The year was 1987. I was in the middle of my four year enlistment in the United States Air Force. The military does a great job when it comes to sports and physical fitness programs for it’s members. In 1987 I was stationed at Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, Nebraska just outside of Omaha.
Offutt had a huge twenty-four hour a day gym. Do you want to play basketball at 3am? You could do that. Have a racquetball urge at 6 a.m.? Not a problem. I had decided that fitness was important to me because I was a desk jockey. My career field (AFSC) in the Air Force was 49152 – Computer Systems Specialist. A fancy name for a very smart desk jockey. I knew that if I didn’t get to the gym, my body was going to rot and deteriorate from the hours spent doing computer programming. And the military frowns on members being out of shape. When you are in the military your body belongs to them. Anything you do to ruin your body is considered damaging government property.
Up until the point that I discovered weightlifting, my primary three sports were soccer, basketball and racquetball. And I was not great at any of them. I was decent at soccer as long as I played defense. At 6’2″ and 250 lbs I’m pretty much a brick wall. What I lack in skill I can usually fix with brute force. In the world of basketball… yeah let’s not even go there. You’d never guess it by looking at me, but I was a Keystone Cop on the basketball court. If you want to know how I play basketball, go watch the scene in “Soul Man” where C. Thomas Howell tried to play basketball. My racquetball game was pretty good as long as the ball didn’t go fast, or go behind me, under me or over me. I was one of those computer programming guys who did not fare well in the sports world.
At Offutt Air Force Base the free weight room was in the basement right off of the back of the men’s locker room. I had avoided that area because I considered it a special place. A magical place for people that were gods in the gym. In my mind, you didn’t go in there unless you already were already well-trained and built with a decent amount of muscle. (It never occurred to me to wonder how people obtained muscle in the first place.) I cannot remember what caused me to step into the weight training area late one night. My guess is that there was probably nobody around to engage in any of my other regular comical sport ventures. I remember there being a lot of odd machines, loud music, and people putting a lot of effort into everything they were doing. After standing back watching for awhile, I decided to try out my first machine.