….there’s a time for everyone, if they’d only learn that the twisting kaleidoscope moves us all in turn   Elton John




If you’ve read many of the gyms newsletters, you’ve probably noticed I’ve chosen to live my life simple, never needing any trigonometry as   2 + 2 should always equal 4. If it doesn’t, I’ll promise there’s a catch.


This isn’t new, as I’ve lived this way as early as the first grade. In our class was a very smart boy named Scottie…always first to raise his hand and always with the correct answer so I simply slid my desk near Scotties. Not to cheat from his test papers but to put myself in the company of success, as successful people seem to radiate positive energy. Besides, it was a simple move that required only common sense.

Jumping ahead… As I hit that magical age of thirteen; like most young boys I also discovered the ladies undergarment section of the Sear’s Catalogue but my enchantment was short lived, soon being replaced with a secret subscription to Playboy. Again, my thought pattern was simple. If I wanted to look at scantily clad ladies then why settle for second best.


That went over big; at least for a while until one day the postman delivered my so called ‘Motorcycle Magazine’ with the brown paper wrapper torn nearly in half. As Murphy’s Law took over; it was also the day mom happened to pick up the mail. I’ll never forget her standing there, arms folded across her chest as she yelled upstairs, “Stevie! Your; ‘Motorcycle Magazine’ is here …but when did they start putting half-naked ladies on the cover?” Clearly I was busted so not caring for eye contact; I asked if she wouldn’t mind just slipping it under my door. I never saw that issue and for some strange reason my subscription to Playboy abruptly ended.


Losing that subscription wasn’t the end of the world but losing my girlfriend was; as at sixteen I was kicked to the curb. This couldn’t be possible as I was cool; had a Beatle haircut and wore mirrored sunglasses. Furthering my insecurities were two matching surfboards atop my VW Bus…although the only time they ever got wet was when it rained but that was okay as I looked the part…well; not exactly as you can see from this picture:


Now I was in a pickle; no girlfriend, no subscription to my favorite magazine, and no muscles. How was I to get another girlfriend when I was literally skin and bones!


One day as I reflected over the mess I’d made of my life, my brother threw a muscle magazine down on our kitchen table, saying “Bub…all this crying over losing Amy is stopping today! We’re gonna’ start lifting weights!” On the cover was this big blond haired guy, all tanned and dripping in muscles as he stood on a California beach, and surrounding him were all of these pretty ladies wearing the tiniest bikinis. My immediate reaction was “Man! …look at that guy! …and look at all those pretty girls!”


My grandfather always said “You can find just about anything you’ll ever need in your own back yard” so we headed toward our backyard shed, emerging with a steel rod on which we hung two cement blocks. We made a bench from a half rotten piece of plywood  …and were on our way.  That one single magazine cover changed my entire life, not only leading to a fantastic hobby but pointing me in the direction of a lifelong career in the gym business.


Over the years I’ve always tried to surround myself with positive, energetic and successful people and that idea has culminated with the staff at StrongHold Gym today.  In addition to raising their families, many of the class instructors and personal trainers have fulltime careers outside the gym; yet each day they leave any excess baggage at the front door as they emerge inside with total concentration on their efforts. Both the staff and members really have become extended family, making it a pleasure to go to work each day…if work is what you call it!


Recently I celebrated my 67th birthday. Debbie Boyer, a retired RN as well as a veteran Personal Trainer of over 25 years gave me a birthday card. On the cover it reads, YOU ARE A DREAMER, A BELIEVER, A DOER. We really have to think about that slogan as we first have to dream it…then believe it can happen…then do it.


Aspirations, inspirations and opportunities are out there each and every day. It’s what you do with them that matters. Whatever your goals are in life; whether you choose to be a Mr. or Ms. America, or just want your apple pie to win the Blue Ribbon at the County Fair, go after it and give it your best.  Break big goals down into little ones. If you’re carrying too much weight, don’t try to lose twenty pounds; just lose two pounds each week. You’ll be amazed how quickly twenty pounds can disappear!


That’s all I’ve got for today but as the saying goes; growing older is mandatory but growing up is optional so if you make it by the gym today you’ll find me playing in my gigantic sand box full of my favorite toys, all made from solid iron. As time goes on, and it will; let’s all try to be a part of this thing called life together.



…from your friend, 8 miles high on life …and climbing!  …sj


PS: The big blond guy on the cover of the magazine that inspired my life is Dave Draper…also known as The Blond Bomber. Pictured is a copy of that cover which still hangs today in the front office of the gym. Dave was featured on the cover of many of the muscle magazines from the ‘60’s and early ‘70’s as we were growing up. His fitness titles include Mr. New Jersey, Mr. America, Mr. World and Mr. Universe.


Dave and his wife, Laree owned and operated two Dave Draper World Gyms for over fifteen years. They still reside in California and are still engaged in the fitness community. Dave is an accomplished author of five books on fitness. Laree keeps us up to date with her publishing company, ON TARGET PUBLISHING (OTP) where she publishes books about bettering our lives through exercise.


Copyright © 2020 . Steve Johnson


All credits to any mention of lyrics from ‘Can You Feel the Love’ go to Elton John/Bernie Taupin; as well as The Lion King or respective owners. Not intended for commercial use.


Speaking of Elton John; I had the pleasure of seeing his concert last year when he was here in Columbia. His foundation has raised over four hundred million dollars in the fight against aids. What a great humanitarian endeavor.