Welcome to the Blog!

Scroll down for the latest posts!

sticky-2-readHowever, before you do:

This blog is for guys who admire other guys who put real effort into their physical development. It is NOT exclusively gay, but hopefully you will be gay-friendly.

tumblr_neimn2tEkV1qffcrao3_500The rules are simple:

  1. Make an effort to improve your own fitness this year (you’re NEVER too old);
  2. Enjoy the pictures (and comment please on what you see, and feel free to ‘FOLLOW’);
  3. Buy a book (preferably, all of them) to support the continuation of the blog!

The books (print and e-versions available) are about finding gay love, developing ourselves as acrobats, starting a family (yeah, I’m a gay dad and enormously proud of my teenage son!!), going on tour, meeting difficulties ‘head-on’ (they become a bit of a thriller as well). sticky-1-readLinks from all posts from September 2014 onwards will lead you to more information and potential purchase – they are in almost every post and either through clicking on images of the covers, or on the separate links when given!! And, as the image on the right clearly shows, you can follow all of these rules at one go…

The blog is essentially G-rated; the books get a little explicit from time to time about gay guys doing what gay guys do – you don’t have to be gay to enjoy them – just be gay-friendly. 

And now, as they used to say on the old TV game shows: “Come on Down!”⇓

*** Many pictures will enlarge if you click on them ***

 

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“Five Boys”…

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School’s out, Easter’s coming, and the Brits are here! The son of my oldest friend Colin, and my son’s great British mate, Ollie, flown over in the care of the parents of one of Ollie’s best sporting pals in the UK, one Alex, who’s slightly older than my son Leo, and a very talented gymnast on the apparatus (he’s been to our center already and he is very good)…

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Along with Leo’s friends Chris and Ryan, we therefore have a gang of five boys sharing our home and our training spaces – all of them with the same ambitions – to become as fit as they can, have great bodies, and participate in the sports they love – gym, acrobatics (new to Alex but he’s seriously keen to learn!), wrestling (ditto) and so on.

To be fair, the two locals Chris and Ryan do return to their own homes occasionally, but overall the ‘tribe’ is sticking together like glue. Ollie has been with Leo and Chris both in UK and over here several times – they Skype constantly, show off their muscles and their latest ‘tricks’ usually with a grinning parent in the background (Colin was a gymnast too, and Natasha his wife: I don’t know about Alex’s mum or dad as yet but they are very welcome here).

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It means the boys camping out in the training cabin while the parents get Leo’s basement room (cleaning it up was something of a challenge) but everyone is very, very happy. It is going to be a great Easter. Alex’s parents get to go off on their own for a bit whilst we host their boy here.

Naturally, the boys are keen to show off their latest weights results…

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…and there is competition, but the bottom line with this group is that they all want everyone else to be as good as each other. Ollie has been demonstrating this admirable attitude for some years now (despite being the youngest): I guess I’ve driven that ethic into Leo myself – and it is working brilliantly. ‘One for all and all for one’ could never have been so true.

It’s always better training in friendly groups, whatever the exercise…

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…some take it to slight extremes…

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…Leo and the local lads do tend to throw off their clothes when training in private “because we don’t need them and we’re going to get sweaty” and (I admit) following the example of my partner Dave and myself, and our male friends. Bodies are to be admired, after all. And, to make things totally clear, all five boys are seriously straight (unlike ourselves), Alex included – very clear from his conversations with Ollie and our gang when we met them at Knoxville airport!

It’s going to be a fun Easter for all. Less work at the gymnastics center for us (with some sessions taking a break): a chance to be tour guides for our new British friends (being British ourselves, we sometimes feel that we need such a sanity check), time to encourage the boys in their endeavours and to throw a few weights around ourselves… and maybe show off a bit as well…

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But this break is for the boys, and we’ll likely see more of this stuff…

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If you can’t get covered in dirt when you’re a teenager (well, nearly, in Ollie’s case) then you’re really missing out. And the rain will wash it off…

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‘Running shirtless is cool’ says Alex, when our boys suggested it. It rained on them a little. ‘And running shirtless in the rain is REAL cool…’ …so he’s a convert immediately, when the heavens obliged. Of course, it’s somewhat warmer here overall than in UK right now, which we hear is having storms yet again, so Ollie and Alex probably think it is summer already!

Not sure about leaving your gym equipment out in the rain, though, even if you relish the wonderful feel of the drops against your skin…

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I may even get some time over the Easter break to continue book 4, the tragic tale of a Native American boy inspired by a short visitation from just one as such, but otherwise entirely fiction. Meanwhile, for gay readers (and those who are gay-sympathetic) there are three out there already in print and in e-space covering some of our earlier exploits in gay love, circus and (mis)adventure. Click on the covers.

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But now: some more fitness to inspire our boys – and perhaps ourselves as well!

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Aha – there’s another thing waiting for Alex! Wild swimming in the Clinch River. Maybe we forgot to mention that one as yet…

…but right now I’m going across to the cabin to check out how they are going with their weights – ‘relaxing’ a couple of hours after a hearty ‘family and friends’ Sunday lunch. Sometimes the sitting-down exercises are the best after such a meal, like these Zottman curls for the biceps. I’m sure they’re doing great!

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PS: I stole the title of this post from a 60’s British chocolate bar, which my dad told me he used to demand on a regular basis from his parents. The head-and-shoulders pictures of five boys of dubious vintage, anticipating the delicious taste of the chocolate graced the outer wrapper of what he remembers was a rather dark chocolate costing about sixpence at the time (roughly 2.4 pence in current English money or about four US cents today).  And, thanks to Google images… here we are! Even cheaper, so even older here just one old English penny!

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Time Warp Time

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For a short period every March, lasting three weeks, my time displacement from family and friends in UK reduces to four hours instead of five. This arises because of changing to daylight saving time on different dates. Even after more than 15 years living here in Tennessee, I still need to go figure what time it probably is in the UK before I pick up the phone  (or Skype!).

Tennessee is a doubly odd place, because I only have to drive 20 miles west, and the time slips back another hour. The time zone cuts an eccentric line right through the middle of the state. In that area, smartphones are permanently confused about the time and my one keeps switching back and forth an hour, times given out on the radio or TV can be an hour out of sync, and things sometimes get a bit surreal!

Apart from that…

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…don’t we all run out of ‘fun’ time??! I often feel that I really need this time warp.

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IThe first part...The second part...Cover 3 Thumb confess to having meddled with time a little bit in those infamous books of mine (click on covers for better information, or search Amazon for e-versions). The three books cover about three years between them, and then time suddenly accelerates to cover five more years in the last few pages of the third book. All I can say is that it seems to work!

And so now, with no real idea of what the time could be where you are, let me offer the usual diet of additional pictures of fit young men doing what fit young men like to do. If the promotion of fitness bothers you, you are probably not here in the first place, but you might like to take a look at the previous post and offer an opinion on how one should (or should not) approach the promotion of fitness in the gay community. An interesting conundrum raised by a concerned (but much valued) reader. Go see. And now, lets see if we can give a balanced view on things…

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That one is rather easy, if you give it a good shot. This next one definitely ISN’T…

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And if balance is not your thing, don’t worry. Let’s just hit the gym for a couple of pictures:

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There’s a sweaty guy. But if you’d just rather admire the results in others instead of doing it yourself, feel free…

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Past your time to make some improvement? NO! It’s never too late to have some fun, doing what you feel you can, just to try and keep in shape. There’s time: there’s always time…

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Have I Got It Wrong?

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When I’m not promoting books, I spend most of this blog promoting the values and benefits of fitness for guys of all ages – gay or not. A recent thoughtful e-mail contact from Eric of West Massachusetts prompted me to reconsider whether the tone of this blog is all wrong.

With Eric’s permission, what follows the next picture is his edit of two lengthy e-mails offering a point of view which I had not considered, and maybe should have. Both Eric and I would really appreciate your points of view as comments here.

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Hey Tone,
I am a little bothered by your explanation of your gayness in terms of guys being a herd or pack, of not wanting to be an outcast from that pack, and your comparison of being outcast to being picked last for team.  My concern isn’t just with the “Why Are You Gay?” post, but with an attitude or perspective that’s fairly pervasive throughout your website, but I’ll focus my comments this particular post.
The first thing about that post that really struck a nerve was the comment about not wanting to be an outcast from the pack.  When I was a kid (back in the 70s & 80s), kids weren’t explicitly bullied for being gay–perhaps because there were no openly gay kids back then (at least not at my schools)–but there were always a few kids who were “outcast,” and therefore a target for bullying, for any number of reasons (e.g., they were “nerds,” they were “brains,” they were bad at sports, they were shy and sensitive, they dressed unfashionably or wore their hair wrong, they were smaller than average, they were “weak,” they were “weird,” or they were otherwise simply easy to vicitimize).  It seemed to me that most “normal” kids seemed to equate being gay with being different in any or all of the aforementioned ways, and it DOES seem like most of us get caught in the net–the majority of gay guys I meet have ugly and painful stories of not fitting in when they were kids and being bullied for it–they weren’t necessarily bullied for being “gay,” they were bullied for being “different.”  The gay guys I’ve met who weren’t bullied as kids tend to be those who were tall, handsome, athletic, popular, outgoing, and very careful to hide their sexuality from their friends, family, team mates, etc.  (As adults, such men may talk about the pain of having to hide their sexuality when they were young, but I think they generally grow up to be more confident and well-adjusted than those of us who were outcasts).
Anyway, going back to your need/desire to be accepted/wanted/respected by the pack of (sporty) guys…  I think that many (most?) gay guys take a different approach.  I think a lot of us decide that achieving acceptance by that pack is neither possible nor desirable, turn our backs on sports and other athletic endeavors, and seek satisfaction and fulfillment in the pursuit of other interests.  Some of us seek acceptance in other communities (e.g., art, music, theater), move to a gay mecca, get involved in gay rights, or join some exclusively gay subculture (e.g., drag queens, leathermen).  Others end up rejecting the “pack mentality” altogether, shunning the company of other men, or even of other human beings, in the pursuit of solo interests.
But the comment in your post that really rubbed salt in the wound was the comment about not wanting to be the kid picked last for the teamAs the kid who was always picked last for the team (or maybe 2nd to last, if I was lucky), that really hurt.  (God, that was 25+ years ago…I thought I had put it behind me long ago, but I guess not.)  I just hope that you realize that being one of the last kids picked for the team is cold, hard, cruel reality for some kids.  There are lots of reasons for it:  Some kids are developmentally behind the other kids or may have conditions such as asthma or poor eyesight.  Others are simply clumsy, awkward, uncoordinated, or otherwise not athletically inclined.  I suspect that a disproportionate number of such kids are gay.  In any event, such kids are often perceived as gay and subject to the same kind of bullying that gay kids often endure.  
Speaking for myself, not only was I unable to compete with other guys physically when I was growing up, but I realized long ago that I’d probably never be able to compete with other guys physically.  For one thing, all the exercise and training in the world won’t overcome certain inherent physical limitations; even if I worked until I reached my maximum potential, there’d always been someone stronger and more skilled–someone able and willing to smack me down.  But the other reason I’ll never be able to compete with other guys physically is that I’m simply not interested in doing so.  I just don’t want it badly enough to put in all the work when I’d rather be doing just about anything else.
I’d be lying if I said that I wouldn’t like to be stronger, fitter, slimmer, and better able to defend myself in a physical confrontation, but my priorities have always been elsewhere.  I’ve had to accept the consequences of those choices–one of which is an overweight body, another is the psychological and emotional impact of the media-pervasive message that we all need to be young and beautiful.  I can handle that, but I found your website a bit harder to take.  It took me back to my childhood and reminded me of the bullying and humiliation I suffered at the hands of the kids who were stronger, faster, and good at sports (e.g., being physically overpowered, called a “weakling” or a “girl,” etc.), of other guys simply not wanting to associate with me, and of the cruelty of gym teachers and coaches who were contemptuous of the kids who couldn’t run or jump or throw as well as the other kids.  (I have some especially bad memories of the Presidential Physical Fitness Test.  I couldn’t come close to the benchmarks; for me it was like a form of torture).
Obviously its not wrong to pursue/promote physical fitness or athletic skill, nor is there anything wrong with associating with other guys who have similar interests in a way that’s “competitively supportive” (or maybe “supportively competitive” is a better term) as you describe throughout your website.  In a way, it’s great that there are gay guys who are willing and able to subvert the stereotypes and confront the homophobia and heterosexism that may exist in the “sporty guys” pack.  But I’m worried that the way you explain your sexuality in terms of seeking acceptance by that pack and wanting to be “equal” to the guys in that pack may be very alienating to your gay brothers who followed a different path; it implies that anyone who is not part of the pack are not your equals and are not worthy of your attention or respect.  In other words, rather than subverting stereotypes (e.g., gay men can be strong and athletic), you seem to be supporting and reinforcing the stereotype that only strong, athletic, physically fit men are worthy to be considered “real” men, worthy of membership in the pack, and the rest of your gay brothers remain outcasts, something less than men, as we have always been treated by the dominant, heterosexist culture.
I just hope that you realize that some of us simply can’t compete (i.e., “rank alongside” or “measure up”) with the guys in the “pack.”  Consequently, I’m not inspired by the way you try to promote physical fitness (which I think is an extreme form of physical fitness that goes far beyond was is necessary for good health).  Frankly, I find the way you talk about physical fitness to be intimidating and alienating.
On a more positive note, in spite of what I just said, you have got me thinking about physical fitness and maybe putting my physical health a bit higher up on my list of priorities, although my goals are much more modest that the level of physical fitness which you seem to be promoting.  I’ve been changing my diet and I’m trying to do a little bit of exercise every 3 days or so.  I’m trying to think about exercise in a positive way, focusing on how happy I’ll be if I see results rather than on how much I hate the actual act of exercising.
Thanks for considering my perspective.  I hope you are well.
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Thanks, Eric. I mean that. Thanks for taking the trouble to set out your thoughts so carefully.
The post in question set out to slightly ridicule the frankly stupid I was asked – ‘Why Are You Gay’ – as if it was my choice from a range of options. Yes, my friends, family and I are a load of fitness fanatics, I suppose, and we like to promote fitness which, frankly, is our business. But I never intended to exclude anyone – gay or not – sporty or not. Most certainly I did not intend to demean any gay person who is not sporty. I think that the trap I have fallen in to, at least in part, is the argument against the assumption that is sometimes made that a gay couple must include one effeminate ‘wife’ – at least in the opinion of those who do not understand that two guys can be in love without one of them having to play some artificial ‘role’.
I have replied to Eric at length, off line, but both of us would appreciate your views. That said, this blog is (and always was) intended to celebrate gay love, our love of a particular brand of sports – lifting, acrobatics, circus – and to promote a number of books which merge those subjects with a bit of adventure. See previous posts, or the head-up sticky post, for details of those. So that’s where I’m coming from, and what the blog will continue to do. I asked Eric to tell me if there were particular images that he would not wish to see associated with his message, and he said that he was kewl with my choices. So a few more, just to make this post a little more ‘normal’. Whatever that means. We look forward to hearing from you. If you prefer to use e-mail and let me condense your thoughts into anonymous comments, use gymacrobat@gmail.com
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Dolce, Gabbana, Elton John and Prof Golombok

There’s a blog title for you! “What the hell is he on about this time?” I hear you ask? Pause for a great opening picture…

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…well, I like well muscled backs and that’s a particularly good example. Now, where was I?

Last week, the supposedly gay duo of Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbano enraged several communities at once by denouncing IVF babies as ‘chemical offsprings’ and ‘synthetic children’ and then went on to object to gay adoption (and let’s enlarge that to gay parentage in general since Clare and I (and indeed Dave and Karen) conceived our kids in the conventional way… admittedly after a lot of stimulation from caring gay friends… (see the first book!). Well, the first person to take up the defence was The Rocket Man himself, our Elton, father of two boys from a surrogate mother, followed quickly by Madonna (I forgot her in the title but it’s quite long enough already!).

Prof Golombok is at The University of Cambridge in UK and is about to publish a timely book on the subject, in which she interestingly explores ‘non-traditional families’. That includes single parent families as well as lesbian-mother or gay-father families. Oddly, no-one seems to want to consider situation in which the biological gay parents actually live in the same (dual) household, but no matter. The important conclusion from the learned lady is that “gay parents bring up children just as well as straight ones, and statistically, they may be better parents”. Even better: “Gay fathers are more involved with their children’s lives…(than heterosexual or lesbian couples) and, on average, have lower levels of depression.”

I had not realised that in UK, “gay” is becoming the street word (or at least the school word) for “stupid” – that’s not one we’ve encountered here in Tennessee. Prof Golombok also suggests that children get constantly fed up having to “explain” their family to others.

Pause for another picture: muscle development in progress.

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So, over our slightly atypical Sunday lunch (two lesbian mums, two gay dads, a second gay couple and the two aforementioned allegedly normal and definitely straight kids), we got to discussing this, having found the news item turning up on Dave’s phone from some news feed or other. And we feel that the kids are well old enough to have a view and to discuss their position with adults.

In the second of my books I published a letter I wrote to my son just before he was born. I was very emotional at the time over the forthcoming birth, and deeply worried that the abnormal family arrangement would work against him. Dave worried likewise about Jaymee. I tried to spell out how lucky he would be to have (effectively) two mums and two dads, making him really special. Not ‘better’ than other kids, but different in a way which should not be detrimental and could be an asset.

Well, he’s a pretty normal 13yo boy in all of those respects. Yes, he definitely does have to defend his position (and that of Jaymee, who he thinks of as his ‘sister’) from time to time, but he has a circle of friends from ‘ordinary’ families and has even won over an initial furiously homophobic one where the only son is now his second-best mate, sharing the vigorous physical training they all enjoy. In that last respect, I guess he’s abnormal: both parents are acrobatic performers and heavily into fitness – hence all the pictures like this one which accompany my meandering postings:

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…and hence he has inherited both a keen interest in those things as well as an apparent acrobatic ability which seems likely to exceed that of both parents! Jaymee is pretty much the same.

Both of the kids clearly want to spend time with their assortment of parents, and we all love them to bits for wanting that. Of course, they want to spend loads of time with friends as well, especially their sporting ones, and that happens too. So the pace is frenetic – school is seen as a nuisance getting in the way of training and performing! – but Dave and I were a bit like that and the mums positively hated school. Yet we all get along, make enough money to live on, have fun…

I think that’s what it is all about. And when my son gleefully jumps up and down on my stomach while I lay on the broken glass or nails, that’s one of his ways of saying ‘I love you, Dad!’ And then he asks me to do the same to him, of course, which I don’t, because I’m about twice his weight, but we do smash concrete blocks on him…

Circus folk! Quite mad, of course, but someone has to do it, or you wouldn’t get the chance to pay for tickets to come and see us!

I wonder where we lie on a scale of 1 through 10 in a ‘rate my family’ quiz?

Anyway, great reaction from Elton John and Madonna to an Italian gay couple who should be ashamed of themselves, and for those who are interested in this sort of thing, Golombok’s book ‘Modern Families: Parents and Children in New Family Forms’ is published by Cambridge University Press, UK. Elton apparently rather spoiled the effect of his rant by being photographed the next day holding a Dolce and Gabbano carrier bag, but we’re sure his heart is in the right place and we hope that his boys can grow up normally in the shadow of such a famous father. That’s one thing we’re definitely not – famous. As the third and final book tells, we even had to go into hiding during one ill-fated tour…

OK. That’s four book adverts today instead of the usual three. Enough. You’re probably tiring of my endless attempts to defend/justify/explain our relationships and our kids. More fitness pictures:

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Loving the Boy: ISBN 978-1-907732-30-0

The Power of Love: ISBN 978-1-907732-41-6

Against All Odds: ISBN 978-1-908645-35-7

Here’s to all happy families, whatever their shape, colour, size or style!

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Sun Spots

None too warm here in TN right now – unlikely to top 60F today (which is roughly 16C for Europeans!). All the sun fun seems to be in Europe – since I got up I have been inundated with messages and pictures about the eclipse of the sun which was been pretty spectacular back home in UK – I even have friends who have taken their family to the Faroe Islands where the eclipse was apparently ‘total’. Rare in UK to get rid of the clouds to see the sun at all, but I understand that our place in Wales woke up to clear skies and a fantastic view of it all (according to my dad, anyway! – maybe he’ll send me the ‘eclipse tee-shirt, if there is one!). Dave’s just checking out the British TV “lunchtime news” on the internet and there are certainly some amazing pictures.

No eclipse for us in US for about seven years, as far as I know. But we’ll use the excuse to have ‘sunny’ fitness pictures today!

A nice twosome to start, doing things the way we like…

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More of the Russian lads I featured last time -a somersault contest, although I have to say I wouldn’t accept that style in the gym!:

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At the pool:

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Leaving the shadow of the beach shower…

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Posing against the wall:

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Casting a shadow – and making a big impression with their strength and levers – at the street workout demo:

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In a sun-dappled glade in the woods – communing with nature: just how it should be!

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…or, indeed, practicing your aerial show au naturel in the sun…

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Ready to wrestle in the Turkish sun:

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Try the slack line!

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A frankly unwise (but sunny) location for a train-ing run…

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(definitely not a wise choice of route – and trains can run either way on many tracks!)

Back on the beach now:

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(Everyone’s doing ‘sommies’ today!)

Pull-ups under a clear blue sky…

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And, finally, catching those final rays of the day (and showing off your back muscle at the same time):

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Yep – can’t beat the sun!

Can’t beat a good book either, if you’re into gay love and sporty guys doing their thing…

Loving the Boy: ISBN 978-1-907732-30-0

The Power of Love: ISBN 978-1-907732-41-6

Against All Odds: ISBN 978-1-908645-35-7

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Girl Power

Don’t worry – the blog is not going unisex or being taken over by the ladies! Just to make that clear, I’ll begin with some ‘Boy Power’…

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No, I mentioned a while back that my son’s best mate Chris was keen to join in the start of our summer circus gig, if he gets good enough – he’s developing a real ‘shine’ for Dave’s daughter Jaymee, whilst Leo slavers over Karla, who does acrobatics with Jaymee (sorry, this is all probably irrelevant to most of you!). But Jaymee and Karla have been working in an acrobatic trio, training with the Romanians… but the third girl is skipping sessions and so the trainers have made Jaymee and Karla a ‘pair’ instead… so would fit rather neatly alongside Leo and Chris if we can make it work.

Last evening Karla’s parents, who are rather scared by their daughter suddenly saying she wants to join a circus (!) came round to watch Leo and Jaymee run through their routine of balancing, tumbling, and ‘fakir’ stuff (“as seen on TV”), and then Jaymee and Karla did some balance and dynamic acrobatics together to show us that they are getting good enough to perform in public. Chris we already know about – strong, dependable, and learning acrobatic moves fast alongside Leo as his mentor.

In fact, we had all the parents over – Chris’s too – to discuss how it might work. There’ll be at least four adults in the group all the time as well, but we shall rotate the personnel and the young ones won’t be doing more than about 5 – 6 weeks.

I think it’s a done deal, so long as we train them and look after them. Leo and Karla spent half the time gazing into each others’ eyes – OMG – and people thought Leo would turn out gay, just because both his parents are! Likewise, the Chris/Jaymee thing is proceeding too, although a bit slower… but if they’re going to be training together a lot more, who knows…

They’re all four going to work a lot more on flexibility…

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…and we’re all going to have to be a lot more careful in the training cabin – there’s a strong tendency to work out naked where we’re “all boys together”…

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But it will be fun, if it works out, and great for the kids’ confidence building. Plenty of this for all four of them, too:

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Karla’s parents were initially horrified when our two took to the nail bed and when the broken glass came out…

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…but, would you believe, once the basic principles were explained to her (and please do not try this at home), Karla’s mum took a barefoot stroll across the glass herself, and was delighted when Leo asked Karla to smash a concrete block on his chest while he lay on the nails (we did check her aim with the sledgehammer first!).

I can’t believe how fast our kids (and their friends) are growing up and taking on responsibilities. It’s great that they are all such good mates, and especially good that all the other (straight) parents involved seem to have no issues with our gayness and our large mixed-sex gay household.

IThe first part...The second part...Cover 3 Thumbn bed last night I was thinking back to our own introduction to the mad world of acrobatics and performing – we were a little older (16) – Karla at 14 is the oldest – and in our case, it was all happening alongside discovering our gayness. There’s is much more about all of it – and the things which went wrong! – in these splendid volumes (click on the covers for more information, and e-books are also available).

Right now, we go back to celebrating male fitness in this blog, as usual!

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‘Both ways’ of looking at a great body:

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A bit more acrobatics to finish off with, for today – solo…

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…and some ‘gang’s all here’ tumbling!

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Boys having fun – the name of our game. And, it seems, the girls too!

 

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Eight Packs

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Well yes, those are pretty fair examples, but that’s not what I meant. I meant wrestling…

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…but in groups of eight! Submission style as usual, last man standing… (and, in our case, naked).

This was Chad’s latest ‘entertainment idea in our private place. First 32 to sign up… four groups of eight chosen at random. Interesting strategy games; you have to keep fighting, so you tend to start with four simultaneous bouts, 1 on 1… but then, do you all set on the ‘weakest’, to eliminate them quickly, or… more cunning maybe, seven set on the strongest to get rid of him…

So, four sessions of that, then the first two to be eliminated from each of the four sets go together as another eight (perhaps better matched), and so on, the fourth match of the second ’round’ being the top two from each of the first four groups.

Then out comes the oil, and off we go again in four more random mixes… kind of Turkish style but without the leather trousers…

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…and I have to say that our Sunday evening ended with a 32-man free-for-all (actually, more, because most of the rest of the guys working out decided to join in)!

Oil and a powerful six-pack  (guess he’s working on the eight)…

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Our great wrestler friends from Lexington travelled down especially for the fun, and even the Chinese kung-fu guys from Knoxville showed up. The overall winner was Ron (our best wrestler for years, so no surprise there) and I hate to admit that I never came better that third in any of the groups. Arrrgh! So enough of that!

Well, we like doing stuff naked, anyway, win or not: I think that I’ve made that clear enough in plenty of posts. Acrobatics is artistry, and you can do beautiful things with the raw bodies without having to learn tough balancing techniques…

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…well, some PhotoShopping there I fancy, or otherwise some strangely flat-fronted performers… but please note the important little artistic touch of the upper dude’s left foot turned inwards (these things make a difference professionally)…

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…just hang in there, guys! I’m starting to take a greater interest in what the ballet boys get up to, partly inspired by Lorenzo, one of our regular readers here (but he likes the shoes! – we  would kick ‘em off!).

The first part...The second part...Cover 3 ThumbSo, an amusing way of ending our weekend. Chad dreams up curious challenges and quirky games and has been doing so ever since first met him – as mentioned now and again in my books which chart our gay progress through life, the universe and almost everything… e-books available too.

Perhaps we’ll just return to the celebration of the male mid-section for the rest of this post.

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(Now there’s an intense look…)

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And, to finish, the all-round excellence that comes from combining your weights with rope climbing. Enjoy!

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His Choice of Chemical…

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Weather’s been up in the 70s during the day the last few days (21C for Europeans!) – great to be able to do what we love to do out of doors. So it turned out that, late afternoon Friday, a group of us which included my boy Leo and our new fitness friend Joel went for a fairly leisurely run on one of our favourite circuits which takes in some of the oak woods which give this place its name (Oak Ridge TN). Typically (for us) everyone wore no shirt, and some were barefoot also. We occasionally see other runners and everyone is always respectful – indeed, this is where we met Joel when he had newly moved to the neighbourhood.

I don’t have pictures to illustrate what happened next, so let me first put in a couple of general fitness ones!

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A guy who we estimate was about 22 or 23 years old approached our path through the trees, staggering wildly. He was dressed in filthy old anorak and jeans, with a pair of ancient trainers with his toes poking through. When he saw us he scrabbled about on the ground and starting throwing handfuls of dirt at us. We stopped. He staggered on to the track and started shouting abuse at us, ranging from ‘get out of my way’ (but not so polite) to specific comments about us not wearing shirts. Sweat was pouring down his facce. Then he went up to Joel and tried to take a slug at him, whereupon Pete grabbed the guy’s arms from behind. There was a bit of a struggle, during which we all noticed that the guy smelt very weird. He appeared to calm down, we stepped back, and then he started a long rambling rant which we couldn’t make any sense of before stopping, with glazed eyes, and suddenly falling flat on his face unconscious, cutting his nose on the ground in the process. He vomited a little as well, but we know our first aid and he was in the ‘recovery position’ with an open airway…

Leo, at 13yo, was rather disturbed by this behaviour. I suppose we all were. It took only a few seconds for us to decide to dial 911 and get some medical help, with Joel and one of the other guys from Chad’s gym, going down to the nearest highway to guide the paramedics to come and pick the guy up.

Rather messed our run up, but a valuable lesson for Leo about drugs. The smell was something like paint stripper – an odd sort of chemical to choose to imbibe, and maybe a by-product produced in the body from something else. Later, we discussed with Leo, very calmly and logically, why all drugs are bad and why we would never support using things like steroids to so-called ‘improve’ our bodies. All natural muscle for us (such as we have!) and always will be. Leo’s friend’s 19yo bodybuilding brother is also very cautious about mixing with some of his training mates outside the gym, for he is convinced that they, too, are ‘users’.

This is what we expect to see as young lads develop – this is a Czech wrestler who trains with a friend of ours in Prague:

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…or this…

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This next guy is probably at about the limit of what can be achieved by natural bodybuilding methods: the huger (is that a word?) bulging fit-to-burst arms and chests are rarely, if ever, ‘natural':

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…and I don’t post such images (a) because they strike us as hideous and (b) because such a body would be useless for acrobatics and pretty much for anything else athletic. You cannot do this sort of stuff with such a body:

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Perhaps I have made the point. We’re into promoting fit bodies, naturally built, and artistically/sportingly used. Just as these books do:

Loving the Boy: ISBN 978-1-907732-30-0

The Power of Love: ISBN 978-1-907732-41-6

Against All Odds: ISBN 978-1-908645-35-7

‘Nuff said. Let’s just complete today’s selection of images!

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So, whatever it is you prefer – swim, run, wrestle, lift weights – do it hard and tough get sweaty, and feel the ‘buzz’ – just don’t attempt to oil the wheels with chemicals of your choice or anyone else’s! Never accept a ‘pill’ from anyone else, inside or outside your gym. Not ever…

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Weather Watch TN

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Well, spring appears to have sprung here in TN. After weeks of weird weather, swinging wildly between snow and warm days, it seems that the warm days are taking over. The great outdoors beckons once again: my son Leo and his close ‘fitness’ friends are shirtless most of the time, and we are all thinking about starting to top up our tans with natural sunlight instead of begging for time on Carlos’s sunbed!

Open air training is good too…

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…and suddenly we’re all feeling a bit more like getting back into better shape after a winter of inventing excuses to do that little bit less (on the grounds of our increasing ‘age’!!), or finding ways to show off what has been achieved in the ‘darker’ months…

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The warmth of the sun on your chest…

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Our favourite running attire becomes the ‘norm’…

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(Just look at those ‘traps’!!)

…and the opportunities to show off what you’ve achieved also drives to more efforts inside the gym…

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Our so-called ‘wild swimming’ suddenly seems less irrational to others…

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Good news for the youngsters, too (Leo/Chris/Ryan)… because they won’t get over to Wales for a while, their UK ‘confederate’ Ollie, who was over here at Christmas, is getting to come over again at Easter – not with his parents this time (my oldest friends) but with another family from Oxford UK whose son Alex is now one of Ollie’s closest gymnastic mates there and well deserving – Ollie says to us on Skype – of working out with the US side of the ‘gang’. So they’re all ‘over the moon’ – we get to host Ollie throughout the trip, and Alex for a while when Alex’s parents go off and do their own touring thing for a few days. Alex is 12, and Ollie shortly will be – all of the US side are 13 and they’re all crazy about weights, acrobatics and being outdoors with their shirts off! Sounds like it is going to be huge fun, and we all owe a great debt to my friend Colin back in Oxford for allowing Ollie to come and organising his ‘chaperones’. The Skype call between Ollie and Leo/Chris went wild when they found out… no way 4000 miles is ever going to break up this little gang of fitness freaks!

Obviously they all take after their parents, whose adventures are documented here:

The first part...The second part...Cover 3 Thumb e-books are available as well as the printed versions… includes our discovery of gay love as well as the sporting stuff and the misadventures we encountered on a couple of circus tours…

So, naturally, we are keeping fingers crossed for great weather from now on, especially at Easter. A wrestle in the woods? Sure – we’re all up for that, not just the kids…

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Try out some outdoor acrobatics? (sadly, we don’t have sea within hundreds of miles)…

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…or just hang out in the great outdoors?

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Yeah, bring on that great spring/summer weather – the best bit here is before June after which it gets very humid, and everyone gets covered in rivulets of sweat…

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…and that’s when we shall all start wishing we were in Wales. Just when our circus engagements get under way!

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But it’s got to be preferable to this, however ‘macho’ doing something like this makes you feel…!

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Yeah! Memories of winter…

 

 

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And Now… The Young ‘Greeks’!

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In the previous post, I mused about the origins of gymnastics as ‘the naked art’ and the role of the ancient Greek culture in promoting male physical fitness (to the total exclusion of women, in point of fact, whom we certainly don’t exclude from gyms today!).

Now I’m moving on to the next generation, prompted (as I frequently am) by the behaviour of my 13yo son and his friends, also dedicated to their fitness and to acrobatics (given Leo’s parentage and his parents’ large collection of performing friends, that’s maybe not a surprise – and Dave’s girl Jaymee neither!).

Up and training at 6.30am before school in our private place – usually naked and very sweaty by the time Dave and I struggle out of bed to join them; Leo and Chris are also eager to shed at least their shirts and shoes at every other opportunity – and not just to impress girls, although that’s high on their agenda – it does get them into hot water at their school sometimes at breaks and especially in Phys Ed classes where some coaches are keen on maintaining ‘the uniform’. Leo’s history of ‘showing off’ his acrobatic skills uninvited in the school gym doesn’t help, and has made him probably more enemies than friends.

Most young boys these days take pride in their bodies and have some physical-exercise equipment at home…

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“Am I ripped, mum?”

Leo and Chris regularly sleep over in each other’s bedrooms – and in both cases, by house-furnishing chance, together in one (very wide) bed. And naked, as we all do. And sometimes, after wrestling around and talking until long after they should be asleep, we find them with an arm across each other in the morning. This could bother some people, but these are not gay boys in the making (quite the reverse, as I have noted) – just VERY close, supporting friends, totally cool with each other when poking and prodding their muscles and comparing their ‘cuts’, encouraging each other in their handstands and so on – but certainly very comfortable ‘up close and personal’.

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Steve and his wife – Chris’s parents and also parents to a 19yo champion bodybuilder, Billy – are also totally cool with their younger son’s friendship with mine. Indeed, Steve, who is about seven years older than me at 40-ish, joins us all most mornings for training as well. And many mornings we are joined by a third boy Ryan, similarly unclad, whose father until recently was an aggressive homophobe, as previous posts have told. Even he is cool, now…

So this is the next generation of ‘naked artists’ or gymnasts/acrobats/fitness freaks. Leo (and Jaymee) certainly love to perform and have their own routines and will be in our next circus booking starting in June. Leo’s latest girlfriend Karla is a competitive acrobatic gymnast – works with Jaymee and another girl in a trio and they are getting very good.

Well, I got really ‘set up’ a couple of days ago. Seems Chris is now desperate to be good enough to be included in the circus tour as well, and his parents are sympathetic to the idea, so long as it doesn’t last more than a few weeks. Leo, in the know, took a different tack with me, suggesting that Karla could maybe be invited to join the troupe – ‘oh, and then Chris could come along…‘ – what I didn’t realise that Chris is taking an increasing interest in Jaymee… not sure if she reciprocates… or even knows… certainly she doesn’t make huge efforts to join the boys’ early-morning sweat shop, preferring to make a more demure entrance to our cabin a little later.

OMG. What tangled webs these kids weave!

Actually, it could work. Two of our acrobats, Ethan and Jack, are working in Canada until July anyway and have been in one circus or another since last June. Eventually, they are going to flag – it happens. Dave and I, with Ivo and Pete, are increasingly committed to coaching and management appointments at the gymnastics centre, and even Zach and Gary, who are usually up for anything, are keen to minimise their involvement this year. The fire-breathing endurance-artist mums will definitely go on the tour at the start, and all of us are aware of our responsibilities since we gave a commitment to the circus people back before Christmas to provide a crew of performers for six months. But, as the ‘young Greeks’ (and their womenfolk!!) are highly competent performers and very responsible, they can carry some of the load for us at the beginning. So we’ll have to see.

Oh, and by the way, if you think acrobatics are not for you, look how useful a simple acrobatic feat can be for the very young…

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(Thanks, Ian in UK, for that!)

OK. A quick reminder that I have written a huge amount about our (gay) involvement in acrobatics and circuses – things going well and not so well…

Loving the Boy: ISBN 978-1-907732-30-0

The Power of Love: ISBN 978-1-907732-41-6

Against All Odds: ISBN 978-1-908645-35-7

Paperbacks, or electronic version ready for your e-reader. Just click on the links or try Amazon.

And now we’ll move on. Slightly older boys enjoying themselves as only boys can…

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(Explain that one if you can… it wouldn’t do in our gym…) And, perhaps more ‘suitably':

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(pity that one guy messed up… wonder how many ‘takes’ that took…)

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A bit more mutual admiration…

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…whilst this looks more like a duel – but I sense mutual admiration too…

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This is nice, too: togetherness on the parallel bar – they could just be good friends, of course…

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Now a superb image of a ‘young Greek’ doing his flexibility exercises…

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Outdoor gym buds…

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And, to finish for today, two young ballet boys enjoying one of those glances in the middle of their performance. Enjoy!

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