Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Grasshopper Goes To School

“My lift partner is out of town, would you like to sub for a few days”?
Whoa! What a question! Does a Lion like to eat raw meat, is 16 ounces equal to a pound, is the cube root of eight two, does light travel 6 trillion miles a year?
The answer to all of the questions including subbing, you bet.
I answered with some mild trepidation because I know lifting for Sparta is different than lifting for most; it is a serious business.
“But what the hell”, I have always secretly hoped to be asked to lift with the trainer and here it was, Christmas in July, Free Gin and Tonics, I just hope I don’t break something important like my ego or a long bone.
Day one, the question, “What do you want to do”?
I stammer about and finally decide on shoulders.
“Good I can do shoulders but lets add a twist, 10 sets of 10 reps in each exercise; a quick multiplication, 100 reps per exercise.
“Pick your weight with some caution”, good advice I was later to learn because once you pick a weight you never want to be forced to drop down to a lesser weight, in fact the unofficial rule says you are always allowed to increase the weight but never decrease the amount you are lifting.
This is worse than the rules of golf.
Shoulders went very fast as Sparta was in a hurry and had new clients coming in for training so we barely talked, I grunted and sweated and did the lifts as I became more and more sore and unsure if I could make it to the end.
Then, it was over, “See you on Friday, if you can”?
“I will be here”.
Friday rolls around and I am back, “We will do biceps and triceps”.
Same game, 10 sets with 10 reps for a total of 100 reps per each individual lift.
We start with Biceps curls, 100 reps, triceps pushdowns, 100 reps and on and on until we have completed five exercises and 500 reps; I could tell just looking at her that number one, she was not in a hurry today and number two, we were not finished.
She looked around the gym and I saw her eyes linger on the Dip Machine, “Let’s do 5 sets of full body weight dips, 10 reps.
Two things, at least it isn’t 10 sets, secondly I out weigh her by at least 60 to 80 pounds so I am disadvantaged; but I guess that isn’t her problem.
We complete the 5 sets, 50 reps total and I am reaching out to shake her hand but she looks pensive and finally says, “Let’s not leave 50 on the table, let’s finish with the last 50.
They were not deep, they were not pretty but as the last one tore even more muscle, I knew I had left nothing on the table.
Right fist in left palm, I bow, “Thank you Master, When lift partner number one returns school will be out but know, Grasshopper is learning".

Monday, July 26, 2010

It’s A “Sparty”

It has been awhile since I last updated the Blog, writers block, lack of material, laziness; who knows but now a story to tell.
The time is July and Sparta is having a birthday.
This usually prompts the group to begin planning a party; everyone likes a good party and the occasion is perfect.
(A question-how old is Sparta?
Hint- on my sixty third birthday we started Boot Camp with sixty-three jump squats, so when we were recently asked to start Boot Camp with thirty-two jump squats, maybe)
Sparta is consulted as to the best opportunity to get together; a time and date are set, the place, where else but Evansville’s most up scale Nouveau Fusion Restaurant (my interpretation of their menu), Bar Louie.
I first met this restaurant in Hyde Park (Chicago) and it never disappoints.
It is hot and we have elected to sit outside since the total count was approaching forty.
My wife and I were ten minutes late but arrived just as the guest of honor was strolling up, Sparta.
The dress (Sex and The City has come to Evansville) ranged from cocktail formal, midsummer attire, off the shoulder tops, Caribbean casual, western chic to blow your mind beautiful.
The mood festive in-spite of the heat and sweat and the beverages were stout.
The fare was from the small plates side of the menu; Hummus, Tabbouleh & Tzatziki, Chicken Nachos, Bruschetta Pomodoro, Tempura Shrimp along with multiple types of salad and tender Sashimi Tuna.

But the best, the card, the gift and the Carrot Cake,

The card, the creative work of Cheshire, was meant to be sung to the tune of “Wendy”, this was accomplished by a smiling Sparta and an uninhibited Deb from Oakland, the city not in California but Indiana.

The Carrot Cake (Sparta's favorite), a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday followed by a heart felt thanks from Sparta summed up the reason we all came; a birthday, a party, but even more, a time together for fun, friendship but most of all to fĂȘte a friend, mentor and teacher for her commitment to us. As I have said before, it is more than just a job for Sparta.

In closing I certainly hope we don’t have to wait another full year for this much "good times" and you all best be in Boot Camp Saturday.

The Lyrics

Who keeps an eye on all of her victims
Watching for our slightest mistake
Who’s coming in to demand more effort
Everyone knows it’s Sparta

Who’s counting down the punches you deliver
Snickering as we all grimace in pain
Who’s kicked our asses and caused us great soreness
Everyone knows it’s Sparta

And Sparta has stormy eyes
That lights up with each of our lies
And Sparta has guns that shock
And Abs that rock
(Abs that rock)

And Sparta will take no shit
She wants power with every hit
And Sparta will help you out
With screams and shouts
(With screams and shouts)

And everyone knows how much we love Sparta!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I Have To Set The Record Straight

If you have read past Blogs, it would seem that exercise is painful, difficult to accomplish and led by a merciless instructor.
Exercise is difficult, it is painful, it is demanding of muscle, joint and “mind”.
The instructor, not merciless but an expert, exhorting everyone to achieve levels of performance never achieved before, only achieved in dreams or remembered as past glories; always trying to keep everyone from injury.
It is each of us that have to decide to push ourselves to new limits.
You can stop, drink every few minutes, jump rope slowly, run slowly, lift the smaller weights, count two punches for each one, cut yourself short and in the end gain less than is possible.
Good exercise really demands each deciding to take themselves to the limit, to muscle failure, to breathlessness, to sweat loses, measured in pounds.
So when I hear people muttering about “how she killed them” I really want to congratulate them for “killing” themselves.
Over the past several years I have seen so many people change so much that even they themselves could not fail to notice it.
Whole supermarkets of fat have been lost; endurance has continued to improve even in the eldest.
So in summary exercise is like sin; it frequently hurts but it is usually a whole lot of fun.
Unlike sin, it doesn’t send you to hell just makes you feel like it for a few days.

Monday, July 5, 2010

It Is Great To Be Back

Vacations help clear the mind, reset the machinery.
It is a time to re-connect with family, to re-establish the love and ties that bind forever.
But, vacations extract a toll, travel, new diet, different sleep patterns, toward the end trying to find something to occupy the time.
So I really mean it when I say, “it is great to be back”; especially since I am a "creature" of habit.
That is what having OCD does to you.
I was able to return to Boot Camp on Saturday.
But then I always wonder, who missed me, who really “loves me”, do I really contribute?
Ammo sent a note, “Hope you are having fun with family, miss you”.
Fierce, “Where were you, missed you”.
“Mel-an-nee”, I "luv" her, she goes all out, 150%, “really missed you, glad you are back”, I am flattered.
Ambassador, “great to see you, come see my new house, I am ecstatic”.
Cheshire smiled, talked to me; that was welcome enough.
Judy and Elmo, always ready to smile, I felt their welcome.
Two weeks away, solidifies connections.
I could also tell that being away for two weeks, endurance changes quite a bit.
The class was held outside in the parking lot and included flipping a large tractor tire, laps, two jump rope stations, a crunch station, jump squats, over the head ball toss with a twelve pound weighted ball, farmers carry with kettle bells and several other stations; the class has gotten quite big and peaked out at 24 while I was on vacation.
The music was supplied by car speakers and kept the pace intense.
There were no rest stations and the circuit was completed three times.
Sparta, agitated, driving the class, demanding performance and sweat, yet no welcome back just a large club beating, until you quit or succeed.
I didn’t quit.
I knew I would soon see how bad it was; I was scheduled to train at the end of class.
Then a surprise, “I gave your training time away”.
Something inside got a lot smaller.
I felt terrible for the reaction but that is life.
I trained anyway, with some joy, the new participant didn’t show, but the pain came a lot faster and was much deeper.
Great to be back but adjusting, that will take longer than vacation.