Shaky man in the gym

Some time ago I received an email titled, “Shaky man Down Under.” It was from Neil, an Australian man with Parkinson’s disease who had taken up weight training as part of his therapy. Since I suffer from the delusion that everyone who can move should do resistance training, and since I was also working with a client suffering from a related disorder, I encouraged him to keep it up. He leaped into his training with renewed enthusiasm. Every now and again, Neil sends me progress reports.

If you’re inspired by Neil’s story, as I was, consider making a donation to the Unity Walk NSW 2009 for Parkinson’s NSW (Neil’s page — with a gym photo!), or a donation to the Parkinson’s foundation of your choice, such as:

march 2005

Dear Krista,

You encouraged me to try pushups. Included them in my routine until late September when I had my gall bladder removed. Pushups then slipped for no good reason from my exercises until I tried them again a couple of

nights back. Did 20 with a 15kg plate on my shoulder blades. Will try for 25 in next 2 weeks. Then…15 with a 20kg plate???

Am aged 59 yrs and weigh 84-85kgs. Was diagnosed with PD in 1998. I get pissed off by advice telling me to exercise in moderation and to only lift light weights. I’m no strength champion but am doing closed grip pulldowns of 200lbs, cable row seated on floor pulling sets of 6 at 80kgs, triceps pushdowns of 40kgs, bench presses of 95kgs (have gone to 102.5kgs but not recently.)

Am impeded on the treadmill when I run… only manage 3 minutes running now due to rigidity down my right side accompanied by shaking of my right arm. I do walk for around 10-15 minutes on treadmill. Found the other day that

I can increase the cardio stress by lifting the machine to a 10 degree incline.

I feel free from Parkinson’s on the bike. I crouch over in Tour de France style and go for it. Start with a resistance of 4 (resistance scale of 1 to 16… 16 is like riding up a sand hill) working up to an rpm of 80. Then I jam the resistance up to 10 for 90 seconds at an rpm at least in the 70s, then fall back to R4 for 90 secs, then R8 for 90 secs, then R4… then R6… then R4… In a session this past week I increased the 90 secs to 2 mins. I use several bike routines, all based on easy/hard, easy/hard, as in the example above.

I’m the only Parkinson’s person of whom I’m aware who lifts heavy weights. If you are aware of anyone else then I’d be most grateful to

hear of him/her. I reckon it helps my posture and certainly helps my self-esteem. People who see me shopping sometimes offer to carry my bags. There’s an assumption that because a person has PD then he’ll be weak.

Best wishes and thank for your tips last year.



may 2005

Shaky fella with Parkinson’s disease in Sydney, Australia, has reached 20 pushups with 20kg plate on shoulders. Aim for 21 next week.

This stresses gym staff: “Neil. The plate could slide on to your neck. I’d rather you didn’t do that.”

Recently discovered an oddity. For around 30 seconds to a minute after pulling cable row I can perform situps despite being unable to sit up for over a year. (When on my back, I’m as useless as a turtle on its back.)

Goal for short to medium term is to bench press 105kgs. I go for long periods without bench pressing…there are plenty of other things to do. “Lay people” only know of the bench press so how much you can press becomes an assessment of how strong you are. They wouldn’t care a rat’s that I can

do closed grip pulldowns of 200lbs.

I think the figure of 100kgs has become a psychological barrier for me. If the plates for the bench were in lbs maybe I’d press 230lbs and not think a great deal about it despite pushing the equivalent of 103kgs. I’ve bench pressed 100kgs on various occasions since 2002 but have not reached 105kgs. (Nor have I tried.) Pressing the bar those first few inches up from my chest is the challenge. (My vital stats are that I’m 59 years old and weigh

86kgs-87kgs. Have been attending the gym since 2000 after a layoff of close to 30 years. Was, once upon a time, a sprinter and lifted weights to assist my running.)




On Wednesday 25 May at Uni of Western Sydney gym this shaky old bastard did 25 pushups with 20kgs plate on shoulders.

Photos were taken last year by physio lecturer who seemed interested in my exercise regime. I’d been part of a group of Parkinson’s people who had to walk as far as they could in 6 minutes after physios had performed various tests. I walked a helluva long way. Senior lecturer visited my gym to find out what I was up to and to photograph me for a presentation she was to give on Exercise and Parkinson’s




Dear Krista,

The local Sydney press a few days ago carried news that research at Concord Hospital “found that 330 minutes of exercise a week, supervised by doctors, reduced blood pressure and cholesterol levels to normal levels in sufferers (of type 2 diabetes)… It

also achieved blood glucose control equivalent to starting insulin therapy… Their medication was cut by an average of half with some patients stopping insulin therapy and other medications altogether.”

Concord Hospital is a teaching hospital of Sydney University. I wrote to the research leader, Dr Nic Kormas, and said I suspected that the benefits of strenuous exercise extended more widely than his field.

Now for the photos. These aren’t pushups and do include a bench press which, when you see it, might have you catch fire through spontaneous combustion. The physio probably shot my very worst effort. It was my starting weight at 80kgs. (As a weak attempt at an excuse, I find it difficult to straighten my right arm.)

Best wishes,


july 2005

Am just back from the gym where I benched 105.5kgs. 21% above my body weight. In case I felt smart about this, the spotter asked “Are you only lifting one?”

Have not bench pressed often and have felt an underachiever on this exercise. To-night I thought there might have been another 2.5kgs in me. Next big goal is 110kgs.

Have noticed a couple of oddities.

1 The side more afflicted by PD is stronger than the other.

2 Can’t normally sit up when lying on my back, but after pulling the cable row cable (say 6 x 85kgs) I can sit up without difficulty until I stop for more than 30 seconds. Can comfortably do 10 sit-ups after pulling on the cable row. I have no idea why this occurs.



october 2005


Just looked at news on your website and noticed the article regarding PD. As a person with PD I’d go berserk with joy if there was a breakthrough giving confidence that PD could be forestalled in the near future. While what I’m going to mention isn’t quite so optimistic, it’s BIG news.

Researchers here in Sydney have determined that inflammation in brains of PD people is a precursor to, not a consequence of, the death of dopamine-producing brain cells. This leads to the view that if a means can be found of early diagnosis of PD, then anti-inflammatories may do the trick.

At this stage, there’s no blood/urine/MRI, (etc), method of early diagnosis. Diagnosis depends on clinical observation. By this time, a person may have lost 75% of dopamine-producing cells. The announcement was made around three weeks ago. The Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute is also working toward a means of early diagnosis.

Am still exercising hard. Did something damn silly a couple of weeks ago. Tried deadlifting. Then tried continuing to lift the weight up to my ribs. Not clever for a person who’s had surgery on his lower back. Hope I haven’t done damage.



february 2006

From Sydney, good tidings to the sisters and brothers of Toronto and lands beyond.

Still flogging myself in the gym, and still reading via Google how people living with Parkinson’s disease “of course” shouldn’t lift heavy weights.

Since my previous report, I’ve begun experiencing “on/off” phases with Parkinson’s medication. An “off” phase occurs when the replacement chemical supplied to the brain by the medication becomes insufficient. My tremor significantly increases. Around Christmas I felt pretty despondent about gym performances. Speed on the treadmill and elliptical fell spectacularly, my bike performance fell less so. Weights achieved fell by about 10%. Soreness after lifting increased. A physio I admire (a PhD in neurophysiotherapy) informed me that physical performance during off phases could fall dramatically.

Now the good news! Have adjusted the timing, but not the level, of my dosage. Gym results are again on the up.

Those chinups you perform without grimace on your website… My paltry few are accompanied by facial contortion, swearing, self-abuse (“You big fairy!”) and shaking. Manage three sets of six. OK, three sets of five and three quarters. These are done with palms toward me. Then conclude with two sets of six, using a closed grip (palms facing each other). The bar fell off on my most recent attempt at these, landing on my head just as I finished.

Tried the bridge exercise you suggested. Aimed for artistic elegance, body forming an arch supported on the top of my head and the balls of my feet. Then came two weeks with a sore neck.

I have six different exercise routines. One per session. Attend gym three sessions per week, sometimes four, each visit being around an hour. Pushups are in one of my routines Have reached 18 with a 25kg plate on my shoulder blades. Aiming for 20. Have also tried decline bench presses but am limited by dizziness when lying with my head lower than the rest of me. Have lifted one only at 100kg without much stress, except for dizziness.

I attend a university gym as a community member. Most of my gym peers are young. They probably think me a grey-haired, shaky lunatic.

Am still working full time. Switched in 2002 from writing right handed to writing left handed because doing anything right handed requiring fine skill is beyond me. When doing up buttons I’m like a three year old.

On 11 January I clicked over to 60 years of age. Am now “old”.

Being now old, I requested a mechanical overhaul. Everything good or normal, except for Parkinson’s disease. Pd was diagnosed in 1998. Started gym activity in 2000. If it hadn’t have been for PD, it’s unlikely that I’d have inserted strenuous exercise into my sedentary lifestyle.

Have done little about strengthening my legs. Can’t touch my shoulders due to rigidity so can’t hold a bar behind my head and do a conventional squat. Recently tried lying back in a contraption called a leg press machine, then pushing my feet against a plate carrying weights. Must not have had my back properly supported because gained a sore back in the days following. Have tried calf raises, although I have trouble squatting low enough for the weights I could raise. S’pose I could do calf raises with light weights and

do more in a set. Bike riding at higher resistances must help my legs a bit.

march 2006

I’d done a little research through Google and discovered that a hard-exercising Aussie genius neuro researcher with

Parkinson’s disease. On looking through the website of Parkinson’s Victoria ( I came across her again. At around page 7 of 12 of its newsletter there’s reference to a talk given by Nikki O’Brien. Nikki is bringing out a book, Pushups in High Heels. She apparently trains fiercely. Was in a wheelchair; now she’s not. Nikki’s photo accompanies the article. (Look at the lean arms.)

Will catch up again soon. Have become more rigid and I tremor more. Effect of my medication wears off after around four to five hours. Still train as hard as I can. Thought I’d significantly lost strength until I put some plates on the bar the other night and benched twice. Then noticed that the weight was 100 kgs. Lifted from a bench that’s too close to the floor… my legs weren’t at right angles at the knees. Lift more on a higher bench. Am not overly proud of 100kgs because I know you could tell me of some 95 year old grandmother in Toronto who does sets of 100 kgs to loosen up. Nonetheless, am doing better than some.

Every week or so I try those damn chinups. Do them hands under. Tried them hands over recently and achieved zilch. Did 16 pushups with 27.5 kgs on my back last week. Will try 16 next week, followed by 10, followed by 5.

october 2006

Lately have felt a bit down about my gym progress. Am up to 9 chin-ups. Have recently curled 52.5kgs on the E-Z bar with only a small cheating jerk of the back. Will shift to doing these seated rather than standing. Reckon my forearms are relatively weak; seated curls will put a greater test on this part of me. Have reached 17 pushups with 30kgs on my shoulder blades. To-night I noticed a horizontal bench in the Smith machine so tried some bench presses. Reached 110kgs with the spotter giving the bar a little tap

as I pushed it up. Now for a fair dinkum (sorry, that Aussie lingo) 110kgs bench outside the Smith machine.

This year my “off” periods ( when the medication is no longer having an effect) have lengthened. I haven’t figured out to what degree an off period impacts on my gym performance. Am probably in excellent physical condition except for Parkinson’s disease. And my seething anger at the mongrel of a neurologist who told me in 1998 that I’d be in a wheel chair by around 2003 is mellowing. I no longer yell out “you bastard” when hitting 100kgs on the bench.

december 2006

I’m still exercising vigorously and breaking “rules” such as the one about not lifting weights above 10lbs.

Have just read a book about Lance Armstrong, so tonight in the gym I set the resistance high on the bike and rode my guts out.

My Parkinson’s has advanced this year in that my “on” periods have decreased in duration and my tremor has increased. “On” periods are those times when the medication is suppressing tremor. On the positive side I remain at my 2003 medication dosage. Further, I’m fortunate to be on only one type of medication whereas other people with Parkinson’s tend to be on three, four, or five. Unlike many, my posture is normal and my gait looks normal.

Still work full time. Click over to 61 years of age on 11 January. My body weight remains around 88kgs (194lbs).

In September I was referred to a neurologist, a member of a team in Sydney performing deep brain stimulation in which an electrode is positioned in the brain and connected to batteries in the chest. Eighty five per cent of those undergoing the operation are improved but some of the other fifteen per cent have catastrophic results including stroke and death. The neurologist’s opinion was “You appear to be coping reasonably well. This surgery involves risk and you take a gamble. Why not lift the medication before you consider the operation?” I didn’t argue.

Recently gave a talk on Parkinson’s disease and exercise to men with PD. It mightn’t have gone down well with some professionals. Rather than “find a gentle exercise like Tai Chi and take it easy” my message was “do what you like and do it hard.”

I frequently refer to your website for exercise tips despite being built nothing like a female. I keep updated with the “what’s new” section. (Hope you’re not affronted by this Aussie bloke peeping into your woman’s domain.)

Have included chin ups in my routines this year, at your suggestion. I do a set of 10 with palms toward me, followed by 6, then another 6, and another 6. Dips have been added to my list in 2006. With dips I do 10, 6, 6, and if possible another 6. Have continued doing pushups with plates on my shoulders. Am up to 35kgs on my shoulders, but reps at this weight are down to 13.

Incline benches done as they should be rather than in the Smith machine are a further new inclusion. Am a little impeded by rigidity from PD. Can’t lift my arms beyond the angle of a Hitler salute. Am up to sets of 5 at 62.5kgs at an angle around 25 degrees back from 90 degrees.

Have also increased the number of dumbbell exercises although with my tremor, I can bang my head with the dumbbell as it’s lowered.

The other night I failed at 105kgs (231lbs) on the horizontal bench. Have pushed this up in the past. To be fair, my right shoulder has been sore for a few weeks. May need to reduce dumbbell presses and pushups with 35kgs until the soreness goes.

Added leg presses to the list this year. (Can’t get my hands up to my shoulders so can’t do squats.) Have reached 5 x 220kgs, although I’m not drawing my knees into my stomach at this weight.

My gym activity has persisted since January 2000, so allow me to blow a prolonged raspberry at the neurologist who, in 1998, told me I’d need a carer within 3 years (“You won’t be able to do up your buttons.”) and that I’d be in a wheel chair a couple of years later.

january 2008

Dear Krista

Best wishes for 2008.

As ’07 finishes I’m still working out hard and saying “bullcrap” to experts who urge people with Parkinson’s not to lift heavy weights.

2008 will mark 10 years since being diagnosed with PD. On 11 January I’ll have been training vigorously for 8 years. I’ve broken just about every “rule.”

  • I lift weights to my maximum. (“Don’t lift weights heavier than 5 pounds in each hand” says at least one prominent expert. Other articles urge us to “lift light weights only.”)
  • I run on the treadmill, swinging my arms normally until fatigue sets in. (“When on the treadmill, hold on or use a body harness.”)
  • Push myself such that my T-shirt becomes saturated with sweat. (“Take it easy. Don’t overtire yourself.”)
  • I take a low to medium dose of one medication only and never adjust its timing to fit my exercise routine. (“Exercise during on phases, not off phases, of your medication.”)
  • I train between 9pm and 10pm. (“Don’t exercise within several hours of bedtime.”)

It was my good fortune on rolling up to the gym that first night in 2000 to run into a gym manager who probably knew nothing about PD but knew lots about working hard. She was Australian women’s shot put champion, though I didn’t become aware of this for a long time. Michelle pushed me. I enjoyed it. When targets were met, they were nudged a little higher. “Get into it” was one of Michelle’s frequent sayings. Regrettably, Michelle moved on after a few years.

My next mentor was someone in North America, a Krista. I’d Google searched on Parkinson’s Disease exercise and had come across an article Krista had written about an exercise routine she had designed for a gentleman with multiple systems atrophy, a neurological condition more horrible than mine. Krista generously emailed me tips to include in my program. From the photos on her website, Krista didn’t just think about exercise, she could do what she described.

During 2007 a new current in thinking has emerged. You alerted me to a finding of researchers at the University of Southern California that mice, induced with symptoms of PD, appear to benefit from some degree of neuroprotection when forced into vigorous exercise. Across the U.S., at the Cleveland Clinic, Dr Jay Alberts is interested by the temporary relief in symptoms experienced by people with PD who took part in an annual bike ride across Iowa. Each person with PD was forced into riding at a higher cadence than he or she would usually achieve, riding tandem with an elite partner.

My local Parkinson’s support group heard in November from Professor Glenda Halliday about recent research findings into PD. Prof Halliday referred to developments in medication and surgery and to “at least four” research projects into what appears to be neuroprotection arising from exercise.

If these researchers had read Stumptuous, they would have been alerted to the positive attributes of vigorous exercise through the experience of Shaky Man.

Currently I utilise five gym programs, one per session. The logic in undertaking a different routine each session is to prevent overuse of the rigid muscles on my right side. Program content has been designed by me with assistance from gym staff and Stumptuous. My routines are revised every couple of months. I’ve just redrafted them. New routines are fine-tuned in their first application.

My overall goals are stated on the front cover of my training folder. They can be summarised as retaining good health with a strong musculature. I believe that a strong musculature may override the tendency to stoop, a frequent characteristic of those with PD.

Relative shortcomings are stated as rigidity, weakness in forearms compared with shoulders and chest, and “whatever muscles are used in chinups with hands over bar. Same applies to lateral pulldowns.”

Gym 2 program (of Gym 1 to Gym 5) is:

  • Stretching.
  • Pushups. 37, 25, 20 with 1 minute rest between each.
  • Bent over rows. Sets to 65kgs (143lbs) x 5.
  • Dips. 13, 9, 7.
  • Dumb bell curls. Sets up to 15kgs (33lbs) x 6, then 17.5kgs

    (38.5lbs) x 3?

  • Dumb bell hammers. As for DB curls.
  • Front laterals. Explore; have never done.
  • Side laterals. As for front laterals.
  • Bike. 2 minutes @ 80 – 85 rpm @ resistance 8 on scale 1 – 20, 2 mins@ 90 rpm @ resistance 8, 1 min @ 85 rpm @ resistance 10, 5 mins @ 80rpm@resistance 12, 2 mins @ 75rpm @ resistance 14, 1 min @ 80 rpm @ resistance 8.

There is usually a diminution in PD tremor and rigidity following a rigorous bike ride. Furthermore, I fall asleep more readily and the sleep tends to be undisturbed.

A couple of months back I became mad at myself for failing to reach 50 pushups in the one set. I continued with sets of 25 – 30 pushups throughout the one session until reaching 250.

Thank-you for your encouragement.

Happy New Year.


december 2008

Close to a year has passed since I regaled you on my shaky exertions.

Firstly, let me reassert that Parkinson’s disease is a humiliating, bloody mongrel bastard of a condition in which one’s frequent wish is to hide. I go to a meeting carrying a note pad and some briefing papers. I drop them in the car park. My notes blow away. I shout friends a drink at the club and sound like the percussion section of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra while carrying a tray with glasses and a bottle of wine back to our table. People stare. They move aside, leaving a path for my jangling progress. Some offer to help.

We with PD wake up of a morning in the knowledge that, not only isn’t there a cure, but the trigger for the cascading death of our brain cells has yet to be uncovered.

The gym is my place of relief. It’s my territory. It’s a time for personal reassurance that PD hasn’t rendered me physically inferior.

After close to nine years of working out I’m still discovering peculiarities in my performances. In mid 2008 I tried snapping to my shoulders a bar modestly loaded with plates. I knew I couldn’t push the bar above my head due to frozen shoulders. I was surprised on finding it impossible to “snap” (lift explosively) much more than the bar itself! At first this mystified me. Then I found an academic abstract noting the impact of PD upon “force.” The abstract was couched in technical verbiage but appeared to support my discovery of highly depleted “snappiness” in people with PD.

A more positive revelation in 2008 is that I can build up to significant leg speeds on the bike. “Bradykinesia” (slowness of movement) is one of the four main symptoms of PD, yet I’ve hit 128 rpm in short bursts at low resistances on the Cybex gym bike. I’ll start out at 70rpm at a resistance of 8 (scale of 1-20), retain this for 1 minute, increase to 80rpm for 2 minutes, then flat out for 1 minute, back to 80rpm for 2 minutes, flat out for 1 minute, back to 80 rpm for 2 minutes, flat out for one minute, followed by wind down for 1-2 minutes. This is certain to get your T-shirt sweaty. Anyone who tries it without being confident of a sound heart is an idiot.

Previously my bike routines had involved alternating resistance levels at the same rpm. Now I’m including alternating rpm at the same resistance levels.

Treadmill is awful, with a dragging right leg and a rigid right arm. I’m not punishing myself to improve; my heart and lungs are pushed hard enough on the bike.

My upper body strength has not markedly diminished over the past three years. It may have declined by around 3% since 2005. I’ve varied the width of my grip when training bench press. For example, with hands placed next to the vertical supports I can hoist 5 x 85kgs. (Are you Canadians metric? Surely the French Canadians would be. Napoleon invented the system, didn’t he?) I rarely attempt a one repetition max on the bench. Recently I pushed 100kgs upward but the spotter touched the bar as I heaved it off my chest. My body weight remains around 86kgs – 87kgs.

Driven by the photo of you performing dips on Stumptuous I’m doing dips while carrying a 20kg plate plus 2.5kgs plate on a belt. Am only up to a set of 6, followed by 4, then another set of 4.

I’ve increased my dumbbell work. Until recently, a spotter has guided my arms when doing horizontal dumbbell presses. With my right arm so shaky there’s a possibility of knocking my head with a dumbbell on lowering the thing. What’s the point of a stronger deltoid but being unconscious?

My forearm strength needs to improve as does my incline bench press. And I still haven’t achieved one pullup with palms facing out.

Krista, when we began our exchanges, my level of activity was regarded by many professionals as of dubious merit for someone with PD. Others described it as harmful. We with PD were urged to take it easy, never lift “heavy” weights, never exercise within two hours of bed time. By 2005 there were hints of change in professional opinion on physical activity and PD. More perceptive souls had started to say “Hmmmmm. Mice and monkeys, induced with symptoms of PD, do better if they are forced to exercise vigorously. Wonder if this applies to humans.” See the National Parkinson’s Foundation article.

A year or two later we find a more radical notion effusing out of respectably framed research. Lifting weights may be beneficial, not harmful, for those living with Parkinson’s disease.

Stumptuous has been in the Vanguard.

I don’t seek to advise people but merely describe what’s possible for me despite PD. Strength may have helped me retain a normal posture rather than the stooped alignment typical of the condition. Neither do I topple over as many do with PD.

Of this I’m sure: Within an hour of a vigorous gym session, my tremor usually subsides and rigidity greatly eases. Sleep comes more readily. The relief is temporary. But relief following medication to which I adhere is also temporary. My departure from orthodoxy has not been on medication but on the vigour of my physical regime. If it’s harmed me then I’d be intrigued to learn how.

There’s a reply for anyone who watches me in the gym and says I’m unusually strong. “Mate, this is around my one thousand, three hundred and fiftieth trip to the gym. Just try to improve little by little, and you’ll surprise yourself. Try your best. It’s as good as anyone else’s best.”

Training occurs at the Aquafit gym in Campbelltown, Sydney. It’s a bit flash but the people are friendly and always helpful.

All best wishes for Christmas


february 2009

Just back from gym.

Just about (I felt spotter give bar a bit of a nudge off my chest) hoisted 110kgs on the horizontal bench to-night.

Did so by mistake. After hoisting 100kgs I asked spotter for plates to 105kgs.

When putting the plates away I realised the extra plates were 2 x 5 kgs, not 2 x 2.5kgs, so I recalled the spotter and asked if he’d identify which plates he’d chosen. “Oh yeah. They’re fives. You lifted 110kgs (242.5 lbs).”

There must be psychology tied up in this method of hitting new heights but I’m too tired to articulate it.

My lift was observed by fitness instructor James who gave a “thumbs up” from the other side of the gym then came over to congratulate me.

Where? Aquafit gym, Campbelltown, NSW, Australia. When? 2 February 2009.

My body weight is 86kgs so the lift was 27.9% above my own weight. Age = 63 years. Medical conditions = none other than Parkinson’s disease.

When diagnosed? 1998. Gym activity commenced 11 January 2000, my 54th birthday.

Hit an rpm of 129 on the bike last week (rpm read and called by fitness instructor Danielle because I was in crouch) but unsure if resistance was at 8 or 9 on a scale of 1 – 20. Recently hit 128 rpm at resistance 9. (Cybex stationary bike.)

Next target = rpm 130 @ R10.

My Presbyterian childhood now has me fearing being smitten during the night ’cause I’ve boasted.

All the best


april 2009


Learnt last Monday night that my gym (1,000+ members) was holding a Birthday 500 metres Rowing Challenge.

(Aquafit gym turned 5 years of age on 1 April, a day we celebrate as April Fools Day. Sydney zoo staff has to put up with numerous phone calls from individuals whose friends have given them a phone number for a “Mr Lyons.” Friends think this to be side-slapping fun.)

Rowing has never been on my program through embarrassment at needing assistance strapping in my feet. Previous row was in February 2008 in Summer Iron Man Challenge.

Not one to shirk a challenge, I gave it a crack on Wednesday night… 1 minute 50 point something seconds.

Friday night… 1 minute 47 point something seconds. In tie for third place in 55 – 64 years men’s category.

Saturday afternoon (final day of comp)… 1 minute 46.5 seconds.

Darn. Still in third place; second place timed 1 minute 45 point something seconds.

Felt a real nark for pushing someone out of equal third spot without gaining anything myself.

The winner? 1 minute 41 point something!!!!!!!!!! In a league of his own.

My best news was that I found it possible to strap in my feet. Seems as if rowing can join my program after all.

may 2009

You told me earlier this year that it was time for more photos. Purchased my first digital camera last year but too technologically inept to use it.

Took it to gym last night and enquired if the young fitness instructors could figure it. They looked at me askance. “Of course!”

All photos taken at Campbelltown Catholic Club Aquafit Gym, Sydney Australia, 8 May 2009.

Dips, with 20kg plate + 5 kg plate suspended on belt. Set of 6, then set of 4, then set of 4.

Dips, with 20 kg plate + 5 kg plate suspended on belt. Set of 6, then set of 4, then set of 4.

ravelling at speed, supervised by fitness instructor, Mistress Samantha.

Bench pressing 100 kg. Spotting by fitness instructor James. (Note. His palms are open. He's not lifting.)


Thinking it over.

I’ve adopted an idiosyncrasy when setting out to bench press close to my maximum. (My max has been 110kgs in Feb 09.)

I start by lifting the 20 kg bar alone, concentrating on hand placement and alignment of the bar above my body. Then 2 x 10 kg plates are placed on bar and lifted 3-5 times. Add 2 more 10 kg plates. Lift 3-5 times. Add 2 more 10kgs. Lift 3 times. Add 2 more 10kgs. Lift once. That’s 100kgs.

I don’t lift sets of 10-15 reps as some do. There might be some logic to it but I struggle to see it. The most I usually lift in a set is 6.

Best wishes


Neil’s adventures continue in Part 2 >>