To Top

The Cure for the Summertime Blues

I hadn’t yet subjected myself to former Vice President Al Gore’s apocalyptic documentary about the effects of global warming, “An Inconvenient Truth,” but I didn’t need to. I had proof enough. It was 99 degrees outside, and inside the gym it was fricking hot and muggy because the air-conditioning unit was malfunctioning—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. It’s a hardcore dungeon where you’re as likely to find air-conditioning as you are to find pretty potted ferns and big pink Swiss balls to balance on while you curl three-pound chrome dumbbells.

So sue me: I like the little creature comforts of modern civilization. I enjoy turning on a faucet to get my water, rather than carrying it in buckets up from the creek. I buy my steaks already cut up, rather than having to kill and butcher the cow myself. I appreciate being able to flush the toilets in my home rather than use a stinky outhouse.

But I digress.

When I say that the air-conditioning was malfunctioning, I’m not being entirely accurate. It seemed to be working perfectly in the small area around the front desk—so the cute teenage girls working there and the young horndog guys who hung around spitting game at them could luxuriate in lightly chilled air. Flirting is hard work; we wouldn’t want them to break a sweat, 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.

In that particular corner of the gym it might have been a couple of degrees hotter than outside. I kept thinking I was catching a whiff of brimstone, and any minute I expected to see little red devils leap out from smoking cracks in the ground and start poking at us with pitchforks.

The combination of heat and humidity drains the energy out of you faster than finding out that the Playboy Playmate who’s been e-mailing you racy notes 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.

The weather was rough on me for a couple of reasons. Number one, I am not built for the heat. My ancestors are from England and Russia, so I’m more comfortable in the drizzling fog of the moors or a snowstorm on the frigid steppes of Siberia than under a blazing sun. I start sweating when the mercury goes over 70 degrees, and it gets increasingly more disgusting the hotter it gets. I pretty much perspire 24/7 from Memorial Day until Labor Day, leaving puddles wherever I stand still for more than a minute when I’m in the gym. My gym bag is always packed with at least three clean T-shirts, and if I didn’t carry a towel around to mop the rivulets of sweat that run down my brow, I would be blinded by my own stinging fluids.

Randy seemed to cope with the heat a little better than I do under normal circumstances, but now he was dieting for his contest, 12 weeks away. Each morning he woke up and headed right to the gym to do his cardio at four a.m. so he’d 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 fish oil he’d added to his supplement regimen was helping to sustain his energy levels, the sickening heat was getting the best of him.

We had done leg curls and stiff-legged deadlifts, and now we were finishing up squats. Randy sat down on a bench, looking 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,” I said.Randy shook his head and looked up at me like he was ready to cry, loosening his knee wraps, which he wore only on his heaviest set of squats.

“No lunges, Ron. Not today, please.”

My first inclination was to give in, 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.”

“What?” he whined. “Come on, be serious.”

“It’s your legs that are going to be up onstage in 12 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 ass 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 on your face!” He grimaced at the image, and I didn’t blame him. Monkeys at the zoo have been known to ask me in monkey sign language, “Dude, have you ever heard of deodorant?”

“Summertime is when most people do slack off on their training,” I conceded. “You have the sickening heat, plus vacations, days at the beach or pool and barbecues, all of which seem more enticing than pushing and pulling a bunch of heavy metal in a stuffy gym.”

“Don’t forget the cardio,” 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 who have been doing this since you were pooping your diaper and laughing at Elmo and Big Bird. You’ll be standing next to hungry newcomers like you who are all desperate to win their first trophy.”

“So, isn’t that good?” he asked.

“Not if you’re quitting your workouts early and not putting in 100 percent. You always have to assume that as hard as you are training and dieting, someone else 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 nearby fan, 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.” IM

Instantized Creatine- Gains In Bulk

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in Features