Today’s Gallery Theme – Backs
(Backs don’t get enough exposure… neither here nor in general! And good general development there…)
Around Christmas time I think I mentioned that I had been asked to start training two twin boys, aged nine-and-a-half. Yesterday evening we had our first session, in their own basement along with their dad. I took Leo along for two reasons: firstly because they had seen one of the pre-Xmas shows that Leo, Jaymee and Chris did (and of course wanted to do everything themselves); secondly to give Leo a chance to start learning something about teaching ‘the art’ responsibly to others.
(Austin shows off his good upper back and deltoid development with lifts behind the neck…)
Let’s call them ‘Stevie’ and ‘Josh’. I can’t start identifying nine-year olds I hardly know in this blog. As soon as we got there, the boys demanded that Leo show off some of his balancing, so – shirt straight off! – and duly impressed with his arm balancing. ‘Can we take our shirts off too, dad?’ asked the boys immediately. Showing the right spirit, then. And we’re all barefoot, as usual. But I insisted that the twins warm up first before shucking their shirts, even though their basement was relatively warm with the house boiler up at one end.
(A nice way of showing off the rhomboids…)
Their house, and therefore their basement, is unusually long and thin, so we had a good length for them to race back and forth, pair up as wheelbarrows, and finally carry each other on their shoulders: just enough height for them to do that and for me to assess their stamina. Their dad had prepared well, laying a couple of layers of old carpet on the floor and bringing in a good set of second-hand weights and benches, so Leo and I then set to demonstrating all the assorted strength moves before letting them have a go with weights suitable for their age. We introduced them to the concept of using each other as a bench in order to ‘share’ the experience and to make sure that they tried to encourage each other rather than wanting to better than their twin brother. This is something our own groups feel very strongly about – it is not a contest to be ‘better’, but rather to help your mates be as good as you are.
(Billy showing off in his yard…)
Of course, we included a lot of bodyweight exercises too – at such a young age, these should dominate their routines and they shouldn’t do too much. Then we moved on to helping them to understand how to do handstands, supporting them and then getting them to support each other – these things take time! All this explained to their father, of course, who will supervise their pre-planned ‘homework’ in between my sessions.
Happily, Stevie and Josh absolutely lapped it up and showed no sign of wanting to stop even after more than an hour. Leo and I had trouble identifying which twin was which – they wore identical gym shorts – until their Dad pointed out that Stevie has a scar to the side of one knee after riding his bike into a tree. That’ll avoid mistakes later – I’m told that these twins like to try and confuse people about who is who…
(Both sides at once for this Asian lad… mirrors are really important when working out on your own, so you ensure the correct form…)
We play-wrestled the twins for five minutes at the end, as a ‘cool off’, to make sure that they thought of the session as ‘fun’ – and I could see that ‘dad’ was tempted to join in. They demanded we return the next night – which we won’t because at that age you don’t do weights every day. They also begged to be shown how to lie on a bed of nails or glass, which was in Leo’s show of course. Hmmm: not for a while! As a parting shot, Leo demonstrated his one-arm balance moves on my stomach – just enough height – and then we let the two boys try and have a go on Leo, with a lot of help.
(‘Gigi’ in his gym)
At just a fraction over 14 years old, I have to remind myself sometimes that Leo, along with Jaymee and assortments of their friends, are already seasoned professional acrobatic entertainers. Equally, they are still ‘High School Kids’ with a strong inclination to ‘lark around’, and I am trying to instill in Leo the necessary sense of responsibility in regard to teaching and supervising others. At 15 he could do his first very junior coaching courses, if he wants.
(Luke poses in nature.)
I think that teaching the twins is going to be fun. Their father insists on handing over cash each session, he says, so I split the fee 50:50 with Leo as we got in the car. I drove back to Oak Ridge (they live between us an Knoxville) thinking about the training plan I needed to draw up.
When we got home, we saw that the light was on in the training cabin. Sticking our heads around the door to see who was there, we found Jaymee with Clare, Dave and Jaymee’s mum Karen working on some of their fakir routine, along with Ivo and Pete locked in combat on the mat area. A bit congested! We retreated to the kitchen and then Leo asked ‘Dad, you fancy getting sweaty downstairs before bed?’
(Fantastic body-builder cuts (not our style by the way) – and perhaps not entirely complemented by the spectacles: I would have taken them off [and, yes, I do use a pair for driving sometimes, if this is confession time!])
I was rather touched that Leo, skilled in his art and surrounded by similar friends his own age, still likes to spend time working out with his dad. How could I refuse? We used the small matted area in his basement bedroom domain, where he also keeps weights, including his Christmas present kettlebells, along with a section of new wall bar. You have to put up with the general mess and the faint odour of hot boy (our house boiler is on the other side of a plasterboard wall, but it is never cold down there). So the clothes came off and we set to on the mat with a range of bodyweight exercises like press-ups and sit-ups, keeping time with each other side by side until one of us needed to stop each exercise. Usually, that was me, but (happily) not every time!
(That’s UK boy ‘Ripped Guy’ Steve [see the links list])
Well, the odour of slightly hot boy quickly became the shared odour of very hot boy and his dad. ‘Wrestle off, dad?’ Oh heck – alright then! I like to wrestle Leo occasionally because each time I sense increased strength in his muscles and yet firmer ‘ripped’ tone, without any obvious loss of that essential flexibility which an acrobat needs. Gotta admire him, actually. But, so far, I almost always beat him: a bit more weight, and a bit more strength still in the old guy! I let it go for about five minutes and then decided to end it: I managed to pin his legs beneath him with mine, my sweaty stomach squashing his face whilst immobilising his arms with my hands until he spluttered those most excellent words ‘I give!’.
(Ryan, another ‘garden boy’…)
Before we both used his shower, he solemnly handed me his belt. ‘Loser punishment, dad?’ Oh dear, that’s a bad habit he is learning from his more extended time in Chad’s gym. But I knew that he would be insulted and somewhat hurt if I refused, so I gave him the expected lashes before handing him the belt to return the favour, as we also do to fiercely maintain that spirit of sharing and sportsmanship… he can take it, and I then have to!
Tomorrow night, he joins me at the gymnastics centre while I work, because Jaymee will be training with her trio, which includes Leo’s current favourite eye-candy Karla. Leo may impress his friends and his dad, but he needs to impress Karla too (for as long as it lasts). While I was gathering up my clothes to go back upstairs, Leo was through the toothpaste stage, quickly hung by his feet from the wall bars for a few quick ‘ab crunches’ (as you do), then tumbled into bed.
‘Thanks, dad! Love you! Say g’night to mum for me.’
That almost had me in tears. He may be 14, but he’s not too old to be willing to share time with his parents. Yes, Leo, I love you too. Always have, always will. And he was asleep before I reached the top of the stair. Dreaming of Karla, no doubt…
(Another ‘Stevie’: he poses against a blue screen, showing off his muscles and, sadly, his acne as well. The curse of teenage boys: so far, neither Leo nor any of his close friends are showing the signs…)
An action-packed evening there, then. Coaching Stevie and Josh is going to be fun, I think. Their dad, and his mum who appeared just a the end for the final handstands on Leo, seemed over the moon, and they’ll get the ‘homework’ plan just as soon as I have posted this. Busy, busy!
(Ooooh. Someone training the way we often do when in private. Pull-ups behind the neck – an amazing exercise for the upper back).
(And there’s someone who’s likely been doing the same exercise.)
(How’s that for anatomical detail? That boy has a lot to be proud of…)
Well, this session is over: time perhaps for a final shower off… add a good photographer, and some light, and the result is ‘muscle magic’. The name of our game, I guess.
OK, I’ll back off now, until the next time. Thanks for visiting!
Oh yes, if you want to read more (lots more), try these (click on covers);