Mr. Universe Dave Draper
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Weight Training - Bodybuilding - Nutrition - Motivation

You, Yourself and Your Personal Trainer

There you sit atop a cycle going nowhere and wonder if you might be better off on the stair-stepper going in the same general direction. Looking around as you pedal like a child but with a lot less enthusiasm, second thoughts about the gym scene sneak into your mind. You glance at your watch, again, and check your pulse, again. It's still beating you conclude for the fifth time in five minutes and you wonder where all the sweat comes from. You're tempted to glance at your watch once more and find that you are, in fact, staring at the thing in mild desperation.

This is exercise? Is this what I've got to do to get in shape? I'm huffing and puffing... I'm condemned and I signed up for a year. I want a Popsicle. Whoa... easy does it... relax. Don't lose your cool in front of all these neat people. That's better... we're in this for the long haul. You and me, buddy. Ain't nobody gonna shut us down. I'm talking to myself. Oh, great. There are two of us. Anybody else want to join the nutso party?

Hold on. Breathing is beginning to level out. Notice that? The shoulders and arms are performing less like bamboo and I'm feeling a rhythm. Takes a few minutes, maybe. The body, my body, is generating a charge and my pace is picking up. I think I'm doing it. We're doing it. This is a breeze. It's those endorphin things we've been reading about. Feelin' good, lookin' good and movin' on. You and me, buddy. What a team.

Ten minutes on the bike and the gym takes on different color. The busy sights and sounds are less distracting and you're a lot less self-conscious. The intimidation factor diminishes. You're warmed up and can see clearly. Now you can get to work, lifting the weights and tugging on the equipment. That's where it's at. The iron and steel. But, how?

I shall make a plain and simple statement, a truth that you can count on. What you need to know and do to progress toward your goals is basic and uncomplicated. You can in one attentive lesson learn the six or eight exercises you need to know, what muscles they work and how to do them. The rest is up to you: to practice and apply yourself, to observe yourself in the act of exercising, to focus, to be diligent and to be confident that you are improving day after day, workout after workout.

The stumbling blocks are inevitable. We want things sooner and better and easier. Be patient.

We compare what we do to what he or she does and decide what we're doing must be wrong. Be confident.

We stand outside the activity as if it were without style or appeal and therefore miss the involvement and play and muscular action. Concentrate.

We get bored and think of the entertainments of life. Commitment is essential.

We whine, "There must be an easier, less demanding way." Be courageous.

We're greedy, neurotic, selfish and want power, now. Persevere. The rewards are daily if we dare to press on. Humility, I am told, is one of them. We're bothered and bewildered with the task before us. Stress kills as sure as cyanide. Relax. It's your set. Stress reduction is a brilliant benefit derived from pushing the iron and lifting the steel.

We're curious and want to know the "why" of the matter. Good, but seldom does intricate knowledge in sport outweigh intense application. I have seen more muscle-building experts spout the fascinating biochemical features of cellular growth and the anatomical exactness of fiber activity within the infra- and supra-spinatus while their bellies bulged. Be intuitive and instinctive, feel and focus. Work.

You might want to do this: The above plain and trustworthy statement of simplicity can be best demonstrated by a thoughtful instructor. If your gym offers some basic instruction, take advantage of it and become familiar with your surroundings. This will give you the opportunity to adjust to the place, the people, time, space and your inherent ability without a too-soon, too-stiff commitment to a hired personal trainer. Get a sense of balance as your mind wanders and wonders. Experiment with this and that by reading the placards attached to the gizmos. Spy on the more experienced members and mimic them using playful weights. Be easy on your old partner as you scope out the joint out together. Share a few aches and pains. You're no dummies.

Be strong. As you practice, observe and make mental notes you'll recognize the interesting changes the body, mind and emotions go through. Maturity is my favorite word in describing the process as you continue the journey. The first month is a defining period for you. Within these days you'll gain a clearer picture of who you are and where you're heading.

Hey. Perhaps now you can employ a trainer who knows your elbow from your wrist: Someone with integrity and common sense who can evaluate you and set up a program to suit your needs. It will not require rocket science for your first blast off and three sessions should serve you sufficiently if you have an affinity for training and the instructor has skill. You can arrange a monthly or bi-monthly meeting for re-evaluation and a routine upgrade. This plan offers on-going counsel and accountability while sparing your independence and pocket book.

Personal trainers can be trendy. They can be under-muscled kids who got a certification attending some weekend seminar in San Jose. They can be mutts, pedigrees, hound dogs or pets. Experience, substance, respect and responsibility are sweet qualities to beg for. Chemistry — the internal language you and your trainer share — is paramount.

There's so much to say. Alas, my time and space have run out.

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