The Summer of Cover Stories

From my teen years into my early 20s, I always marveled at how some people could maintain a pale complexion throughout the summer months. How on earth could you stay cooped up in such beautiful weather? Years of hacking away at a keyboard in an office since that time—when I caddied every day at one of the world’s most beautiful golf courses—have made me understand a little better. Very few jobs give you a tan along with your paycheck. This summer in particular hasn’t been very conducive to getting sun or fresh air. I’m happy to say, though, I’ve got some good work to show for it—along with my very pale skin.

I wrote cover stories for Muscle & Fitness in June, July, and August, and I’m proud of the work I turned in. First up was the June issue, in which I co-authored a Muhammad Ali retrospective with my colleague Sam DeHority.

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Sam and I spoke to some of the men who knew Ali best and tried to quantify the intangibles that make Ali such an enduring character in sports history. As part of the M&F “Greatest” issue, we also wrote mini profiles of the greatest athletes in the sports that matter most to the M&F readership: MMA, strongman, powerlifting, and bodybuilding. While the Ali cover story unfortunately remains a print exclusive, the mini profiles can be seen here. I’ll update if/when the web team posts the Ali content to the web.

In July, I wrote about Henry Cavill taking on the role of Superman in Man of Steel.

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On top of being a lifetime fan of comic books, and of Superman in particular, this was a truly exciting assignment to tackle because I got some excellent material out of Henry and his trainer, Mark Twight. What I found out was fascinating: Zack Snyder and the producers didn’t just want Henry to undergo training that would make him look like Superman; they wanted him to train so hard that he’d exude the kind of confidence befitting the title character. Fitness, in this instance, wasn’t just a part of the story—it was the story. It’s not typical that a director would ask a trainer for anything more than aesthetic improvements to his actors, but Snyder, being a gym rat himself, knew that hard training could help make Superman more believable as a character. You can read the whole thing here.

Last but not least was the August cover story on Hugh Jackman training for his sixth turn as Wolverine.

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This was a pretty straight-forward transformation story, starting with Hugh as a skinny kid who used to make fun of the meatheads lifting heavy weight, to him being an inspiration for gym rats all over the world. The money quote from Hugh—and one of the smartest things I’ve ever heard about fitness—comes in the final line of the story.

That, in a nutshell, was the summer of cover stories. Now that things have calmed down a bit, I plan on posting here with much more frequency with fun stories from on the job (I know I’ll have plenty when the Olympia rolls around in late September) and more of my magazine work as it makes the jump from print to web. Be back soon. The weather is supposed to be nice over the next few days, so I’m going to try to hit the beach before the calendar reads September.

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