Bulldawg Maker, The

By AbsMan420

When that Big Chain opened a sleek new Fitness Centre about two miles away from our little gym, it wasn't long until membership dwindled down to maybe fifty guys. Like me, the convenience of having a gym right across the street from my apartment complex was almost too good to let go. Still, even with the support of us few dozen die-hards, the owner was forced to sell, or else be a victim of bankruptcy. As it was, even his asking price would barely put his head above water.

And then, almost immediately, the deal was done – just like that. Fate, I thought. Providence. At the beginning of the next week, there was a new sign above the gym doors. "THE BULLDAWG MAKER" it read. A banner hung beneath it with the message, "Now Under New Management," as if that would entice people away from the sleek Chain Gym up the street.

The new owner was at the check-in desk to greet the few remaining clientele. He was in such kick-ass shape that I didn't realize his age until I got closer to him, not quite the size of those pro- bodybuilders, but BIG... thick and pumped. Square-jawed, so overly clean as to be called "precision-cut," his gray hair was in the tightest of military high-and-tights – to the skin on the sides – the rest of his head and face so smooth that he must've shaved just seconds before I arrived.

"Welcome to The Bulldawg Maker," he said, shaking my hand in a firm, friendly way, but still leaving no question as to who was the man in charge. "Name's Mike Billis, but after almost thirty years of bein' a Marine DI, I'm used to everybody callin' me Sarge."

He was dressed like one, in a very tight gray t-shirt with "USMC" stretched across the chest, black dress shorts (with belt and pockets) that just barely covered his lineman's ass, exposing his entire muscular upper leg, and his black, lace-front workboots, military grade, with his white socks just barely peeking over the top.

I just couldn't get over the kind of shape he was in. Men in the prime of their lives would be easily shunted aside by "old" Mike Billis, who preferred "Sarge." His veins were a road map for an anatomy class – you could cut yourself on his razor-sharp definition.

When I glanced up at his face, I found him smirking at me. "You want to ask how old I am," he said in a gruff, now-paying-for-years-of- shouting kind of voice, resting his hands on the crest of his hip- bones, on the ridge of those powerful legs. "That's what everybody wants to know. It's the first question I get. Well, I'm not ashamed of it – I'm sixty-one."

I was speechless – it was impossible.

"It's just discipline," he said. "Ask any of the thousands of momma's boys that I've turned into men – into MARINES. I'll show you guys here a thing or two, too."

And he did.

He worked out twice a day – sunrise and sunset – for exactly two hours each session. It was a non-stop, no rest, high-rep, exhaust-a- thon. Just watching him was a workout. No wonder he was in the kind of shape he was in, the healthiest sixty-one year old – hell, the healthiest ANY-year old – I'd ever seen. When he would peel off his sweaty t-shirt at the end of a workout and flex his rock-solid abs in the mirror – his marble-pillared core – no one could blame his self- satisfied smirk.

It wasn't long before a couple of the guys were asking him for advice on their own workouts. Word had it he put them through a push-up, sit-up, squat-thrust test, he'd evaluate them, then put them on a new routine. The increased pace and intensity of these workouts beat up the guys who tried them – they could barely get twenty minutes, much less the four hours a day put in by the Sergeant – but he kept riding their asses, and they persevered.

In the meantime, Sarge put the place through its own not-so-subtle renovations. First were the drinking fountains. Not only did he replace the two the gym already had, he put two more in the free- weight area and one to serve the front offices and reception. "You should keep the body hydrated when you're working out," he said. "Replace what you lose when you sweat. And these here are top of the line. Filtered or some such."

He got rid of all the cardio equipment except the treadmills. "All crap," he said, when questioned about it by the guys who were fans of the ellipticals and the seated-bikes with the lower-back supports. "In MY gym," he said in a tone that was almost commanding, certainly one unused to being questioned, "we don't have those pussy- foot, girlie machines. You wanna get in shape, you run. Grunts run."

And there was obviously a method to his madness. The guys who'd taken on his training regimen had taken a mad leap forward in their progress. Although they still seemed constantly out of breath, their t-shirts soaked with sweat, in just a couple of weeks, they seemed… tighter. Healthier. Bigger. Certainly more focused and intense during their workouts. More than once, I'd seen them between sets, waiting in line at the water fountain, hands on their hips, while they rested, heads down instead of speaking to each other. They looked muscular and pumped – unbelievable improvement in so little time.

No better advertising than that. Plenty of guys started Sarge's program. It wasn't long before the entire atmosphere at the gym began changing – it even smelled more intense, from sweat and activity. And even as more and more guys joined in, there was less and less socializing. No football chat, no off-color jokes, no back- slapping antics, even in line at the water fountains, they never spoke. Yet there seemed a camaraderie between them that I couldn't put my finger on. I didn't get it.

Over the next weekend, Sergeant Billis renovated the offices and reception area in the front of the gym– the place stank of fresh paint Monday afternoon when I got there. A clean but dull color, creamy white with an olive undertone. Sarge's spartan taste reflected years of military service, function over form.

The front desk was still the same, but the small reception area had been converted into a Barber's station. Two chairs, but only one stall was occupied. The Barber was an older man – Sarge's peer, no doubt – and was himself in fine shape… for a man of his age. I was kind of happy to see that, for a change.

He had just finished shaving the neck of one of the three guys who'd been training with Sarge the longest. Now that guy (and his two buddies I saw) had a high-and-tight exactly like the Sergeant's. Frankly, they looked like completely different people – military people. Marines.

They were certainly as diesel as a Marine should be. The three of them were in fantastic shape. Not as big as Sarge, certainly, but not too far behind him. It was impossible that guys could make that kind of improvement that quickly. Yet, there they were.

Not that the way they were dressed could hide anything. Sleeveless gray t-shirts so tight that every cut of every ab was visible. On the front right pec, the gym's logo – on the back, text that read, "BULLDAWG IN THE MAKING" in a military font. They wore square- cut, cotton/spandex shorts in a white/gray/ black camouflage pattern and, like Sarge himself, black lace-front boots with white socks peeking over the top.

"And he's done!" the Barber shouted as he wiped the last of the shaving cream off his client's neck. "They're ready for you, Sarge!"

Sarge approached from behind, and startled me when he spoke. "Excellent!" he said, clapping me on the shoulder. "So, what do you think?" he asked. "Haircuts on the house – tips on you. Best guy in the business right there."

"Till we was both forced to retire!" the Barber shot back and both men laughed. Sarge's recruits stood nearby at parade rest, nearly emotionless. It made me kind of uncomfortable.

Sarge waved him off. "We weren't retired. We were `re-assigned,'" he said. "You're a Marine for life!"

"However little we have left."

They laughed, then Sarge turned back to me. "I'm gonna take these boys out for a ten-mile run. Maybe get a little free advertising. You like those t-shirts?"

"They're cool," I said. "I'd like to get one. Maybe one in my size."

He chuckled and squeezed my shoulder. "They only come in one size," he said. "Maybe you should get yourself in shape enough to wear one."

Instead of taking his obvious bait, I laughed and saluted him with my water bottle.

As soon as he saw it, his attitude changed. "Oh, yeah," he said. "I almost forgot. You can't bring that into the gym."

"What, this? It's just water."

"It's not that. It's some licensing thing – no outside food or beverages – something to do with insurance. I don't know. You can't have this," he said, taking the bottle from me. "You can eat or drink anything you buy in here, but you can't bring outside stuff in."


"Why do you think I put all these new water fountains in, anyway? It's filtered and cold – better than this crap for sure!" He tossed the bottle into the trash can. "Go," he ordered. "Work out. I'll talk to you when we get back from our run."

With that, he led his three trainees out into the sunshine and they took off at a healthy clip, in a perfect single-file line, in-step with the Sergeant's cadence.

Mother-fucker took the bottle from my hand and tossed it in the trash. What an asshole. Obviously, he'd spent a few too many years as a DI and forgot what real life was like.

Ah, but how quickly you put anger and frustration aside when you have a really good workout. And for the first time in a while, I had a REALLY GOOD workout! I didn't lift any heavier than normal, but I really controlled what I did – my head was in my muscle. I was focused and intense.

It was amazing – each rep, each flex got me a little more into it.

And here I thought drinking from the fountain would be a pain in the ass, waiting in line or whatever. But Sarge had been right – it was cold and clean. And the way I was sweating, I needed to take in a lot – more than I would've gotten out of the little bottle I'd brought in with me.

I chuckled. To think I'd been pissed at him – Sarge had done me a favor.

Naturally, before I left that evening, I poked my head into his office – as he'd ordered.

He looked up from his paperwork and smirked, removing his reading glasses. "Kind of late for you, isn't it? How was your workout?"

"It was great," I said, smiling like a dope. "I haven't had a workout like that in a while!"

"Really?" he said, tenting his fingers – he didn't act surprised at all. "I bet if you let me give you some training advice, we could make `em even better! Hell, if you let me design a workout for you, like I've done for these other guys, bet we could take you to a whole different level. I could make you disciplined enough to be a Marine. A real Bulldawg."

"Hooah!" I said, and we both laughed together. "Where do I sign?"

The evaluation. He made me do as many push-ups as I could. When done with that, he immediately made me do as many sit-ups as I could. He made me count, barking at me when I wasn't loud enough for him. Finally, squat-thrusts, which so exhausted me that I barely remember the stuff at the computer – the forms I filled out, the things I was supposed to read before clicking on "agree" – the spiral. I don't remember it, but I don't like to try, either. It doesn't feel good when I try.

Better to focus on my training. Training ALWAYS makes me feel good.

The routine was impossibly hard. The first couple of days, I could barely manage twenty minutes before I found myself too exhausted to maintain the zone, the focus, the intensity. I'd stand in line at the water fountain trying to catch my breath, unaware of anything buy my own recovery. What would Sarge think if he saw me like this? What about the other guys, already so far ahead of me? I had to catch up – I wanted to be good enough to earn the uniform and go on the twice-daily runs with the other Bulldawgs.

Maybe someday be good enough to be a real Marine.

That meant discipline – and I was painfully undisciplined – and if I intended to be a Bulldawg, that was something that was gonna have to change.

While I reorganized the fridge, throwing away all the crap that I'd called "food" – a Bulldawg ate clean, high protein, low carbs (meat, meat, MEAT – dawgs ate meat!) – my flat-mate teased me. "Another fad diet?" he asked. "When are you gonna give up on that shit?"

But at the end of the next week, when he caught me stepping out of the bathroom with only my shower-towel around my waist, he said, "Holy shit, dude, look at you! Your abs, man! Look at your fuckin' abs! You're freakin' diesel!"

I smirked and flexed them for him. My eight-pack was getting more easily visible every day, deeper cuts, strong striations, but hardly diesel. "You should see some of the guys at my gym," I said. "The Bulldawgs, they make me look like a fuckin' beginner – THEY'RE diesel! I gotta train a little harder for that."

"Harder? You're at that gym nearly two hours a day now! Every day!"

"Yeah, but I think I can squeeze some time in before work, too. Maybe go over at five, work out till seven or so, then head to the office from there."

"You're crazy."

"No," I said. "Goal-driven."

When I related the conversation to Sarge, while we trained abs on the incline board, he chuckled softly and shook his head. "Some guys just don't get it," he said. "But a good DI doesn't give up on anybody. Even the weakest momma's boys can become real men. Just takes a little added effort."

To that end, when I left the gym that night, he gave me a case of un- labeled bottled water. "Same stuff I serve here," he said, putting the case in my arms. "Keep it in your fridge, give it to company when they come over – maybe let your roommate have one or two. Might find it easier to talk him into a workout after that. Give it a little effort."

"Sergeant. Yes, Sergeant."

Obeying the Sergeant always felt good. So I put the case on the bottom shelf of my refrigerator like he told me – feeling like I was baiting a mousetrap somehow – and it wasn't long before I heard my flat-mate shout, "Can I have one of these waters?"

The next day (Saturday), both home from work, he was a mass of unfocused energy. "You should come workout with me," I said as I packed my gym bag. "It'll help you get rid of some of that."

"I definitely got the kick for it, but there's no way I could keep up with you, man. I'm hardly in that kind of shape…" He patted his beer gut almost regretfully.

"Everyone's a beginner sometime, buddy – even Bulldawgs. Don't worry, Sarge'll show you what to do."

And I knew it would be true – once he was at the gym, once he'd met Sarge and had gone through his evaluation, once he defined his goals and committed himself to the discipline, he'd throw himself into his training just like the rest of us had.

Nor was I alone in bringing a fresh face into the gym – recruitment seemed to be the current theme of the place – fathers brought their teenaged sons (some home on break from college, then after training a couple of weeks with their dads, not going back to school), the few local coaches brought their star athletes, guys like me brought their buddies. There were new guys everywhere, working hard to get more than just a few minutes out of their regimen, standing in line at the water fountains, heads down and sweating.

That was when Sarge invited me to join the Bulldawgs in their daily runs. "I think you're ready to join us. You won't embarrass me in the uniform." Then he added, "You're gonna need a haircut, tho."

The hot lather and the blade… how clean I felt. How grateful I was. The next morning, when my alarm went off at 4am, I sat upright immediately, full of eager energy. As I drank a bottle of water, I slipped on the cotton/spandex square-cut shorts in gray/black camouflage, pulling the painfully small sleeveless t-shirt over my rock-hard torso, my brick-stone abs, the gym legend stretched over my left pec, the words "BULLDAWG IN THE MAKING" tight across my back, and finally, how difficult it was to keep from getting an erection as I sat there lacing my boots.

The activity had woken my flat-mate, who stumbled out of his bedroom in just his boxer shorts. Only two weeks on his program, yet he showed remarkable improvement – his abs were still rounded, but his gut was gone. He looked like a Rugby player in his prime, strong legs, wide back – but he still had plenty of work to do before he could join us. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes as he spoke. "Damn, look at you. You goin' runnin' with the guys? They gonna make you a Bulldawg?" (Damned if he wasn't starting to get hard right there in his boxers.)

I stood then, to give him the full effect, from my high-and-tight to my rock-hard two-hundred forty-five pound body and my three percent bodyfat – to show him the body of a Bulldawg – to give him a goal.

And instead of the normal cynicism I would've usually gotten from him, I got admiration instead. "You lucky son of a bitch," he said, not even trying to hide touching himself. "You did it – you became one of them. Now you watch, cause I'm gonna do it, too!"

I clapped him on the shoulder and left him there playing with himself – I couldn't afford to be late to my first run – even if the gym was just across the street. The other guys were already there, in the gym's dark foyer, stretching silently and focusing mentally. I joined in without any introduction or invitation – the guys just accepted me. Of course, I had a lot to prove. Sarge introduced me as we lined up, but only by last name. "This one wants to be a `dawg, ladies," he barked. "Let's show him what it means to be one."

Naturally, I ran in the back of the formation – which, including me, was sixteen guys, four rows of four – but it still felt great to be part of the group. We started off at an easy pace, but the higher the sun rose in the sky, the faster the cadence became. Finally, after about two miles, we were at a full-tilt stride. In-step without even trying, in perfect unison rhythm with each other. My thoughts were completely empty as my body was the machine – my mind was part of the collective, allowing the Sergeant to think for us.

Rush-hour traffic beeped as they passed us – shop-keeps opening their stores gave friendly waves (which Sarge returned with a brisk salute) -- and not surprisingly, our running route took us past every gym within a five-mile radius of The Bulldawg Maker. When we passed a gym, we'd sing a cadence, just to get attention.

Sarge was right – we're always recruiting.

We broke formation when we got back to the parking lot of our gym and it was like my senses came back to me – like the Collective had burst and I was suddenly alone again. First of all, I was stunned by how much I'd sweat. I didn't remember that from the run – actually, I remembered very little from the run. Just that it felt really good to be part of the team. REALLY good.

So good that, even though my intent had been to run with the guys and then head to the office, I found myself following the group inside and joining my brothers in the morning workout.

No job mattered as much as that.

I had a month's worth of sick-time accumulated, so I took it just to keep the money coming in until I could figure out what to do next. Whatever my new job was, it would have to fit around my gym schedule – and that would be tough.

The Sunrise Run, the morning workout, recovery time, the late- afternoon workout (hard abs!), and the Sunset Run – it was a full day, one that took the discipline of a true Bulldawg.

My flat-mate was coming to an understanding of the commitment, too. It wasn't long before we got rid of all the non-essential living elements from our home barracks. We now used only the main room, which contained little more than our cots, our trunks and our gunnysacks.

The morning he was to join us in formation, we both woke right before the alarm, sitting up almost in unison. Standing together at the head, we both launched powerful streams of piss. I commented on how excellent his abs looked, his hard-grooved, hard-won six-pack.

He mumbled, "Yeah, they're okay. I wish I had an eight-pack like you. Fuckin' genetics. No matter how hard I work, I can't get it."

"A month ago you had a fucking beer gut."

"A month ago I was a fuckin' lazy, undisciplined idiot – today I become a Bulldawg."

And when he slid the uniform on his prize body, he didn't even try to hide his erection.

When we weren't in training, we were recruiting. At the mall, at the high school athletic events, at the parks, the rec centers, we'd wear our BULLDAWG shirts and cammie pants, tucked into the top of our boots. We'd start conversations, or respond to comments in passing, and before you knew it, we'd be handing someone a bottle of water – the new ones Sarge had printed with the gym's logo and address on the label.

Most guys thought it was a novelty – they drank it without thinking.

When the drill formation got to be nearly forty people, that was when the Recruiting Office opened in the room next to the Barber Shop. Some of the Bulldawgs were ready.

Ready to become real Marines.

I was sure I was. A top performer in the platoon (in the second row!), in the best shape of my life, I was ready to be one of the few and the proud. The recruiter – an older man like Sarge, in just as fine shape – was more than happy to guide me through the online application. There were some new spirals to look at, too.

God damn, it felt good to sign those papers! I was hard the entire time. I orgasmed when he welcomed me aboard.

We had two weeks till me and the nearly thirty other guys who were deemed ready had to ship to basic. In the meantime, we were tasked with getting guys in the doors to replace us. Recruitment, a Bulldawg's prime directive.

I got ten guys before the deadline – eleven if you count my flat- mate, who just signed the papers yesterday. But we still needed more. Nearly twenty-thousand, if were were gonna meet the Government's goal. Gyms like Sarge's were opening up all over the country.

There was a Surge coming. And we were gonna take back Baghdad!

Hooah!!! •

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