My fascination with bodybuilding started more than 50 years ago behind an ammo locker in Vietnam when I witnessed a group of guys bench pressing a truck axle to muscular failure. The sight of this meeting of the muscle is still ingrained in my brain.
These men was so beautifully chiseled I remember starting to worry about my sexuality. At that time, I weighed in at 175 pounds with a soft little belly and stringy arms. I felt washed out and wimpy next to these tanned and swollen stevedores.
Thus began my “off and on” with iron. I loved the pump. I loved the total awareness of my body that it brought. Even through my rock band years, with the rampant alcohol and drug abuse, I could still manage a half assed workout to achieve that glorious feeling.
But as the years wore on and I wore off, my weight lifting activities ceased. I became more interested in my video production business and making a living. Editing entails hour upon hour of sitting and staring into a computer screen in a redundant stupor of edits, changes, script writing, rewriting and standing still for hours behind a camera trying to coax a performance out of a CEO.
The years started to take its toll. Before I knew it, I was 230 pounds and was a more than willing participant in a serious prescription drug habit. I would’ve taken anything to get me through a long corporate video project. And I did.
Just before my 70th birthday, the wheels came off. My marriage was over, my business had tanked and I was lost in a haze of alcohol and Xanax. My condition was life threatening.
My chicken had no spring.
I entered the VA rehab unit on August 14, 2016, a beaten, battered and bloated mess. I was a stroke waiting to happen they told me. In a few weeks I was back on the street, a wobbly version of my old self. I didn’t take any pictures of myself right away. Thank God, it pained me to look in the mirror.
I had lost everything. The rundown, claustrophobic apartment I found myself in with two little dogs drove me batty. So I would walk.
One Sunday I came upon a 24 hour gym not 900 steps from my paint chipped front door. I joined immediately.
Mainly for someplace to go and get some exercise to help with the anxiety and sleeplessness that accompanies long term drug withdrawal. Which was brutal.
The picture on the left was taken on November 21, 2016, just a few months out of the hospital. I was 30 pounds lighter and feeling a lot better about life. I started to add resistance exercises to my regimen and things started happening. Rather quickly.
My body changed and people at the gym started commenting. It wasn’t long before I signed up to study to be a personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine, N.A.S.M.
The muscular gains came on quickly. Even at 70 years old. I have never taken performance enhancing drugs. No growth hormone, no testosterone, Nada.
The only signs of diminished testosterone is less body hair. Fine with me. I can give as good as I get under any physical circumstance. I train alongside college students and never miss a beat.
What happened with me is muscle memory. My body remembered all the muscle I had acquired in my life and quickly moved to replenish its stores.
And the hits keep coming.
Three years later at 73, I am amazed at the cardiovascular and muscular gains I’m making. I am an elder athlete. No question. I am doing things with my body these days that would have sidelined me 50 years ago.
I run 5 miles every night and weight train with no restrictions. I am nursing no injuries or illnesses and at 190 pounds, I’m not looking to lose or gain any body weight.
If you have been inactive over the years and are hesitant to start building up your body because you think you have to start all over, remember that your muscles have a long memory.
Muscle is like rock and roll, it never forgets.
C’mon back. 🙂