Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Totoy Batak Chronicles Two: Kanto Gym

Long before I was able to distinguish the difference between a Bench Press and an Inclined Press; and long before I could do Squats with a 250 lbs Olympic Bar on my back, there was already the Kanto Gym - the humble neighborhood fitness place where my life-long passion with iron plates and Olympic bars began.

There used to be one, just across the street from where the narrow alley leading to our house opens to the main road. It was run by my dad's friend who used to be his graphic artist when the two of them worked in the Komiks industry. I cannot recall who among the two friends started the fitness habit, only that one morning, a second hand weight bench machine appeared out of nowhere in the house's sala.

Dad first encouraged me to do some exercises when I was in high school. He taught me the basics of dumbbell curls and pull downs. I remember, there used to be a barbell made of concrete outside the house. Whether someone was able to do some presses with that slab, I could only guess.

In college, I showed up one evening outside this Kanto Gym owned by my dad's friend. I remember his first reaction the first time I lifted a bar. "Aayusin natin yang porma mo. Kilos Bondjing ka pa kasi ngayon." It could have been the beginnings of my love affair with Iron Plates but the drive to buff up died out less than a month after I started working out.

Heto na ang stats ko ngayon:

- 180 lbs.
- high blood
- laging stressed out
- feels something weird in my chest, especially near the heart area
- super massive
- slow mobility
- careless diet
- extremely low self esteem

that why, I need to trim down. I need to enrol in a gym class. I need to moderate my health because it's failing already.

Wish ko lang sipagin ako pumasok bukas
may bago na akong gym na nakita.

Dreams of Becoming A Gym Bunny - Part Two
Fullmetal Dreams | March 15, 2004

It took years before I showed up in the gym again. By then, I was already 180 lbs and my ex complained that I was too fat for him. He even joked that he would leave me if didn't shape up. Fearing that he would take his word seriously, I tried to work out at a Kanto Gym somewhere in Espana. However, a month had passed and I was back to procrastinating again.

I just couldn't bear the pain of my pectoral muscles breaking up for it to get firm.

The search for motivation continued and the frustrations went on every time I would slack off and withdraw myself from the program. What started as a yo-yo cycle finally found its rhythm one dusty afternoon of February.

At a height of Five foot and Nine inches, my weight reached 210 lbs. I was more obese than my father when he was at my age and I had to reverse my uncontrolled expansion before it was too late.

Until then. I would stay quiet. I'm even thinking whether it would be good to be isolated for the mean time so that my developments... would just be for my eyes alone.

And no matter how many times it would take before I may become successful in taming my own frame. I would never stop nor surrender.

For I'm beginning to get tired hiding behind my own shadow.

And I'm getting weary thinking about if I would last a decade with the abuses I'm giving to my deteriorating body.

Lastly, I'm beginning to get tired oogling at some other buff bodies when I can develop mine.

I guess, it's time to claim my own place.

Act Of Liberation
Fullmetal Dreams | February 13, 2006

The liberation began in earnest at a small gym along Recto. Learning from my past mistakes of procrastinating when I notice some improvements, I took small and subtle steps for the habit to kick in and the bodybuilding activity becoming a lifestyle.

I've seen many people desiring to have a toned, buffed body. A lot of them are non-straight men whose template for being attractive are those gym-fit guys they stalk on the internet. Some would deny such truth, but I have been there. I used to go online at Guys4men to look at some photos of headless, muscled men before heading to the gym. They were my inspiration in getting myself fit. Some who I sent a direct message out of admiration were helpful enough to part some tips and encouragement so I could see myself posting the pictures they own


Who would have thought I could do more.

Bored and with nothing else to do, I decided to check out a Kanto Gym this afternoon. The banner outside the door gave hints that the gym had just opened. You see, I have this penchant for comparing other fitness centers to my home gym in Shaw.

Had I been a little mean, (like when I worked-out at Maic's Gym and Fitness First Eastwood some years ago) I would have looked down on this Kanto Gym and consider it a place of no-interest. The kids who were lifting bars and pulling cables were from the university not far from the gym. Fascinated at how they tried (desperately) to finish a set, I went inside so I could pay close attention at how they execute their exercise.

They were greenhorns by all accounts.

Greenhorn like me when I first curled a dumb bell on my hand:

"Kuya tama ba yung form ko?"

"Coach paano nga ulit yung tamang leg position sa Dynamic Row?"

"Sir ano yung program ko for today?"

It was as if my own voice spoke when I overheard a member asking the coach about his program. Suddenly, I remembered the very questions I once asked when it was me who held on to every word the coach said.

There is a saying among true weightlifters that "no matter where the bodybuilder came from, it is not the gym that firms the chest and tones the abs. What shapes a bodybuilder is his spirit." True to what the saying goes, the skinny boys who were working out when I arrived may have the lousiest exercise executions I've seen, but with determination to reach their aim - despite the body pain, the sacrifice of time and the work-out supplements they have to buy and consume to maintain their muscles, sooner or later, they will achieve their goals for going to the gym.

I used to scoff at the thought of returning to such places especially when I remember the rust (from the gym equipment) staining my shirt, or the bench rocking left and right as I do my sit-ups at a highly inclined position, but now it is clear to me that I owe my very foundations to the Kanto Gym. Without its presence and very low membership fees, the science of bodybuilding would never have been my field. I would never strip naked and be confident about it like what I am now doing while writing this entry.

So instead of doing my work-out, I decided to teach some kids a few exercises I did when I used to work out in the neighborhood gym. The coach must have noticed my built so he allowed me to share some knowledge learned from my instructors before.

"Extend mo pa yang arms mo hanggang baba para ma-feel mo yung impact ng dumb bell curl mo."

"This is how you do a pull-down, i-grip mo yung dalawang opposite ends ng bar. Bend over a little and then pull the bar down until it reaches your back. Make sure it gently taps your lateral area. We could decrease the weight if hindi mo kaya"

"If you want your tummy to get smaller, do a fifteen minute brisk walk here (pointing to the Elliptical Trainer) and then another fifteen minute cardio in the stationary bike"


xtian1978ii said...

grabe ano umabot ka ng 210 lbs. naiimagine ko na ung hirap mo.

ako way back under weight naman ako so nagenrol ako sa gym para mag gain. gumanda katawan ko pero ngayon sa sobra dami ng trabaho d na ako nakakapag work-out. Kaya eto lumobo.

next year balik gym na din ako.

Knox Galen said...

Xtian: Goodluck dude. Yun rin kinakatakot ko, baka maging sobrang busy ako sa mga susunod na taon, makalimutan ko ang mag gym.

Buti na lang 24 hours yung gym ko.

gillboard said...

balik gym na din ako... para mas fit pagdating sa pasko... di na kasya yung mga binili kong shirt last year.. :(

red the mod said...

This scares me. I'm 5'2'' and 230lbs. I have passed the point between being fat and morbidly obese. I hope to find the internal inspiration that is a detrimental requisite to overcome my predilections of procrastinating and the self-destructing effects of a lacking self esteem.

May I find the drive, as you undoubtedly have, to seek the betterment of my physical well-being, not in the objective of improving my market value but to regain what I have lost living in the shadows of my own self-imposed hermeticism.

Good day, kuya.

Trip said...

that is always the dilemma of many gym goers, how they could maintain what they have started because of time constraint. with all of the reasons why it has to be that. hehehe

health or fitness is just as basic as food, clothing, shelter, sex, etc. if you always think of fitness as a luxury, then you would always fail to have fitness as part of your life or lifestyle. time is not the problem to fitness. it is someones ideals and priorities.

Masai said...

hay, di ko alam kung matuwa ako dahil sa payat ako. di ko na yata kailangan mag gym. pero puwede bang mapalaki ng weight ang bewang ko? 27 lang kasi. ang hirap maghanap ng pantalon. :)

wanderingcommuter said...

what many people who wants to go to the gym fails to see is how to maintain it. gymgoers should not only look at this as something as a trend, it should be a lifestyle.

sad to say but i learned it the hard way. hahaha!

Knox Galen said...

Ewik: Lifting weights and pumping iron is a life-long affair. There should be no stopping once you committed yourself to the program.

Oi, pa-copy naman nung mga house music mo. Tigang na tigang na ako.

Masai: Kung kasing tangkad kita dude, medyo alarming ang bewang mo. I'm no expert with programs but I believe that freeweights (and not cardio) could help.

Knox Galen said...

Trip: This is why I adhere to the saying which I included in the entry. It's not really with the gym or the coach - they are merely motivations for the student. What makes a workout program successful is the passion of the gym-goer.

Red: Make well-being your inspiration. I'm alarmed dude.

Gillboard: Nagsisimula na akong mag-overhaul ng closet. Yari ako nito pag tumaba ako. Hehehe.

The Lady in Green Ruffles said...

go go go lang!