健美大神之路（A Bodybuilder Is Born）
EPISODE 9 – THE POWER OF RIVALRY
Randy was normally a very easygoing kid who rarely spoke ill of anyone or even showed the slightest signs of hostility. This had changed over the past couple weeks with the arrival to our gym of another young bodybuilder who had just moved here from Florida. Apparently he must have heard about our recent winter marked by several miserable blizzards dumping over a foot of snow each time and decided this would be a nice change from the constant sunshine and balmy breezes down in Fort Lauderdale.
Yes, I had gotten my share of extra lower back training shoveling out my driveway, and had the Christmas tree to show for it now that it was springtime and I was dieting down.
Randy was doing a heavy set of hack squats, but his focus was all the way across the gym. Kirk, the new guy, was at the front desk chatting with the latest cute young thing. This girl was from Chile, with a pretty fake looking bleach job. But the exotic features combined with a strong Spanish accent brought out the tiger in Randy, as well as the rest of us red-blooded males in the vicinity. These girls never seemed to last more than a month or two, so there was always someone new to add excitement to your gym experience. Randy’s eyes were narrowed to slits as he stared at them, nearly snarling.
“I hate that frigging guy,” he spat through gritted teeth. I covered his eyes with my hand for a second.
“Do I have to put blinders on you like a horse so you don’t get distracted? Sheesh! Come on, burn up those quads and then you can stew.”
New Kid In Town
Randy turned his attention back to the set and finished it, though I could see his being upset had prevented him from putting out the effort he should have. As soon as I racked it I knew it was time to set the young buck straight.
“Okay hothead, what’s the problem?” I already knew exactly what the problem was, but I needed Randy to work this out on his own. “That idiot. He thinks he’s so great. He pisses me off.” I knew Randy had never even met Kirk and knew absolutely nothing about him. Aside from a passing nod, I couldn’t say I was any more familiar with the guy. But it wasn’t his personality that bothered Randy.
It was his physique. Kirk and Randy appeared to be roughly the same age, but Kirk looked more like a bodybuilder already. He had some size on Randy, and his muscles had more of that round, full look to them. It wasn’t quite warm enough to be wearing shorts yet, so it was impossible to say what his legs looked like. That didn’t matter. We had ourselves a little rivalry here.
This gym was not exactly what you would call hardcore. The dumbbells only went up to a hundred pounds, so Ronnie Coleman probably wouldn’t be signing a two-year membership contract. There were some big husky guys who trained there, but before Kirk had come on the scene Randy and I were the only two ‘bodybuilders’ there. Since I was nearly twelve years old than him as well as being his mentor, it had never bothered Randy that I was a lot bigger than him. I could tell that Kirk bothered the bejeebers out of him.
“Randy, I know exactly what you are feeling right now, because I have been in this situation probably a couple hundred times. Here you were the hotshot musclehead here, and now along comes this guy who’s bigger than you and is getting a lot of attention. Female attention. If you two were rams you would be running at each other and smashing horns by now.”
“I know, but look at him, why does he always have to wear a tank top? What a show-off.” I gave Randy a look that told him I knew he was being a hypocrite.
“Except for leg day, Randy, you always wear a tank top too.”
“Yeah, but…” He knew he was stuck. “I bet he’s on steroids, too, the jerk.” Now I had to shake my head.
“And if you knew he has never used steroids, you would start talking about how he had better genetics, or has been training longer than you. These are all excuses so you don’t feel bad about yourself. And do you know what excuses are?” Randy shrugged. “Excuses are lies we tell ourselves. But it doesn’t even matter how or why Kirk looks the way he does.”
“His name is Kirk?”
“Randy, are you even listening to me? Look, I lived in California for almost ten years before I came back here and traded clean air for freezing winters. I trained at bodybuilding gyms in those years, three different Gold’s Gyms and a World Gym that is now a Gold’s Gym. I never had the best physique in the gym, ever.”
“小子，你有在听我说吗？就说我吧，在回到这儿体验寒冬前，我在加州住了差不多10年，呼吸着那里的新鲜空气。那些年我都是在健美级健身房（bodybuilding gym）进行训练，去过三家戈尔德健身房（Gold’s Gym）和一家世界健身房（World Gym），后面这家现在也变成戈尔德健身房了。我在这些健身房里块头从来都不是最大的。”
“Wow, that must have sucked,” Randy said in genuine sympathy.
“Back then I sure thought so. I mean, we train so hard and eat so well to look our best, and here are some other guys who make you look like you don’t even work out.”
“Hey, you said I was starting to shape up pretty well!”
I sighed. “I’m not saying that about you, that’s just how you think in your mind, at least I did. These bigger guys made me feel terrible, insignificant.” Randy was silent and I knew I had just struck a nerve. “I used to wish I had the biggest, best physique in the gym. They say be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it. Well, I came here,” I motioned around the gym, “and my wish came true.”
Randy smiled. “And it’s great, right? It must feel so cool.” I shook my head at him.
The Grass Is Always Greener
“No, to be honest, it’s nowhere near as fun as I imagined it would be. In fact, it’s a lot harder for me to get motivated now.” Randy was puzzled.
“Why is that?”
“I realized that when I was always around those better bodybuilders, even though I was jealous of them, their presence made me want to train harder. It was kind of like, I’ll show you, I’ll get bigger and stronger than you, jackass, and make you look pathetic someday! Do you get it? They were rivals, and rivalry and competition bring out the best in us. Instead of having a temper tantrum every time Kirk is here, you should use those feelings to supercharge your workouts.”
“Supercharge?” he asked, skeptically.
“Yeah, obviously if you’re watching him all the time he’s probably watching you. So that should inspire you to train with the heaviest weight in good form you possibly can, and keep getting reps long after you normally would have given up. Don’t you want to look like Kirk?”
“I’ll be better than him,” Randy said arrogantly, though there was some uncertainty in his tone.
“Okay, keep thinking like that and this is all going to work out for the best. And you know what? You and Kirk might end up being friends. Maybe even training partners.”
Randy snorted at that.
“I know you think that’s about as unlikely as Saddam Hussein getting a U.S. flag tattooed across his chest, but give it some time. Almost every bodybuilder friend I had over the years in California started out as someone I disliked solely on the basis of his superior physique.”
“You’re going out to LA to do your training video soon, right?”
“Yep, and I fully intend to come back with a lot of newfound motivation from being around guys with awesome physiques.”
Randy stayed to do calves and abs, while I had to run home to make an article deadline. As it turned out, Kirk came into the locker room while Randy was getting his stuff to leave, and they wound up talking. As you might expect, they have a lot in common and actually hit it off pretty well.
They already have plans to train together the week I will be in California, and you know what? I bet those are going to be some incredible, result-producing workouts for both of them. Jealousy may be a negative emotion, but rivalry can help you be your absolute best if you harness its power.