Getting Tough…

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Well, that’s one way to show off what you’ve got!

News from home in TN. My son Leo and his friends have formally ‘initiated’ new 14yo openly gay lifter Jude into their ‘gang’… this involves various rituals but (joke alert for UK readers) nothing involving a pig’s head….

…their aim, along with their two UK ‘members’ is to be the fittest, toughest, most physically talented guys on the planet. Oh to be 13/14 again…

As regular readers will be aware, they lift weights daily following carefully managed programmes, run, do acrobatics and gymnastics and Leo, along with Dave’s daughter Jaymee, are very adept as professional acrobats and fakir artists already (the fakir bit coming from their moms but having spread to all of us). Indeed Jaymee has suddenly declared herself a ‘honorary’ boy again – after growing up alongside Leo in a barefoot and mostly shirtless household, and training naked with her mom Karen and her mom’s partner Clare as fire-breathers and whatnot, she went throw a period of not wanting to be seen by the boys in anything less than a demure costume, and avoided their training sessions since they just throw everything off – yes, everything – and get sweaty. Seems it’s ‘all change’ again. At one time, Leo’s best mate Chris had a crush on her, but that evaporated. Who knows what is next up?

But I have a different point. We do get some criticism, for letting the boys train weights alongside their flexibility and balance. Most people would say this is OK – two young wrestlers play-fighting…

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…but is this?

andrey kostash and friend

Aged about 8 at the time of the photo, the boy on the right is Andrey Kostash, Ukrainian superkind who has been pushed – driven maybe – by his father to be a contender for ‘world’s strongest boy’, a title previously attributed to Richard Sandrak in the USA who was shamelessly exploited by a fanatical father who later tried to murder his wife but was prevented by intervention from Richard himself. he holds a world record for doing 4000 push-ups in a row – at age 7…

Is a young body really ready for such intense muscle development at that age? My professional instinct tells me NO. Bone growth is rapid, muscle growth comes later. The body is not ready for this:

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Andrey Kostash backalthough I hear that Andrey himself is really proud of what he has. My son’s back (and Chris and Jude’s too) are starting to look like Andrey’s (left), but they are five years + older, going through puberty, and have a balanced training schedule which ensures safe continued development. No acrobat wants huge muscles getting in the way of flexibility – they just want strength.

I trust my son and his excellent friends to be sensible, and we do certainly watch over them closely. By the way, I haven’t forgotten the other present US gang member Ryan – just that he was a bit of a ‘late starter’ owing to some parental difficulties about having a friend with gay parents, and can’t match the others’ development yet – but he’s catching up fast!

2CABB51200000578-0-image-a-11_1443007658948Thanks to Ian in UK for reminding me about Kostash – timely, because being big and tough is in the news there right now, and for the wrong reasons. Another Andrej – slightly different spelling because he is (was) a Slovakian, dropped dead in a supermarket this week in the UK with a burst aorta (major artery) after an intense training session in the gym. We recommend weights every other day for any given muscle group, maximum – he was doing 14 sessions a week of so-called ‘overload’ training with the object of becoming the biggest guy ever. At 7 foot 2 he had a head start, of course, and he had built muscle mass to an astonishing 19 stone weight (266 lb, 121 kilo). The post mortem revealed his heart to be 50% larger than it should have been, built up to pump to a pressure so high that his artery walls finally just gave way. In his apartment, the authorities found that he had been feasting on four different steroid formulations and testosterone…

tumblr_nat8r46gTI1sjy7bgo1_400So the message – for us all – is train sensibly for sensible goals. I promote fitness endlessly on these pages, for all ages, but you have got to do it right for you. The slogan is true, but just don’t exceed your abilities and risk health issues. Like dying.

As for the teen goal of ‘getting tougher’ – well, the Ukrainians and Russians have their ways. Street workouts bare-chested in the snow are common…

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…and a dip into a river at -2 Celsius through a hole in the ice and snow is de rigeur

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Back in Tennessee, we do river swimming year round, including in the (rare) snow – but the water temperature is always significantly above freezing!

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More on our methods (and on our own ‘initiation’ into the dark arts some 15 years ago!) here:

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

And now, a collection of (hopefully) inspiring pictures promoting sensible levels of training!

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That’s from Russia too – a home gym in a small room in a Soviet-style apartment building. Good results so far!

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So guys – and any parents of younger kids reading this – fitness should be fun and fitness should be safe. Training with friends is always more fun…

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…sign up for the ‘initiation’ if you want to, go skinny-dipping, go shirtless and barefoot in the night and feel the cool grass under your feet and the breeze on your back if you want…

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…encourage your sons to do the same (within reason!) – but don’t let them go too far, too soon…

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As Andrey Kostash (now 11, by the way) might say,

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going”

The jury is still out on Andrey. For AndreJ, it is the coroner’s jury.

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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3 Responses to Getting Tough…

  1. Paul says:

    Wow they are muscular!

  2. Paul says:

    Wow they are muscular for real!

  3. Paul says:

    That is so cool

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