Yep, I found the earliest photo I have of me from my beginning work out days. Don’t laugh! Obviously, Schwarzenegger or Reeves I was NOT! This polaroid was in an old album that’s taken me a few days to find. Took a lot of clean up in Photoshop to make the image even show up. It’s really cool that I still have it, though.
Now where was I? Oh yeah, it’s about 1981, and I’m fourteen years old. Like I said, I was getting Muscle and Fitness in the mail now. Funny, I just had a flashback to about that time… I still remember reading my uncles’ copy of Schwarzenegger’s autobiography, “Education of a Bodybuilder”, while we were over at my Grandparents’ home one Sunday afternoon after church. I was in the kitchen. Weird how you remember certain things, where you were, what you were doing….
Anyway, I somehow talked my parents into getting me a weight set. A Joe Weider bench, with the old cement filled weights. The only place I could fit the gym set was outside on the deck. I’d work out there, then cover it up with an old blue tarp when I was done. That’s when this pic was taken. In the original photo, before I zoomed in to get this image, the tarp is visible, off to the right. I grew up in Greenville, SC, in the northwestern tip of that state. Asheville, NC, and the beginning of the what would lead into the Great Smokey Mountains, was less than an hour away. So, we did get mildly cold weather in the Fall and Winter, and even a few snow days most years (usually on my birthday). Mostly, it was kind of cold, gray, and rainy for most of the Winter.
So, the Weider set on the deck inevitably began to rust in a very short period of time. I moved it inside for a few months, into a corner of my bedroom. I’d lock the door and turn up the stereo as I worked out. I “rocked out” to Christian rock band PETRA, the American Graffiti soundtrack (50s Doo Wop), and to my Dad and Mom’s old 45s of Elvis, Ricky Nelson, and early Beatles. I was a weird kid, I know. Remember, I was working out alone. No spot. That spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E when you’re working out with free weights only, and don’t know what you’re doing. That’s why, one night, I dropped 175 pounds on my nose while I was bench pressing. That was my max at the time, and after I did it once, the bar started coming down on me. I screamed for help, but with the blaring stereo, no one could hear me. I should’ve just tipped the bar to one side, but instead has the bright idea to let it fall BEHIND me. It’s hard to think clearly in those situations. Well, the bar came down ON me…right on the bridge of my nose. I rolled it down, where it busted my lip, and then the adrenaline kicked in…I literally THREW it six or eight feet away, where it bounced off my bed.
That’s when I graduated to the DP 1000, as I believe it was called. Sold by SEARS, it was a cable and weight stack based system. I didn’t need a spotter. We assembled it in the moldy, partially finished basement. Actually, it was just a cement slab in the basement, surrounded by dirt. I only once remember an animal, a rat or something, being in there when I was. Well, maybe twice. I got to my “gym”, rain or shine, by running outside and down the hill to the side of the house, since there was no inside entrance to the basement. Once there, I worked out by the single naked lightbulb that hung from the ceiling. I remember playing Rocky III’s soundtrack (“Eye of the Tiger”), as I worked out and dreamed of being a pro bodybuilder….
To be continued…