With the pressure on me to review final proofs of the first part of the ‘epic’, it seems right to share a bit more of my ‘history’. In fact, the last 48 hours have been a time for reflection in general, as we made it back to Tennessee out of the path of Irene. Although it is said to be down to Cat 1 now as it hits New York City, our thoughts here, like most of America I guess, are with those folks on the East Coast, especially as we watch the TV.
As Chet drove us safely out of harm’s way, Dave and I got to thinking about our first arrivals into Oak Ridge TN, just over eleven years ago. Pulled out of a school I really liked, with great mates – two of the best being fellow gymnasts Colin and Roger: I was getting bored with six standard bits of apparatus though, despite the great coach Chalky White we had there, and thinking acrobatics. I knew that if I wanted to find a really good acro club I would need to travel out of Oxford UK, either west to the north of Bristol or east to near London Heathrow, which was going to be difficult, even assuming that they would let me in.
Then my world got turned upside down with the move to the US, and I was very unhappy about it – until I met Dave. And that is where the books will kind of take up the story of my acrobatic progress and my love for Dave.
Colin and Rog apparently knew I was gay long before I was aware of it myself. They were amused by my ‘wandering eye’ in the gym and the changing rooms – oh God, was it so obvious? Even Chalky knew! Colin’s dad, into rugby fitness himself, had introduced Col and me to a weights gym when we were about 13. Apparently (says Colin!) I displayed the symptoms there, too – lingering in the men’s lockers to take in the views – it was a mixed gym with compulsory ‘tops’ tp be worn in the workout areas.
Colin, straight as they come and now happily married to Natasha from the same school, was never bothered by me ogling him, either. Neither of us needed to be ashamed of our bodies in the company of other ‘lifters’: even at age 13, our gymnastics was developing some fine chest, arm and abdominal muscles.
So, in this post, I thought that we should celebrate the power of carefully-applied weight exercises. Chalky was a rare gymnastics coach who didn’t limit us to the use of bodyweight in training – but he made sure that we never over-trained with weights, risking us using flexibility. Looking back, although a lot of the boys hated him for his sometimes seemingly ‘brutal’ style of gym classes, those of us who were really driven knew that he had our best interests at heart. I have much to thank Chalky for, not least his smoothing the path with my parents when I finally had the courage to come out to them. Yeah – he’d known all along.
Now let’s have a couple of nice pix: first, a gym that looks rather crowded up with machines but clearly allows topless guys to train so long as they mop up their sweat!
And now some fine biceps, the result of hours of intense training:
Yep, I had to do a double-take on that second picture, too – it is cropped in a very interesting way and taken from a very interesting angle – a preacher curl, if I am not mistaken.
But, even when your gym is rather spartan and your weights are rusty, good mates and some determination are all you need. The results here are clear to see:
A fine specimen of Russian manhood. So, wherever in the world we have found them, ‘lifters’ always turn out to be a friendly bunch to other lifters and athletes. We’re grateful for that, and long may it last.
And, in the meantime, back in the present, ‘hang in there New Jersey’ as Irene hits this morning. We’re all thinking of you.