Today’s Gallery Theme: ‘Training Places’
Sixteen years ago, a boy left school immediately after taking his ‘A’-level exams in Barrow-in-Furness, UK, accompanying his father to Tennessee as a ‘full dependent relative’ and therefore qualifying along with his father for indefinite residency and, ultimately, the right to work. His father, Bryan, had secured a post at the local US government nuclear laboratory. They took on a house in Oak Ridge, which had a semi-derelict cabin at the top of the yard, shielded by trees, with a fenced area behind which was private in the way that many Tennessee ‘yards’ are not. As something of a fitness fanatic, having been in a gymnastics club back in the UK, he persuaded his father to let him fit out the cabin and its separate small yard as a ‘private place’ to train weights and hang out. His father agreed.
He set to work. It was high summer and hot and sunny – much better weather than back in gloomy Barrow. When offered such novel climatic treats, Brits tend to shed their shirts. Out running that way, he came upon a local guy, also shirtless, who was exercising on a pull-up bar outside his own home. They talked, and our boy, for it was Pete, invited the guy to help set up the ‘private’ cabin. They became firm friends. This other guy was Ivo.
They became more than friends, for they were both gay. They relished the opportunities (for both training and private time) that the cabin offered. Sixteen years later, they remain as partners, with shares in the same home after Pete’s father sold it on.
At the end of that UK school term, Pete’s younger brother Dave flew out (in the care of his grandparents, making a visit to their son as a vacation). Another gymnast and fitness freak, at that time somewhat in awe of his brother, he immediately became a daily cabin boy as the stock of weights and benches increased. He adopted the same dress code that Ivo and Pete adopted in their private place, which was essentially an ‘undress code’. Ivo had introduced Pete to another private place (now known as Ron’s private gym) but, at that time, this was kept secret from Dave.
Dave duly started at the local High School at the beginning of August, his usual six-week UK summer break being severely curtailed by the mis-match in school vacation dates between UK and USA. About three weeks later, when Dave had made few friends, especially as gymnastics was not an offered sport in the school, he was pleased (I like to think) when another British boy showed up – me – just a few weeks younger than Dave. His father was on a similar attachment, and they also took on a house in Oak Ridge.
Relieved to see another Brit in the class, especially one who appeared to share his own interests, they became close friends immediately.
Pete, and particularly Ivo, were very possessive about the cabin, although a number of Ivo’s friends from that private gym began to show up. This included a couple of girls (who turned out to be lesbians) who were more fitness orientated than most of the guys and also indulged in fakir shows, who were regarded as ‘honorary boys’ in the ‘other place’ and who would happily shed their clothes along with the guys, especially for wrestling, which everyone seemed to enjoy.
Eventually, Dave persuaded them to let me visit the cabin. I remember that day back in 2000 as if it were yesterday. I agonised over what to wear, and was surprised, but not displeased, to be relieved of my top as soon as I arrived by Dave sliding his hands up my sides and lifting it over my head. His exact words were “We’re all boys here, you don’t need that”. Nor shoes neither. I was on trial as a potential invitee to the other place, along with Dave. They tested my weights, my acrobatics and, most of all, my sincerity – loyalty to them and to the other members of that private place to keep the fitness faith and to keep it private.
Dave and I didn’t discover that we were also gay and in love for a while. It is all documented here (click on the cover on left for more info.). But we became part of that generation of ‘cabin boys’, along with assorted (but carefully selected guys) from the ‘other place’ – we formed associations and trained hard for the acrobatic circus tours, TV shows and whatnot which would follow.
Eventually (click cover on right!), Dave and I and those lesbians became parents of a wonderful son (me) and daughter (Dave) who would both bind us tighter in a loving relationship shared with those lesbian mums, watching our kids grow up and become as hooked on fitness and acrobatics as we were. Probably they had little choice, being ‘parked’ in carry-cots in the gym and in the cabin almost from day one!
Fast-forward (via the book on the right!) to recent times. Those kids are now 14. Leo has a group of lads (Chris, Jude, Ryan and Tjark) with whom he trains every morning, while Jaymee trains mainly with her mum and partner but also with Leo, although girls from the acrobatic gymnastics group are involved too. we have to run shifts: Ivo and Pete first thing in the morning before they head of to the gymnastics center to manage the pre-school sessions for the elite boys and girls, then Leo and co, sometimes with us and with Chris’s dad, who’s a bit of an enthusiast too (his older son Billy is a bodybuilder and shows up here from time to time as well).
The lesbians bought the house and Dave and I remain there too along with Pete and Ivo. Surrounded by all these fit youngsters, I suppose that we ‘older guys’ are starting to feel our age. Leo and his mates are definitely the ‘Cabin Boys’ now, and we have to negotiate with them for time to do our own thing! Plus ça change…
OK. Enough history. Let’s continue to enjoy images of fit boys in their favourite environment!