Monday, July 16, 2018

The Fountain of Youth, Part Two - John McCallum

Taken From This Issue (December 1968) 

The Fountain of Youth, Part Two
by John McCallum (1968)
My bachelor uncle came over the other night. His name is Harry. He was wearing a pair of turquoise cords, a light blue ascot, a shirt that looked suspiciously like gold lamb, with a set of Buddhist prayer beads hanging around his neck.
I shielded my eyes. "That's a nice outfit, Uncle Harry." 

He flopped down into a chair and crossed his feet on the desk. He had on cowboy boots with curlicue engraving down the sides.

"And nice footwear, too," I added. "Who do you think you are? Matt Dillon?"

He flicked an imaginary piece of lint from his cords. "The trouble with you, my boy," he said, "is that you don't know a real swinger when you see one." 

"You're right about that, Uncle Harry," I said. "I gotta admit you're a swinger. You started swinging the day you were born." 

He yawned.

"The trouble is," I said, "that was fifty-nine years ago." 

"Fifty-seven," he said. He looked as pleased as a cat. "Yessir. Fifty-seven last March and I feel like a two-year-old."

"A two-year-old what?" I said. "Horse or egg?"

He grinned at me. "Don't be snappy, son. You oughta be flattered."

"Flattered?" I said. "Why?"

"Because," he said, "I've come to you for advice. Free advice," he added."

"Advice about what?"

"About," he said, "the finest, kindest, most deserving individual I know."

I sat up. "Who?"

"Me," he said.

I looked at him for a moment. "Uncle Harry," I said, "you're nothing but a dirty old man and you know it."

He grinned. "But a swinger."

"Right," I said. "But a swinger."

He took his feet off the desk. "What about it then?"

"What about what?"

"The free advice."

I put my feet on the desk where his had been. "Uncle Harry," I said. "My vast store of information is at your disposal. What do you want to know?"

He looked a little embarrassed. "It's what you were saying about staying young. You know, the fountain of youth thing."

I gave him a close look. "Uncle Harry," I said. "Don't tell me you're finally becoming aware of your advancing years."

"Never mind what I'm aware of," he snapped. "You were talking about getting young and staying that way with the right kind of training. Remember?"

"Of course I remember," I said. "I'm not senile like some people I know."

He gave me a cold look. "Watch it, sonny," he said. "I'll cut off your allowance."

I swung my feet off the desk and sat up straight. "Okay, Uncle Harry," I said. "I'll tell you how to train so you can get young and stay that way."

"Wild," he said.

"But I think all the old dolls on the bourbon circuit oughta send me something in appreciation."
"They will, my boy. They will," he said. "I'll see to it."

"You still do a little lifting, don't you?"

"Oh, sure," he said. "A few presses and curls. You know."

"Yeah," I said. "I know. But training for rejuvenation involves a little more than that. Are you sure you want to?"

"Certainly," he said. "It's worth it. I'm looking forward to a long, active life devoted to charity and good works."

I looked him right in the eye but he kept a straight face. "All right, Uncle Harry," I said. "This is what you gotta do, then. Pay attention."

"The first thing to remember," I said, "is that your rejuvenation routine should do two things. It should give maximum stimulation to your cardiovascular system, and it should do it in as short a time as possible. Two and three hour workouts are okay for the kids peaking their biceps, but it's wasted time for you."

"You've got to compress your workout. No wasted moves. There's other segments to the program and you've gotta save time for them."

"Great," he said. "I'll spend the time wisely, too. Long walks through the park and all that."
"Uncle Harry," I said. "Who the heck do you think you're kidding? You'll spend it in the gin mill with your juice-head friends and you know it."

He put on an indignant look. "It's better than sleeping your life away."

"Sleeping?" I said. "You gotta be kidding. Half those guys are wiped out by ten-thirty, anyway."

He looked hurt.

"Never mind, Uncle Harry," I said. "Let's get on with it."

"Now," I said. "You won't be doing much on the smaller muscle groups. You don't need it anyway. There'll be no cramping. No pumping. No half movements. Nothing like that."

"Don't be concerned about getting cuts in our deltoids or your biceps a half inch bigger. Your goal should be the developing of a strong, enduring body, and absolutely vibrant health."

"You'll work on the large muscle groups. You'll use standard exercises, moderately heavy weights, and you'll do your workouts in PHA style."

"You should work out three times a week. No more; no less. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday is ideal. That'll give you plenty of exercise with the weights and still leave time for the other segments of the program."

I scribbled on a piece of paper and handed it to him. "There," I said. "Do this."

1) Press behind neck: 10 reps
2) Squats: 12 reps
3) Bench Press: 12 reps
4) Situps: 25 reps
5) Hyperextensions: 15 reps
6) Bentover rowing: 15 reps

Uncle Harry studied the paper. "That doesn't seem like very much."

"It'll be enough for now," I said. "If you do it properly."

"Do the behind the neck presses standing. Use a medium width grip. Clean the bar and do the first rep off your chest. Do the remainder behind your neck. Don't let the bar rest on your shoulders between reps. Rebound it right back up again.

"Keep your head up and your back as straight as possible during the squats. Take three big gulping breaths between each rep. Squat to parallel position, no lower.

"Use a shoulder width grip for the bench presses. Do them in strict style. No back arching, no footwork.

"Do the situps on an incline board and hold plates behind your head for added resistance. Don't let your back arch. Roll up and down down like a rug being rolled and unrolled.

"The hyperextensions are terrific for your lower back. Concentrate on doing them in perfect style. Round your back at the bottom and arch it high at the top. Use extra weights as soon as you can, but not so much that your style gets sloppy.

"Use a close grip for the rowing exercise and pull the bar to your lower abdomen. Arch your back and raise your head when the weight comes up. Round your back and lower your head when the bar goes down.

"You got all that?" I asked him.

"Sure," he said. "No problem. I know how to do all those exercises anyhow."

"That's right," I said. "Now, don't forget. You'll be doing the workout in PHA style.

"Do a set of exercise #1, then a set of exercise #2, then #3, and so on right through the group. Then do a second set of exercise #1, a second set of exercise # 2, and so on. Then run through the group a third time, then a fourth time, and so on for six sets.

"Use an extremely light weight for the first set. The empty bar may be enough. Add a little weight for the second set, and a little more for the third set. The first three are just warmup sets, really.

"Don't neglect the warmup. A lot of the success of this routine depends on stimulated blood circulation through thoroughly warmed up muscles.

"Jump to your best exercising poundage for the fourth set. Drop ten pounds each for the fifth and sixth sets.

"Don't stop and rest between exercises. Keep on the move. If you're puffing too hard, walk around till your breathing slows a little and then go right on to the next exercise. If you sit down and rest, you'll undo most of the good of the PHA system.

"Figure you can handle all that?" I asked him.

"Like nothing," he said.

"Okay, then. But, don't forget, there's other segments to the thing. Are you eating a pretty strict diet?"

"Like a Trappist monk," he said.

"I'll bet."

He grinned and got up.

"Wait a minute," I said. "Don't you want to hear about the other segments?"

He looked at his watch. "Like later, maybe." He started for the door. "I've got a deal figured for some of that free time tonight."

"Good," I said. "Phone me in the morning and I'll come down and bail you out."  


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