Erle Frayne D. Argonza
Magandang araw sa kapamilyang global! Good day to global community fellows!
This year 2011 will mark the 21st year that this analyst (sociologist, economist, political analyst) and self-development guru has been practicing powerlifting as a regular physical regimen. Being a former competitive athlete in national powerlifting Class A (equivalent to ‘professional’) in Ph, I will dedicate this note to the Zest Fitness Gym, the topgun powerlifing gym that made me into a national athlete and consistent gym weight burner.
This is the narrative of my physical history, fellows. I’ve been doing gym weight training for 21 years now, with no signs that I’d be dropping off powerlifting as my regular physical regimen. I owe it to the Zest gym this love for weight training and the scientific rigor that goes with that training.
I used to jog and swim for eight (8) years prior to my plunge into weight training in 1990. In 1982 I almost lost my life, neglectful as I was then for two (2) straight years of living an active professional and civil life but without a physical program. I contracted falciparum malaria along the way and almost died of it, and so the decision came to me never again to be remiss in my physical fitness programming.
Within a week I would jog for a day or two, and then in between jogging I would swim for at least a day or two in a week. I would jog for around 30-45 minutes, and swam 20 laps in the Olympic pool. My exercises were largely survival training types or non-competitive. I began to pump some weights in ‘86 through ‘89 to give some firmer shapes to my muscles while I continued with the jog & swim regimen.
Then in 1990 I decided to go straight gym or indoor workouts. I simply scorned the days when I couldn’t jog or swim due to heavy rains or inclement weather as the rains restrained me from getting exposed to the elements. So in 1990 I decided to go regular gym workouts, since I can do the workouts even if the stormy day is already whistling Signal No. 2 typhoon beacons.
I was then residing in Cubao, Quezon City, and from there I took a ride to University of the Philippines (Diliman) to do workouts at the PRO Gym. Barely just six (6) months in weight training then, I stumbled into the Zest gym just near my residential area. I was surprised that there was one gym there where topgun powerlifters trained, and it was just around 12 minutes walk from my home.
The gym got me curious about powerlifting, as I was then doing the typical body-building program. An orientation chat with Ramon ‘Mon’ Dabuque, owner and chief trainor of Zest, convinced me sufficiently to try out with the program. Powerlifting builds mass, power and agility, and that was enough to make me try it and linger on with it till now.
Sports science provided the core ‘best practices’ to the Zest weight training, a fact that fascinated me a lot. Being a former weightlifter at the University of the Philippines and a national athlete, Mon Dabuque was very meticulous in doing research and testing the applications of certain programmed practices. Even our diet regimen had to pass the rigors of R & D tested regimen for athletes.
It was through Zest, with its bounty of sports science magazines and literature, that informed me highly about the combinations of macrobiotics (65% carbo, 20% protein, 15% fats), sufficient microbiotic supplements (vitamins, minerals), and catalytic boosters. That knowledge was to be added to my arsenal of knowledge packages about health & wellness, at a time when I was already an advocate of alternative health paradigms.
The program for us athletes then was a combination of the Bulgarian program, Hawaiian program, regular (generic) powerlifting basics, and Mon Dabuque’s innovative experimental program. Scientific and very rigorous, couples of weakling types dropped out of the regimen, while couples of others, myself included, proceeded to take the challenge of winning head on via the rigorous and disciplined regimen.
The beauty with scientific programming is that even if the trainee doesn’t possess ‘muscular genetics’ (low muscular intelligence), the trainee can still be transformed into a topgun powerlifting athlete. Sports science is the cutting edge, and I am witness to the power of scientific training under a brilliant trainor/instructor. Many of us athltetes, myself included, possessed sloppy frail body types with no muscular genetics and yet made it to the top as national-level athletes while just new into powerlifting.
In less than a year of powerlifting training, I decided to try it out in the National Powerlifting Novice Competitions in 1991, and wondrously landed as Bronze Medalist on the Lightweight division. Emboldened by the victories of our Zest Team and the medal I won, I worked hard for a year to qualify for the National Class A Powerlifting Competitions in 1992, and landed as Silver Medalist in the Middleweight division.
During both competitions, I was witness to how the Zest Team lionized the greatest number of medals and bested all other gyms in the total Team scores. PH’s topgun powerlifters—Mon Dabuque, Tony Taguibao, Eddie Torres, Allan Paje, Erlina Pecante—whom we can correctly classify as ‘world class’ athletes today, are from Zest.
To be able to qualify as a national-to-international class athlete, one has to carry a total of over 7 X his/her body weight, by adding altogether his/her performance in Squat, Deadlift, and Bench Press. On my last competition, with body weight at around 68 kilograms, my Deadlift was 210 kg, Squat at 167 kg, and Bench Press at 92 kg. I was near that mark just barely 18 months or so into powerlifting, thanks to scientific training.
I also became a member of 200 Club, comprising those who can carry a load of over 200 kilograms in any event—I did it in deadlift. Later, I would learn that Eddie Torres and Mon Dabuque became members of the 300 Club, enabled as they were to carry a load breaching 300 kilograms in their deadlift and/or squat. I was truly ecstatic at my own feat, just 18 months into powerlifting then, and felt edified to have been a Team Mate with the topguns who also became my friends.
I was about to train for the Asian Powerlifting in 1993 when PH was entitled to send a double team (meaning two athletes per weight division). Unfortunately, I was knocked out cold by lingering tonsillitis, decidedly had to undergo surgery, and eventually led to the huge drop in my performance. Late that year, after surgery, I decided to retire from competitive sports, and focus instead on using power training as my regular physical fitness regimen.
Twenty-one years later, I still am a consummate gym worker amid my advancing age. Let me express herewith my gratitude to Zest gym and its core trainor Mon Dabuque, and my continuing appreciation and admiration of topguns Mon Dabuque, Eddie Torres, Erlina Pecante, Tony Taguibao, Allan Paje, and my other Team Mates.
To Zest Gym, Mabuhay!
[Philippines, 01 February 2011]
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