“Man, it’s way too nice to be inside on a day like this!” The words came from my college brother and training partner Mike Underwood. If Christopher Reeve would have had a more muscular younger brother, Mike would have been him! I actually saw a girl walk right into a tree once she was so busy staring at him. Poor thing!
It was absolutely the most beautiful day of the year! Spring time had just hit hard after a very rainy winter for California and it was getting tough to focus on school and midterms. The drive out to the gym was quiet as usual. It was a perfect time to get our heads right. The Chico State weight room was being remodeled so we did some of our workouts at Butte Jr. College. Butte was basically a little football factory and had a gym that made big brother Chico need to step up it’s game. Most of the time we loved being there. But today was a bit different. Today we felt a little bit trapped. Four blank walls, no windows, no AC. Trapped!
It was chest day! Every bodybuilders favorite day to channel Arnold. Mike picked up a Olympic bar and headed for the door. “Grab a couple of those 45’s!” Not really thinking about it, I picked up some plates and followed. By the time I was outside, he was back in, dragging an incline bench towards the front door.
“Help me with this bench!”
The next thing I knew were we set up on the grass in front of the gym. The campus was deserted as Butte was between quarters. (Yes, we had a master key to train at the gym of a school we didn’t attend!) Mike loaded up the bar for his first set. “Isn’t this a lot better?” I had to admit that it was. I’d never thought that a simple change of scenery could give such an instant energy boost. My whole mood had changed. I wasn’t in a rush to get this over anymore. The weights were not going to be any lighter or easier to lift, but the desire and enthusiasm for this workout had shot up.
The mood changed just a quickly when the campus security car rounded the corner, slowed down, and then stopped right in front of us. The officer looked out of his vehicle in disbelief, not really sure what was going on. As I stood there contemplating what type of food the local jail might be serving that night, Big Mike stood up and waved at the officer with that “Don’t you know who I am?” look on his face. Stunningly, the officer smiled, waved back, and then drove off.
Still smiling, Mike reached into his gym bag. “Damn, I almost forgot!” he said as he pulled out his new Vaurnet’s, slide them over his eyes, then leaned back on the bench to do his set.
“This is how we do it in Santa Barbara!”
I couldn’t help but laugh. The celling for this workout was a clear blue sky. The only music was the clanging of the iron that we lifted. Thanks to Mike, we’d changed things up and I could feel how much it energized me.
This time of year, the options will be there for you to do something a little bit different. You don’t have to break any gym rules but just understand that training in a different way, or at a different time, or in a different environment, might not only help your workout, it can greatly effect your attitude about working out. It’s that attitude and outlook which makes the necessary physical work that much more enjoyable. Find a way to keep it fresh and to keep yourself motivated. Find a way to be like Mike!
Photo: Terry Goodlad Models: Monica Brant and Reggie Hobson