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A Bodybuilder Is Born, Episode 37

I hadn’t seen much of Randy since we’d competed back in May, but there certainly was more of him to see every time our paths crossed.


I hadn’t seen much of Randy since we’d competed back in May, but there certainly was more of him to see every time our paths crossed. He’d stayed lean for the week after the show to do a photo shoot for a clothing catalog, during which time he attempted to flirt with his modeling partner, a local figure champion who, he soon learned, was engaged to the owner of the clothing company, who also owned two local gyms. I thought Randy was a pretty sharp young guy, but apparently the three-carat rock weighing down her dainty left hand hadn’t tipped him off, nor had the fact that she drives a new Mercedes and is a 23-year-old graduate student. When I was in college, I could barely scrape enough money together to keep me in ramen from week to week.

Randy actually hooked up with the girl who did his makeup for the shoot. If I forgot to mention that his previous girlfriend, who was several years older, left him for a commercial airline pilot twice her age, my apologies. It’s just so damn hard to stay current with Randy’s love life when I write about him only once a month. Apparently, the girl who did his makeup—just a little foundation to cut down on his oily-looking skin, and he swears he won’t be turning into a drag queen anytime soon—had his heart from the first time she leaned over in front of him and displayed her ample cleavage. We men are such simple creatures when you really get down to it.

Randy had taken my advice about going on a mass-gaining quest once he’d rested for a week following the contest. The first time I saw him was less than two weeks into his bulking program, and his weight was 212. That was up from a dehydrated 184 at the contest, though he’d weighed 188 the night before. That 212 was close to his usual off-season weight, but this time he looked bigger and leaner. It was almost another three weeks before I saw him again, and by then he was up to 220. If he’d been appreciably fatter, I would have given him the third degree, but he wasn’t at all. The kid had taken advantage of the unique metabolic opportunity that follows a precontest diet (also known as the rebound effect) by training his butt off and putting the food and supplements away like a champ.

The last I’d heard from him he was holding steady around 221, because it was summer and he didn’t want to be too smooth to strut around the beach. Here in Boston, if you don’t take advantage of summer, you’ll regret it, since it comes only once every four years. At least, that’s how it feels when we are suffering through endless days of wind-chill factors bringing the temperatures below zero and blizzards that dump enough snow to totally bury Vern Troyer, the diminutive actor best known for portraying Mini-Me in the Austin Powers films.

Because Randy wasn’t training with me except very occasionally and my wife Janet’s work schedule often conflicted with my morning workouts, I’d been training solo quite a bit. One thing about having a partner that I’d forgotten was that it helps to keep the nuts away, since they see you already have someone to talk to. Now, it was open season on Ron.

One of my most dreaded pests was Roy. I’ve known Roy off and on since I joined my current gym more than four years ago, and wouldn’t you know, he looks exactly the same now as the day I met him. At a 20th high school reunion telling someone “you haven’t changed a bit” is the supreme compliment. In bodybuilding it means you suck because you haven’t improved.

Roy was 42, about 5’8” and 190 pounds. But, as I tell anyone who will listen (which isn’t too many people), height and weight never tell the whole story. Roy had a belly on him that looked as if he was going to give birth within a couple of months. His arms and legs had a little bit of size to them, just enough to let you know that he either worked out or had at one time, but they were doughy and smooth. If Roy were to get lean enough to see a six-pack, he would probably have to drop down to around 160. 

This guy was like so many others in gyms everywhere—a part-timer. I would see him for a month or two on a regular basis; then he’d fall off the face of the earth for a couple of months. Every time he returned, Roy made a point of seeking me out and letting me know that he was “getting back into training” and was “going to start eating good again.” I haven’t yet revealed the most ironic facet of all this yet. Roy was and is totally into bodybuilding. He subscribes to all the major magazines, actually reads them rather than just looking at the pictures, as I suspect many do, and is also a fan of the sport. He even went to the Arnold Classic once, and he can always tell you who’s won the most recent pro shows.

Roy also buys plenty of supplements, although only sporadically. That’s because he uses them when he’s training, then stops using them when he slacks off. He knows exactly how to train and eat to make the changes he wants with his body. He just doesn’t actually follow through and do it. Because of that, I’ve always found Roy to be particularly annoying. I can forgive the ignorant for not training correctly or eating the way they should, as they simply don’t know any better. But for someone to have all the knowledge and squander it by not applying it just burns me up. 

As the years have gone by, I have found it increasingly difficult to conceal my disgust. I had just finished a heavy set of squats in a power rack and was stretching my quads out when Roy sauntered up. It was late July, and unless I was mistaken, there had still been snow on the ground the last time I had seen this knucklehead.

“Hey, Ron, how’s it going?” he said, smiling. Roy was wearing a string tank top. Roy should not wear string tank tops, except maybe perhaps in the confines of his own home—with the window shades down. His string tank top was fairly dry because Roy didn’t train hard enough to break a sweat. I had seen him meandering around the machines and doing a little dumbbell work, and that was it.

“Hey, Roy, long time no see. Where’ve ya been?” This had better involve his being kidnapped and sold into slavery in Southeast Asia to work in a sneaker factory, or else.

“Ah, work’s been stressing me out.”

“Oh? I can’t think of a better stress reliever than hard training,” I said. Then I reconsidered. “Okay, I can think of one better way, but it involves Jessica Simpson, Shakira and a giant hot tub filled with maple syrup. So what, Roy, you haven’t had time to get to the gym?” He was starting to look uncomfortable.

“Well, like I said, I’ve been busy with work.”

“Right.” I nodded. I knew he was single and had no kids. I pointed to a hard-bodied woman in her late 30s running on the treadmill. Sweat was literally flying off of her brow and drenched her sports bra and tight workout pants. Not that I was complaining, mind you. “Susan over there is a single mother with two teenage daughters. She works full-time and chauffeurs her kids all over creation. She’s here training at least five days a week. I wonder where she finds the time.”

“Huh, that’s great,” Roy commented, shuffling and starting to look around. I think he was finally starting to figure out that I was no longer going to shower him with encouragement as I had done in the past. “Well, I’m all done for today. I’m gonna start getting serious again.”

“Done? What about cardio?” I stared at his belly. “I seem to recall your telling me you wanted to get that gut down. In fact, you were telling me that a couple of years ago, and it looks about the same to me now.”

“Yeah, I know. I just have to ease back into it—you know, baby steps.”

“Baby steps are for babies,” I said. “You’re over 40 years old. You don’t have a lot of time to be easing into anything anymore. You should be doing cardio to burn that fat off. But fine. You’re done for today, you say. Where’s your shake?”

“What shake?” he asked.

“The last time we talked, I told you to get some whey protein, Vitargo or waxy maize, creatine and L-glutamine for your postworkout shakes, which were to be drunk immediately after training. You’re done training, so where’s the shake?”

“Oh. Oh, yeah, well, I’m not going to start using supplements again until I get my groove back with training.”

“Get your groove back? Is your name Stella?” I shook my head and decided to go for the kill. Don’t ask why, but I was just in a pissy mood that day. Maybe it had something to do with waiting over two years for the sequel to Rob Zombie’s schlock-horror classic “House of 1,000 Corpses” to come out, only to have it completely suck ass. “How’s your eating?”

“I’m going to start eating good again,” he assured me.

“When? Why not today? Are you waiting for a burning bush to tell you to stop eating junk and eat the way you know you’re supposed to?”

To say Roy looked uncomfortable would be an understatement. I knew he regretted approaching me this time. Lest I scare him away from the gym yet again with my hostility, I decided to at least attempt to be more encouraging. I knew he wasn’t a bad guy, just a lazy S.O.B.

“Roy, I have known you for a few years now, and from day one I was impressed with your knowledge of training and nutrition.”

That brought a little smile. “Thanks,” he said.

“But you haven’t put any of it to use. You should look a lot better than you do, and you know it. If you applied all that knowledge packed in your brain, you’d have a lot more muscle on you and a lot less fat. You would look like a bodybuilder. I hate to say it, but to me you don’t even look like someone who works out, and that’s a shame.”

He hung his head and nodded. “I know, I know,” he said quietly.

“Exactly my point. Let me tell you something, and forgive me for being blunt. It’s just how I am. I’m sick of you telling me you’re going to do this or that and finally get in great shape. I don’t want to hear it anymore. Stop talking about it and just do it. Forget all the lame-ass excuses that you make to yourself, because they are all bull. You know what you need to do, so get to work right now.”

He didn’t say a word, but he refilled his water bottle and headed for the treadmills. There were plenty of open ones, but he went right next to Susan. I could see Roy trying to make conversation with her, but she was wearing headphones and turned the volume up on her MP3 player, ignoring him.

All of a sudden I realized I wasn’t doing what I needed to do, either! I had to make sure I was able to finish my workout with no more interruptions. I went back to the locker room and retrieved my own headphones, which I normally didn’t wear except for cardio. I slipped them on and cranked up the tunes. My missionary work for the day was done, and all the other nuts would have to wait until another time to piss me off.  IM

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