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The Online No Bull Collection


Between Sets

with Lou Ravelle

"I'm dancing with tears in my eyes, because the girl in my arms is a boy"......

Which well -known bodybuilder was heard singing this at an after-show dance? Seriously though, myself, I'm very much a 'Don't Know' when it comes to the question of hard core physique girls. Just think, can it be any sort of turn on when a guy feels those rock-hard gun barrels round his neck? And better not say 'No' feller, or you might get your nuts crushed.

Not that I'm speaking from personal experience, you understand, but I have, professionally of course, given massage to one or two muscular ladies. While I know that you're not supposed to actually enjoy these things, I'd just like to say that I prefer the feel of a female 'Figure' girl every time. At his age?

Still, there's no denying that the physique girls have worked hard and they've got the mass and the cuts to prove it. I wouldn't knock 'em. If that's what turns 'em on, all well and good. I think that maybe, deep down, some of the guys (here I include Judges) could be envious.

Enough's enough! Reading, as we do these days, of 24 and even 27 inch arms, I wonder where it's all going to stop. Is a 27inch arm human? I ask myself? 27 would be a terrific measurement even for a thigh. I suppose some would say it's progress.
Years ago, in the pre-anabolic, so called Golden Era of bodybuilding, an eighteen inch upper arm was something only talked of in hushed tones. It was also something that usually came from across the Atlantic. I think it's safe to say that the first home grown arms to top this magic figure were those of Reg Park. In those days even 17inches was something rarely seen in a British finalists line up. In the 'Fifties there were courses on offer with titles like “How to build the Fifteen Inch Arm”.
Nowadays even wimps can better that.
Where is it all leading?

To achieve the same proportions as his old-time 18 inch counterpart, your guy with the 24 inch guns would have to have a chest measurement of at least 60". That's 2.5 times the arm size. On a man with a height of less than 8 feet I think this would look rather grotesque. I think this would put bodybuilders firmly in the freak category. Let's hope that common sense prevails and that bestiality is kept where it belongs, in the zoo.

"I don't work, I'm a bodybuilder."
A well known London body made this declaration to me as he basked in the sun at Hyde Park's Serpentine. Now this was back in the sixties and the man in question was by no means rich. In fact he could have been described in the local vernacular, as boracic. Bodybuilders, apart from a very select chosen few, don't make any money out of the game. Still, your man seemed quite happy with his lot. It turned out that as he lived with his parents his dole money was sufficient to finance his training and nutritional needs. (Protein tablets, wheat germ and gallons of milk, was the norm at the time).
I don't know if this kind of existence is viable these days, given the present supplement scene and with bodybuilders paying nearly fifty quid for a hundred nutritional capsules. Perhaps a man could send his granny out to work in a strip club?

Talking about cashing in on the old muscles, it's a pity that one area where some bodybuilders managed to do this has all but disappeared in the UK. I refer of course, to Professional Wrestling. In the fifties and sixties several physique stars found their way into the square ring. Not all of them were able to hack it, but those that did found that it was a good way to make a living and (more important) it beat going out to work.
Despite what their publicity said, these boys didn't make any fortunes, but they did earn a good living. Usually this was about double what they would have made in a normal 'day job'. They also had plenty of time to train.
Alas! The game seems to have died a death in this country, probably through over-exposure on television. Through this media the promoters themselves first made and then destroyed, the goose that laid those much quoted eggs.

However wrestling is still alive and kicking in America and judging from appearances, lots of bodybuilders are still cashing in. Earl Maynard, Brian Lancaster, Spencer Churchill, and Johnny Yearsley were among those that made it on the British wrestling scene and of these Churchill was the first and probably the most successful. It gives me much satisfaction to report this as I was instrumental in his starting wrestling in the first place.

Wrestling was very much a closed shop in those days. It had its own sort of union or 'Federation' as it was known. The main purpose of this was to keep outsiders out and thereby ensure a sufficiency of work for those that were 'in'. So getting into the business was more a matter of who you knew than what you knew. You needed a bit of pull from the inside. As I was a Federation member I was able to get Spence his first trial bout and he never looked back.

Try this one for a great upper-body pump. No equipment needed. Just good old fashioned push-ups, but the secret is in the way you do them. Ready?
Assume the 'on the hands down' position. Do one push -up (yes that's right just one) and return to the standing position.
Take a couple of breaths then get down and do two reps. Back on your feet again, a couple of breaths and then go down and do three reps. Continue like this, adding one rep each time until you reach 15 reps - well twelve at least. It's not quite as simple as it sounds and you might have to increase the rest time between sets to a little more than two deep breaths. What a pump! The pecs feel as if they are about to burst. Great for endurance too. It sounds easy, but wait till you've tried it. This little routine is good for holidaymakers and travellers as it can be done almost anywhere.
No Fred, not Waterloo Station at rush hour.

Someone might ask you where the lady went.
What happened the tape measure? Once upon a time the P.C. mags were full of measurements. Beneath almost every photograph would be the subject's measurements, sometimes in great detail, sometimes readers had to be content with only chest arms and thighs. Now, for some reason the practise is obsolete, readers can consider themselves lucky if they are told a man's height! I am not quite sure what the reason is behind this reversal of policy though of course I am aware that this measurement business has its down side. Some said it could be misleading because there were many false claims made. In many cases people claimed 'cold' arm measurements when, in fact these had been taken after a twenty minute thrashing. Others were accused of being 'tape happy'.
(Ed’s note: funny you should say that Lou, my friend got three months nick for a TWO minute thrashing - mind you, he was on the railway station at the time!).

On the plus side, one must admit that measurements gave fans some sort of a yardstick for comparison purposes, whether the measurements were hot, cold or indifferent. Many rank and file bodybuilders used their idols' measurements as inspirational goals.
I remember that one of the arguments against measurements was that it placed too much emphasis on sheer size, when size should not be everything. Well, I would find it easier to understand the disappearance of the tape measure if size had gone out of fashion. The thing is size and bulk are still very much 'in'. The good big 'un still beats the good little'un. Mass is King.

Anyway, the tape has disappeared from the scene and we are just left with photographic images on which to base our judgements and comparisons. The reason for this remains a puzzle, but perhaps somebody out there can come up with the answer?

Sloppy Instruction
All too frequently one hears this charge levelled against some gyms and health clubs. Fortunately for most of us the main offenders are usually the big plush top of the market emporiums. Because of the emphasis placed on hi-tech machinery some instructors seem to think that it is only necessary to point the beginner in the direction of the right machine and that glittering monster will do the rest.

On a recent visit to London I visited a number of gyms while doing some research for my new book. In one £600 a year establishment I saw a beginner being waltzed through the gym by an instructress. Her manner and her movements were exactly those of a po-faced air stewardess indicating,with a languidly waved arm, where the passengers might find the oxygen masks and the escape doors, in the event of disaster. The pupil was then left to get on with it.

These places are run in such a business like manner that It's hard to believe that the directors do not know that any exercise, whether performed on a machine or with free weights, has to be done properly and so has the breathing. Difficult to say, as you never see the directors of these places; faceless creatures hidden in their boardrooms.

I would say that these punters, who are paying top wack, are being ripped off. The young man behind the reception desk did tell me that a personal trainer was available at £35 a session and that clients were recommended to avail themselves of this service from time to time. Of course, these chain health clubs are run like supermarkets. They are there to make money and the men in the ivory towers have probably never seen a free weight in their lives. This is where your privately owned, or owner-driven, gym will score every time. There is no substitute for the personal touch. In these places real instruction is given and included in the normal membership.

These small privately owned gyms are not the 'corner shops ' of the health and fitness industry and unlike the deceased small grocer, they will continue to flourish. Why? Because when you take away all the glitz and hype of the giants you'll find that the local lad is offering more for less!

A century of inspiration has been provided for those in search of muscle and might. From Sandow right through the spectrum to men like today's Dorian Yates there have been men who have supplied the inspiration which has produced the drive which, in turn, has produced their successors. Sandow was really a spin-off from the nineteenth century was still an inspiration in the twentieth. The first really mass cult figure, whose name became a household word, must have been Charles Atlas. His was certainly the first P.C. name I ever knew. His courses were sold in millions in the thirties and continued well into the sixties.

The post-war physical culture boom, fired by Grimek and Reeves and kept rolling by stars like Pearl, Park and Scott, coasted on to produce men like Arnold, who incidentally, was inspired by Reg Park. And so the story goes on till we reach the present crop of Olympians. We've all seen this list before, or others very similar but I'd like to point out that there's one name that always gets missed out and I don't think the guy's got a title to his name, Sylvester Stallione! I've got a suspicion that Sly has inspired just a many youngsters as any of the Olympians. Why? Well he has a good muscular athletic body but he's no giant. He's something with which the man, or boy, in the street can, more easily identify. He is perhaps more human and therefore more within reach. Oh yeah, and he's a bloody good actor too.

Thought for to day.
Don't take the Mickey out of somebody who can't do something that you can. He may be able to do something that you can't.




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Telephone: +44 (0) 1246 811013 or 01246 570595