Okay, I admit it. I was wrong. A man admits his mistakes. I was so wrong.
Working out is not for suckers. Working out is awesome.
I missed the gym. It had been 6 months since I worked out and I felt like absolute shit. I had a gut. A real live gut. It wasn’t a huge gut, but it was a gut nonetheless, the kind you suck in while looking in the mirror after a shower and fool yourself into thinking it’s because you just ate. But it’s not because you just ate, it’s because you’re fat. And I was fat. When I worked at Trader Joe’s, I was a stick man because I was moving around all the time and doing heavy lifting of watermelon boxes and milk crates. But since I began working in an office, I sit on my ass all day, and it had grown. Not enough to be gross, but enough to be noticeable. My waist went from size 30 to 31. My freakin pants didn’t fit anymore! When the hell does that happen to a hot guy like me? Besides looking like a turd, I’d also slog home after work and instantly fall asleep before eating dinner. I had no energy. Sometimes I’d fall asleep on the drive home to the Valley going over the hill. If not for Lakers talk radio, I’d be in a ditch somewhere over Mulholland Drive. I was in big trouble, and I knew it.
I also noticed something when I went out. Girls didn’t check me out as much. I’d be at a bar with my friends, and when I went over to mack on girls, they would give me the once over and then — nothing. The bar scene is obviously superficial – wear Adidas to the Bungalow in Santa Monica and you’re immediately not gonna get laid. Not gonna happen. So not being buff when you’re out in the scene puts you at a terrible disadvantage. It’s not that girls won’t like you. They might still like you because of your personality or your confidence or crap like that, but you gotta work much harder at it. You have to make an effort to charm, to stand out, to connect with them. Who the hell has time for that! But when you got guns poking out your sleeves, and your chest is bulging from the unbuttoned top of your Abercrombie, and your stomach is flat and not Buddha’ing above your belt – that’s when girls give you the once over, then actually TURN their bodies towards you to talk. You dudes know what I’m talking about. You get their full attention. Hell yeah. Then you can just stand there all night looking ripped and posing like a male model and nod once in awhile to what they’re saying and the girls will be like — this guy is so cool! It’s like owning a Porsche. The battle is already 80% won – except here, your body is your Porsche.
So I missed it. I missed the grunting and straining, clenching and thrusting, sweating and deep breathing – I’m talking about working out, mind you. I missed all that. So one day, after nearly barfing again at the sight of my fat folds in the mirror – I shot my obese ass to Costco and threw down $650 for a two-year 24 Hour Fitness gym membership.
That was a month ago. Since then, I’ve been exercising three super days a week. After I get off work, I hike for twenty minutes about a mile up to my gym and as I’m walking, I’m falling asleep standing up from workday exhaustion. But when I finally get inside the gym, something miraculous happens. It’s a place other than work! There are people there! And they are good looking people! Everyone is in motion. There’s music pumping, friends talking and laughing, hot girls all over, and everybody is looking pretty damn happy. The gym is actually like the bar, except no one is drunk (I hope), no one has a beer belly, everyone is super fit, everyone is having a good time, and everyone is subtly checking each other out but without the desperation of a 2 am closing time hanging over us. All these sensations wake me up instantly. I start moving faster, I stretch out, I jump on a machine and here we go, son. Then more awesomeness happens – whatever angst I have going on that day, whether it’s how to tell my bosses that I’m quitting for another department or wondering why the girl I love isn’t texting me back – all that shit is blasted out through the barbells and into the void of outer space. SAYONARA. I take a deep breath, I start to relax, and I feel better about my day already. Call it endorphin power or call it magic – it works.
Now I knew all this from years of working out, but I didn’t realize how much I’d miss it until it was gone. Now it’s back and I love it. Exercising makes me feel vital and alive.
Did I mention that I look good? This past Tuesday, on a cool evening walk to the gym in my Banana Republic tank top, three separate sets of strangers in the neighborhood engaged me in conversation because I was on freakin’ fire. Two bros gave me a high five, for no damn good reason. One of the bros said, “Hey man, there’s some bad dudes up the street, you should go a different way.” I pretended to flex and said, “Nah, I can handle it.” A British man, seeing me walk past, remarked to his girlfriend, “I’m putting on my cardigan and this guy is strolling by in a tank top, what’s wrong with this picture?” I laughed, said I was freezing too, even though I wasn’t. You see, working out has upped my body temperature 24-7. On my way back from the gym, I moved aside to let two really cute girls pass on a crowded leafy path. One of them smiled at me, so I grinned and before even thinking twice, I threw out in my best Joey, “How you doin’?” Before, I probably would have just smiled back and said nothing, but now that I’m swole, I have the nonchalance to hit on girls like that. The fact that they ultimately turned out to be lesbians is irrelevant!
That same night, still in my tank top, I stalked into my local Valley Trader Joe’s around 8 pm. I was still euphoric from my workout, even though it had finished an hour ago. I waded through the frozen aisle, just happy with life. As I made my way from the frozen waffles end to the frozen ethnic foods end, three separate cute girls stopped in their tracks and openly checked me out. This might not sound too special to you studs, but at my local TJs, everyone is in such a hurry and it’s so cramped that no one checks anyone out. Everyone just wants to grab their frozen fried rice and tub of mozzarella balls and get the hell out of there. But these three girls double-taked to look me up and down. I’m 99% sure it was because of my new vague resemblance to the Terminator. And that makes me feel just fine. I mean, outside of becoming famous and turning into a rock star, when can you get a crazy change like that? You go from the dumpy geek who looks like everyone else and just melts into his surroundings – to a jacked-up handsome dude somehow wearing a tank top in a cold store who might be interesting and worth talking to. I’ll take that.
So I was wrong. I mean, yes, working out does take up precious time. It takes up time that can be spent writing my novels and making my movies, hanging out with my beloved friends and family, and working on my present and future. But so does eating dinner. So does showering. So does sleeping 7 hours a day. They all take up time. And they’re all necessary.
Exercising is necessary. For looking good, feeling great, and all the benefits that come with that, like not having to buy 4 new pairs of fat boy jeans. I feel readier to take on the world.
Guys, don’t let anyone (like me) tell you different again. Working out is the shiznet!