Monday, 19 July 2021

Tokyo Olympics: Controversy: Doping: Say it Ain't so Joe!

 The summer Olympics are almost here although a year late. As always, controversy rears its ugly head. Are we looking at an upcoming Festival or Fiasco?????

  • The majority of Japanese people want to cancel the games due to the COVID 19 pandemic. 
  • So far over 100 athletes and officials have already tested positive for the virus since arriving in the host city. There will undoubtable be many more.
  • Will the International Olympic Committee in all of their wisdom (sarcasm intended) weather the storm?      Or   ..............
  •  Is the city of Tokyo doomed and damned like a drunken beer league  hockey goalie who forgot his headgear at home, facing down a Bobby Hull slapshot???           
 At the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil there was the Zika Virus and the sanctioning of Russia for their state sponsored doping program.  For this Olympics circumstances get very weird. The U.S.A. track and field team has had 3 bizarre doping issues. However, this is unlike the Russian story of covering up their doping cases. To the credit of the United States Doping Agency (USADA) they have actually been diligent and caught and/or sanctioned some American track stars. Remember that it was USADA that eventually took down cyclist Lance Armstrong, America's most famous athlete.

  • The fastest man in the world in 2019, 100 meter sprinter Christian Coleman was barred from competition for a year even though he did not fail a drug test.  
  • Coleman did, however, miss 3 drug tests in one calendar year.  
  • It must have slipped his mind. After all, he's only human, although superhumanly fast!

                                      Christian Coleman running away from the drug testers?

           The second case involves some good old fashioned pork.

  • Shelby Houlihan, American record holder in the women's 1500 meters, failed an out of competition drug test in December 2020. 
  • She was found to have trace amounts of Nandrolone, or Deca-Durabolin, in her system.
  • Houlihan claimed that a beef burrito that she ate from a Mexican food truck the day before actually contained pig offal (ground organs) instead of beef. Supposedly this caused a spike in her natural hormonal levels.
  • As implausible as this story sounds, there have been cases of false positives from tainted supplements, but usually not from fast food.
  • Nandrolone is more helpful for power events, sprints or bodybuilding rather than middle distance running.
  • It is the wrong steroid to take for an athlete subject to doping controls. Nandrolone is traceable in the subject's system for up to 18 months. 
  • Her excuse was rejected and she received a 4 year ban. That will also exclude her from the 2024 Olympics. Sadly, her running career is likely toast!
                                           Shelby Houlihan kicking to victory in happier times.

The third doping controversy also falls into the realm of strange and unusual.
  • Sha'Carri Richardson rocketed to victory in the U.S. Olympic trials 100 meter sprint with flamboyant, flowing pink hair.
  • A few days later  it was announced that Richardson failed the post race drug test and would receive a month long ban. She had tested positive for cannabis. Her victory was erased thus disqualifying her from the Olympic 100 meters.
  • Richardson claimed that she had ingested cannabis to deal with the grief of learning of the death of he biological Mother.
  • Marijuana is legal in the state of Oregon where the trials too place but it is considered doping by many sport governing bodies.
  • Cannabis is not a drug that would be performance enhancing except for maybe a cheeseburger eating contest or an air guitar competition. But as they say, rules are rules.
  • For a few days there was some rumor that she might still be selected for the 4 by 100 meter relay. There was even a petition of over half a million signatures to "Let Sha'Carri Run'' but  it now appears that she is officially off of the team.
                                           Short lived glory for Sha' Carri

It sometimes feels as though the innocent athletes who make mistakes get caught while the real cheaters evade detection. Then again, maybe I am just a disgruntled old jock.
In summary:
The Olympics are expensive.
The Olympics are corrupt. 
The Olympics are heartbreaking.
The Olympics can be exciting.
I'll probably crack open a can of  spiked lemonade and watch anyways! 
Now where did I put my beer league hockey goalie mask?

Until next time Keep Fit
Little Bobby Strong


Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Fitness Clubs During COVID: Safe or Unsafe?

The world today can be a difficult place to be working or working out in the fitness industry:

  • Last week there was an advertisement in the Toronto Globe and Mail Newspaper. It was a plea to keep Fitness Clubs open during the pandemic lock down. The advertisement was sponsored by Orangetheory, Movati Athletic, and Life Time.
  • In Ottawa, an Anytime Fitness is challenging a city lock down ordinance. The manager claims that they supply a place for the disabled and injured to perform therapy exercises and should be considered an essential service.
  • Two other Ottawa Fitness Clubs are defying lock down orders and racking up multiple fines in the process.                                                                                                                
                                           Anytime Fitness Manager defying lockdown order          

Most reasonable people can understand that social distancing is necessary to try and curb the Coronavirus. However, many of the laws are inconsistent.

  •  Big box stores such as Wall Mart and Costco stay open while many local stores remain closed. As a compromise, some regions now make the big box stores cordon off all sections deemed non essential.
  • Liquor stores and beer stores remain open. 
  • Cannabis dispensaries are open. Their line ups are always populated by many just legal age aficionados who might be healthier going to a fitness center to work out.  
  • Are a few stoners passing around a reefer actually safer than people with masks in a fitness center with controlled entry numbers?

                                         Do you really believe that a trip to the pot dispensary is better for the mental health than a trip to the fitness center?

Does this really pass the common sense test?
  • Last year, when fitness clubs reopened after the first wave, 15 people from a spinning class in Hamilton, Ontario tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • This seems to be where the idea that Fitness Centers are hot zones came to be.
  • Working out on your own would logically be less risky than a group exercise class.
  • Fitness clubs that practice social distancing should be relatively safe.
  • Working out at a club could be a respite from being cooped up at home.
  • The mental health of the population is at stake!  
Until the lockdown can be eased, keep working out at home or outside using safe distancing protocols. Hope is on the horizon!

Little Bobby Strong

Tuesday, 22 December 2020

Breakdancing in the Olympics? Time for a Major Overhaul!

 Christmas comes but once a year – the Olympics but once every four! I used to be an avid fan of the Olympic Games. The Olympics was a rare chance to view sports that rarely receive television or media coverage in North America. Track and field, amateur wrestling, weightlifting, gymnastics, and swimming take a back seat to the big professional sports such as NFL, basketball, baseball, and in Canada, hockey. Other sports such as NASCAR, pro golf, horse racing and even tractor pulling get more time under the bright lights than their neglected step siblings. The Ultimate Fighting Challenge (UFC) and the semi-reality show that is pro Wrestling are also big draws in North America. 

Times have changed. The internet makes even the most obscure sports available somewhere in the online world. The Olympics have also lost much of their shine for many reasons:

1. Corruption: The International Olympic Committee (I.O.C) has a history of bribery, under the table payouts, and unfair governance. Successful Olympic host cities have greased the palm of many an Olympic official to win a bid.

2. Cost: Hosting an Olympics cost billions for stadiums, venues, and other infrastructure. Often the specific venues become obsolete after the Olympiad has moved on. Montreal taxpayers did not pay off the cost of the 1976 summer Olympics for over 30 years. Rio de Janeiro and Sochi will follow this pattern as well.

3. Propaganda: It seems that the only countries now interested in bidding to host the Olympics are those with democracy repressing regimes trying to boost their international reputation. China is scheduled to hold the 2022 Winter Olympics. Given that country’s human rights record and the oppression in Hong Kong, there is already rumor of a boycott.

4. Scandal: Doping. impartial judging, cheating have all become part of the Olympic legacy. Since the I.O.C. is rampant with corruption, and greed, the scandals are often overlooked or covered up.

A lasting legacy for future athletes - or maybe not!

The I.O.C. in their infinite wisdom have found the cure for what ails this aging, decadent, institute. Breakdancing will become an Olympic sport! If it is broke, don't fix it. Just add more 'so called' sports. That’s great! That’s just great! Another sport where the judges can be bribed or baffled. I am not slamming the art of Breakdancing or Breaking as it is sometimes called. It looks extremely difficult. If I tried it, it would be called Break necking! The point is that this will not fix the Olympics!


It takes skill but it wont fix the Olympics.

Here are my suggestions for mending this dying institution:

1.     End the practice of one city or country hosting all events. Divide up the pie. Do like the various sports do for world championships. Forget having every sport in the same place. It is too much for one locale.

2.     Award the hosting of each sport to a city that already has the existing infrastructure in place. Give skiing to a city with ski hills, unlike Sochi, Russia or Beijing China.. Award track and field to somewhere that already has a stadium.

3.     Chose places where there is an interest in that sport. North American cities will not draw the crowds for men’s soccer or amateur wrestling. Hold wrestling in Europe or the Balkans and soccer anywhere else. Host swimming in Australia, badminton in the orient or Indochina, hockey in Canada or Scandinavia and Judo in Japan. Gymnastics (and maybe Break Dancing) would likely sell out in the U.S.A. but most Olympic sports would draw only the cult following.

4.     Award the Olympic sites to democratic countries that believe in the rule of law and human rights. Stop awarding dictatorships and bad political actors.

This is the only cure that I can envision to save the Olympics from itself. However, I doubt that the powers that be will go this route. The greed, corruption, sense of entitlement, and political chicanery is too deeply ingrained in the system.

I am just a sports/fitness influencer with little world-wide influence.        

 Until Next Time -Keep Healthy and Fit over Christmas

Little Bobby Strong


Thursday, 29 October 2020

John Turner: Canadian Prime Minister, Statesman, World Class Sprinter


John Turner passed away last week. He was Canada's 77th Prime Minister back in 1984. After winning the Liberal Party leadership, he inherited the office of Prime Minister. He then called an early election and lost. He was Prime Minister for just under 3 months. Turner had also been a Justice Minister and a Finance Minister.

What often gets overlooked in the annals of history is the fact that John Turner was also a World class sprinter.

                                              Johnny 'Quick' Turner exploding from the start.

John Turner had a number of track and field accomplishments:

  • Turner was a top sprinter at University of British Columbia and led them to 2 Northwest Pacific track and field championships.
  • He was inducted into the UBC Hall of Fame in 2004. 
  • Turner qualified for the Canadian Olympic team in 1948 in the 100 meter sprint event.
  • Unfortunately, he injured his knee in a car accident and had to miss the 1948 Olympics.
  • Turner later attended Oxford University in England and was on the track and field team.
  • Roger Bannister, the first man to break the 4 minute mile barrier was a teammate of John Turner at Oxford.
   John Turner was a renaissance man in sports, in politics and in life. He first ran for the Liberal Party of Canada leadership in 1968. Turner was brushed aside by 'Trudeaumania' when Pierre Trudeau,  current PM Justin's father, swept to power. Turner won the leadership in 1984 to replace the same Pierre Trudeau. However, by then Canadian's were tired of the long reign of the Liberal party. Turner lost the next 2 elections to Brian Mulroney's Conservatives.
  John Turner was sometimes referred to as Canada's Kennedy. He had an abundance of 'savoir faire', a quality often absent in politicians today. Had he been able to have a longer tenure as leader, he may well have been Canada's JFK.   John Turner was a class act! We will miss you Mr. Prime Minister!

Until Next Time -Keep Healthy and Fit
Little Bobby Strong


Thursday, 1 October 2020

Back to the Fitness Center after Lockdown

After 6 long months I was finally back in the fitness center. This was the longest gap between weight room visits for me since I started working out as a teenager. It had felt like an eternity. Would I even remember what do anymore? I never thought that the Coronavirus pandemic would have caused such a state of lock down. However, as we now know, a lockdown and quarantine not seen with the past few generations was imposed by our governing bodies.

The fitness center limited the number of visitors to 30 at a time.  The staff were constantly cleaning and disinfecting all of the equipment. The club policy encouraged the wearing of masks but did not object if someone slid the mask down to the chin while they were exerting themselves at an exercise station. Social distancing was encouraged. Fortunately. there were no rebellious yahoos blatantly disregarding the rules.

                                       Constant cleaning by staff was a comforting sight.                

I had attempted to keep up an exercise regime during the lockdown. Some of the components were basic:

1.     Mountain bike rides for cardio and legs. (I had a hip flexor strain, so I curtailed other leg workouts for now)

2.     Push-ups for chest

3.     Bench dips for triceps

4.     Horizontal pullups for back and rear shoulders on scaffolding at a locked down construction site. (Yes, there was a hole in the fence)

5.     Reverse horizontal pullups for biceps emphasis. 

6.     I did only one of the resistance exercises on alternate days using 200 repetitions times 5 sets.

7.     I was chomping at the bit to get back to some heavier lifting.

I also went once a week to the Sue Holloway outdoor training park in Ottawa. Sue was a Canadian Olympian in Rowing and Cross- Country Skiing. The park had chin- up  and dip bars and other assorted body weight apparatus. There was also a climbing rope that went about 10 feet upwards, I used to be able to climb to the roof of the gym without using my legs -  about 40 feet or more. Now, I could barely get to 10 feet even using my legs. Aging and rotator cuff issues can have that effect.  However, by the end of the summer I was up to 4 climbs per session. By next year, my goal is once again to be using no legs all the way to the top!

               Mask wearing was strongly encouraged.       

  As for my return to the fitness center, there were changes that forced me to adapt.

1.     Access to an upstairs section with an extra stretching area, additional
  cardio machines, lighter dumbbells and stability balls was locked down.
2.     That locked down section was my traditional place for warm up, postural exercises and functional training prep work.
3.     Staff had taken away the cardio rowing machines to create more space for social distancing.  I used them for both warm up and cool down.
4.     My favorite cable machines had also been removed to enhance social distancing. I was able to adapt using the cable push down machine.
The Schwinn rowing machines were gone. The fear is that the paddle fan would spread air droplets.

5.     There were no stability balls. Was this due to sanitizing issues?
6.     Foam rollers were also no where in sight.
7.     Hours of operation were significantly reduced.
8.     Members were supposed to book training sessions online. I was unable to navigate their system. Fortunately, they allowed walk-ins if the gym was at less than capacity.
 9.  Person Fitness Trainers were missing in action.  If one on one training is considered a risk, what does the future hold for them?

I used fewer repetitions and increased the intensity for my first session back. It felt good to be back using weight training accessories. They felt like brand new Christmas presents. The next day I had some minor soreness that sometimes comes after a hard workout. Little Bobby Strong was back in business!

On a related topic, the Ottawa Athletic Club closed its doors for good on September11. The owners blamed the COVID 19 pandemic for the lockdown that paralyzed the club financially. The OAC catered to the more affluent fitness clientele since 1976. It was also an elite training center for Modern Pentathlon, Olympic Weightlifting, Tennis, Racquetball, and Squash. This pandemic has been a world changing crisis in many ways!

News Flash! As of the end the day of October 9, 2020 all fitness centers and gyms are to close for 28 days. The provincial government of Ontario, Canada has deemed this necessary to curtail a second wave of the COVI-19 crisis.
It may mean another visit to Sue Holloway park to climb the hangman's rope. Gadzooks! 

Until Next Time -Keep Pumping Up
Little Bobby Strong


Thursday, 13 August 2020

Certified Weight Loss Specialist

Rather than remain idle during these times of lock down and social distancing I have tried to keep my brain occupied. I am now certified as a Weight Loss Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). It took me slightly over 2 months to complete the online study modules and then successfully write the exam.

Here are some of the highlights of the course:
  • Obesity is a growing problem in in industrialized nations. Pun intended.
  • Children are becoming overweight and obese in alarming numbers. Electronic gadgets and games have supplanted physical play time.
  • Extreme diet and exercise programs are rarely sustainable.
  • To lose weight a person must expend more calories than they intake. A combination of diet and exercise works best.
  • Weight loss plateaus occur when calories in equals calories out.
  • Macronutrients; carbohydrates, protein, fat, should be kept within suggested guidelines.
  • Diets that favor one macronutrient over another are not based on sound science.
  • Nutrient dense food should be chosen over energy dense food.
  • Junk food should be limited but the course stresses that in terms of weight loss a calorie is a calorie! The type of calorie is important but the real key is Energy In versus Energy Out
Fitness Trainer Greg Harvey of FitNWell in Edmonton has helpfully critiqued the course content. He disagrees that a calorie is a calorie. He also says that there is much more to the story than Energy In versus Energy Out. "Donuts and bon bons are not the same on insulin levels as vegetables and whole grains." The course also had less emphasis on the timing of meals. Greg says that circadian eating is a recent dietary strategy that should not be discounted and offers up some video references. 

Greg, as always, your advice is logical. Just don't expect me to rewrite the exam!

***It should be noted that making nutritional and diet plans is beyond the scope of Fitness Trainers unless they have a science degree and a Registered Dietitian designation. Fitness Trainers can give general advice and offer the client resources such as the Canada Food Guide or MyPlate......(No! Skip the Dishes is not a food reference resource) The Fitness Trainer should also be prepared to refer the client to an RDA....or professional dietitian. However, such courses can be helpful since the exercise parameter and the nutrition parameter work better in synchronicity.   

Now that I have this newfound knowledge, let's attack those jelly bellies - starting with mine! Point me to the proper food guide instead of the pizza menu.

Little Bobby Strong
Certified Weight Loss Specialist

Time to put this new certificate to work.
My World Strongest Man diet plan is falling 
short of my weight loss goals.



Thursday, 16 April 2020

My Freestyle Wrestling Comeback - and a 30 Year Old Grudge Match

 The van full of wrestlers was about a half an hour from Calgary en route from Edmonton. The assistant coach Vang looked back from the front passenger seat and made an announcement. "The dual tournament starts at 6:00 pm. We are running slightly behind. Start warming up as soon as we arrive."  The he looked right at me and said "Are you pumped Bobby. After all these years, its finally Show Time!"
   My head quickly snapped up from a relaxed, recline position. Peaceful travel bliss was suddenly replaced by physical shock.  " B-b- but I thought the duals were only for the varsity wrestlers. I'm just a club wrestler. I don't suit up until tomorrow!"
   "We knew how raring to go you were." replied Vang. "We got you an exhibition match." 
A stomach churning, sickly, overwhelming feeling of impending disaster suddenly possessed my whole being - body, mind, and soul!  "It's just that I was mentally prepared for tomorrow." I protested.
"Re-prepare yourself!"  a veteran varsity wrestler shouted snidely. Easy for him to say. This would be my first wrestling match in over 15 years and at a much higher skill level.

The van pulled into a dilapidated looking recreation center in a seedy part of town just south of the Calgary stampede grounds. I felt like I was on my death march as I trudged from the van across the parking lot. I looked to the west. If it were daytime and clear, the Rocky Mountains were be visible on the horizon. That's where a sane person my age would be - off in the mountains skiing, not trying to be a middle aged gladiator. We walked down into a basement area of the building into what would surely be the site of my last days in this world. It felt as though I had descended into a barbaric scenario of human cock fighting. I could envision high dollar wagers being placed against me like a short trader betting against Nortel stock. "Gadzooks! What have I done!" I said to myself.

How had it all come to this? Blame it on a mid life crisis! My government job was Dullsville! The last relationship had hit the rocks with extreme force. My track and field and road running days were in decline. Beer league hockey and the weight room were great but for some reason I longed for more. I kept thinking back to my high school days in Ottawa when I was the city novice wrestling champion. My university had no wrestling team. Maybe amateur wrestling was my true calling, even after over a decade and a half. Maybe I could've been a contender!
 One day I ran into the then University of Alberta wrestling coach, Mike Payette, by the running track.He was from my hometown of Ottawa. I inquired about working out with the grapplers. "We always need fresh meat and more throwing dummies!" Mike replied. "Every one is welcome." That was enough encouragement. I was all in!

A mid life crisis or a driven man on a comeback mission?
I reluctantly trudged towards the schedule on the wall of that wretched dungeon basement to view the match order. As I was reading it, Shaun, the new head U of Alberta wrestling coach came over and inquired. "Who do you wrestle?"
"Some guy named Podlog." I answered.
"Ah, Mad Dog Podlog! He's a ferocious upcoming young stud." coach Shaun informed me.
"Mad Dog Podlog." I muttered. "Why do I so not like the sound of that?"
Coach Shaun pointed over my shoulder. "That's the Mad Dog, over there."
I reluctantly turned to look and immediately wished that I hadn't. The focus of the pointing glared back at us. I was staring at a cauliflower - eared, muscular mutant with a shoulders like mountains and upper arms like cannon balls. His canyon - like abdominal ridges must have been caused by a combine plow running over his midsection. The Michelangelo that had chiseled his body from granite had forgot to include the neck. 'That's great!" I muttered. "That's just great!" 
"Shaun, there''s no way that that guy is in my weight class. He's immense. Maybe I should bow out and rest up for tomorrow." I pleaded.
   "Sure, go ahead and bow out. You will be my sparring partner all next week. You also be first man up for the shark bait drills!" the coach threatened.
Getting the coach's infamous, vengeful cross face blocks across my nose during leg take down practice was not appealing. Being the man in the middle for shark bait and attacks by a succession of wrestlers was also frightful.  Some choice: Punishment by broken nose and gang beating or punishment at the hands of some psycho-eyed hooligan named Mad Dog! 

So You Want to be a Fitness Trainer: A Wrestling Legend: Jeremy ...
Mad Dog Podlog (black and red singlet) a human wrecking machine!
As I was warming up I accidentally crossed paths with my psycho-eyed nemesis. I decided to try and butter him up a bit and dull his homicidal edge. Better the Devil you know! I caught his eye and cheerfully said "Looks like we're up soon. Should be fun." All I got in return was a cold, calculating stare as he retorted in a deep gravelly voice "You will not have fun!" I feared that he was right about that.
About 5 minutes before our bout was to start I watched the Mad Dog go into the washroom. I followed him in. It was time to try a different tactic. I would deflate him psychologically before the match. I pretended to be adjusting my wrestling singlet in the mirror as he came out of the toilet cubicle. I turned to him and pointed to a mat abrasion on my stomach. "Does this rash look contagious to you?" I asked him.
The Mad Dog stepped back and for a brief millisecond I thought I saw hesitation in his eyes. Had I gotten to him? Was there a slight decrease in his homicidal intent? Did I detect a hint of fear?
But then just as quickly, his eyes snapped back to those of a cold, calculating hit man for a mafia gang.
Great! Just great! Now he was really going to do a number on me.I had taken a bad situation and made it much, much worse!
I sat on the bench and tried to encourage myself with positive self talk. "The city is a jungle and I'm just a beast. Any other wrestler is just another feast!" I chanted to myself.
"Match number 4, Podlog in the blue and Coakley in the red, on mat B " came the dreaded announcement over the speaker. I stood up and tried to walk to the center of the mat. I could not move. My legs had turned to sugar free jello. I looked across the mat and saw the Mad Dog walking towards the referee in the center of the mat. He was now salivating as he likely contemplated chewing away at the tasty brain marrow that lay just below the cranium of my frontal skull. I still couldn't move until coaches Vang and Shaun shoved me towards the center of the mat. "Have fun." they said in unison. 
   "F-f-f-fun!" I muttered meekly. I walked towards the referee and the impatient Mad Dog. I walked towards certain cataclysm! I held out a quivering arm for the hand shake and the referee's whistle to start the bout. Then it came, from deep in my soul, that  unadulterated,, woeful sound of  fear and doom! "Nooooooooooooooooooo!"

Olympic Greco-Roman Wrestling Tickets - Olympic Tickets 2012
In the red trunks - The Comeback Kid!
In the Blue Trunks  Mad Dog Podlog!


                                            The Combatants 30 Years Later....................................

Jeremy Podlog - Producer / Director / Writer on Behance
Jeremy 'Mad Dog' Podlog is an award winning documentary filmmaker. 
His homicidal instinct is now more under control with therapy.
                            Check out his website at
29 years later, this mutant scored a silver medal at the Canadian Championships.

Bob 'Killer' Coakley -a self given moniker of course-
(center with 2 fitness protegees-cash transactions may have been involved?        
 is now a Sports/Fitness Blogger, and Fitness Influencer
with another self given moniker 'Little Bobby Strong'

Until next time,   Keep Fit