ConstantCommentary® Vol. XII, No. 188, July 29, 2011

Mike Jasper at 56




To the Planet Fitness

"You know, sometimes I don't think the steroids are working for me."

I say that almost every time I leave Planet Fitness, the gym where I work out. They just look at me like I'm crazy middle-aged guy. Which I am, of course.

When I quit smoking, I started eating in earnest and put on 50 pounds. I didn't care. Not at all. And then one day I was at a going away party for one of my many newspaper editors and noticed myself eating chicken wings like I was a starving college student. I thought, "What the fuck? I don't like food this much. Nicotine and alcohol, sure, but not food."

Long story short, I went to the doc's and got on some thyroid medicine. It didn't make me lose weight, it just gave me the choice to stop eating like a pig. Once I started losing weight, I got into exercising, specifically weight lifting.

At first the goal was to get skinny and see my abs, which I did. Let me tell you the truth about abs—they're creepy. They look they should be in a jar of formaldehyde in a bio lab where they belong.

After getting skinny (thank you P90X) I decided to put on some muscle and go for the bodybuilding look. That lasted about six months. You have to eat about 5 or six times a day, and it's always chicken or turkey. You have to measure body parts, and you have to be Governor Arnold-like vain to pull it off. Or just plain young.

These days, I'm just into seeing how much weight I can lift. And while I don't eat like a pig, I sure as hell drink like one, so I sport the Romanian Olympic weight lifter look now—nice arms, strong back, and a beer belly full of fun.

For a long time, I did my lifting at home. No traffic, no bother. My gym was always 50 feet away on the back patio. But a new gym called Planet Fitness opened within walking distance of my house (I still drive there, though). It was cheap and only a month-to-month contract, so I figured I'd give it a shot.

It’s not bad. I can now do squats and bench presses instead of the phony squats and bench presses I did at home with dumbbells. Now I could really get into the whole beer-bellied Romanian-lifter mode.

Of course, the gym isn't perfect. There's a dress code, so I can no longer wear just my boxers like I used to do in the backyard. Shirts are required. So are shoes, dammit. I used to like to workout barefooted.

“But what happens if you drop a weight on your foot?” people would ask me. What would happen? The same bad fuckin’ things that would happen if a weight landed on your foot in a tennis shoe.

There are a few more downsides to the gym. Even though it's called The No Judgement Zone, they have something called the Lunk Alarm. You trigger this alarm by either dropping weights on the floor or grunting loud enough for the people at the front desk to hear you. If they hear anything like this, they set off an alarm with a flashing red light.

Here's the way I see it. You can have a Lunk Alarm or you can have a No Judgement Zone, but you can't have both.

I once asked one of the front desk guys, "What if I yell motherfucker at the top of my lungs? That's not technically a grunt."

"What?" he said.

"What?" I said.

I'm hoping to have some new rules enacted before I leave. And not just because of my antics, either. There's one guy in his late fifties who comes in dressed in black sweatpants, black dress shoes, and a short-sleeved shirt with pocket and a matching pocket protector. Incredibly, he's still within the dress code.

Yeah, I might be close to the same age as this guy, but every time I see him I think, "Great, I'm weight lifting with my dad." You don't even feel like you're working out when you see him dressed like that, you feel like you're doing yard work.

He's annoying, and so are the occasional gay guys. Let me explain that. If I'm on the treadmill and you're a guy who gets on the treadmill just to my right or just to my left when there are plenty of other treadmills available, you're gay. If I'm doing the lat machine, and you get on the lat machine across from me when there are two other open lat machines on the other side of the room where you won't have to stare at me while I’m using the lat machine, you're gay.

I don't care who you're fucking, you're still gay. That said, working out next to me isn't all sweetness and light either.

The other day, I was doing dead lifts and working toward a personal best of 195 pounds. I started with 105 as a warm up, moved up to 155, then up to 175, and then finally added the final 20 pounds for the real test.

I needed to lift the 195 pounds five times for it to count. I took some deep breaths, grabbed the barbell on the floor with knees properly bent,and then stood straight up. When I got to the top of the lift, I farted. I looked around to see if there were any women around, and was relieved to see there were none. I bent forward again and began the second lift. I farted again. No women, but some quizzical looks from the guys next to me. The third time I farted again, but I was pleased to note that I exhaled during the peak of the lift as good form dictates, albeit from both ends of my body.

I farted again on the fourth lift, but not on the fifth. I still think the lift counts, though.

Couldn't wait to get out of the gym that night. As I left, I turned to the front desk.

"You know, sometimes I don't think the Pepto Bismal is working for me,” I said and got the same odd looks from the staff.

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STANDARD DISCLAIMER: This column aims to be funny. If you can read anything else into it, you're on your own.




Mike Jasper is a writer and musician living in Austin, Texas.

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, he claims strong ties to Seattle, St. Petersburg, Florida and North Platte, Nebraska.


© 2011 by Mike Jasper, All Rights Reserved. ConstantCommentary® is published whenever Mike Jasper feels like it. All material is the responsibility of the author.