When Arnold Schwarzenegger said, "Sports are for people, not just men." on the Johnny Carson Show in 1985, he meant it. I had the delightful good fortune to be working at Nationwide Insurance in Columbus, Ohio when he gave a weightlifting presentation to several hundred employees in the auditorium. He said that women should be involved in weightlifting, body building, and even in other weight sports such as shot putting. His attitude simultaneously amazed, alarmed, and delighted me. As a young woman I had been crudely told on several occasions that I was attractively overbuild for my purpose as a woman. They said, "You're built like a brick shithouse!"; and this seemed like an opportunity to take control of my physique. Arnold Schwarzenegger did not sound like a sexist, more like a humanitarian. My impression was that he is kind and compassionate in the classic sense of wanting to relieve unhappiness and generate health wherever he could. I was so very impressed with him. And yes, I saw him striding nude and sexually misbehaving in an old grade-B movie and I heard about disappointing aspects of his personal life, but I was impressed by his subsequent honest efforts to correct his behavior and the situation. As he said those were different time, he is sorry now, and like many millions of others I feel that he is a good guy.
To illustrate his presentation, Arnold Schwarzenegger brought several Nationwide Insurance employees up on stage and stationed them with appropriate weights, a man, a woman, and a visibly handicapped person. He show us how each person could create weightlifting exercises to fit their own body. When he encouraged everyone to "sculpt" your body I thought that sounded painful, but I determined to explore weightlifting to see what benefits a modest effort on my part might gain me. I wanted to be strong and competent, but definitely no more muscular than I already was. I had the newly formed goal of being "toned". Arnold Schwarzenegger held a meet and greet in the lobby after his presentation, and I circled around him in the press of people who were all excited to be in his presence, but he was so physically attractive (literally he smelled like five-times the best man I had ever smelled before) and HE was so massively well-built that it was like walking around the most handsome refrigerator in the world, so I foolishly just giggled and hurried off down the hallway with other smitten young women, and not a few men.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was associated with Gold's Gym, but I went there because it would be convenience to stop there on the way home from work. Walking in I was intimidated by the male, male, and more males working the weights in ways I knew nothing about, but I soon realized that although they noticed me, they gave me space to walk in and be there. I knew that I could work out there. But the gym membership fee was way beyond my ability to pay, so I asked the intake guy if I could barter writing services for a gym membership? Amazingly, wonderfully he said with enthusiasm, "Yes." It so happened that he was the owner of that franchise of Gold's Gym and he needed an intake form to help him and his staff get a better idea of what potential clients wanted on record so that they could increase gym membership sales. That was exactly the kind of document that I can create, so a week or so later he had a several-page intake form and I had a one-year membership to Gold's Gym. I worked out often there, with the machines and with the free weights. I also developed my own personal weightlifting routine with dumbbells that I could do at home which served me well for decades. I would like to brag just a little here: instead of the usual 10 pound dumbbells, I was soon using 20 pound dumbbells to do my exercises at home. I did arm curls up to the shoulder and down to the hips with a twist to full extension at the end of each move. In his presentation Arnold Schwarzenegger said that this was one of his favorite exercises. I liked it because it works a lot of the muscles in your upper body which feels good and it toned my womanly attributes. My home routine also included alternating lifts straight up and straight down. And simultaneous pulling in horizontally with weights in both hands to my breast then pushing out horizontally, twisting into and away from the body respectively at the each extension. My favorite but most significant challenge was to sinking into a strong, wide leg stance and "swimming" the dumbbells in an overhead crawl that circled my sides as if I were swimming. That last set gave me strength swimming in water that was delightful.
I never got to know any of the guys at Gold's Gym in particular, but when I was working out at a machine or free weight one or another would step over and take a second to quietly correct my stance, my body position, or my pulling/pushing movement orientation. I really benefited from working out at Gold's Gym. And when the year was up, Gold's Gym surprised me with a free second year's membership.
Caption: Arnold Schwarzenegger discussing weightlifting for everyone
on The Johnny Carson Show in 1985.
screen capture for noncommercial use
Caption: Arnold Schwarzenegger-photograph by George Butler, Contact, 1980
Austrian-American actor, filmmaker, businessman, investor, author, philanthropist, activist, politician, former professional bodybuilder and powerlifter, and 38th Governor of California.