“When I played football, I was lifting weights, but when it came to doing Tarzan, I wanted to be really cut and trim and sculptured. I didn’t lift any weights, but I did calisthenics. I did the same routine every day to get in better shape –  rather than upping the number of repetitions, I cut down on the time so I was doing things faster and it gave me a more sculptured look like to make it more believable when I did athletic things in those movies. I think the movies speak for themselves – I did all my own stunts.” — Mike Henry, Tarzan. 

 Jock Mahoney using the Charles Atlas system from his boyhood. The only difference being, he did more of the pushups, situps, and deep knee bends to play Tarzan. Woody Strode said Mahoney was Charles Atlas! Mahoney did not have a bodybuilder’s physique with exaggerated and useless muscle. His was the lean physique of a hunter/warrior. There was no superfluous flesh anywhere. This is what you’d expect Tarzan to look like if he had been a real person. — From Transformetrics forum and verified via Jock Mahoney’s bio. 

French actor, Christopher Lambert was hired to play, “Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes. To get Lambert in shape to be the legendary Edgar Rice Burroughs character, the studio enlisted Dreas Reyneke, a London based, Pilates instructor. On observation, Christopher had a badly curved upper back. This had to be corrected before harder trainer was allowed. The training to become Tarzan took five months. Here are the results from a page out of “Ultimate Pilates” by Dreas Reyneke. 

The point of this biographical training information is NOT to dispel the idea of progressive resistance training by use of barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, machines or odd implements. Rather to see the adaptation of the human body to a simplistic training methodology that can basically be done in the jungles of Mexico, a small studio in London or in the wilds of India. Christopher Lambert overcame spinal curvature. Mike Henry overcame an infected chimpanzee bite. Jock Mahoney almost died from dysentery and dengue fever, losing 40 pounds and filming fight scenes with 104 degree temperature. They did not have a trailer full of weights, dieticians, proper rest, calm conditions or the latest exotic PED’s. They simply did what they had to do along with a certain amount of natural talent and physical gifts.

I’ve seen trainees quit gyms because a special piece of equipment was not available that they felt was crucial to their goals. Then there are others who can look around them and use their knowledge and thinking skills to make the best use of time and environment. They simply exercise two vital skills, decision making and discipline to arrive at an outcome they desire.

Too many complain about lack of money, lack of equipment, lack of motivation, lack of will and lack of direction. Then oddly, one of the screens most enduring icons, Tarzan, can be created with little or no special demands. It’s about showing up.