Fitness after 40 looks great when you’re a bodybuilder named Dave Goodin. If you watched him working through his brutal exercise routine at Hyde Park Gym, you might mistake him for a buff 30-something. He works so hard that less experienced athletes who try to keep up with him might find themselves “puking in the john,” as Goodin put it. At 53, he still competes in shows and has no plans to retire.
Although Goodin started bodybuilding in his early twenties, his work ethic, his mental strength, his careful attention to nutrition, and his career as a personal trainer and former gym owner are the principal factors for his success. During almost thirty years as an amateur, he won five world championships and three Mr. Universe titles as well as numerous other awards. He turned pro three years ago with the International Federation of Bodybuilders (IFBB) and will compete on October 12-13 in the Men’s Physique division at a show in Houston.
Goodin settled on bodybuilding after playing many sports as a kid, including baseball, football, basketball, track, and tae kwon do. Although he no longer plays football, he loves to watch the University of Texas football team at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium and the Dallas Cowboys on TV—but only after his lengthy workout routine is over.
Goodin’s work ethic is so strong that he takes little or no time off. If he isn’t in the gym, he’s on his exercise bicycle for 20 or 30 minutes or he’s out walking from two to four miles. He has worked through injuries, including ruptured (and subsequently reattached) tendons, bone spurs, and sore rotator cuff muscles. Four months ago at a bodybuilding training camp in Tampa, he outlasted men half his age during training sessions. The main motivations for his work ethic are his love of the sport and his love of walking out on the stage to demonstrate the fruits of all that labor.
Goodin’s mental strength comes into play when he focuses on improvement. His workout routine has changed little over the years, but his technique has become much more finely tuned. He feels he has a lot more control now. Mental toughness also gets him through the hard times. His favorite body part to work is legs, and he puts his through some savage workouts. Occasionally, he may not feel like working out, but once he gets started, the “pump,” as he calls it, feels great and he loves having accomplished the job.
His high school football and track coaches helped Goodin develop his mental toughness. He noted that “suck it up” was a common refrain. Under his coaches’ tutelage, he learned that “the body can handle a lot more pain than you think it can.” Nowadays, he knows that he can work through most training difficulties and that things will improve.
If the hard work fails to dissuade beginning athletes from bodybuilding, being unable to follow a strict diet sometimes does. Goodin said, “They just can’t give up the beer and pizza, and no amount of working out can make up for a bad diet.” His own fuel is high in protein, such as lean chicken breast. He uses a moderate amount of carbohydrates, mostly low glycemic fresh fruits such as berries, cherries, apples, pears, and grapefruit. His diet is also low in fat. After many years of eating with a purpose, he seldom feels the temptation to indulge.
As a personal trainer with a master’s degree in exercise science, Goodin trains people of various levels. About half of his current clients compete or plan to, while the others want to look better or attain a higher level of fitness. His youngest competitor ever was a boy of 15. His oldest was a man of 64. He also works with women, some of whom want to compete in bodybuilding shows. Most of his new clients already lift weights two to three times a week, but he welcomes people of all levels.
With so much success in his background, Goodin regretted selling Hyde Park Gym in 2006 after owning it for eight years. A 30 percent jump in rent, the opening of what he calls a “big box” gym nearby, and a decline in membership all occurred at about the same time. However, Goodin continues to train clients at the gym and believes that the local fitness business is picking up a little.
Current Hyde Park owner Brook Jones agrees. The gym offers members an experience that chain gyms can’t match—a quiet atmosphere where no music plays, machines with interesting variances achieved by local welders who built them, easy access to equipment and free weights where there is little crowding, and a do-your-own-thing atmosphere that welcomes everyone from high school students to people in their eighties. In addition to bodybuilding, Hyde Park is known for power lifting and Olympic lifting. Members are quite loyal to the gym with the giant, reddish-tan bicep hanging over the sidewalk. The gym opened 30 years ago and shows no signs of closing.
Right at home in this serious but welcoming gym, Goodin tells anyone, young or old, who might be interested in bodybuilding or any other sport to try many different types of exercise. Explore an activity you enjoy. Aim for gradual improvement. He cautions against “working so hard that you wind up punishing yourself.” Improving gradually begets a sense of accomplishment. “Always keep it fun,” he advised. The enjoyment of looking good and living a healthy lifestyle can keep you fit well into old age. As Goodin puts it in his tag line, “Train hard and eat clean!”
J. Jody Kelly, owner of Strengthmobile, is an ACE-certified personal trainer who conducts sessions in the homes of the elderly or disabled. She races triathlons, lifts weights, and takes Pilates mat classes.