Thursday, January 18, 2024

Barbarian Brothers Seminar, 1982

I have always been a fan of bodybuilding. I waited in line for the Conan movie when it came out at Beltway Plaza Mall, I thought Arnold was cool, Franco was strong, Mentzer was the man. But it wasn't like they were football players or anything. I had something like levels to people that I admired when I was a kid. First level was pro athletes. Number one was Randy White, then Mike Webster, John Hannah, Russ Grimm, Drew Pearson, Staubach, those types of guys, freaking warriors , man. Then the next level would be basketball players like Dr. J. I didn't know shit about baseball. I guess it was okay. And then when you were a teenager back then in the 80's and it was an offseason in football and you weren't tall or good enough to play basketball, you lifted weights. You did it after school, and in your buddy's basement, or in my case, in physical training class, like I had in high school. I had two physical training classes , in fact.  Those were weight training classes, run by our resident head football coach who was a cruel, useless fuck who we all despised, except for a few kiss asses. Fuck that motherfucker. I couldn't stand the dude. Lazy, would just sit there with his big ass belly sticking out, reading the fucking paper. Disgrace. No instruction.  He'd tell us how fast he was still. I was like now? Compared to what? Fat ass. Worst football coach ever. We had enough talent to win the State every year. Oh, he hated me . You see, when folks who don't know shit know that you know that they don't know shit, it makes them hate you. I didn't admire the man, and I knew he was an idiot. After my senior year in football, he sat me out in the hallway, everyday. Every day that we had class, I got my chair and sat in the hallway. My friends would come visit me and be like, Steel! It was fun and I still got an A. He was too much of a coward to mark me down in grade.

Anyway, that was a big tangent I just went off into. Back to weight training. So back then, there was no you tube or internet. No cell phones, nothing. 3 channels and a fuzzy one on TV. I got really interested in weight training because of Randy White being big into weight training, and then I lost a bench press contest with a skinny buddy of mine who had a big chest and arms and I was pissed. I started talking to him and he told me about bodybuilding. The next day, he brought me a few muscle magazines. Muscle Mag International and Muscle UP! and Muscleman's annual with Arnold winning the '80 Olympia, that's how long ago it was! I bought Arnold's book and read it cover to cover over and over, The Education of Bodybuilder one. My dad thought it was weird, looking at men in speedos. I wasn't looking a them even, I was looking at Mentzer's forearms. Then I started studying this magazines and I got really into it (I get into things) and I always wondered, why doesn't someone want to look like Mike Mentzer? Of course, I wanted to look like that, no question. So funny to me that men wouldn't want to look huge.  I felt right away that I wanted to get as big and as strong as possible as soon as I started looking at those pictures. Fucking veins and shit? Striations and that big ass biceps vein going down the arm? Terrific. 

Mentzer was the most real looking dude to me for some reason, but all of them, to a certain degree, just seem to be missing something. 

Then the Barbarian Brothers came onto the scene. I first heard of them in 1982, I believe. Two huge twins who lifted crazy weights, trained in flannel shirts and jeans and were huge but never competed in a show, never donned a Speedo. They just slapped each other in the face and curled 315 for reps. AAAAARGGHH. I went into my closet and got out my flannels and started wearing them to train. I read everything that I could get my hands on about those guys. They were different, man. Not like football player cool, but just different, like we are strong and big as hell and we train hard and throw weights around, and don't care how we look when we are doing it. No tank tops and little shorts and barefoot training. Try combat boots and jeans and flannels. They were the antibodybuilder bodybuilders. They drank Coke and ate nachos and drank kefir and lifted for hours and hours each day and didn't believe in overtraining, just under eating and undersleeping! Every magazine that featured the twins, I studied. None of my friends were into bodybuilding, it was just me. They probably thought I was a little nuts, but I didn't care.

So when I heard that the Barbarian Brother's were coming to town to film the movie, DC Cab and were going to give a seminar at the Convention Center in DC, I knew I was gonna go, come hell or high water. I was in the 10th grade at the time. I was 16, no driver's license. The local Gold's Gym was selling tickets to the seminar. I bummed a ride from my sister and went in to get tickets. The guy behind the desk said,  "One of the Barbarians are lifting right now." I looked into the gym and there was one of the Brothers! He was doing rack deadlifts with 7 plates and looked very serious. I could have stayed and watched, but my sister was outside waiting for me. Later on I found out that the Brothers destroyed the Smith Machine at the gym with more weight than the machine could handle.

When the day came for the seminar, I got a ride from my dad into DC.  Back then, it wasn't the murdering out of control mess that it is now, it was actually pretty nice. So he dropped me off and I went into the room where they were holding the seminar. There were chairs set up around a roped off area that had weights, benches, a behind the neck stand and heavy dumbbells. There were around 20 or 30 people in there. Not a big crowd but we were enthusiastic. Then the twins came in! Big as hell, tank tops on and sweat pants. I had never seen any people with that much muscle before.  It was unreal to me, like they had big balloons all over their bodies. Otherworldly to me. It was crazy how much muscle they had. Since then, I have been around some big dudes (Kevin Levrone, Coleman, Nick Walker), but back then, it was a whoa! moment. So they come in and one of them yells, FUCK! and everyone starts laughing. Then they sat down and answered questions. They were drinking milk and taking those huge amino acid tablets that everyone back then would choke down.

They answered questions. One of them was about steroids and the twins agreed that steroids were the "greatest things ever", which was refreshingly honest. They said that they didn't know anyone on growth hormone. Back then it was still taken from dead people, I believe. And then they went over how it was training  in California at the famous Gold's Gym, how they trained whatever they wanted on a particular day, that they really didn't have a set program, they just trained multiple times a day and ate a bunch and when they did trained, they trained crazy heavy. The whole time, there was this guy who knelt down next to the ropes separating the twins from the crowd. He kept trying to get their attention. He was very feminine, I do remember that fact. He kept trying to get their attention, and they ignored him until finally it got to be too irritating and one of them yelled out "WHAT? WHAT DO YOU WANT?" and the guy said he just wanted to shake their hands. So they shook his hand and then he went back into the crowd. Very strange. 

Then they began to warmup to lift. David reverse gripped bench pressed 495 pounds for 4 reps. His ass was way off of the bench but it was still cool to see. Peter did 315 pounds on the behind the neck press and then did 225 pounds for 20 reps. That was impressive. David bent rowed 495 for reps , cheating like crazy. Then Peter curled the 120's for some cheating reps also. It was all very cool. Then we all went out into another room where they were selling pictures. They didn't want to sign the free posters, just the ones that they were selling. I bought a pic and they singed it, "To Jim buddy, the Barbrians" Yes, he spelled Barbarian wrong. I didn't care, but it was amusing.

I was inspired and was now a bigger fan than ever. I still read everything I could get my hands on about them, and when DC Cab came out, I went to see it on opening day.  It was a cool time back then. Nothing to worry about, just playing football and lifting weights and trying to get good grades. The Barbarians were fun to look up to, especially to a burgeoning young lifter. One of them died recently, and the other one lost it mentally a bit, but back then they were aces with me.

All About Being a Lifer

What's a Lifer? Someone who isn't in to something for just a day, a month, a's for life. Whether its training or your family or your doesn't matter. You work at it, you build on it, you see the big picture . You don't miss workouts because it means something to you. You are like a Shakespearean actor- no matter what is going on in your life, you block it out when it's time to train. You walk into the weight room and all else disappears. Worry about it later.