I haven’t seen Pumping Iron in years, but it popped up while flipping through Amazon Prime, and decided to watch it tonight. I probably watched “Pumping Iron” a hundred times before I turned 17, and that’s a conservative estimate. There were times I would watch every day for weeks because, of course, there were no sources of motivation outside of bodybuilding magazines. Watching Pumping Iron tonight, I remembered my early days and asked myself who had the most influence on my training. I’ve narrowed my list down to three people I’d like to thank.
Andy was my best friend when I started working. In fact, I honestly think I started training because of him. He was naturally muscular (for being an 8th grader) and, like me, was a good athlete. He just changed school when we met, and we turned it off right away. As much as I loved him, it always bothered me that he got so much attention for his “muscles”. These weren’t my words but the words of the eighth grade girls. I don’t remember him playing sports when we met, so the fact that he had a muscular build at that age tells you something about his genetic potential. I had no genetic potential and was very clear about this even at that age. In hindsight, this made me resent the attention it received, and it was a huge motivator for me to start working out.
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Just before the end of year eight, I started what I thought was working. I borrowed a sand-filled iron set from a friend and did a pushup in my bed. Two weeks later, my friend asked for his weights back. I took him out because I was convinced I was on my way to getting huge, and I knew the weights were going back to his basement and gathering dust. You’re right.
At this time I started going to the Y center and sneaking into the weight room. I was building exercises, and no matter what muscle I burned, I knew that muscle was going to get bigger. I didn’t bother thanking my friend who gave me the iron set because he was an Indian donor (is that politically correct?). I owe Andy a thank you for being the number one person in my life who motivated me to train so I could get an eight grade back too.
At Y-Center I met another person who also deserves my thanks. Tony looked like someone who walked out of a Flex magazine shoot. He had an unbelievable tan (even by my standards), bleached blonde hair, and looked just like I hoped someday to imitate him. Tony was a god to me. I’ve done every exercise he’s done and will try to be sneaky about it so he doesn’t notice me imitating him. Two weeks later, he approached me and asked if I was “taking notes”. I was embarrassed, but he smiled and was calm about it. He would give me advice on training, and he would always encourage me. To this day, I always wonder what happened to him because he disappeared after a few years. I didn’t see him again. I have no idea what his last name is, so if you read this, Tony, know that I thank you, and I’ve thought of you a lot over the years.
Dickhead Steve Jones
I didn’t mention Andy’s last name just because I haven’t spoken to him in years, so I don’t know if I would appreciate mentioning his name to the millions of loving readers. I didn’t mention Tony’s last name because as much as I tried to remember it, I can’t remember what it was (or I would have searched for it on the internet a long time ago). I’m using Steve’s last name because this asshole deserves it. I secretly hope that someone who knows him or her will read this. If you knew him, you would probably agree that he was an idiot.
In Steve’s defence, he might be a pretty cool guy these days, and age tends to temper vanities and dirty situations. However, he deserves my thanks because his scathing comments made me want to train harder. Like the cartoon bulldog character Spike, who had the little doggy following him riding his nut (figuratively), Steve had a friend who was every time like Dick Steve. Both degrade me even though they were “adults” by my standards when I was a teenager.
Steve was fit. It wasn’t Tony, but Tony didn’t compete and Steve did. I looked at Steve because he competed, but at the same time hated the guy because he was mean to me (that seems weak but keep in mind I was a 14-year-old insecure at the time). Steve was short but thick and strong as hell. His companion was tall and old and was wearing 1970’s cotton sweat clothes that gathered at the bottom. He wore them two sizes too small, which made his legs look less impressive – if that was possible – than they actually did. He finally tried professional wrestling. When I heard that he failed miserably, I was glad that he failed; Yet I still. Judge me if you will; I’m good with it.
Although there are many examples I can give, I will give this example of how Steve and his business friend treated me in the front, and the party in the back:
I wear the wife’s racket while training at the Y-Center gym in Battle Creek, Michigan. I’m 14 or I’m 15, I work hard but keep to myself. Don’t think I shit, I’m staying on my way. I go to the drinking fountain to drink, and I know that these two clowns are standing in the entrance, next to the drinking fountain. I grab a drink, and I walk away thinking, “Wow, they didn’t say anything.” Then Steve spoke, but he has a friendly tone with his voice.
Steve: “Hey there looks like a pretty good pump. You’re older than the last time I saw you.”
I paused, turned, and thought he was going to laugh, but he was straight. I immediately looked at my arm and said, “Do you really think so? I have a good pump,” and I smiled at him. I just got the best (and only) compliment from Steve, the badass bodybuilder. I was very happy.
Steve: “Hell no. You’re just as skinny as you were the last time I saw you.” Then he laughs, and as expected at this point, his friend does the same. I’m not talking about just a laugh; They were hitting their knees and laughing so hard they could barely breathe.
You thought I would be embarrassed. Instead, I was just angry. I quickly stopped laughing when I said, “You two silly assholes.” I quickly turned and walked away, hoping not to get punched in the back of the head. Not that I was any threat to them after that, but they never said anything bad to me again. To this day, I don’t know if they felt bad or if they didn’t feel the same satisfaction from having sex with me, anymore.
I thank Steve and his friend because this situation stuck with me throughout my teenage years. If there was a day when I thought I might not be training, I’d think he caught me. If there was a time when I wanted to eat something that wasn’t in my diet, I would consider it. You motivated me for a very long time. Hell, maybe he’s still doing it on a subconscious level.
I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one making people influence my motivation, positively or negatively. While there may be quite a few that you need or want to thank, take the time to comment below with the one person who stands out the most that you would like to thank and why. I heard my story. I want to hear from you
Ken “Skip” Hill has been involved in bodybuilding for nearly forty years and competing for over twenty. Born and raised in Michigan, he spent 21 years calling Colorado home with his wife and their four children. Four years ago, he and his wife traded mountains for a beach, and moved to South Florida. His primary focus is nutrition and nutritional supplements, but he is also invited to his years of training experience. He started preparing for the online competition in 2001 and is considered one of the original players for the competition (when bodybuilding message boards were still in its infancy). Skip’s track record with competitive bodybuilders is highly respected and does sport-specific conditioning, including for professional athletes..