I started screwing around with weights when I was 10 years old. My uncle, who inspired me throughout my childhood and early adulthood on many levels, would sneak me down into his basement (he was still living at home with my grandparents) and he would let me “lift” with him. He had all of the old school “DP fit for life” horseshit hollow bars and cement filled weights, remember the biggest “plate” was 22 pounds and it was like huge. He would throw me on a makeshift bench and let me have at it while he used his olympic set. He had the ye 'ol weider arm blaster and a whole shit load of home made (welded) lat machine attachments.
He snuck one of those hollow bars into my parents house and into my room with a couple 22 pound plates a few dimes and nickels and all I did were squats, upright rows, bent over rows, curls, and overhead triceps extensions…all in my bedroom.
My parents didn’t actually let me have my own weights or accept the fact that he was sneaking me in his parents basement for workouts (maybe once a week if i was lucky) until I was 12. At 12 my parents finally let me have my uncles old shit out of his basement and my grandpa built me a homemade lat machine.
My uncle had pictures of Frank Zane, Arnold, Mike Christian, Gaspari, Hany up on the walls of the basement. An old used Quad’s gym stringer also hung from the ceiling. He had one mirror down there where of course we would watch ourselves curl. The basement was relatively clean, not finished, cement floor, cinder block walls but clean. He had a chalkboard and a boombox where we listened to whatever the fuck we wanted to while we lifted (those of you who are stuck in a commercial gym like me learn to appreciate the true value of music while lifting).
I took no protein powder until I was about 13, then it was Hot Stuff. Remember that shit, you needed an industrial strength blender to mix that shit without having powder bombs.
By the time I hit 15 I was given my first gym membership at a powerhouse gym, even there things were relatively hardcore compared to the pussified gyms we have now.
I did my first and unfortunately last bodybuilding show at age 17, the AAU Illinois, won my age class (5’9" 189 on stage) but got smoked bad in the overall teen division by a kid (19) that was 30 pounds lighter than me, he had a sick lump(gyno)under his left nipple also, not that it mattered he was ripped to shreds.
The old powerhouse gym closed down almost 10 years ago now and all that equipment from my grandparents basement is in my uncle’s garage. Funny everytime I go over to his house to hang out and happen to be in his garage, all I have to do is grip that old bar and the memories come back in a flash.
Ahhhh, the old days…and there are so many stories of the different cliques in that first gym I went to along with the 12-13 other gyms I have frequented over the past fifteen years.