Friday, May 5, 2006

Larry Weiss

This is a very important dedication...

I have planned on writing this since I decided to compete, and on this the eve of my competition I feel it's time.

Several people have asked me about this picture up in my place.

This is Larry Weiss.

Larry is very heavily responsible for my interest in working out, and bodybuilding. Not to take away from my parents by any means, as they were both a huge influence on me. Going to see my Father compete was my initial inspiration into bodybuilding and something I've always been proud of him for doing...

Larry was instrumental in getting me on the road there myself.

Larry was good friends with my Father, they even lived together for a period of time. He was responsible for encouraging my Father to begin his bodybuilding career. He was an ex-vietnam vet, and a very knowledgeable bodybuilder. He had more trophies than anyone I've met to this day. His room was just crammed with them. Larry was the guy in the gym who everyone was always asking for advice from. He was a very cool tempered man, who was clearly at peace with himself and the world around him. He lived each day to the fullest, and had fun in everything he did. I don't know if he ever went more than a minute without smiling or laughing.

A laugh I can still hear to this day.

When I was in high school and decided to start working out, Larry took me under his wing. Larry would go into the gym, train for 2 hours, then I'd show up, and then he'd train me for 2 hours, and then he'd hang out for another few hours. He was the epidimy of a gym rat. He loved to be there.

Larry drilled the importance of proper form into me from day one. He would not let me lift any kind of signifcant weight unless I could execute the movement properly. He would always tell me, "learn to do it properly, and the weight will come." Larry was right.

I am often accused of being on steroids or growth hormones due to the results I've gotten from my workouts. The reality is that the results I have gotten are soley due to the fact that I was taught to do everything right, right from the beginning. So my workouts garner the maximum results. Not to mention, Larry would have never approved of steroids, or HGH. Larry taught me not only proper form, but the importance in how to organize and plan effective workouts.

Larry was an unending well of support and encouragement, not only in bodybuilding but in life.

He knew I had a hard time in school, and didn't always have the best relations with my folks. Larry was sympathetic, and encouraging to me. He tried to build confidence and strength of mind in me, as well as strength of body. Back in high school, when Regal Begal Productions was in full swing, and we were making the movies and newsletter, he loved it. He was a big fan.

He, my Father and I went on motorcycle trips often. Larry loved to ride, and had a Honda Goldwing that had more lights on it than a Vegas casino. He was also rarely seen without some crazy hat on, and you rarely saw the same one twice.

That was Larry.

I'll never forget a trip my Father and I took with Larry, and one night after dinner we were in our hotel room, and he had me laughing so hard I puked. It's actually one of my fondest memories of him outside of the gym.

Larry had a radience to him that everyone around him felt. Just being around him put you in a good mood. So much that he was approached about doing a public access workout television show, which he innevitably entitled, "Let's Workout", as that's what you'd often hear Larry suggest. I was fortunate enough, and honored to have been a guest on his show when he did an episode focusing on bicep movements. Larry was always impressed with the shape, and peaks on my biceps.

One of my favorite moments on that show, was when we demonstrated "buddy curls". This was something Larry and I did in our own workouts with one another often. I loved doing them. One person holds an empty EZ curl bar, while the other person provides the resistance for one intense all out, balls to the wall rep. I asked him if we could include it in the show since I loved it so much, and he didn't bat an eye. We did it.

Larry pushed me more than anyone ever has in any workout I've ever had. Larry had me leg pressing almost 900lbs at one point. He'd put me on the leg extension machine, and would have me do drop sets pulling the pin one weight at a time for the whole stack. My quads would be on absolute fire, and they literally buckled out from under me on several occasions... and I loved every single second of it. I have yet to have a workout to this day that even compared to the ones I'd have with Larry every single day after school and on the weekends.

Without the time I spent with Larry, and the knowledge and confidence he instilled in me, I would not be sitting here pro-tanned and less than 24 hours from competing in my first bodybuilding competition. He wanted me to compete in the teen division back when I was 18. Which is something in retrospect I wish I had done. All of the things I learned from him have not only benefited me in my own workouts, but have allowed me to excel in my career as a personal trainer. Something else that I would never have aspired to be had I not had the greatest personal trainer ever.

Post high school, when I was supporting myself working 60 hour weeks I couldn't work out anymore, and had lost touch with Larry. I wish I hadn't.

A few years back, Larry was diagnosed with cancer. He was gone within 6 weeks. It all happened so fast, and so few people knew about it that I didn't even hear about it until he had already died, and was buried. Larry was given a military burial ceremony. I was devestated when I heard the news. The thought of never getting to train with him again, go on a trip... see him eat 3 dinners at once... it broke my heart that I never got to say good bye, or even more importantly... thank you.

Last Father's day, my Father and I visited Larry's grave for the first time. It was very difficult for me to stand there and see his name on that headstone. But it is a very beautiful military cemetary. I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen my father cry in my life. That day standing there with him over Larry's grave was one of them. My Father is not a very outwardly emotional man, but he won't hesitate for a second to tell you how great of a friend, and how important Larry was to him.

He was that special.

In wrestling there is a tradition. When a tag-team partner, or fellow wrestler dies, you honor their memory by writing their initials on the tape around your wrists. While I don't have to tape my wrists during my workouts I do often use wrist wraps for chin-ups, shrugs etc. LW has been written on them since I got the news. They are the very same wristwraps I've used since Larry and I trained together almost 10 years ago.

Now, when I'm in the gym and in my last few reps of a set, and need to push myself through them, I just hear his voice in my head cheering me on telling me to push, and it gets me through it. He's still coaching me in that way.

In the wake of his passing, I refused to perform buddy curls with anyone. That was our thing. In time, I allowed myself to finally break down and do them with some of my clients... to honor his memory. I know he'd want me to, rather than go the rest of my life and never do those again. But there isn't a single time I do those and just wish more than anything that he was on the other end of that bar.

There are very few friends of mine who ever had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Larry Weiss, but the ones who did always had great things to say about him. Even then people knew what he meant to me.

Back in the day when you were called on stage to do your routine, the announcer would usually thank a short list of people for you if you'd like. This apparently doesn't happen anymore, which is unfortunate, as I would have very much liked to have acknowledged Larry Weiss.

Since the day I decided to do this, I knew I wanted to dedicate my competiton to Larry.

Tomorrow night I will be honored and priveledged to have Larry's eldest son Grant in attendance to support me. It means the absolute world to me that he'll be there.

When I take the stage tomorrow evening I will perform my 1 minute routine, and at the conclusion I will point straight up to the heavans... that is me thanking Larry.

As I've sat here writing this I'm ruining the pro-tan on my face as I am streaking it up with tears.

To Larry:

Thank you SO much for your time, your patience, your smile, your caring, your understanding, and your love. Not a workout goes by that you are not in my thoughts. I'm sorry I never got to thank you while you were with us, and that I never got to say good bye. I know you will be there with me in spirit when I take the stage tomorrow night, and I dedicate all of my efforts for this show to you.

If there is a heaven, then I will see you there... and we will do some buddy curls.

I love you and miss you,


1 comment:

  1. I just punched Larrys name into the computer & this came up.Wow! Larry worked with me from 1995 until 1998.We met at Yeagers Gym in Downers Grove.He guided me to the 1996 Grandmaster Mr Central USA title & 1997 Grandmaster Mr Midwest title. We drifted apart & I found out of his death after the fact.You said it all ! Thanks Tom