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True Tales from the Gym by Ray Nobile

Strength Oldschool

* Check out Ray Nobile’s ebook available for purchase which covers his life story – ‘Ray Nobile – My Life In The Iron Game‘.

Bodybuilder Ray Nobile - True Tales from the Gym

Scottish Bodybuilding and Strength Legend Ray Nobile has met a lot of interesting people throughout his weight lifting career. Here are some stories by the man himself as told to Strength Oldschool. These stories are 100% genuine and real names will be used where applicable.

Story 1:

I have decided to relate stories that happened when I was a gym owner. One day a young boy of 16 was brought to my gym by his father. His father was concerned by the emaciated appearence of his boy. His son was around 6ft tall but weighed 9st or 125lbs. He wanted me to help build him up. No problem I told the the boy enrolled and I set out a training routine and wrote a nutrition routine for him to follow. I told him to take a protein supplement along with the meals. The protein I recommended was called casein which could be bought at any chemists. Anyway when the boy came in for his next workout I asked him how he was coping with the diet I gave him, he said he liked the eating but didnt like the protein supplement. I asked why as there is really no taste from casein especialy when mixed with milk. He said he didnt mix it with milk but took two tablespoons straight. I told him to follow the instructions on the packet, which states that it should be taken with milk or water. Imagine my surprise when he told me that there were no instructions on the jar. On hearing this the alarm bells rang in my head because I know casein doesnt come in a jar but comes in a cardboard box.  So I told him to bring me the casein the next time he came in to workout.  He said I can do better than that I have it in my training bag right now. He brought out this huge jar of Vaseline. I said what are you doing with that, he said you told me to take Vaseline along with my meals. I said no i told you casein. At this I just fell about the floor laughing.  Anyway, he did eventually get the right product and followed the eating plan and training routine religiously and within 6 months he had went from 9 stone to 12 stone of solid bodyweight. Here endeth the story".

Story 2:

It was the mid 1970s, I was training at Pat Mcshanes famous health and strength club in Coatbridge, Scotland. There I met and befriended Mick Thomson. Mick was passionate about strength training and everything related to it. He was always seeking and trying out ways to increase his power. He read an article about auto suggestion and the power of the mind. Also, training there was a university lecturer by the name of Gordon Commish. Gordon's biggest ambition was to bench press 300lbs. Try as he might he could never quite hit that figure. His best was 295, done 6 months before. Mick told Gordon that he would like to try an experiment on him to try and get that magic number of 300. He explained what was involved to Gordon, Gordon was very enthusiastic and excited to try Micks method. It was decided to try the method when there was complete quiet in the gym. So early the following saturday morning one hour before the gym opened to the public, Mick, Gordon and myself met in the gym. I went because i was curious to see the results. If successful then I would let Mick try it out on me. Anyway Mick told Gordon to start bench pressing and told him to work up to 285 then the experiment would begin. So Gordon worked up to 285. Mick then told gordon to lie on the bench and to keep his eyes on the bar. This gordon did, Mick began to talk very quietly to Gordon telling him to visualise himself benching 300lbs and telling him that he was the strongest man that ever lived blah..blah..blah etc. After 5 mins of this I noticed Gordon's eyes were shut. I thought he must be concentrating on what Mick was telling him. Well another 5 mins passed and gordon started snoring, he had fell asleep, I told Mick that Gordon had fallen asleep. Mick said that that was good as a person is more receptive to sugestion when they are sleeping and that the experiment would continue. So after another 5 mins he woke Gordon. Once Gordon opened his eyes Mick told him to load the bar to 300lbs. Gordon replied 'fuck off' I'm away home to my bed, I'm fucking knackered. Mick was not amused. I nearly pissed myself laughing. By the way Mick went on to write articles for hardgainer magizine in the 1990s.

Story 3:

Being in the gym business you meet all sorts of people from all walks of life. Which is good as it makes life interesting. I will relate a couple of stories to illustrate what I mean. I was asked by a long distance Truck Driver to give him advice on how to eat while on the road. I told him to get a couple of tupperware food containers and an ice box to keep the food fresh. He told me that he didn't need containers or an ice box as his truck had a fridge and a camping stove in the rear of his cabin. Ok I said, I will write you a diet to follow. I gave him the diet plan and told him on no account not to eat any bread or pasta or sweets etc. A couple of weeks later he came back complaining that he hadn't lost any weight. I asked him to relate what he had that day to eat. Well he said, for breakfast I had 3 rolls and egg. For lunch instead of chicken and rice, I had 3 rolls and chicken. At this I put up my hand and told him to stop. I reminded him that I said to eat no bread whatsoever, His reply was unbelievable, He said that he hadn't had bread in 2 weeks. I said but you have had rolls which is bread. Oh he replied, I thought you meant not to eat sliced bread. DUH!

Another guy asked me for a routine to help make his legs stronger for his sport,which was kickboxing. He ran his own martial arts gym and was a highly respected fighter and instructor. So I gave him his routine and took him through the exercises involved and the sets and reps structure. It was no problem as he had done weights before and his style and form were good. The routine if done properly would take 25 minutes to complete. I didn't see him again for 2 weeks as I was on holiday. On my return to the gym I asked him how he was getting on with the routine, he said fine but that it was too short and that it took him 8 minutes to complete. I was puzzled by this as there were 6 exercices consisting of 4 sets of 10 reps per exercise. As it was his leg workout I said I would watch him do his routine. First was to be squats 4 x 10. He got under the bar and done 40 reps. Then went to the leg extension machine and did 40 reps. I told him that this was not the way I showed him, he said what difference does it make as he was still doing 40 reps total.

So I had to sit him down and explain all about progresive resistance etc. Finally he got the point and went on to bigger thighs and improve his power in martial arts.”

Story 4:

The bodybuilding world is full of eccentric characters. I have met quite a few. But none as colourful as Jon. This is not his real name for reasons that will become obvious. Jon was a very good looking and charismatic person, he had minor success in the Scottish bodybuilding scene. But he was the ultimate con man. He was also a bit of a ladies man, always with a different girl every time I met him. The girls were all model material. I met Jon in 1968 when he trained at Bellahouston Sports Centre. We became friends and sometimes worked out together. Training with us was Pete, again not his real name. I lost touch with them both when I left to train at Pat Mcshane's Gym. Pete was the manager of his fathers car dealership, one of the biggest in Scotland. Jon and Pete became good friends. One day a few years later, 1970 I think. Jon turned up at the dealership and asked Pete if he could test drive the latest, top of the range sports car, no problem says Pete. He gives Jon the keys, off Jon goes with the car. Later that day a worried Pete phones Jon asking why he hadn't returned the car. Jon says what car? I don't know anything about your car. Pete told him about the events earlier on. Jon asked Pete if he had any paperwork or proof that he had taken the car, police were called but could do nothing as there was no documentation that Jon had taken the car, so Jon got away scot free with a £20,000 pound Mercedes sports car. To be continued...”

Story 4 Cont…

Jon and two of his friends decided to rob a bank in a small vilage in Scotland. But instead of a get away car, Jon suggested that they go to the pub round the corner from the bank and wait there till the heat died down. So after pulling off the heist they sat in the pub for a couple of hours. They sat at a corner table with the loot in a bag under the table. Jon said that he was going to the toilet, but told his partners in crime that he would take the bag with him, saying not that he didnt trust them, but he didnt want to let the bag out of his sight. So off he went, but after a couple of minutes his cronies became suspiscous, they went to the toilet and Jon was gone. He had climbed out of the toilet window with the cash. As they were leaving the pub in search of Jon they were pounced upon by the police. When Jon had climbed out the window he brazenly went to the bank and told the police that the robbers were in the pub round the corner. Then Jon high tailed it to England. The police told the other 2 that if they gave the name of the 3rd robber that they would recomend leniency to the sentencing judge. So they told them who Jon was. Jon was eventually arrested in England months later. He was brought back for trial. As I said before Jon had a way with the ladies. So when he was out on bail he went to a 16year old girl, who he knew had a crush on him and got her to give him an alibi. The girl told the court that she and Jon were in bed together at the time of the robbery, so Jon again got off, however his acomplicies got 10 years each.

Story 4 Cont…

Last met Jon at the 1988 strongman competition held by Webster and Edmunds where I was guest posing [  see my life story ] Jon was helping me oil up. He was there with his wife and 3 year old daughter. He was living in London at that time. He was paranoid about his daughter being kidnapped, told me he had been receiving threats from some gangsters in London. Don't know if the other two sought revenge, they would be wise not to as Jon had a reputation as a fearless street fighter. His speciality was biting the nose off his opponents. Trust me if you met him you would think he was a great guy. He could be very charming and charasmatic with a personality to match,  all perfect traits for a con man. Last I heard, in the nineties he arranged a 6 figure cash deal with the biggest steroid dealer in Britain who was also a multiple Mr Universe and lived in the north of England. Jon and a couple of heavies beat the guy up and stole the steroids off him. All I can say in Jon's defence is, he never tried to con me and always was pleased to see me whenever we met.”

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