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The Oak Lawn Tales – Getting Stronger

Along with being closeted gay and the not blond kid, I was a ninety eight pound weakling in high school.¬† The nervousness of screwing up in front of my classmates and my natural clumsiness¬† resulted in being bad at every thing, and I was always picked last for any sport in gym class.. Because my brother and sister were in cross country running and skiing I did them to and let me tell you, there is no better sport to try and bulk up and be manly than distance endurance sports. No wait, scratch that, that’s the worst thing you can do.

When I first started at KU I was interested in learning about the lifting weights, but I had been trained in from high school that people laugh at you when you aren’t good at things. Like most colleges, KU had a recreation center that had a swimming pool, racquetball courts, and of course, a weight room. Despite my fear curiosity got the better of me, and I would go in the morning to try out different pieces of equipment. I wanted to learn more, but I didn’t want people to know I wanted to know more, so I did what every ninety eight pound weakling does: I went to the book store. I was so scared my roommates would see my copy of Bill Pearl’s “Getting Stronger” that I tore off the spine label so you couldn’t tell what it was when it was in the book shelf. Throughout college I would work out at the rec center or in the weight rooms in the dorms, but I didn’t want people to know. It was my personal secret.

When I started working at Multi-National corp, one of the perks was a discount on a membership at the local gym. Compared to the student recreation center, this was a huge upgrade. First, this wasn’t just a gym, but a wellness community complete with lunch and smoothie bar, outdoor heated pool, racquetball courts, weights, and personal trainers. I had arrived. I began going on a very regular three to four times a week, partly because I could see improvement and partly because I had nothing better to do. When the topic of the gym came up at work, my co-workers would tell me how health conscious they used to be back in they day, then shake their large Dallas guts in front of me. It would just make me say to myself “Must keep going to the gym, must keep going to the gym…” Between the gym next to work and the weight room in my first apartment complex, I had plenty of places to get my gym time in. The new apartment had a weight room too, so the tradition continued after I moved.

Some things I learned at the snooty gym:

  1. Rich fat old men like to have snooty gym memberships and go regularly, but they never lose any weight. This is very apparent when you see them naked in the locker room.
  2. No one will kick dirt on you, tease you, or otherwise even look at you while you work out. Most of the gym people are too busy looking at themselves.
  3. Don’t stare at the hot people. Look at their reflection in the mirror instead.
  4. The ratio of “people working out to look hot” to “people who are hot” who are working out is about three to one – lower than what’s advertised, but high enough to keep you coming back.
  5. Personal trainers comes in all types. If you’re trying to gain weight, don’t stick with the granola eating hippie whose all about pilates.
  6. By 24 I was already outside MTV’s target demographic. It was always on, and I always thought whatever was on was stupid.
  7. A workout partner is like a roommate – the things that make you break up are the little things. You don’t have to be best friends, but it helps if you’re interested in the same goals are starting at the same level.

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