“It was probably a combination of both,” Gerald Czemerynski said of his early interest in bodybuilding and weight loss.
The combination of books from the library and weights laid the foundation for a storied high school and collegiate sports career that grounded him in his calling at the Springville-Griffith Institute for nearly three decades as a certified athletic trainer and physical education teacher.
“I still have the book,” said Czemerynski. As a 12-year-old, Czemerynski still remembers the day his grandfather Max bought him his first copy of York and the middle school librarian directed him to the shelf that housed the books he pursued.
The book is called “Arnaldus: The Education of the Body Builder”. In addition to Czemerynski teaching methods of weight training, the book also talked about the place where body building took its place from – Venice Beach, Calif. Dubbed the “Mecca of Bodybuilding” and home to homemade equipment, Venice Beach was home to the first Gold’s Gym, which opened in 1965 long before the modern day health club existed.
The Arnold in the book’s title is Arnold Schwarzenegger, who in addition to his bodybuilding career has also spent time as an actor, businessman, filmmaker, investor, politician and author. In competitive bodybuilding, Schwarzenegger has captured five masters titles and seven Mr. Olympia wins. He is also known to frequent the Blue Gold Beach area.
“The impact of that book has had a profound effect on me ever since. I had a vision and a goal to avidly pursue a lifestyle and career in health and fitness. I continue to use the method and training principles from the book personally and incorporate them into my profession as a high school physical education teacher and certified athletic trainer. “I’ve always wanted to lead by example as they say, ‘Talk the Talk and Walk the Walk,'” Czemerynski said, although most students refer to him as Mr. C.
By the time Czemerynski got to high school, he and a few friends were planning to visit the “Mecca of Bodybuilding,” but it wasn’t until this month that Czemerynski finally saw that dream trip was worth enjoying.
Traveling with his wife to Hawaii, the couple took a detour from Los Angeles along the way with a visit to Venice Beach and a chance meeting with Schwarzenegger, and everything was done in Schwarzenegger’s vernacular.
“It was Friday afternoon and the front desk worker (at the Venice Beach Gold Gym) said that Arnold would be coming in the morning, which was Saturday. So sure enough, on Saturday morning at 9 o’clock, Arnold rolled into his gym on his bike, with three bodyguards accompanying him. When we both finished our hourly workouts that morning, I waited outside the gym. I didn’t know to bother Arnold during his workouts. Arnold mentioned time and time again in his writings about staying focused and the importance of putting your mind on the ‘muscle.’ Back in Austria, Germany , when Arnold first began to build his body and was jokingly acknowledged to have repeatedly called it: ‘Wenn Schon, Denn Schon.’ I practiced his pronunciation in German in hopes of getting his attention.
“I mentioned Arnold’s exit and this answer opened to me and he invited through his agents that Arnold invited both my wife and I to meet him. I also mentioned
Arnold, that just as Reg Park inspired Arnold as a young teenager with the importance of training and nutrition, I also thank him for inspiring me on the path of weight training and a life focused on health and fitness. Then he concluded by taking a few pictures in front of his three companions, citing Arnold,” said Czemerynski.
Mr. C’s continued passion in his meeting with the oracle and the journey along the path he began with the book of instruction is reflected in his exhortation with his students today.
“You’ve got an example. That’s what I’ve always tried to do,” said Czemerynski, who had a plan to meet the former governor of California to have a career plan.
And from the twelfth century, what kind of example was he? Unable to work out in a corner gym as a pre-teen, Czemerynski set out on his own with that book and his own weight, essentially creating his own personal gym. He also remembers his first experiences with weight lifting.
“From the first moment I loved it, I wrapped my fingers around the barbell and felt the challenge and exhilaration of lifting the heavy iron plate of York over my head. I was not sure how to use them properly so I went to the school library. The librarian put the aforesaid book into my hand; It seems like yesterday, as he handed me a book that illustrated Arnold Schwarzenegger and his training principles. I just read it, carried it and was hooked for 12 years. When I first started reading the book and making light of those who were there, I felt so much stronger and that just fueled me.”
It wasn’t long before Czemerynski became one of the biggest eighth-graders in the Maryvale school system, which allowed him to advance his career as he was transferred to eighth grade, Vicar, as a freshman and varsity as a sophomore. Back in the 1980s, student athletes strictly adhered to playing with the teams associated with their grade. Although it is common
For sophomores to play varsity today, in that era it was a real aberration and very rare to play at that level, especially at the varsity level.
It is reported that Czermerynski’s stories on the football field were so dominant that he overthrew other teams’ triumphant games. Canisius Czemerynski College offered a partial football scholarship and weighed 225 pounds two seasons before a knee injury prematurely ended his collegiate athletic career.
In his early days at Springville, Czemerynski changed coaching seasons three times and JV football. During those years, his teams lost just two games in a combined three seasons. He succeeded in his first modified year with a team that went undefeated and almost infamous. That team would win the state championship at the Varsity level a few years later in 1996.
Mr. C still has the same passion for his profession today that he did when he started joining Springville and coming from another school district. Back in the age of no internet, Czemerynski found a way to get the information he needed to be successful and often shares the advice he applied in his days as a student to today’s students who live in the information age, “Do it yourself. Research. It’s all about reading and learning and learning.” yourself
After doing his research, which he started at 12 years old, Mr. C can finally close the chapter in one place and want to visit and meet one person from the book he read decades ago, who helped to launch an iconic career. Springville-Griffith.