The Workout that Almost Killed Me

I had little idea of what was about to happen the first time I walked into the newly-opened Gold’s Gym in Mississauga. It was 1985 and I was 19.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was maing it big in the early 80s (no pun intended). His appearance in “Conan the Barbarian” (1982) and “The Terminator” (1984) inspired a workout revolution. Gold’s Gym’s claim to fame in Venice Beach, California was due in part to “The Arnold” and might have accounted for thier expansion into Canada,

I was tired of being the skinny kid who got sand kicked in his face by the bullies on the beach. Inspired by the Charles Atlas workout programs advertised in the back of comic books, I wanted to transform my scrawny-98-pound-weakling-body.

The best part of “The Terminator” movie is that famous scene when he transports naked from the future. Rarely did you see naked man parts in movies in the early 80s, but I remember how hot that scene was. It was beyond homoerotic because no matter your sexual preference, you could not be unimpresssed by Arnold’s physique.

The scene happens at night in a parking lot of a bar. An wind picks up and an electrical storm-bubble appears out of no where, which is how Arnold teleports from the future. As the electrical storm dissipates you see Arnold in a crunched down position. He stands up, revealing his huge pectorals, his sculpted six pack abdominals, and biceps bigger than my thighs. I felt a carnal desire pumping through my body. On the big screen in front of me was this mass of a man, all muscle, aesthetically perfect, and naked. As he walked towards that bar we got to witness his perfect ass, that bulging bubble butt. FUCK! I almost orgasmed watching that scene in the theatre, grateful that no one could see my raging boner.

Imagine how many men would want me if I could have a body partway close to Arnold’s…

So when I walked through the door of the gym I didn’t need a sales pitch. I was ready to sign up to start working out, no mater what the cost of the membership. I filled out the contract and paid my dues

I was immediately introduced to one of the “trainers” at the gym. This young man was the picture of muscle. You could see how puffed up he was even under the bulky pullover sweater and baggy track pants. This was the uninspired attire of “roided” bodybuilders in the 80s.

Quotation marks around “trainer” are necessary here. There were no personal trainers in the early 80s to the extent that there are today. Most who called themselves trainers worked out as part of a dedicated lifestyle and taught what they knew. Some people are excellent teachers having learned from doing. Others… well, in the case of my first “trainer”, no so much!

My “trainer” told me that he would assess me and then teach me how to use the equipment. He asked me to get on the Lifecycle for a 10 minute, pre-programmed cardiovascular test. My score indicated how much of a weakling I was! Heck, numbers don’t lie! According to the results I was “out of shape” because I was unable to pedal at a consistent speed.

Next the “trainer” showed me how to use all the machines in the template workout program provided by the gym. He demonstrated each machine and then had me perform repetitions on each machine. The workout took at least an hour and I remember wondering when it was going to end! I left feeling accomplished and excited to come back the next day to get big. Seeing some of the hot young men posing with their shirts off in the men’s change room, certainly helped!

The next morning I couldn’t get out of bed.

I felt like I had been beaten up by the bully at the beach. Was I supposed to feel like this after my first-ever workout? I had no idea what was right or wrong, but I knew I felt like hell and every muscle in my body hurt. Even my nervous system was spent and I felt like I had a low-level flu. I remember taking two hot epsom salt baths that day to soothe my body. I had to call work and tell them I was sick. It took three days for me to recover before I could go back to the gym.

But I went back to the gym and while I wanted to get as big as many of the guys who were taking steroids, I chose not to go down that path. My first workout taught me a valuable lesson about balance and wellbeing, something I’ve carried with me for the last 32 years.

– Darren
The Flex Your Mind Project


Mark Whitehand invited me to play and take part in “The 30 Things About Me Experiment.”

#30thingsaboutmeexperiment