Partners, Clocks, Growing, And Growing…

 Training Partner:  One And Done

In my mid to late teens I had just one training partner, Mike.  Mike and I were the Arnold and Franco of our gym – at least in our minds.  In our early bodybuilding days, we trained, we ate, and we caroused as though we were headed toward the top of the world.  It isn’t often that youthful ambition and youthful arrogance combine for anything good, but with Mike and me it worked – mostly.  Through my formative gym years, Mike pushed me to fulfill my potential and maximize my efforts in the gym, and I hope I did the same for him.    

Mike and I worked out heavy and aggressively, but our workouts were always fun.  Despite the serious nature of our intent, there were always laughter, unspoken communication, and the sense that we were exactly where we were supposed to be, doing exactly what we were supposed to be doing.  By our early 20’s though, Mike and I went our separate ways; me to the US Coast Guard, he to Santa Monica to pursue some combination of education and bodybuilding at the next level.    

Due to my time at sea, my workouts while in the Coast Guard where intermittent at best and I lost a great deal of ground.  When not at sea, I’d workout alone at the local Seabee base, but there was nothing special about those sessions.  My workouts were hard and heavy as they were with Mike, but I got in, got out, and gone on with my life.  If my workouts at the Seabee base lacked the camaraderie that they had with Mike, at least they were efficient.  Then I would be at sea for another month and lose it all.  After my discharge from the Coast Guard I headed home to Colorado and began the search for a new training partner, in pursuit of new gains – my foolish bodybuilding dreams still weren’t dead. 

That search for a new partner took me through several gyms, several partners, and was short lived.  No partner I attempted to workout with shared my intensity or my attention to the details of the workout the way that Mike had.  Then one day a wise man once told me, “The best training partner you’ll ever have is the clock on the wall”.  Working out alone would become my method for the next 25 years. 

Women And Clocks:  How They Have Influenced Me

The clock and I trained well together.  Just like at the Seabee base it was get in, got out, get on with my life.  Once I began my go-it-alone protocol, I just didn’t want to be bothered by extra flesh in my vicinity.  There were two occasions though, when I did extended stints in the gym with a couple of talented bodybuilders, one male, and one female.  That comparison, between the hardcore male and the hardcore female workout psyche, has influenced my training style as much as anything else.

My workouts with my female partner were just as intense as with any male partner I ever trained with, but the workouts were also elegant. Elegant in the sense that there was no ego, and a whole lot of grace.  They were an expression of creativity.  Jackie taught me to be stone-faced in the final reps of any set.  Not to squander energy, but to utilize it.  She also taught me to execute my reps with a slow, seamless fluidity – more like a dance than a lift.  When she and I parted ways I found myself immediately replicating her style of training which was no-nonsense, clock-based, highly focused, and to use an oxymoron, an intensely meditative style of training.  Through training with her I learned to connect with my body through every repetition, and for 20 years the pursuit of the perfect singular repetition has been my thesis – or my shtick as it were. 

Myles Down The Road

Tomorrow morning I’ll begin 4am workouts with my first male workout partner in 20 years.  Myles comes from a powerlifting background.  Last year he changed up his workout style in favor of more fitness and less bodyweight.  Having small children will do that to you.  Myles dropped about 60 pounds, switched to a no-nonsense approach with the weights, incorporated regular (hard) cardio into his life, and is now contemplating running his first marathon.

Last year, at his request, I took Myles through a series of mixed workouts.  I remember asking him what he thought he could learn from me.  He was just looking for a changeup, so I served it up to him; lots of supersetting, some plyo, lots of sprints – put down the candy.  Seeing his discipline and the changes that discipline lead to over the past year has been inspiring – I don’t inspire easily.  I think I have as much to learn from Myles as he does me.  It’s been a long time since I have left my comfort level and opened my ears and eyes to be pushed by another.  This one’s a no-brainer.

I need it now.  It’s apparent to anyone who’s seen me lately that I’ve let my physique slip a bit in the last couple of years – too much alcohol and too little sleep can break a body down.  My best years aren’t behind me yet.  For an insomniac, the idea of doing squats and sprints at 4am is definitely leaving my comfort level.  That I have given him permission to drag me out of bed if I’m still sleeping when he gets here is a commitment I take very seriously. 

I probably won’t be writing about this again for a while – until we’ve put a few months behind us.  I will be taking pictures along the way though, and if the progress is good, I’ll post the bad, ugly, and the good of it all – in that order.  Be well.  rc 


Please check back in two weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there’s this from the V-Roys, enjoy…

12 responses

  1. That’s really interesting, Roy! I once lifted with a woman who taught me great technique and attitude. I’ve long appreciated the way women in sports are very committed and focused, yet rarely angry of petulant as men can be. Over the years I’ve run with different people, but in the end it’s been the loneliness of the long distance runner for me. Perhaps that is a metaphor for my life also.

    I hope your relationship with Myles is good for both of you!

    • Understood Dr. J. I know will miss the solitude and meditative state of my solo strength workouts, but since I own the place, I know I will sneak them in from time to time. But I need this now…

  2. Seems a number of blogs lately are discussing changing things up and certainly you’ve got a change up in mind here. Many I’ve read talk of changing largely for the sake of avoiding boredom or trying something different. Nothing wrong with that. But I’ll hazard to guess many of them will take just short diversions in pursuing change up.

    You seem to be leveraging a wealth of background in considering this change. Thus I feel you can see a more meaningful reason why you want this change now.

    They say there is no substitution for experience.

    Best wishes on your endeavor. Look forward to the follow up.

    • Thank you Patrick, always mindful and well-thought replies! You’re right, changing up to avoid boredom is not a bad thing. For me, this change up is more about regaining a discipline that, after 30 years, has faltered some. The gaame ain’t over yet!

  3. I think any change right now might be a good thing Roy – having another person help you thru & getting past the sort of lagging times. It seems you have thought this thru & think this is the best course of action to help you crawl back up the wall & out & back to where you feel good about yourself again – not egotistical good but just good about you & life. I am wishing you well!

  4. I think this is a great time for this type of challenge in your life Roy and this guy sounds like a true friend as well as a fitness friend. I learn more from other people than I ever could “teach” them. That’s one thing I enjoy about blogging – learning and experiencing life with others who I may never even meet.

    Stay well and strong.

  5. I wish you all the best, but have a question: do you mean that by working out with the “clock on the wall” you had a strict schedule and worked out no matter what at set times? If yes, were there ever situations where this was impossible?

  6. I love the early mornings! The switch can be freakishly hard, but once you get into the rhythm you won’t turn back.

    Intensity and mediation = training…exactly.

    Keep killing it.

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