For me, I was tired of getting the sand kicked in my face (metaphorically speaking).
It was the summer of 1978, almost 40 years ago…
I picked up my first Muscle Builder and Power Magazine.
On the cover were three iconic bodybuilders: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbu, and Frank Zane.
All three of these guys were well-known in the sport for almost two decades, but this was my first exposure to a magazine that would later become Muscle & Fitness.
These guys were gargantuan, especially Schwarzenegger and Columbu. Frank Zane was slightly smaller and had a more symmetrical and aesthetic appeal. Zane had won the Mr. Olympia the year previously in 1977 and won again in 1978 and 1979.
Two years earlier, I was 12 years old and skinny as a rail.
After a lot of begging, my mom and dad finally broke down and got me a set of weights for Christmas.
I had been highly active and competitive in sports up to this point, but weightlifting would soon up my game to a new level.
I remember following the handful of exercise routines, outlined in the instruction manual that came with the basic weight set. My gains came quickly, after just a few weeks I was already “cleaning and pressing” the full 110 lbs. Considering I weighed slightly less than the full weight set and began training with less than half that amount, that was quite the leap in strength. There was only one problem, I had already maxed out my weight limit (the weight set only went to 110 lbs.) and I began longing for more.
For two more years, I stumbled around with that weight set in my bedroom. I lifted almost daily and somewhere in between that 110 lbs. milestone lift and the mark of finding that Muscle Magazine, my gains had stagnated. Yes, I got stronger. I could curl more. Squat more. Bench more. But I couldn’t go any higher with the weights I had on hand. My body also changed, I gained weight. Good weight – muscle. I could run faster. My agility, balance and quickness also improved. I could see the difference on the playing field in baseball, football and track and pick-up games around the neighborhood. But I desired more…
Then along came the Muscle Magazine.
There was a flashy ad for an Olympic-style weight set in the back of the magazine by some obscure company based out of Chicago. Without hesitation, I cut out the ad, filled it out and emptied my piggy-bank savings and then persuaded my mom to take me to the bank to get a money order so I could purchase those Olympic-style weights. I knew what I wanted and was bound and determined to get my summer time Christmas gift…
Everything back in the day was done via snail-mail (no internet shopping). I would have to order these weights the old-fashioned way, by dropping the ad and money order in the mail and then waiting…
This was also back before the popularity of today’s shipping with UPS and Fed-Ex. A large part of my piggy bank funds went toward the shipping costs. The weights would arrive bulk-shipped and to my doorstep, but in a large truck. It took weeks.
I remember the morning when the semi-truck arrived. The truck was too big to pull in our drive-way, so after the driver had my mom sign for the order, I helped the driver carry what must have been 20-25 boxes into our garage. The weights were way too heavy to put into one or two boxes, but it didn’t matter. I would have carried a thousand boxes or more, if needed to reach my goal…
I remember tearing into the boxes so determined to set up that weight set, I don’t think I even said goodbye to the driver. Now I had the foundation that I so desired. A 300 lbs. set of heavy-iron that was taking up the lone parking space in our garage, thankfully it was still summer!
From that moment forward, I could not wait for the next issue of Muscle Builder and Power Magazine to hit the news stands. What is known today as Muscle & Fitness, a magazine with an incredible 81 year history, has stood the test of time.
It’s been forever since I’ve perused the cover of one of those magazines. I did a brief image search and found that guys like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, John Cena, Dolph Lundgren, as well as Arnold Schwarzenegger and many others have appeared on the cover since last buying one of these magazines. M&F is heavy into workout routines, nutrition tips, supplements and other advice. I cut my teeth on the formula of that magazine…the same successful formula Joe Weider evolved starting in 1936. This Country has witnessed numerous wars, presidents and political changes over the last 81 years. Few things have outlasted M&F magazine over this eight decade span. That’s a tribute to Joe Weider, and what he and all the iconic stars and bodybuilders have done for the sport.
On a personal level, that magazine has probably meant more to me than any other newsprint. I’ve gained muscle. I’ve gained strength. I’ve lost fat. I’ve got in shape when I fell out of shape. I’ve gained confidence and athletic abilities that once I did not have. That magazine has acted as the foundation and “fuel that has inspired me” for more than my entire adult lifetime. To think…it all began at a newsstand.
So what fuels YOUR inspiration?
Who has acted as YOUR celebrity mentor?
Why have YOU started working out in times past and present?
When did YOU begin working out?
How do YOU work out and why?
Whatever drives you…
Believe in it. Feed it. Continue to stoke that fire.