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Here's a Camp for Hulkless Masses Yearning to Flex for a Healthy Fee

updated 08/31/1987 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/31/1987 01:00AM

Some walls have ears. The walls at the one-of-a-kind Pro Muscle Bodybuilding and Fitness Training Camp in Los Angeles appear to have sweat glands. If the walls did have ears, they would be privy to the tortured cries of the truly fanatical. "Oh, the aches and pains!" one yells. "Oh my foot, the cramps!" cries another, between sets of grunting, hernia-worthy lifts. And all the while, the sterile white walls of the huge weight room slowly ooze clear droplets of water.

Condensation of human humidity from 100 or so steaming, streaming, straining bodies is the reason the walls are dripping. Though it may sound like agony—or worse—to some, more than 400 people of all shapes and sizes have shelled out $625 each to attend one of this summer's seven, week-long courses. The camp is the second annual creation of sports-event promoters David Zelon, Bill King and Marc Missioreck. Says Zelon, "Campers live, eat, train and socialize with the world's top bodybuilders, living proof of the policies they preach."

Peter King, a 60-year-old psychiatrist and real estate developer from Encino, Calif., claims his week spent on the 128-acre Loyola Marymount University campus perched atop a bluff overlooking the Pacific was "a perfect vacation." King is already in good shape from his six-mile runs four days a week and is so dedicated that he has gotten his wife (as well as two ex-wives) to start working out. "I don't expect to look like some of these guys," says King. "I don't even expect to look like some of these women. I just came for the experience."

Ronald Gonzalez, 18, who turned down a car as a high-school-graduation present in order to attend this pricey Camp Pump It Up, says, "My family thinks I'm crazy, but I can get a car anytime. How often do you get a chance to work out with the superstars of bodybuilding?"

The bodybuilding bigwigs who act as counselors have titles like Mr. Olympia (Lee Haney), Ms. Olympia (Cory Ever-son) and—this one's hard to resist—"Dr. Squat" (Dr. Fred Hatfield). The campers' daily regimen consists of morning and afternoon workout sessions sandwiched around seminars focusing on nutrition, general health issues, and dangers such as overtraining and steroid use. In the evenings there is a campfire chat with one of the visiting superpowers. The schedule also includes body-fat-composition testing, amino-acid analysis and a weekly education film of a professional bodybuilding competition. It's all enough to make one pine for canoe instructions, nature hikes and archery.

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