the past few years under the guidance of his cardiologist, Dr. Thomas Murphy, Dave adjusted his training levels to the results of echograms, cardiograms, and aniograms.
Dr. Murphy advised Dave that he would be able to train at only a fraction of his maximum ability in fear of excessive strain on the heart. Dave began his new weight training program slowly, adding an aerobic program of an hour daily on the Lifecycle. One medical appointment after another, Dr. Murphy became more and more impressed with Dave's progress and the condition of his heart.
Rather than the cutback he was anticipating, Dave was surprised by Dr. Murphy's instruction to "Keep it up. Whatever you're doing, it's working!" Dave used his training, not the mounds of muscles, but the activity. The training improved him internally as he regained his strength, health, and vitality.
For you as well as Dave, each training day is a challenge, both physically and mentally as you struggle through the valleys and over the mountains of your training experience. These experiences are priceless when you're involved in your training and pressing on, going to the gym when you don't want to, bearing down on yourself, and leaving like a champion.
Vince Gironda once said, "There's joy on the gym floor." Only those with a heart for training know heat he means. If you haven't felt that joy in your workouts, next workout, leg the play with the weights entertain you, and be gratified by the muscular pump and burn.
Enjoy the workouts. Determine your purpose for training so that you feel the pleasure of accomplishment after each repetition of every set. As Harry Chapin sang, "It's gotta be the going, not the getting there that's good."
Whatever your training goals, whether it's the size of the muscles, or the use of them, don't miss the adventure along the way. And whether you keep a car, truck, or bike in the garage, remember to take it out once in a while for a spin around the block.