In the middle of a seven-by-seven leg set, my work out guru eyed my trembling quads and said, “You need to start taking Creatine.”


“What?” I exhaled and let the steel plates clang. Anytime Smiley (Yes, his name is actually Smiley. Elmore. The Second. His son is the third.) makes a diet recommendation, I visualize an army of calorie soldiers marching towards my ass. “How many calories?” I asked.


“Doesn’t matter.” He moved the metal pin and added another plate to the heavy stack. “Creatine is good calories, a muscle builder.”


I gripped the seat handles and cranked out twenty more extension reps.The diet/muscle/supplement balance as it relates to body sculpting has always confused me. Smiley was an expert. 


“I’m weary about adding calories that would otherwise be reserved for something much more tasty.” I said. (Ginger cookies for example)


“Listen.” He blocked the bolster pad with his cinder block hand. “There are plenty of things that I don’t understand. I just accept the fact they work.”


I squeezed both thighs and tried to over power his palm. No luck. The block didn’t budge. My mind flipped from meat-head mode to a more analytical approach. An arena where I might be a worthy contender.


“Take engines, for example.” Smiley said. “I don’t know the intricacies of a carburetor, but I drive a car. All I need to know is that driving makes my life easier.”


I shook my head. I knew how an engine worked. “Suck, squeeze, bang, blow.


“Okay, bad example,” he said and tried again. “NASA sends astronauts into space and voila,” his thick palm hacked through the air. “We all benefit from velcro.”


I put my hand in front of my face.”First of all velcro is not quite as useful as duct tape and second, I also understand the physics of space travel.”


Anyone else might have given up. Not smiley. The ex arena football player, turned professional body builder wasn’t a quitter. Not in his DNA. 


My coach removed his Missouri ball cap and rubbed his smooth head. His eyes twinkled. He grinned. “What about God? No proof, no scientific explanation, no expert to confirm or deny.”


He kept close watch on my hands.


Ok, he had me.


“Can’t understand everything Erin.” Smiley said.


I swallowed and layered my arms against my rib cage.


My coach widened his feet shoulder width apart and propped his fists on his hips. He looked like Superman. “Sometimes you just have to out on a limb and take someone at their word.”


A charlie horse-like cramp wadded in my chest. Trust. A five letter word often times deserving four letter status. The most coveted and elusive commodity in the universe.


*Note to self: Regardless of how many tall tales you’ve been told, ill-willed sentiments you’ve been dealt, or less than sincere intentions realized, never give up on trust. Look cautiously before you leap and always bring a trench coat. (B.S. doesn’t stick to Gore-Tex)


E.L.Chappel author of Risk

Keeping faith in the unknown

aka The Glamorous Wife

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