“The Last Rites”

Today’s Gallery Theme: ‘Working The Upper Body”

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Words unrelated to pictures this time? Well, perhaps not entirely.

I wrote last time that Chad was going off travelling for a year and that his very private and exclusive gym would be in the hands of Ron, assisted by some of us. Although Monday saw his ‘farewell’ session in the gym, he didn’t actually fly out until this morning. He had agreed to store his car here, where it can safely sit up on blocks and be looked after by Pete and Ivo. Dave and I had agreed to drive him to the airport in Knoxville this morning.

So, he arrived around 6.30am, the agreed time. As this was a school day (7.50 start), the usual suspects were all busy exercising in our training cabin. In fact, the full set of youngsters, as requested by Chad: Leo and his buddy Chris, their friends Jude, Ryan and Tjark, plus Jaymee and her acrobatic friend Karla. All dedicated to their fitness, whether it be for acrobatics, wrestling, bodybuilding (Jude, the gay one) or whatever. Quite a humid morning, so the sweat pouring off and a pretty steamy and heady atmosphere, especially with Dave and I plus Clare and Karen packed in there as well!

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Chad had specifically requested a ‘full house’ of the younger set: they have been welcome guests in his gym for a while because of their obvious commitment but, being under age for some of the adult (gay) shenanigans that go on there, and the adult members’ tendency to train naked (because they can – and, frankly, the kids do too), their hours have been restricted.

We had a pretty good idea what was coming, because Chad had asked for contact details for the other parents involved. For these 14-15 year-olds, being near-naked is not about sex, it is about comfort for the serious and intensive business of training their bodies to perfection. Chad has anyways been a frequent visitor to our cabin – Dave and I first met him there back in 2000 when we were up for slightly under-age admission – and he understands the level of commitment which exists here…

basic home gym

When Chad arrived he got straight to the point. ‘Get yourself showered, Tone – I’ve got a plane to catch! To the young ones, he held up a set of seven keycards to his gym. ‘You’re all so obviously dedicated, and so deserving to have the use of the facilities whenever you need, I’m admitting you all, as of now, to use the gym whenever you want. No restrictions on hours any more. All I’m asking is that you train there either with others in this group or on your own, unless specifically approved otherwise – OK? No involvement with anything the other older guys do. Can I trust you to do that?’

determination

‘Girls…’ – addressing himself to Jaymee and Karla – ‘You’re honorary boys, like Jaymee’s mum. You know the score.’ Chad wasn’t quite done. ‘I’ve watched you all training, unbelievably hard, and I know you will be responsible and will keep it up. So I’m admitting you all at ‘Advanced’ grade right away. No trials or tests. Let’s say I’m going soft in my old age, but that’s what I’ve put you as into the computer…’ Chad looked at Dave and I and also at his older ‘honorary boys’ Karen and Clare. ‘You guys are going to be able to deal with that?’ ‘Advanced’ is half way up the scale of 5 grades.

Well, yes, we can deal with that, as well as keeping a careful eye on what these new ‘graduates’ actually get up to. Ron, the new custodian, is also fully in the picture (and supports it, apparently), and Chad has also ‘lectured’ all members present after we left on Monday that they had a collective responsibility for the safety and care of some new younger members. I know we can trust everyone (adults, that is, and gay or not) to be sensible. After all, they have to trust the kids to keep the golden rule which is effectively “the first rule of Fight Club is you don’t talk about Fight Club…”

determination 2

‘Unprecedented’ is an insufficient word for what Chad has decided – but then leaving his gym in the care of others after 20 years is also unprecedented. Ron Lake and his senior colleagues (which includes us) will make this work. And other members have accepted that some of their let’s say ‘cool-down activities’ will be more discrete in the future: which is probably good for the gym as a whole, really.

free weights!

(Guys who don’t have free weights available can make do with gas cylinders!)

It took everyone a while to take in their good fortune. Ryan came up to Dave and asked ‘You mean I can just go there when I feel like it?’ Yes, guys, apparently you can. But you have to report to Ron, or whoever is in immediate control, when you arrive. That’s the only condition, and then he (or a deputy) must ensure that nothing inappropriate is occurring. We need to get used to this as well. Definitely Chad’s legacy for Ron to manage is being hit with an unexpected issue from day 1! But we’ll cope, keep everyone safe and happy and, boy, the range of equipment at their entire disposal is awesome. And no fees from any of them expected for the first year either.

outdoor pull downs

Dave and I took Chad to the airport. There was silence for a while. Then Dave asked ‘Are you going soft in your old age?’ There was a long silence, then : ‘Yeah!’ But don’t you think they deserve it?’ A point with which it would be hard to argue.

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pushhh

You might just find it interesting to compare the palaver we had to go through to get in back in 2000. Taken blindfold to the location, a gruelling initiation ceremony with special issues because we were under 18 at the time. It’s all written here.

The first part...The second part...Cover 3 Thumb‘The times they are a changing’… or, at least, ‘have changed. Chad has certainly ‘softened’ over the years – but we cannot thank him enough for recognising the talent and dedication in or kids and in their friends which we have all helped to nurture. I feel that the future of what will always be thought of as ‘Chad’s Gym’ is in safe hands and, while Ron is happy to take overall charge, he says he will be extremely happy if and when Chad chooses to return and take over the reins again.

Dropping Chad off at the terminal building was a rather ‘final’ sort of feeling nonetheless. As Dave muttered to me afterwards – ‘He kind of administered the last rites and then walked away from everything.’

And, in this new dawn, some more upper-body training pictures to inspire you!

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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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