Dave and I spent last evening discussing young Billy’s addiction to bodybuilding with his parents over dinner. He’s the older brother of my son Leo’s closest friend, and a brilliant tutor and supervisor to the young ones with their weights, making sure that they do not over-stretch themselves at their tender age of 11, and in Leo’s case do not compromise his flexibility and acrobatic abilities with over-developed muscles. He sure knows his subject, and he’s just 16.

Without doubt, all weight training is a somewhat narcissistic activity, with guys competing with one another to produce the best muscles and ‘cuts’…


Like most, Billy, who has now three junior competition titles under his belt, surrounds himself with mirrors…

gym success 1

…getting the lads to photograph him at every opportunity.

Billy has imported mirrors into his room, along with a video camera, in front of which he spends a lot of time posing. Mobile phones even provide an opportunity to check out progress…


He has even dumped a girlfriend in order to focus on his muscles, and it was that which prompted his mum to seek our advice. His dad, Steve, often joins the lads in our weights cabin himself since his sons inspired him to take up fitness again, so obviously his wife didn’t regard him as an ally!


You never exercise the same muscle group two days running, and Billy knows that. But he has given himself a punishing schedule. Twice he week he is up at 4am to travel, usually with Gary and Zach, to Knoxville to train with our Chinese friends ‘Alex’ and ‘Sam’. This starts with a 5am ice bath, followed by two hours of intensive work with these 20-somethings and their American friend Caz, who have been successful in competitions thanks to an older Chinese relative who is uncle to our own martial arts colleagues Yao and Li. Gary and Zach train with Yao and Li whilst this is all going on, Gary doing his stuff on his stomach with spears and Zach doing more acrobatic moves.


In all cases, it is a punishing regime!


Other mornings sees Billy, Chris and Leo in our own training cabin at the top of our yard, often aided and abbetted by Steve himself and a varying number of our acrobatic mates. This can even include Leo’s mum Clare and her partner Karen, bth of them just as willing to shed their clothes as the boys are and work out naked. Effectively ‘all boys together’, getting hot and sweaty, “who needs clothes” – the girls after all are body-burners and do other fire stuff, so exposing the flesh is kind of necessary for them anyway! And they like to look muscular and admire themselves just the same as the boys.


muscularAfter school, Mondays thru Fridays, Billy gets access (along with Chris and Leo) to Chad’s private gym, where the tyro bodybuilders there have taken him under their wing whilst Leo practices acrobatics with us and Chris works his way around the weights machines with more modest ambitions. Ironically, although this is generally a naked gym with a high gay population flaunting their bodies, these sessions (unlke our own cabin) are definitely ‘shorts kept on’. Chad doesn’t intend to expose the young ones to such personal activity, and the rest of the membership respect that through these late afternoon weekday hours when not too many guys can get there anyway. Of course, often the shirts stay off when they leave. We have found it difficult to persuade Leo to wear clothes under any circumstances – he’ll most usually arrive home from school shirtless even in the coldest weather: it’s just how he is…


Weekends see Billy either on his own weights, perhaps with his dad, or back in our cabin where he is permanently welcome. No mirrors in our cabin though – the one and only rule imposed by Dave’s dad after Ivo got thrown into one whilst wrestling and nearly penetrated an artery. Another ‘venue’ for Billy is also our friend and ripped-body addict Carlos, who has weights (and very little else) in his apartment. They spend hours lifting together and comparing their development…


Without doubt, as fitness freaks ourselves, we all want to look good…


We’re as ‘addicted’ as Billy, but we mix our weights with intensive acrobatic training and take care not to get muscles so large that they inhibit our movement. And this is where Billy, I think, has finally accepted that he should have one full day off the weights a week and do something else. Running, for example. So we’ve persuaded Leo and Chris to demand he join them for a long cross-country run, possibly ending with some skinny dipping in  the Clinch river, either Saturday or Sunday every week, and to lay off lifting for that one day a week. Mind you, we might all have to keep an eye on him to make sure he doesn’t sneak into a gym and grab a pec dec…


So, I guess the message is, don’t get so ‘hooked’ you go over the top. Too intensive training is absolutely no good to anyone and, if you want to look like this…


…we despise the ‘grotesque’ bodybuilder look, and also hate their competition ploy of coating themselves in bronzer. We prefer the ‘rugged, tough’ muscular look, like these guys indulging in their street workout:


That’s one thing we are sure off. A trusty mate to work out with is in indispensible asset! Not to try to beat, but to work together to develop a pair of physiques of which you can both be proud. I look at Dave and say, ‘yeah, I helped him to look great like that!’

our adventures begin, as I find Dave...The plot thickens as we are increasingly threatened...Much, much more about our addictions (acrobatics, gymnastics, gay love and stuff!) in these(click on covers for more information)… also some unwanted adventures which have corssed our paths along theway. Vol 3 on its way shortly. Meanwhile, a couple more great bodies to set you up for the rest of your day… if you’re addicted to looking good yourself, welcome, and join the club!



A sweaty boy in his basement there. And finally, for today, some shoulder development to admire…


About tonycavanagh

Born Northampton UK; school Oxford UK and Oak Ridge Tennessee, where I met my wonderful partner Dave, also from UK. Oak Ridge is our main training base for acrobatics and circus stuff, but we also established a base in Wales (UK) to serve us when we are working in Europe. Our 'story', of finding gay love, learning the acrobatics trade and then of how we got shot at during our show (and worse was to follow - just to prove that the risks of being an acrobat are not always the most obvious ones!) are now available in my three books 'Loving the Boy', 'The Power of Love' and 'Against All Odds'. Links available on most blog posts. Actually, waiting for the imminent arrival of the first printed copies was far scarier than anything we do in performance. A fourth book - not about us but exploring the sadness of a gay Native American boy denied his true identity - is currently with an agent for evaluation. watch for 'Let The Future Find Me' in due time. And now to book five... another boy, another quest... seems its always boys...
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