My first trip to Len’s gym

Having seen Len Sell pose and plucked up the courage to ask if I could train at his gym in Harlow I decided to make plans to visit him at the gym.

I worked with a group of young lads in my company in the post section delivering the company mail all over Heathrow Airport.  One of the guys Ron had a scooter.  He was a Mod as opposed to a Rocker.  His Lambretta scooter had chrome panels, loads of lights and horns, the works.  But more to the point I got him interested in weight training, to strengthen him up for football which was his passion.

One evening after work we set off for Lens gym in Harlow. Had we known what would happen we may never have started off, and I would never have made a lifelong friend.  Someone who has been my best friend for nearly fifty years: Amateur and Professional Mr Universe, the first Hercules I ever saw, Len Sell.

As I mentioned, Len Sells’ Gym, at that time was in Harlow in Essex which is quite a way from where I lived (near Heathrow Airport). Fifty-two miles in fact, which is a fair way to go for a workout even by today’s standards. 

After work one summer evening the intrepid Ron and I set off on his blue and chrome Lambretta scooter.  With a few detours, we made it and met Len along with some of the guys training that day.  We were guided by Len through our first individually created workout routine. 

It was almost dark by the time we left and started home. We had gone about four or five miles when there was a sudden graunching sound from the back wheel.  We slowed right down before the back wheel of the scooter suddenly collapsed and we came to a sudden stop.

So there we were two sixteen-year-old lads, with about a couple of quid between them, fifty-odd miles from home, with a busted back wheel, no garage in sight and night closing in fast. The only person we even vaguely knew anywhere nearby was Len.  

Ron stayed with the scooter while I walked along the road looking for a phone box (mobile phones were light years away).  Eventually, I found one and phoned Len’s home, thank God he was back home by then.  I explained what had happened and he asked me where we were? Well, I hadn’t a clue, Len had to try and trace the route we had taken home from his gym over the phone and try and pinpoint where we were.

” Stay there with the scooter and I’ll be there soon, ” he said.

Twenty minutes later he pulled up in his big estate car, greeted us with, 

“all right lads?” and then checked out the damage on the scooter.  Some of the bolts holding the back wheel in place had sheared and the wheel was no good without them.

Len opened the back of the estate car (station wagon to you guys in America), and by himself, just lifted the scooter into the back of the wagon.  We just stood there, stunned, blimey! He’s as strong as Hercules I thought at the time (and in later years training with him, I found out he was), but that’s another story.

Len drove us back to his house, where we met his wife Brenda, who fed us and made us tea while Len, who was by trade an expert engraver, went to his small workshop in their back garden and made/cut threads for new bolts for the scooter’s back wheel. He fitted the wheel back on and three hours later we were on our way!

I just could not believe, how kind he was to two lads he hardly knew. I have never forgotten that night as it was the beginning of my lifelong friendship with one of the greatest human beings I have ever known, Len Sell.

Next time I will tell you about the training and laughs in his new gym in Walthamstow London.