The whole gym seemed hotter than normal.  Being that it was a second floor, windowless room with no AC didn’t help.  The large, loud fan by the front door served only to move the humidity around.  But it did give us another reason to crank the stereo.

It was too hot, too loud, too crowded, too sweaty, and there was no place in the world any of us would rather be!

It was Monday, early evening.  Chest day in the free weight world.  Scott Palmer loaded up the bar with 525 and asked me to spot him.  He positioned himself carefully on the bench; feet, hands, back, everything located perfectly to within a fraction of an inch of where he wanted it.  I stood behind him, feeling his energy, more nervous than he was as he psyched himself for a max effort.

I could hear him whispering, almost praying, as he gripped the bar and steadied himself to give one all-out effort.

I could feel the tension, the anger, the need that he felt to complete this lift.  The rest of the world was gone. Time was gone.  Soon, all doubt was gone and that’s when I knew he was ready!

Then he relaxed, sat up, and smiled back at me.

“This is what I’m going to open with 6 weeks from now at the Nationals,” he said.  Scott was my co-worker at the Chico State fitness center.  He went on to win the Gold Medal in Powerlifting at the World Games that year held in Santa Clara, California.  I got to see him lift hard and heavy every day, even when it was only mental.  I also got to see him jump up on a bench and play air guitar like his hair was on fire when a great song came on.

Every day, he brought a unapologetic intensity to the gym.

Every day, you knew that you had to do the same.

When it was time to train, it’s was time to bring it!

Photographer: Saul Cervantes

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