Old Technology

I thank my good friend Roman in Vienna for sharing that! I have never made any secret of the fact that the true purpose of this blog is to sell books. Books celebrating gay love, prowess in the gym, circus work and adventures associated with that. And then, coming at the end of next month (or thereabouts) a novel woven around a guy who briefly crossed our path but otherwise is total fiction, Let The Future Find Me.

Yes, it is NOT embarrassing to read an actual book. In my case, an e-book is also possible for all four titles, but actual paper in your hand brings an extra dimension to the experience! Give it a try!


For the first three, just click on the cover for a link to the publisher or find the e-books in the usual places. For book four, you can pre-order using the ISBN 978-1-784653-23-1 (Vanguard Press).

I was on public transport recently (I don’t tell you everything I do here!) and I can confirm that about one third of people were reading actual books or newspapers rather than fiddling with phones or i-pads. To an author, that’s encouraging!

Shortly I’ll share with you a few extracts from Let The Future Find Me to whet your appetite.

Meanwhile, the secondary role of this blog is to promote fitness in young guys, so here we go with a new selection of pictures! A focus on the chest and abs today…

 

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Warm and Wet

…and the boys are definitely HOT and wet!

Those are gymnast boys from Chelyabinsk, enjoying getting ‘toughened up’!

Here in Portugal we’ve just had a period of light rain – the first for many weeks – but the temperatures are holding up, reaching the low eighties Fahrenheit (~26C) and the sun is back. What’s not to like?

We have the beach nearby…

Or a nearby river…

And not forgetting the pool of course…

Followed by a relaxing sauna…

In Finland or Russia you would follow that by a plunge either into the snow, or back into icy water, but we’re a bit limited on that here on the Algarve…

…so a cool shower is more usual…

Straight from the pool, this one…

A great way to get hot and wet is to sweat your way through a good workout!

And finally, as I mentioned at the start, rain is not entirely unknown here…

…but it would be an unusual way of cooling down here (I think that those lads are in India).

And, when you’re finally dried off and have a refreshing glass of something to hand, settle down with a good book which celebrates the fit young man and his adventures!

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

Let The Future Find Me: ISBN 978-1-784653-23-1 (in press: no link yet)

 

 

 

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Folks Back Home

First of all, where is ‘home’? For the guy in the picture, the answer is Vienna. He’s standing on a bridge over the Donau canal. If our real ‘home’ is UK (either where we were actually born, or in Wales where we have a hideaway), then what the folks there are complaining about is our continuing wonderful Portuguese weather, which has been almost continuous sun since the start of the summer. They complain because it is cold, windy and wet – and the remnants of hurricane Maria are approaching. Fortunately for them, that means just rather windy – not ‘category 4’! Well, “good news”, guys: it is RAINING here. We have almost forgotten what it is like. At the moment, very cloudy and drizzly and 19C (66F) but will rise back to the high 20s C (mid 80s F) later in the week. Back to this, then…

If ‘home’ is where the family is, then that’s Tennessee, where we spent nearly 18 years. That’s ‘family’ as in offspring and their mums. They’re currently enjoying better weather than we are – wall to wall sun for a few days with temperatures rising to 31C (high 80s F). We’re missing our kids, of course: they are torn between wanting to be here and wanting to be with their assorted friends, training partners, etc. They seem to be doing perfectly well without us, although plans are now being hatched for the Christmas period when there is two weeks off school. That could be UK, to keep our own parents happy. Christmas seems to be a time when you have to do things just to please other people, whose vision of ‘the Christmas spirit’ may well be very different from our own ‘Bah, humbug’ attitude. We’ll have to see. But the training – kids, ourselves – will certainly have to go on!

One reason for that – in the case of Dave and myself – is that we are wondering whether we are reaching the point where we are getting ‘past it’! Doing two or more shows per week (acrobatics and fakir stuff) as well as doing the ‘day job’ of gym management, personal training and so forth, seems ever so slightly to be taking its toll on us mid-thirties dudes! Whilst our kids and their friends are always out of bed by 6am and into their weights and stuff, Dave and I are finding it increasingly hard to get ourselves out of bed these days – perhaps because we are no more challenged by the enthusiastic presence of these youngsters back home’.

I have readers here who are in their 80s and still doing weight training to keep fit. Truly excellent! A few – a very few – acrobatic performers are going on past 50, but generally find it increasingly difficult to perform with the dexterity and power they had in their youth. Better, as they say, to ‘quit while you’re ahead’ and let the next generation – our ‘folks back home’ – take on the mantle. We’ll have to see.

Meanwhile, for those that, like us, need the encouragement, some appropriate pictures!

Of course, supposing that my soon-to-be-released fourth book is a runaway success (unlike the first three!) then I could retire to an attic and produce best sellers instead! Somehow, I doubt that I shall do that (retire to an attic, I mean, producing best sellers)… but selling a few more would give me some encouragement! Click on the covers of the first three for more information (they’re available as e-books, although paper copies are nicer to handle): watch or pre-order the fourth (ISBN 978-1-784653-23-1, Vanguard Press)!


 

 

 

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“Best Friends for Life”

Some people may have a funny way of showing it (like those two!) but sporting friends very often turn out to be your best friends. When you were in school, I’m guessing that pretty much all of you had a ‘best friend’. If you were lucky, that friend would support you in any disagreements – and, in my schools at least, there were plenty of ‘disagreements’. In teen years they were often about girls, although not in my case, obviously, since I’ve been with a gay partner for nearly 18 years now. But my best friend in school days – a red-bloody heterosexual – is still a close friend, along with his sporty family. So being ‘best friends’ is not necessarily about anything sexual.

My son Leo still regards my oldest friend Colin’s son as one of his best mates despite a distance of over 3500 miles. So these friendships can certainly be for a long time.

There’s two workout guys doing a bit of acrobatic work as well, for the cameras. They must depend upon one another for the success of the performance, so friends certainly, and maybe ‘best’.

My son Leo’s best friend is a lad called Chris. The work out together (obsessively), train acrobatics together… in fact do pretty much everything together. Sleep-overs one way or the other several nights a week, with their stuff in both homes. School together, obviously. And a shared interest in girls, but no fighting over who prefers which girl. They have perfected an acrobatic/fakir performance with two girls who just happen to be their current girlfriends – Chris with Dave’s daughter Jaymee and Leo with another acrobatic gymnast called Karla. Whether the boy/girl relationships will last is debatable – teen love can come and go! But I am absolutely sure that the Leo-Chris friendship will endure. They sweat together… and take a lick “to share each other’s power”, and set themselves other little rituals aimed at affirming their ‘bonding’… usually pain/endurance related challenges, each pushing the other one so that neither is ‘better’… and occasionally exchanging another bodily fluid in the interests of ‘toasting their friendship’. We needn’t dwell on the detail of that, but I fear they got the idea from Dave and I and our very close friends.

As sweaty athletes in a warm and humid climate, they have always been comfortable being naked together, whether it be changing for sport, wild swimming….

or wrestling in private places. And ‘bathing with a friend’ can be fun… even if the friend is a dog…

When we were still in USA, we had the pleasure of training young twin boys. Although that is obviously a different kind of personal relationship, it was again obvious that they would be ‘friends for life’. Obvious in the way they encouraged each other, obvious that they really ‘loved’ each other (in the family sense)… in fact, really sweet. I’ve written about these young lads a lot in previous posts – their names are Stevie and Josh.

And so to our latest encounter with “best friends for life”. A German couple have been staying here at the vacation fitness center with their son – I assume an only child. But, as in an increasing trend, the son’s best friend was brought along to ensure that he did not get bored when the adults wanted to do more adult things! Both boys were keenly into weight training, and so it was inevitable that we got involved in supporting their workouts and encouraging them to try new things. That’s one of our jobs here, after all… keeping customers happy in their fitness ambitions!

It was never ‘I want to try…’ but always ‘Dieter and I would like to try…’ Their closeness, their encouragement of each other was obvious. And so asked them how long they had been friends. ‘Since we were five years old’ was the answer, in perfect English. They are 15 now, so that’s a friendship which has endured. I asked about girlfriends. ‘He sort of has a girlfriend… I’m still looking!’ was the frank and friendly answer. I pushed just a little further. ‘Do you intend to stay friends and stick with your fitness training together, even if it gets serious with the girls?’ ‘Absolutely! The girls will have to wait until after gym’ And that said with their arms around each other’s sweaty shoulders and big grins on their faces.

These guys are probably best friends, too:

That’s Serge on top – he posts loads of wrestling videos on YouTube as ‘serge boywrestle’. Of course, in wrestling, someone has to come out on top, but that doesn’t stop you being great friends. In gymnastics, at least until competition time, everyone can be great friends in training…

…even in a handstand endurance competition! Note that three of them are wearing leg weights to make the balance harder.

Finally, if you don’t have a ‘best friend’, the workout gym is surely a great place to meet one!

Note the guy at the rear watching the lifter’s ‘form’. Helping, encouraging… But do make it clear you want to be sociable, because in many gyms some guys want to keep themselves to themselves and if you are a new member, a lot of the guys will leave you alone unless you engage with them. Just don’t hold back! You may make a new “friend for life”.

The rest of the pictures in this post celebrate weight-training achievement.

The three books shown here under the general title of ‘Living the Dream’ chart best friends, gay love, gym workouts, acrobatics for the circus and a heap of adventure and misadventure. Click on the covers for more information. Also available as e-books through the usual outlets.

Hmmm. Another doggy sharing the fun!

(Coming soon [end-October?] – cast out from his community, a gay native American boy and his spirit guide embark on a life-changing journey. Pre-order from your bookseller by quoting ISBN 978-1-784653-23-1 [Vanguard Press])

 

 

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Pinkwashing

If you’re gay (and you absolutely don’t have to be to be reading this blog)… but, if you are… have you ever been in the situation of feeling that you are the ‘token gay’?

An interesting story – about the Serbian prime minister, no less – has come our way. She is a (very open) lesbian called Ana Brnabic (don’t ask me how to say that!). She’s just been prominent in the Pride celebrations in Belgrade, an event which ‘traditionally’ in Serbia has been met with significant protests. The Balkans generally have not been exactly ‘gay tolerant’ in these modern times.

There is a suggestion going around that Ana was ‘put in place’ (as a rather inexperienced politician) by the President as a ‘sop’ to the EU, as part of his drive to get his country accepted as suitable for joining the Community. Yes, even as our home country struggles to throw off the yoke of the EU (Brexit), some still want to join – especially those with Federalist ideals and little money, who will become so-called ‘net recipients’ of funding from the richer countries, which Britain is trying to get out of. Actually, I’ll shut up about Brexit because whatever I say will alienate approximately half of my British readers – the country was strongly divided in their referendum!

There is a new word going around to describe the phenomenon of putting token LGTBQ+ (ugh – hate that description too!) people in positions of power… following on from the more familiar ‘whitewashing’, where you minimise the effect of something and hope that no-one will dig too deeply into it, this ‘token gayness’ is becoming called PINKWASHING. I think that’s rather a good word.

Well, there’s more than a token of gayness in my first three books:

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

…while the forthcoming one, ‘Let The Future Find Me’, offers a leading character who is gay but hates himself for it – although he ends up on a quest to find his true love. That one isn’t out yet (that’s ‘out’ as in ‘published’, not ‘out’ as in ‘gay’… oh, never mind!) but can be pre-ordered:

Let The Future Find Me: ISBN 978-1-784653-23-1 (in press: no link yet).

OK, back to business – pinkwashing and brainwashing over for the time being. Let’s enjoy some guys (of any or no sexual preference!) enjoying time together.

(Not entirely sure about ‘enjoying’ in that case, but definitely training for shoulder flexibility!)

More gymnasts:

A REALLY  large group enjoying themselves to finish with:

 

OK, there are some girls as well!

 

 

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“Eat, Sleep, Train, Repeat”…

Exactly. Who needs to work, or to earn money? Well, not realistic, but we liked that shirt! So this is an entirely “get the shirt off and get in the gym” post. Enjoy!

Speedos – good. Sweaty or possibly oily boy? Good. Determination to look good and to improve? Check!

Basic gym. Trackie bottoms – hmmm. Shirt off – good. Weight – serious! Two of the same boy now:

Equipment – excellent. Stance – good. Ready for his bicep curls! Next two guys too…

On to the quads:

Determination!

Outdoors now:

Just ‘showin’ off’ now! (And putting the ‘gym rules’ in their place!)

“Like my arms?”

Lookin’ good (even with the vest!)…

…and, of course, without!

Need more motivation? Let’s hope not – just put that garage to good use and ‘Eat, Sleep, Train, Repeat’!

 

 

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If You Want to Stay Young…

…hang out with old people! So they say. Well, an interesting twist to that theory today.

Today’s pictures are, inevitably, of younger people. That’s our ‘modus operandi’ here, as it were.

Alfredo noticed him first. A gentleman we now know to be in his early seventies, staying on the ‘family’ side our this fitness-centre enterprise, but apparently alone. A gentleman of fixed habits: into the gym at 8am in his Speedos, about 90 minutes of strong workout, then off to the sauna for around 20 minutes, through the plunge pool then a number of lengths in the main pool, quitting in favour of sunning himself on a lounger when the pool started to get more crowded. Lunch alone at a quiet table and then, donning a vest and shorts for the journey, into the shuttle bus for the beach. He’s been here over a week now: the same routine every day.

If there was ever anyone who Dave and I would like to look like when we’re seventy, that is the guy. (Not him above – he’s obviously not 70 just yet!). And the first day that I was on duty in that gym at 8am, this gentleman immediately asked me ‘You were one of the guys in the show last night, right?’ Guilty as charged! ‘Nice routine.’ He said that with the air of someone who knows a little about acrobatic performance, and I was not mistaken. The guy had good English and we got easily into conversation. Turns out he lives in what was East Germany, and he and his wife were acrobatic performers. She died suddenly about ten years ago after making him promise that he would keep himself fit and in training… ‘So you can find another good girl and a new wife!’

Well, he hadn’t bothered with the ‘new wife’ part of that deal, but sure has kept himself in training.

Apparently, he was ‘base’ to her ‘top’ for an adagio balance routine which they performed in circuses and clubs for many years, keeping up until they were nearly 50. Obviously, we had much to talk about, not least his amazing physique for a man of 71 (as it turned out). Dave and I met with him socially as well as during work hours, and he quickly showed us that there was a lot he had not forgotten… walking on his hands (attracting a crowd of kids very quickly), volunteering to help us with some of our ‘classes’ in starter acrobatics and, in recent days, sharing some nice wine and a couple of dinners too. And – surprise surprise – he volunteers in a local gymnastics club.

If ever there was a ‘made-to-measure’ retirement, he has it!

You may be able to guess what happens next. We invited him to make a guest appearance in the show last night, trusting him, after some rehearsal, to balance us. Perfect, and he was so obviously so happy to be back in front of an audience that he was practically in tears afterwards.

His reward, an invitation to try his muscles out against Dave (first, then me!) on a wrestling mat. He had never done that before, so we offered him the private ‘storeroom’ on the ‘adult’ side of the site. I think he was a little bit phased by the dominance of gay couples on that side of the side – guests do not normally get the chance to ‘cross over’ from one side of the site to the other – but he got stuck into the wrestling behind our closed doors although that did reveal two things: first, that he knew nothing about any wrestling technique (fair enough!) and secondly that after several minutes of sustained effort he was becoming rather breathless. Still… at 71… he did fantastically well, but suggested that he would be better employed helping us with acrobatic classes in the future, and maybe he would leave the arena shows to us for the rest of his stay as he felt a little ‘rusty’… but so grateful for his continuing talent to have been recognised. I think we’ve made yet another friend! And, naturally, we collected an invitation to visit him in Chemnitz, should we ever find ourselves there. Unlikely, but his number is in the book!

Talking of books, let’s pause for the customary brief reminder of what’s on offer in the gay love, gym bunny, acrobatics and circus road trips and (mis)adventure area! First, my original three books: you don’t have to be gay to enjoy them but, if you are, you surely will find them worth a try (click on the covers):

The fourth one presents a different kind of ‘trip’ – an outcast Native American boy sets out on life’s big adventure with idea of where he is going or why, and may (or may not) find true love of his own. That one is reckoned to be appearing around end October and can be pre-ordered from booksellers using the ISBN 978-1-784653-23-1 [Vanguard Press]. I’m hoping you’ll all enjoy that because I am starting out on a fifth book already – another boy, a different kind of situation entirely but, once again, difficulties to be faced and the outcome uncertain. You’ll need to wait a while for that.

Now, back to business with a random collection of fitness pictures to satisfy the usual demand…

So there you are, guys, young and old. Off to thr gym, and get (or keep up) that buff look well into your seventies!

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God’s Own Country

 

“God’s Own Country”. No doubt you have your own definition of that, according to where you live. For Brit’s like us, strictly speaking, we would remove one letter, leaving “God’s Own County”, with the same issues applying! And usually the county you were born in.

This is a film review without having seen the film. The English county of Yorkshire’s answer to ‘Brokeback Mountain’. Yorkshire people are known for plain speaking: ‘calling a spade a spade’, as they say. ‘Now’t wrong wi’that’ as they would also say!

Today’s pictures are unrelated to the story. I don’t have files of Yorkshire’s gay folk.

The film is the story of a closet gay who reluctantly shoulders the burden of his father’s failing livestock farm, and a Romanian worker drafted in to help with lambing (something we do know a little about from our Welsh connections). Let’s say the Romanian’s caravan is soon rocking…

It has excellent reviews. But my point here is that we found out about it through ‘The Times’, which we get a day late here,  in an article written by another Yorkshire gay man, Mark Smith, who tells of his own growing up in Yorkshire when being gay was unimaginable. He’s about to get married in Amsterdam to another Yorkshireman, and he writes how much things have improved these days, which is great. Definitely a film to see.

Our attention, however, was drawn to other things in Mark Smith’s article. He comments that he knew he was gay from a very early age (I didn’t understand enough to recognise the symptoms until much later!). He was in trouble “for playing in the girl’s end of the sandpit” and encouraged to make friends with boys. School tried to ‘toughen him up’ with rain-lashed football.

There’s something odd here – seemingly an admission my Mark that, if you’re gay, you will display an effeminate side. OK some do. Dave and I definitely did not. We wanted only to play with boys, be with boys, watch boys… the more masculine the better. We always wanted to be a prime example of boyishness, or manishness. Being accepted by your own kind as ‘one of them’. I cannot recall ever willingly playing with girls.

So are there two ‘types’ of homosexuality? One where you want to clone with your own sex and one where you seek to act like the opposite sex, maybe to attract another of your own? We have never successfully answered that question, and you may wish to comment!

Another depressing point in Mark’s article is that his school PE teachers chastised under-performing sportsmen by calling them ‘poofs’ and ‘pansies’. That is horrible. Some people are not cut out for sport – as sports instructors we most certainly recognise that. We would always encourage under-performers in some way, as I hope that this blog (and indeed my books) shows.


So: full marks to Mark! There’s a nice picture of him in ‘Times 2’ dated September 14th, if you can get to that either in print or on-line. Just ignore the picture of Hilary Clinton on the front page!

And with that wholesome image above, the rest of today’s pictures are just random. Enjoy.

 (Coming soon [end-October?] – cast out from his community, a gay native American boy and his spirit guide embark on a life-changing journey. Pre-order from your bookseller by quoting ISBN 978-1-784653-23-1 [Vanguard Press])

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Lift With a Friend (or a Guinea Pig)

I have written so much ere about how much more effective (and more fun) it is if you do your regular fitness training with a friend (“Weights Mates”). Each is encouraged to push the other a little further with each exercise, then they can relax together. It may be your partner, just a friend, or someone else who – like you – was desperate to start using a gym but didn’t know anyone at first. Then they went along, feeling self conscious and maybe even embarrassed, only to find someone roughly their own age in the same situation. A friendship developed, and the results, in terms of their strength, flexibility and appearance, exceeding their wildest expectations.

We see so many locker-room shots with two or more guys in, all showing off the results…

There’s one!

It happens here too, at the vacation complex. Teen boys (or girls, of course) arriving with parents but no siblings. Nervous about joining in the activities. Loads of them – very quickly, and its our job to encourage them of course – they pair up or become groups. No language barriers – the language of fitness serves for all. And it is not just teens – we find the middle-aged and even the seriously unfit older folks who would love to ‘give it a go’ but have to be coaxed even to come in the gym and have a look. You notice them hanging out around the open-air areas, looking longingly at their fitter vacationers doing their thing. We’ve learn to be able to pick them, go over and chat… especially offering them some introductory help when a quiet period is foreseen… I reckon our success rate is about 80% so far. Add that to the 100% satisfaction from the dedicated gym bunnies who suffer withdrawal symptoms when away from their home gyms, and we’re kept pretty busy here.

And its not just lifting. With a little help from us with the organisation sometimes, there are wrestling and boxing matches and tournaments as well. And other ways of having fun…

I was diverted back to this theme today by a new discovery about funny rules and laws. I’m sure that I’ve commented here that it is illegal to piss in the ocean anywhere on the Portuguese coast. Presumably you have to leave the water, cross the sand and find a tree behind the dunes. But today’s partnership story comes from Switzerland, where it is illegal to keep one guinea pig. Yes, one guinea-pig is a no-no. They get lonely, and must have one or more friends. So anyone receiving a guinea pig as a present must instantly go to the nearest pet shop for another. You are then locked in a cycle of guinea-pigness for life since, when one dies, you are obliged immediately to get a new one to replace it so its partner doesn’t feel too sad (and so you don’t go to gaol).

The only way out, unless you can give the happy couple to a friend in one transaction, is presumably to wring two necks at the same time and pig out (sorry for that) on a larger than usual stew. But the aspect that had my partner Dave in near hysterics was the realisation that one guinea pig on a wheel can encourage the other guinea pig on a second wheel to go faster, thereby expending more energy, improving its cardio efficiency and developing its muscles beyond what one on its own could do…

So I guess our gyms need some guinea pigs whirling around on their wheels to inspire the human lifters…

…as those in the remaining pictures have been  inspire by their fellow gym bunnies!

I wonder if it is illegal in Switzerland to keep one bunny…? Well, here’s quite a few…

That’s Andy B from Vienna – and so is this…

“No guinea pigs were harmed in the production of these bodies”

Nor, indeed, in the production of the books (plenty of fitness and gay love in there though – just click no the covers)

Just the satisfaction of being drenched in your own sweat as a result of your determination and the encouragement of your “weights mates”…

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The Gym’s The Place

Take one rather shy young man – 15yo, 16? –  in need of a bit more muscle. ‘Slimmer’ boy pix to open with. There’s quite a few of them here at the centre despite European schools all being back in session – I guess not every country has the same rigorous rules about term-time vacations as our UK does! He ventures into the ‘family-side’ gym in loose-fitting trackies – the temperature here already 25C, but he is obviously conscious of being a bit skinny. He nervously toys inexpertly with some dumbbells, which attracts my attention through the office window. At this point, no-one else is in the gym, so he fingers several pieces of apparatus thoughtfully. This is a boy who desperately wants to get into weights and training, but doesn’t know where to begin. And I don’t want to scare him off.

I’m wondering whether he will understand English – you never know, here. Still mainly a Russian, eastern European and Scandie clientele. At that point two rather brash guys enter, talking loudly in – I think – Polish.  I’ve seen them earlier with two very tanned girls, so they are probably soaking up the sun. These guys are already shirtless: I sense that the first boy is intimidated and he makes for the exit. Time to make my move.

‘Can I help you with some easy exercises?’ He looks alarmed, but doesn’t say ‘Nyet’. I point to the pull-down machine and set him up with a very light weight, which he pulls down with no effort at all. I tell him he’s stronger than I expected, and increase the weight. I do a few reps and make it look a bit harder than it actually is. He relaxes, so I ask if he’s new to weights. Da‘. He warms to his task – literally – so I suggest he takes his sweat top off. Underneath – a tee-shirt and a vest. No wonder he’s hot. He looks across at the other two guys, sweating in just their briefs. I, inevitably since I am in the gym, am just wearing my ‘staff’ shorts. He removes the tee as well, and I can see that he is not so spindly as he seems to think he is.

Several more people arrive, including a couple of girls in bikini-style workout gear. That seems to bother him, but I keep him occupied. The two sweaty guys leave. I tell him he’s doing really well – how about trying some dumbbell exercises now? Shoulder press with me supporting behind him – that’s my job here, after all. I suggest he gets rid of the vest so he can watch his muscles working and his ‘form’ in the mirrors. Reluctantly, he does.

Another slim young man arrives. He’s been a couple of times before but is also new to weights I think. He walks over and asks in awkward English if he can join in to get the benefit of the (alleged) professional advice I’m giving the first guy. The first guy is now confident enough not to object – in fact, they shake hands and exchange a few words in whatever language it is – I later discover that it is actually Bulgarian. Second guy’s shirt comes off straight away, maybe inspired by the first. Or by me, even.

Fast-forward four days. The two are inseparable. In the gym they arrive shirtless and in just briefs. They go from gym to sauna, sauna to pool, pool to restaurant. They go together on the bus shuttle to the beach. Sun tans developing nicely.

I hear that they live just 30km apart and have vowed to join the same gym for regular sessions together. They’re not school students, as it turns out: one is about to begin work as a motor mechanic, the other is looking for work. They’re happy, I’m happy. Job done. More happy lifters in the world! And maybe the motor garage has room for another employee.

As I often say, ‘lifting’ is so much more fun with a friend, or two…

Once you’ve developed that little bit of extra strength, then you and your new-found friend(s) can try things together (pity we can’t see more of the handstand here):

…and hopefully you won’t need to read a book of instructions while doing ‘tricks’ together…

…but, if you do want to read between ‘sets’ or tricks, here are some suggestions:

The first three cover gay love, a love of acrobatics, circus adventures and other misadventures: the final one is a new story and coming soon: cast out from his community, a gay native American boy and his spirit guide embark on a life-changing journey. Pre-order from your bookseller by quoting ISBN 978-1-784653-23-1 [Vanguard Press]).

Now back to the ‘lifters’ pictures! And the results of just lifting your own bodyweight can be pretty dramatic – and draw in the crowds, too:

Even those who for some reason train in a shirt are still happy to lift it for a good picture:

As for this final guy for today – c’mon – a bit higher, please…

…nice smooth bicep, though!

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