Photos by Per Bernal
“I WASN’T ALLOWED TO LIFT WEIGHTS. SO I’D WAIT UNTIL MY PARENTS WENT TO SLEEP, AND THEN I’D GO OUT IN THE BACKYARD AND DO PUSHUPS AND LIFT CHAIRS.”
Such were the humble bodybuilding beginnings of Maxx Charles. Emigrating from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to Long Island, NY, with his family when he was 12, Charles was always fascinated with muscle. From lifting whatever he could find around the house, he eventually made his way to a local gym, lying to his mom and dad about his whereabouts at first until they finally relented when he was about 15 and started to at least grudgingly support his ambitions.
“After a while, they gave up and said, ‘Well, it’s what he wants to do, just let it be,’ ” Charles recalls. “I think they finally figured out it was harmless. I wasn’t doing anything bad, I just wanted to go somewhere and work out.”
Today, that “somewhere” is the East Coast training mecca, Bev Francis’ Powerhouse Gym in Syosset, NY. On this particular day, Charles is gearing up for his weekly delt session, a gantlet of free-weight and machine exercises that will annihilate each of the three heads of the target muscle.
Like his physique, it’s a workout that took shape over years of not only hard lifting but also an unorthodox approach to determining what movements actually delivered results for him and which did not. With marathon-length regimens, often abrupt ranges of motion, and a penchant for inventing his own particular exercises, Charles may not be the standard-bearer of by-the-book lifting, but his results demand attention.
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