I was a young lad of 16 – but a man, as for a year I had lived on my own in a small bed-sit above a charity shop.
I had very little; bedding, tape-recorder, a few clothes and a stack of bodybuilding mags, that was all.
The room had an old chair, a single bed, cooker, two bar heater, sink, and an electric meter that gobbled coins when you put the fire on.
I had nothing yet I had everything. I had freedom from life stresses, and a love and excitement for training.
Not a care in the world they say. I didn’t, I worked, fed, and clothed myself, paid the minimum outgoings, and lived a very basic life. I was living the dream as you would not believe how easy and happy life was.
Nights would be spent in a garage gym just a block down with a good mate Martin who became a training partner for many years.
The garage had a pit in the middle of the floor that we covered with some study boards that still creaked when you dare venture over them. The windows had more holes than glass, and the only light was a bulb in one of those frames with a clamp on used for working on cars. We would clamp it close to our working place as the workout progressed.
The ‘gym’ was small — two cars at best, but we had what we needed. A shit load of plates, a couple of bars, and dumbbells you made up and tightened with an allen key. A rack and bench, and a homemade pulley Martin had made. Martin was around 20 and a welder by trade he knew training and he made what he needed. It was old school and then some.
This may sound odd but I loved the dust – the rust, the cold, the sound of the wind blowing through the hole in the wall passing for a window. It was simply hard graft on the basics. No worries, no information overload – just training in a muck hole, but in a pure and simple form.
This place was the foundation of my initial gains and the basics that stuck with me, not only in training but life also.
I can remember training the body as a whole, benching, flys, chins, dumbbell rows, squats, standing press, curls, upright rows and push downs on the pulley that hung from the rafters. These you had to do slow or the weights tied to the end of the cable threatened to swing into your knees –or worst yet ya balls.
Sets? As many as we felt needed I would then drink milk and eat slice after slice of bread and honey while playing Eat To The Beat by Blondie on my tape player back at my pad. I would read as I did not even have a TV and would pour over muscle mags and Conan comics I still own to this day.
I would sleep sound expecting to gain and I did, I grew because I believed I would. It was that simple I trained basic –ate basic –and thought basic.
Life again is simple – worry free -stress free, as simple as it comes.
I train in two throwback gyms that are as old school now as they were when they opened 40 years ago.
Muscle Pitt Dewsbury and Dickies in Batley have what I love, old hard core kit set in hard work surroundings.
Nothing is for show but built to work, much of it hand made by an old body-builder that knew what he was doing.
Here I feel at home I feel young again. I feel like a kid with wild eyed expectation of the progress to be made. The setting and atmosphere transports you through time and training is incredible.
This is how progress is made – you olds uns like me will get this.
Young guns – I hope you one day feel this love and excitement and you feel it for life. See it through to the very end.
Love to ya all Ian