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Ego Monsters

Hampshire Hills Sports Complex

August 1980

I can't say that the club staff hadn't tried to warn me. I had been away

on vacation for the preceding two weeks, and on my return to work was told of a new trouble maker who had joined during my absence. Lenny was his name. He was a skinny, high school junior with a bad attitude and dangerous deportment. No, he wasn't on anabolic steroids. In 1980 the steroid pipeline from the West Coast to New Hampshire was at least a good 3 to 5 years away.

Later that day Lenny strutted into the gym and began doing bench presses. Without so much as a token warm up, he loaded the bar with 185 lbs and then ordered me to give him a spot.

"Excuse me?" came my response, "Aren't you even gonna say please?"

But Lenny just motioned toward the bar and said, "Give me a lift-off! I

don't have all day for this, y'know!"

So I helped him get the bar into position directly over his chest, and

without missing a beat he let it free-fall, making a sickening thump as it

impacted against his torso. Quickly I pried the bar off his chest, but before

I could replace it in the bench's uprights, he grunted, "Four more reps!"

And he did, or rather, I did. Maybe Lenny's high impact training

wouldn't build his chest, but my traps, biceps, and forearms were fried by

the time he was through.

"How many reps were mine?" he asked me intently.

"None," came my reply, "What're you trying to do?"

Lenny sneered and said, "I wanna get big......Everybody knows heavy

weights for low reps is the way to get big."

"Low reps?" I laughed, shaking my head, "But you didn't do ANY reps!"

Of course, as the club's fitness director I was obligated to inform him of

the risks involved in attempting such a crazy training strategy. I offered to

help him plan a better routine, but he just smirked and walked away,

muttering something about me not being "that big for a guy who's supposed to be a bodybuilder."

Next day he showed up and attempted to perform a clean and jerk with 135 lbs. What a show this time! Lenny ripped the bar off the floor, collapsed under it, and heaved it over his head with the finesse of a garbage man hoisting a heavy trash can. Then he lost his balance and, with the barbell now over head, ran across the room and up an abdominal board where he teetered very briefly before backing down the board with that 135 lb bar still balanced precariously over his head. I looked on in amazement, then ordered him into my office where I told him that he wouldn't be allowed in the club if he were to insist upon training that way. I offered yet again to help him train, but he stormed out of my office threatening to get his father after me.

And he did. The very next evening near closing time his father walked into the gym and politely asked to have a word with me. He explained that Lenny was really a good kid, but that he was sorely in need of direction. He went on to state that he fed Lenny well, provided a nice home, and bought him the best clothes, accessories, toys, etc. Then he confessed that he was afraid that Lenny was on drugs.

"Drugs?" I asked, "What kind?"

"Marijuana cigarettes," the confused parent admitted, "and my fear is that

he's been getting them here in the gym."

Disavowing any knowledge of drug sales at Hampshire Hills, I asked a few

questions of my own.

"Do either you or your wife spend any time with Lenny?"

"Well, no," he sheepishly admitted, "I've got a high paying job in

computer sales and I just don't have enough time. You know how it is, don't

you?"

It was then that I began to understand. Not five minutes later, Lenny's dad raced back into the gym asking me for help. I followed him into the lobby and there, sitting on a bench was Lenny. His

face was beet red; his eyes were mere slits, with the whites a light shade of

pink. He was laughing hysterically for no apparent reason.

"Oh, my God!" shouted his father, "What's wrong with him?"

I walked up to Lenny, and after looking him over closely explained,

"Well, off hand I'd say he's stoned."

By now on the verge of outright panic, Lenny's dad nervously asked what

he should do. In particular he wanted to know how long his son would be out of it. "His mother won't be able to deal with this at all! How long? How long?"

"Oh, a few hours, I'd say. You may want to take him out for pizza and

ice-cream until he comes down."

A few months later Lenny was expelled from school for marijuana sales.

Perhaps we would all be better off if we spent more time with our children

instead of just giving them things instead of ourselves. We should also assume that many of the ego monsters we encounter in the gym may very well be under the influence of mind altering drugs.

There are a million stories in the world of fitness. This has been one of

them.

Ego Monsters Ego Monsters