健美大神之路（A Bodybuilder Is Born）
Episode 49 – The Cure For The Summertime Blues!
I had yet to subject myself to former Vice President Al Gore’s depressing and apocalyptic documentary about the catastrophic effects of global warming, “An Inconvenient Truth,” but I didn’t need to. I had proof enough. It was fricking hot and muggy inside my gym since the air conditioning unit was malfunctioning, and that was inconvenience defined.
I know what some of you are thinking – what a big wuss this Harris character is! Ronnie Coleman trains out at Metroflex Gym in the equally unbearable and oppressively humid Texas summer, where air conditioning is about as likely to be found at that hardcore dungeon as pretty potted ferns and big pink Swiss balls to balance on and curl your three-pound chrome dumbbells.
So sue me, I like the little creature comforts of modern civilization. I enjoy turning a faucet on to get my water, rather than carrying it in buckets up from the nearest creek. I buy my steaks already cut up, rather than having to kill and butcher the cow myself.
I appreciate being able to have toilets in my home that flush, rather than an outhouse where stinky things just keep piling up rather than being whooshed out to the ocean where they belong, making some poor fish hold his fishy nose and say, “D@mn, what the h#ll was this guy eating, anyway?”
It’s Not The Heat It’s The Humidity
When I say that the A/C was malfunctioning, that’s not being entirely accurate. It seemed to work perfectly in a small area around the front desk, so that the cute teenage girls working there and the young horndog guys that lingered around spitting game at them could luxuriate in lightly chilled air.
Flirting is hard work, so we wouldn’t want them to break a sweat now, would we? Over by the squat rack where Randy and I were in our own little world of intensity and pain, it was a different story.
It was ninety-nine degrees outside, and in that particular corner of the gym, it may have been a couple degrees hotter. I kept thinking I was catching a whiff of brimstone, and any minute I expected little red devils to leap out from smoking cracks in the ground and start poking at us with pitchforks. Then again, they would probably get sick of the heat and decide to come back later when the a/c was fixed.
And when they say it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity; it’s so true. The combination is stifling and drains the energy out of you faster than finding out that Playboy Playmate that’s been sending you racy emails is actually an obese 44-year-old sanitation worker named Fred.
When there are beads of condensed water trickling down the walls, you know it’s humid. Walls were not meant to sweat – or bleed, for that matter, which is why I would never live in that d@mned Amityville Horror house.
Not Built For The Heat
The weather was rough on me for a couple reasons. Number one, I am not built for the heat. My ancestors are from England and Russia, so I am more comfortable in the drizzling fog of the moors or a snowstorm out on the frigid Steppes of Siberia than under a blazing sun.
I start sweating when the mercury gets over seventy degrees, and it gets increasingly more disgusting the hotter it gets. I pretty much perspire 24-7 from Memorial Day until Labor Day, and I have been cursed with sweat glands the likes of which you have never seen.
In the gym, I leave puddles wherever I stand still for more than a minute. My gym bag is always packed with at least three clean t-shirts, as I typically have to visit the locker room and remove a sopping-wet top about every thirty to forty minutes. If I didn’t carry a towel around to mop off my brow as it ran with rivulets of sweat, I would be blinded by my own stinging fluids.
Randy seemed to cope with the heat a little better than me under normal circumstances, but now he was dieting for his contest, twelve weeks away.
Each morning he woke up and headed right to the gym to do his cardio at four AM so he would have enough time to shower and eat something before training his first client at 5:30. He was already cutting back on his carbs, and even though the Cap-Tri he had added into his supplement regimen was helping to sustain his energy levels, this sickening heat was getting the best of him.
No Time For Slacking
We had done leg curls, stiff-leg deadlifts, and now we were finishing up squats. Randy himself looked finished, like a wilted flower that had given up. It was tough to not feel sorry for him.
“Okay, we’ll do our walking lunges, then finish up with a couple high-rep sets of leg presses.” Randy shook his head and looked up at me like he was ready to cry from the bench he sat on, loosening his knee wraps from his last and heaviest set of squats.
“No lunges Ron, not today, please.”
My first inclination was to give in, namely because I was not in the mood for lunges either. But I had to be firm.
“Okay, no lunges – for me. You still have to do them, though.”
“What?” he whined. “Come on, be serious.”
“Your legs are going to be up on stage in twelve weeks kid, not mine. Your legs are good, but are they so incredible that you can afford to slack?”
“Slack?” he replied with incredulity. “I just busted my @ss on squats and I’m soaked with sweat!”
“You call that sweat?” I countered. “Why, I ought to take my shirt off while you’re doing leg presses and wring out a quart of my high-test, toxic ammonia sweat onto your face!” He grimaced at the image, and I didn’t blame him. My sweat has been known at times to have monkeys at the zoo ask me in monkey sign language, “Dude, have you ever heard of deodorant? It’s this new thing you should try.”
A Season Of Distractions
“Summertime is when most people do slack off on their training, Randy,” I conceded. “You have the sickening heat that saps your motivation to train, vacations, days at the beach or pool, and barbecues that all seem more enticing than pushing and pulling a bunch of heavy metal in a stuffy gym.”
“Don’t forget the cardio, too,” Randy reminded me.
“Right. But you are in a special situation here, as you should know. How did you do at your first contest last year, do you happen to recall?” He merely grunted. “That’s right, you took dead last. You had your ass handed to you on a platter. You…”
“I know, okay, I get it! I sucked!”
“I didn’t say you sucked. You looked pretty good. But you need to look a lot better this time, because this time you actually have a good chance to win.
You’re up against other Novice competitors instead of a bunch of seasoned veterans that have been doing this since you were pooping your diaper and laughing at Elmo and Big Bird. You’ll be standing next to a bunch of hungry newcomers like you that are all desperate to win their first trophy.”
“So, isn’t that good?” he asked.
Now That’s Air Conditioning
“Not if you are quitting your workouts early and not putting in a hundred percent, and some of them are. You always have to assume that as hard as you are training and dieting, someone else out there is doing an even better job. That’s what motivates you to go beyond what you thought you were capable of and do that extra rep, that extra set, that extra cardio session that could make the difference between winning and losing.
Excuses are everywhere if you really want to look for them. In the winter you could say it’s too cold, or you are too tired from shoveling snow to train. But winners don’t make excuses, they do what they need to do regardless of discomfort, fatigue, or inconvenience.”
“Fine,” Randy said as we made our way over to the leg press. Between sets of 20, 30, then 50 reps, he stood under a fan nearby, which at least circulated the hot air, and guzzled cold water from a bottle that had already been refilled twice from the fountain.
As he got ready to start lunges, I went to the locker room. He was waiting for me to begin, as I usually bark encouragement at him on the return trip from the rear of the gym to the front desk area and back. I had my workout shake in one hand, and one of the ice packs from my cooler in the other. Randy seemed puzzled and nodded toward the ice pack.
“What’s that for?” he asked.
“Never mind, just get ready.” He cleaned the 60-pound fixed barbell off the floor in front of him and set it on his back. Now that he was rendered helpless to stop me, I pulled his waistband outward from the top of his shorts and dropped the ice pack into his underwear. He yelped like a dog that’s just had its tail stepped on.
“Now that’s air conditioning,” I said. “Do your set and make me proud.”