By David Krueger Herald Writer
Blake McPherson is the poster child for what happens when you combine dedication, hard work and determination.
On Friday morning I went to observe McPherson’s workout at ProAction Physical Therapy in Marysville at 5:30 a.m., a half hour before the sign said the facility even officially opened. At least I thought I was just observing. However, Todd Aalbu, McPherson’s personal trainer and the owner of ProAction, had a different plan. He thought I should get an “appreciation” for just how rigorous McPherson’s workout, which he does two to three times a week, is.
Now it could’ve been because I got very little sleep the night before, but when I came home afterwards I absolutely crashed. I fell on my bed and I could not get back up. And I did about 1/1,000,000th of the work McPherson did, if that.
Since the wresting regionals begin on Saturday, Friday’s workout was “light” Aalbu told me with a straight face. That was a bold-face lie.
McPherson said that the first activity, on an elliptical machine, is the worst, simply because that means everything else isn’t far behind.
“They’re all pretty terrible,” McPherson says of the various activities.
After the warm-up, McPherson does a crawl/lunge walk that I’m guessing helps loosen him up for the nightmare that’s about to come. Then its lunges with a weight and standing on a balance board while a medicine ball is hurled at him, which he easily catches and fires back. Afterwards, he holds himself up by his arms, and does leg lifts.
Then it’s time for a “break,” and McPherson goes off to a cage-like structure to stretch.
Meanwhile, Blake’s father Paul McPherson and I watch from the side, practically giddy that we’re not the ones going through this. Little did I know Aalbu was about to change all that.
I had already tried swinging the rope around as McPherson arrived, and it went less than ideally. I got about two good swings in before realizing I couldn’t do this much longer.
After stretches, Aalbu puts a rope around McPherson’s waist for resistance, and has McPherson jump away from him and onto half of an inflatable ball attached to a stand, that slightly bounces him back up.
He then hops to the left, right and finally back.
It looked so easy, but I wasn’t going to test that theory until Aalbu called me over.
Turns out, it’s not.
I could barely get away from the trap Aalbu had put me in with the rope around my waist. And as soon as I was finally able to jump forward, I was immediately shot backwards much quicker than I anticipated. I hopped around a few more times until Aalbu finally let me off the hook (and the rope).
The next activity was side stepping with an elastic band around McPherson’s ankles. I got to participate in this one too. This is the only activity I felt like I was anywhere near McPherson’s ability. That is, until Aalbu showed me the band I was using, and compared it to the one around McPherson’s ankles, which was significantly heavier.
Oh well. It was nice while it lasted.
“(What he does) puts him easily in the top one percent to be able to hold these positions that long,” Aalbu said after McPherson sat straight up on the ground and played some more medicine ball catch.
Finally, McPherson got to the center of the ProAction Physical Therapy Arena, and the rope that laid there. I knew he was much stronger than me so I figured he’d get at least 10 times more swings in than I did.
I wasn’t even close.
He swung the rope with one hand at a time, first with small whips, then bigger ones. Eventually, he did both at the same time, and then spun it in clockwise, and then counterclockwise, circles. I was blown away. And jealous. It was at this point I realized Blake McPherson is not a human being. He’s a superathlete. And quite frankly, it’s unfair.
“Super athlete” doesn’t feel like it does justice to what I witnessed.
Who knows where all of McPherson’s energy comes from because he still wasn’t done. He did the elliptical machine with his arms, a task I got to try and I can, once again, validate the extreme degree of difficulty. A little more stretching, and then it was off to the final stage of the workout: a special treadmill with no motor, that uses 30 percent more energy according to Aalbu.
“Reminds me of Rocky,” Paul McPherson said as Blake wrapped up his workout.
“Rocky” is one of my favorite movies, and it pains me to say that honestly, I’m not sure Rocky stands a chance. While we’re at it, I think Superman would have his hands full wrestling Blake McPherson.
The workout builds on itself, McPherson says, and gets tougher and tougher as it goes on.
“You feel the last one when you’re doing the next one,” he said. “So it just keeps getting harder.”
I know exactly what he means. On my second rope swing I absolutely felt the first one, and it was much more difficult.
I am in no way anywhere near Blake McPherson. But I’m OK with that. Because I don’t think I’m supposed to be. I’m just a simple, 22 year old man. And Blake McPherson is NOT a human being.