Archive for the ‘Gym’ Category

The Shower Commandments

Posted: December 30, 2017 in Gym, Lifestyle
Tags: ,

(Disclaimer:  I realize that much of this post comes from a dark place.  Baring in mind that I am now 45 years old going on “TGIF Early Bird Special”, I find that I have a lot to bitch about these days and I recognize that.  This is definitely one of those posts.  If those types of rants tend to annoy you, click ‘back’ on your browser and tippy-toe out of here.)

The “off season” training program has officially kicked -in with the falling of the first snow a few weeks ago, so what this means then for the uninitiated is that it also marks an official return to indoor workouts.

Well, more indoor workouts than usual anyway.

Sure there are a few bad asses like myself who pride themselves in maintaining a structured outdoor winter training program regardless of how ridiculously cold out it is but even still, there’s the strength-training, core, yoga, swimming and, yes, sometimes it’s just too stupid to be outside when the shit really begins to fly so there will be the inevitable treadmill and spin sessions as well.  So what this all really translates to now is that we have to spend more time with one another vying for space and valuable resources.

I hate it, but I accept it.

On that pretense, I once wrote The Gym Commandments to educate myself – then a mere newbie on the inner goings on at the gym – on how to share the gym space with others so that nobody ends up with a barbell sticking out the side of their head, and then The Locker Room Commandments for not, well, ending up with someone’s penis waving uncomfortably in your vicinity.  And here I am six years later still abiding by these same necessary laws as they are what genuinely separate us from the other beasts walking this little blue planet of ours, and even expanding on them to more include the true “DMZ” at your local gym facility, the dreaded showers.

In other words, how not to be any of these guys:  click HERE.

Most of the men I see in my gym’s locker room every day are probably decent people.  They have, one assumes, respectable, well-paying jobs, families, certain codes of ethics and morals, and they are presumably upstanding members of society.  So why, once they pass that threshold that reads MEN, do they devolve into feral beasts? Why do they discard the entire social contract by which they abide outside the locker room once in the realm of towels and benches?  Balls out, butts jiggling, hogging coveted real estate, they become locker room anarchists. To put it quite abruptly, lots of weird shit goes on in the Men’s shower area, so much so that I feel that a rehashing of the basics is necessary for review.  After all, we are all mere riders on this same endless highway ribboning through the madness of it all, so we should at least be making things less stressful on each other by all agreeing to observe an officially recognized code of shower room ethics.

Yes, friends, the gym shower area absolutely needs to be a place of strictly observed rules of conduct and listed here are some of those proposed basic guidelines I suggest we all consider if we are ever going to coexist peacefully at the gym:

  1. Thou shalt not be a dick with the towels.

For those members who pay for and use the towel service, two towels is perfectly reasonable.  Don’t be an asshole and take a stack of five.  One for your body which then becomes one for your feet to stand on while the other (unused) towel can be used for spot drying and general modesty protection (refer to The Locker Room Commandments linked above).  They are not for playing “spooky ghost”, wiping ones ass, or running around flicking other dudes in the ass.

If you are doing double (or even triple) duty as far as workouts go, you can request an extra towel as long as it’s being used for either the purposes of drying off or standing on.  Period.

  1. Thou shalt not hog the handicap shower stall.

Using and occupying the reserved shower head and bench that will likely occupy a corner of the shower area for those who need a little extra assistance is simply not cool; no matter how quick you think you’re going to be.  This is the equivalent of occupying a handicapped parking space so you can just “run in to the bank”, or “pick up a few items from the grocery store”.

Nobody cares how quick you are, you’re still being an asshole for parking in a handicap spot.

And, yes, I know how much fun it can be to use the attached manual shower head as a pretend microphone and belt out rousing shower renditions of ‘Great Balls of Fire’ for all your naked able-bodied friends, but don’t do it.

  1. Thou shalt keep thyne eyes forward as all times.

While it is already a well-established rule that one should always keep their nakedness to a minimum, it is also the obligation and responsibility of the others present to keep their eyes to themselves.

Let’s face it, the locker room being men-only, is wall-to-wall butts, balls and penises and therefore you should definitely never look at any other man’s private parts in any other way but purely accidental (like HERE and HERE).  Should you need to actually engage someone in conversation (which is not recommended, for the record – see Rule #9 of The Locker Room Commandments), one should lock their gaze straight ahead to a neutral position such as another locker, the ground, bench, or the ceiling, anywhere but the other dudes junk…no matter how impressive or intimidating.

  1. Thou shalt not poke, pick, prod or otherwise fondle their junk.

I get it, its Man’s inherent nature to explore himself when naked.  But for the love of God, do it at home.  Light some candles; put a little ‘Smooth Operator on, whatever, but do it quietly and do it where others have no opportunity to bear witness.

  1. Thou shalt practice water conservation.

The most common violation in terms of the future of mankind is allowing the water to run while shaving. It is an insidious, entitled habit which will doom all of humanity to a future of drought and privation.

It also poisons the locker room dynamic.  On the one hand, there is the shaver, perhaps blithe but nonetheless sinning.  Then there is the observer (i.e. myself), for whom the endless stream of water is an insult, representing, as it does, a conception of nature that is at once exploitative and deeply harmful. There can be no verbal admonishments in the locker room so the observer is left to swallow bitterly his outrage and cast dirty looks in the mirror.  Do not let the water run while you shave.  Don’t be an asshole.  Think of the children.

  1. Thou shalt not touch another man’s faucet.

Nuff said (click HERE)…

  1. Thou shalt not readth the daily scripture in the shitter.

Seriously, guys who like to hang out in the toilets all day with the daily news need to be rounded up and systematically sterilized.  Most of us when we hit the gym are time crunched so when Mother Nature calls we don’t want to spend the better part of our workout time waiting for these dipshits to read the Sports pages while they squeeze out their daily strangle.  Get in, do your business, get the fuck out.  And clean up after yourselves for God sakes!

If you want to hang out and catch up on all the daily gossip and developing headlines over a lingering bowel movement, stay the fuck home and do it in the comforts of your own bathroom as the rest of us simply want to take a shit.

  1. Thou shalt conduct thyneself respectfully in all locker politics, both pre and post shower.

There are only two parties in the locker room: the Occupier of said space and the Desirer of it. The property of these two men is often in adjacent lockers. Once the Occupier becomes aware of the Desirer, he must make a good faith effort to step aside. Depending on what stage he is in, this might mean continuing with an increased clip or, and this is what often does not happen, grabbing what few remaining items he has left and relocating within the same aisle to allow the Desirer, in turn, to become the Occupier.

As for the Desirer, he must have patience and prudence. If there is no space to access one’s locker, or even if there is but none to perform the act of drying and dressing, he must wait. However, he may adopt the slightly bored but nonetheless recognizably covetous look as to indicate he is waiting.

(Note: There is a 90-second grace period for both sides.)

  1. Thou shalt towel himself off thoroughly and quickly in the shower area.

Toweling off from a shower is perhaps the most important element in locker room etiquette for, from it, follow a host of complications. If one does not dry off one’s feet before one return’s to one’s locker, the trail of water will trigger the impulse of other members to place their bags onto the benches and thereby making the politics between Occupier and Desirer more strained.  Likewise, if one does not properly dry off ones balls, penis and butt area, this might lead to butt-in-face problems later on so drying off must be done quickly and thoroughly in the close proximity of (or even inside) the shower itself prior to accessing the locker room.

  1. Thou shalt not pee in the shower.

This was recognized in my previous Locker Room Commandments (actually, it came up on lists of other commandments as well) but it’s worth reiterating again.  When I see a yellow rivulet heading toward the drain in a communal shower, there is not enough bleach in the world to make me stop screaming.

  1. Thou shalt not whistle, hum or sing in the shower.

I get it, you’re hap-hap-fucking-happy with how your workout went but, still, don’t.  It’s creepy.  You’re not loitering on a street corner somewhere trying to spot your next mark* are you?  No.  So, unless you’re about to break out into some dance with your buddies, cut with the whistling bullshit will ya?

  1. Thou shalt not make unnecessary noises whilst showering.

Unless they are auditioning for an Oil of Olay commercial, no one needs to make all those moaning and groaning noises.  Sure it feels good, we get it.  But they don’t also need to make with the “ooo’s” and “ahhh’s” …that shit is creepy.

  1. Thou shalt not wear a shower cap.

Seriously, grandma?

  1. Thou shalt not use a bar of soap.

In today’s day and age, there is no need to bring your soap to the shower in bar form; especially given that we’ve all likely seen the same prison films.  Use a shower gel instead, like Axe Body Wash, and never use gels and lotions with less-than-masculine sounding fragrances like ‘Evening Primrose’, ‘Glacial Mist’, or ‘Lilac Explosion’.  If it doesn’t smell like a mix of alcohol and ball sweat, it is likely off limits for your usage.

In the unfortunate circumstance where you have in fact, “dropped the soap”, do not bend over to retrieve it.  Instead perform a quick, protected squat in order to retrieve your item and spare everyone around you that awkward moment.

  1. Thou shalt not insert thyne phallus into any random hole or openings of any sort.

I don’t know what it is about some men, but whenever they see a hole in something they immediate begin to wonder what it’d be like to stick their dick in it.  This type of behavior has no place in the gym, the locker room, and the shower room especially – anywhere actually as this never ends up terribly well for anyone in real life scenarios so leave it for the amateur porn videos, fellas.’

*Unless it’s ‘The Colonel’s Bogie‘ in which case, it is absolutely mandatory that it be completed through to the very end and that everybody join in with you.


That Voodoo That I Do

Posted: November 10, 2017 in Equipment, Gym, Injuries and Owies

And so it begins – the official off-season training program.

In truth, it actually started a while ago but I have begun to get myself back into a daily/weekly routine enabling me to cover all my swimming, biking, running and strength-building bases and already, these workouts comprise approximately 12-15 hours of my week.

I know, I know…I’m bat shit crazy but I’m owning it.

(Or so I keep telling myself anyway)

One of main priorities right now is to repair the badly atrophied muscles in my legs following my Iron Disaster this past June; my right leg specifically.  To that regard, I have added a new toy to my daily strength-building program – be it core at home in my basement or with the weights at the gym – the Voodoo Band (or “Voodoo Floss”).


And no, sadly, a “Voodoo Band” is not the name of some hip and rocking swing band.

Essentially, a Voodoo Band is an essential tool that, really, should be a staple tool in the gym bags of every athlete looking to improve range, restore joint mechanics, or unglue matted down or previously injured tissue.

Or so the advertising websites tell me, anyway.

What is really is, is a thick stretchy compression band that one can wrap around their limb (in my case, the muscles of my right thigh and Iliotibial band area) to allow the re-perfusing of tissues that have become stiff or gone cold after injury, and by compressing swelling out of tissues and joints.  Because the Voodoo Band can be used while actually performing the movement the athlete is trying to change, its effect on sliding surface and restoration and tissue mobilization is (apparently) unmatched.

I was first introduced to the Voodoo band on one of my visits to Legacy Health & Performance when Dr. Burr pulled one out during one our sessions.  My first instinct was to cower in the corner like a whipped puppy seeing as how the band – at first glance – kind of resembles something a headmaster might use to discipline an errant student.  Likewise, I’m pretty sure I saw this thing in a fetish video once at a Stag party years ago.

Either way, I was not exactly looking forward to it.

Thankfully, Dr. Burr started to wrap only the muscles of my right leg in it before asking me to perform a series of movements that, prior to this moment, had ached whenever I performed this same movement.  And low and behold, the pain had almost subsided entirely once wrapped in this thick rubber band.

Okay, that’s cool.

Had someone told me about the benefits of the Voodoo Band without my actually having tried it first, I would have assumed that naming it “Voodoo” was just a great marketing ploy to entice lay-people like myself into purchasing one and trying it out but, hey, there is definitely something to this bad ass looking stretchy thing.  Not long afterwards, I saw the band mentioned again in a book (also recommended by Dr. Burr) I had started to read called ‘Ready to Run: Unlocking Your Potential to Run Naturally’ by Dr. Kelly Starrett.  In fact, there’s a whole section dedicated to it.

If you believe Starrett, the Voodoo Band is the be all and end all of helping to cure what ails ya, runner-style.

And you know what?

I do believe him.

This Dr. Starrett fella sure doesn’t look like your typical emaciated, skinny-ass, sleek, greyhound looking Kenyan marathoner.  No, sir!  He’s a large, burly, ripped muscle guy with tattoos.  The kind of tattoos that mean “watch out, motherfucker!”  and not “hey, let me read you some poems about my vegan bicycle”.  Upon first glance, you might better picture him as the kind of person you’d expect to murder you while quietly humming to himself as opposed to out running endless hill repeats in the back country.  In other words, if this guy can run regularly and naturally, and without injury, then there might just be something to this whole Voodoo thingee.

What have I got to lose?

According to Starrett (and Dr. Burr), the Voodoo band is an instrumental tool in restoring the sliding surface between the layers of fascia, creating a omnipotent shearing effect that unglues those sticky sliding surfaces, helps to restore range of motion, floods the affected area with nutrient-rich blood, and helping to reduce swelling while reviving the joint.

Sounds totally boffo, right?

But what’s all that mean?

Well, beneath the skin there are two thick “layers” of fascia. The layer associated with the skin is the Superficial Fascial Membrane. There is another layer which is very closely associated with muscle and skeleton, called the Deep Fascial Membrane. The deeper layer is not simply a “wrap” around muscles and soft tissues, but is also integrated within these structures to pass force and information in every direction.

The superficial fascia is attached to the dermis via “skin ligaments”, called the Retinaculum Cutis Superficialis (RCS). The superficial fascia is attached to the deep fascia via more soft tissue bridges, call the Retinaculum Cutis Profundus (RCP).

Still with me?

Fascial layers are densely populated with all sorts of receptors, most notably mechanoreceptors. In case you didn’t catch that, this means that fascia is like a loud-speaker to the brain, saying “Hey, something is moving down here in your less intelligent tissues. Howzabout you get involved, all up in here?”.  Stack that with the fact that joint capsules (previously thought to be our main source of proprioception) are considered to provide strong feedback only during end range stretch/compression, I think we can safely assume that fascia is a key component in neurological feedback loops, especially related to movement.

So, how does this apply to the Voodoo Band/Floss?

It’s simple really.

voodoo-flossThe strong elastic compression will quickly alter fascia’s relation to all other aspects of the neuromusculoskeletal system when you move with it on.  It would likely take some tension out of certain areas of the fascia, shifting it to other areas via strong intra-sling/intra-layer tension redistribution and inter-layer shear.  Yeah, it’s all about the tensegrity, baby.

So what does this mean now?

Basically, it can massively alter neural input by making a quick change in the mechanical transmission of the fascial system (and its many mechanoreceptors) when moving underneath some strong compression and “stretchy-pulley forces”.

Yes, that’s the technical term.

What’s the ultimate take-away here:  looking at the Voodoo Band simply as a compression mechanism is quite simplistic, since the vast majority of users will wrap themselves up and move. 

Even simpler put:

Compression + Tension + Movement = Fibrosis release.

So wrap myself up and move I will.

Through a whole host of movements actually; squatting, lunging, and stretching specifically.  And here’s the important part, it feels good – during and after.  In a few short weeks I have noticed a significant improvement in all my former “ouchie places” and the power I once had is now beginning to restore itself and this pleases me.

And even when the pain and discomfort is no longer prevalent or a problem, I’m still planning to keep with the Voodoo Band during my strength routines as a pervasive action in order to stave off future injuries and that definitely can’t be a bad thing.

Oh, and hey, I also figure walking around the gym or at home with this bad ass thing wrapped around me isn’t exactly going to damage my street cred any as a total shit-kicker either, could it?

(Or so I keep telling myself anyway)

Calculating Gym Vanity

Posted: October 31, 2016 in Gym, Lifestyle

soyfcbmbip2lI am slowly beginning to get back into a semi-regular strength building program involving weights.  I genuinely like throwing around the heavy iron in the off-season as it makes me feel all manly n’ shit but, being in the gym with other people… well, not so much.

In fact, sometimes it outright pisses me off.

I actually do my very best to choose times to go to the gym and do my weights routine when I can anticipate that there – hopefully – will not be a whole lot of other people there.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’m anti-social, or dislike other people (well, most of the time anyway), shit, sometimes, I even like to people watch in between sets.  C’mon, the gym is a pretty unique environment where, typically, people-watching is considered a total bonus.  Just search YouTube for videos on “strange gym behavior”; hours of endless entertainment, I promise you.

However, it doesn’t always turn out that way and sometimes I just end up getting aggravated as I did this past weekend.  Over the course of 60 minutes or so, I shared the gym with five other gym-goers and pretty much the whole time, they were just occupied taking selfies.

Here’s me standing on a treadmill; here’s me looking all fierce on a gym bench; here’s me posing with some dumbbells I might actually lift…

Why they were even there – beats the living shit out of me.

Once again, don’t get me wrong, I’m not necessarily “anti-selfie” as I have been accused.  I think selfies and “documenting the moment”, as you will, can be fun.  I get it, this is the age of instant expression and accessibility.  However, I don’t believe that every waking moment of every waking day 100% needs to be documented and posted for the world to admire…especially when you’re at the gym.

You’re supposed to be – you know – getting healthy.

So this prompted me to do a little “gym math”.

Hey, what else are ya gonna do when all the equipment is occupied with people zoned into their cell phones?

But I’ll come back to that.

First things first.

So of the five people present in the gym this past Saturday and over the course of the 60 minutes I was in the gym, I counted 47 different selfies.

Now, I’m sure I likely missed one or two seeing as how, well, I was WORKING OUT…so let’s round that number to 50, shall we?

That’s a stupid amount of selfies if you ask me.  It’s almost as if they’re operating under the pretense that if they didn’t snap that selfie to capture the moment, it (ie. the workout) didn’t really happen.

So, based on these numbers we can assume that the average gym-goer (at least on this day) took on the average, 10 selfies within that time frame.  So over the course of 60 minutes that’s literally one selfie every 6 minutes.

But let’s take it even one step further.

Assuming it takes, gee, let’s say 1 minute to pose (actually, I think it’s closer to two minutes, but I’m not going to nitpick and I’m choosing to give everyone the benefit of the doubt), snap and then post each of your selfies to Facebook, Instagram, or whatever other social media platform you choose to embrace and share each and every mundane detail of your life over, that equates to a mere 4 minutes between selfies in which to, you know, do shit.

Lift.  Crunch.  Plank.  Squat.


So of our original 60 minutes of “working out”, we’re already down to 40 minutes of actual activity…assuming, of course, that you take absolutely no pauses or breaks in between sets, reps, getting drinks of water, replacing equipment, setting up, moving about the gym or what have you.

In other words: impossible.

Maybe – at best – you’re actually engaged in lifting weights or otherwise doing healthy shit for about 20-25 minutes (and I feel like I’m being very generous here based on what I observed).  The rest of the time, really – exactly 40 minutes worth by my calculations – you’re basically just sitting there documenting your inactivity.

This is what annoys me about selfies at the gym.

I’m all for being proud of your progress and whatnot, but that’s what the mirrors are for (that, and making sure you’re practicing good form, etc.).  They were not initially intended as a photographic aid.    And did you really need to take a zillion shots of you making ducky lips with your half-caf mocha-coco-bullshit-ccino and fancy Beats headphones?  I mean, how narcissistic can you get?

Its grounds for instant “unfriending” in my books!

The other thing to remember is that while you sit there and take endless pics of your mug until you get just the right one that best encapsulates your lazy ass sitting on a bench thinking about getting all ripped, jacked or God knows what it is you’re trying to do, you’re occupying a piece of equipment that I might actually want to use.

It’s maddening.


But in the off chance you insist on taking your selfies, here’s a video offering you a little advise:

You’re welcome.

(Click HERE for ‘Part 1’ of the journey)

For anyone who’s never stepped foot inside a gym, it can be a pretty scary place.

First off, there’s enormous muscle men all pressing weights as heavy as minivans, and then there’s the uber-fit cardio bunny’s all bustling and sweating away on machines of all shapes and sizes (click HERE for more of an insight in the particular ‘Gym Types’ you’ll encounter at your local gym).  To the uninitiated, the gym is like this Utopian society consisting of nothing but buff, beautiful people; Shangri-La all decked out in trendy compression wear.

I was pretty sure that the only reason why I was ever admitted in the first place was to serve as a walking reminder to all these perfectly toned fitness models of what would inevitably happen to them if they stopped frequenting the place.

I was a walking “Don’t Be This Guy” hazard sign, if you will.

But, despite this anxiety, I knew going to a gym was the next logical step in my new ‘Get Healthy” regime as, thanks to my daily walks, my skin was starting to hang off my body in the absence of not having all the usual layers of fat to cling to.  Don’t get me wrong, losing weight felt awesome but I was beginning to feel like one of those little Shar Pei dogs and I needed to start developing my poorly abused and under-worked muscles.

However, when I first contemplated going to the gym – as you might expect – I didn’t know my ass from a dumbbell.  I first searched out and visited a few prospective gyms in my area but they usually came with some unreasonable yearly contract, or demanded that you submit to an initial fitness assessment upon joining and there was no way I was going to have my health scrutinized by one of these muscle heads as I was already painfully aware of my current fitness level – pathetic.

In short, none of them felt like a place where I would be able to confidently walk through the front door, much less workout in.  These places were full of the types of guys who inevitably tormented me at high school dances and in the change room with wedgies, nugies and swirlies, and there was no fucking way I was simply walking into the belly of the beast.  So I decided to settle for a basic monthly membership at my local YMCA instead.  That doesn’t mean that going for the first time was any less intimidating as there were still guys with arms the size of tree trunks grunting and groaning through whatever medieval torture routine they happened to be inflicting on themselves.

But there were other types of people there too; ordinary non-athletic looking people like me, and that was reassuring.

Oh, and the sole vending machine on the premises also had a distinct lack of cheeseburgers.


At first I just fudged my way around and tried everything.  I hopped on and tried all the elliptical, stair-climber and treadmill machines, pushed and pulled at some of the weighted resistance equipment and otherwise tried to blend in even though I really had no idea what I was doing.  At least I was being active and engaging my body in something resembling exercise.  My sore muscles the next day reassured me of that.  Most importantly, I was hoisting things that weren’t cheeseburgers and candy bars.  I was working up a sweat and so, little by little, the weight continued to fade away and in turn, my body started to get stronger.

I developed a healthy addiction to ‘Men’s Health’ magazine and tried all the recommended workouts and exercises aimed at burning fat, trimming my waistline, acquiring ‘ripped, xylophone-like abs’, and giving me the unlimited stamina to boff all my future girlfriends like the stud I was meant to be.

How could I resist?

I am a total sucker for effective advertising and these magazines definitely appeared to my damaged ego and sense of imminent horniness, what can I say?

Eventually my visits to the gym started becoming very emotional and often intense.  I began to go to the gym in the same way others frequented, say, church.  The gym had become my own place of worship where I could quietly atone for all my past years’ worth of sin.  I didn’t just saddle up to an exercise bike and go for a leisurely pedal anymore; I attacked it like a crazed Viking.  There were times, when in a fit of what must have been pure testosterone and soaring adrenaline levels when I thought I might fling the machine through the window, beat my chest like a gorilla and grab the nearest spandex-clad gym bunny and climb out to the roof to await the fighter jets.  It really got that intense and that was all very new territory for me.  Before, I’d be happy to just make it back from the corner store with a bag of Doritos before the season premiere of ‘X-Files’ started, and now here I was engaging in 30-minute Interval sessions on a treadmill.

I even returned to racquet sports and started to play squash regularly with a colleague from work (my boss, no less) and together we joined a friendly recreational group of players who played most mornings at 5-fucking-30am.  Usually, this would be the time I was crawling home from the bar…not heading to the gym for a round of squash.

This was a complete 180-degree turnaround lifestyle-wise.

Gradually, after frequenting the gym five to six days a week, I learned that there was a certain, delicate code of conduct that enabled everyone to play nicely with others.  The gym, after all, is a fragile ecosystem unlike no other.  All one has to do to validate this notion is to wander into the middle of their gym at its peak hour and close their eyes.  It’s like you’ve been instantly transported to the remotest, wildest, unexplored region of the planet.  Besides all the heavy clanging and clamor of heavy metal being mashed together, there are people making noises similar to hissing cats, growling bears, angry squirrels and what have you.  I’m pretty sure I even heard a guy fart through his nose once while struggling to finish his final set of weights.  It’s like you’re suddenly all alone in some weird alien petting zoo.   I eventually learned that while it’s perfectly acceptable to sweat, grunt and make unnatural faces, it’s still no reason to forget your manners.  Besides, if you cram large groups of narcissistic people into confined places with ample pieces of blunt iron lying around, you’re bound to have problems if there isn’t a proper predetermined code of conduct.  And given that even the old woman doing a zillion crunches in the corner could probably kick my ass I figured I’d better figure out – fast – the most effective way to blend in while still getting my workout in unscathed.

For this reason, I created and adhered to my own set of ‘Ordinary Man’s Guide to Gym Etiquette and Survival’ (click HERE – bearing in mind that I still smoked pot at this point so this old post was geared more towards hippies than “ordinary” guys).

Whatever, I still continue to follow these same principles today.

Anyway, the fat continued to drop off my body and I started to build some muscle and, consequentially, I was also beginning to develop something I hadn’t experienced very often:  pride.  Furthermore, and maybe most importantly, I wasn’t so immediately repulsed by my own reflection in the mirror and, believe me, there are no shortage of mirrors at the gym.  I figure this is the gym’s way of reminding you to work hard.

Yes, things were definitely looking up but I was becoming restless.  I still walked periodically, but these workouts had been mostly replaced by things I could do indoors at the gym.

And it was getting boring.

It had been nearly two years since my turnaround from my old habits and I was beginning to crave something new – a different challenge perhaps – something in which to show off my new athletic prowess, basic as it was.  I wanted something different to sink my teeth into.  I felt like I had something to prove to myself, I just wasn’t sure what it was yet.  It was around this time that fate finally stepped in and dropped the gauntlet down squarely before me by offering me the one thing that would eventually consume me for the seven years up to the present.

And it all happened innocently enough:

“Why don’t we do a triathlon”?

I looked at my brother like he had just suggested that we castrate each other in some ritual ceremony by the light of a full moon.  My physical reaction was probably akin to had he just tried to tie my nipples into balloon knots.

“Get the fuck out of here!”, I responded.

You see, my most vivid (and only) recollection of triathlon came at a very early age when I was just 10 years old.  Most likely, I was lazing around on the couch at home and hefting an Oh, Henry!  to my mouth to pass the time – doing as little as possible – waiting for the dinner bell to ring.  It was 1982 and TSN, which was new at the time, was broadcasting the live Ironman competition from Kona, Hawaii and Julie Moss was on the final leg of her marathon and wearing that geeky baseball cap.

I liked watching sports.

I just wasn’t very good at playing them.

What she was doing was completely lost on me as I had no concept then of the distances involved, or what the scope and magnitude of what she was attempting to accomplish was.  I don’t even think I knew where Hawaii was.  Sure, she was running…but she was also walking.  How hard could that be?  I probably would have likely changed the channel had there been something more interesting on.

But then the broadcast took a decided different tone when shit – actual shit – started to stream down Julie’s leg as she began to weeble-wobble, eventually toppling over completely…over and over again.  She would then get up…and collapse right back down again down (click HERE to see for yourself).

The fuck?

What I didn’t know then is that her body was basically beginning to shut down (referred to as “hitting the wall”) and she was ultimately losing control of her ability to function normally as a result of the extreme hardship that she had placed on it over the course of 226.2 kilometers of racing.

My thought?

“Eww”, immediately followed by: “is she retarded or something?”

Hey, I was 10 years old and it was 1982 so that was a perfectly acceptable thing to think.

Anyway, Julie would eventually lose the race to Kathleen McCartney only mere meters from the finish line but I didn’t care, I just knew that triathlon was definitely not  for me.  So when my brother suggested this very notion some 25 years later I thought:

“No fucking way am I ever going to risk shitting myself in public!”


That’s fucking crazy.

Of course, my brother wasn’t suggesting we tackle an Ironman, he was suggesting we do something less than total batshit crazy, like a shorter (much shorter) “Try-a-Tri”…for, you know, beginners.  Once this was explained to me I began to give it some serious consideration.

I still had my doubts considering that I hadn’t swum since grade school, and even then it was just to play tag at the local community pool.  I didn’t own a bike.

And running?


But I won’t deny it, I was curious.

I mean, how else was I ever going to put this newly acquired fitness to the test?  The distances seemed reasonable:  a 400m swim, a 10k bike ride, and a 2.5k run.  My walks around the neighborhood up to that point were easily longer than that so, hey, maybe this was  entirely possible.

Besides, I was beginning to feel the stirrings of sibling rivalry rear its ugly head.  My brother has always been fitter than me…always has.  When I was eating candy bars he was out playing.  Later in life while I was drinking beer, smoking pot and staying out late, he was in the gym or doing something active.  In university he studied physical fitness to become a phys-ed teacher for Christ sake.  Clearly, we were very different apples that just happened to fall off the same tree.

But here’s where fate really  steps in:

The very next day a poster appeared on the YMCA message board announcing that there was going to be a new triathlon club starting up…for beginners.  There was going to be organized swimming and running groups as well as a triathlon specific “Brick Class”.  I didn’t know what a “Brick class” was and it scared me to the bone.  It sure didn’t sound fun.  However, it was all going to be provided at my local YMCA for no extra cost aside from my normal monthly membership, so how could I refuse?

It was as if Fate itself had just stepped out from the shadows and bitch-slapped me.

Reluctantly, I picked up the phone and called my brother that same day.

“Okay, let’s do it.”

(to be con’d…)

After a long weekend and an even longer night on Sunday thanks to a whiney, grumpy 10-year-old with a bellyache that may or may not have been a real issue, I was feeling the need to burn off a little anxiety yesterday.  I decided then that I’d test the waters a little and try out the Circuit training class that runs for 45 minutes before my own Masters Spin class that I teach on Monday nights.  After all, I’m starting to gear up for the “big burn” which I know has to happen shortly so I’m exploring new options to add to the routine as per my 2016 goals (click HERE).

My only familiarity with this class for the past year or so, has been sitting on the bench waiting for the ladies to finish up so I can begin rolling out the spin bikes for class.  By the looks of things they were working pretty hard but it didn’t look too  challenging.  After all, I’m a triathlete and past Ironman right?  What real benefit could I gain from a 45 minute workout when my own “easy” workouts typically last nothing less than an hour?  Besides, it’s all girls. It can’t be that  hard.

What an idiot I can be.

I remembered way back when I tried “Crossfit” (click HERE) a few years ago but I realize now that what I was doing then wasn’t really crossfit (which was still relatively new and not as hugely popular as it is now), it was Circuit training.  This became all too aware to me about 5 minutes into yesterday’s workout, but I’ll get there.

The workout, lead by Andi, was designed to be 12 different plyometric exercises (click HERE) to be run for 1 minute at a time with a 15 second break in order to rest and move onto the next “station”.  I opted to start with the jumping jacks.  Yes, they were the easiest as Andi was quick to point out jokingly, but I figured I’d start easy and then build myself into the harder and more intense exercises I figured were to follow and end with the sprinting exercise at the end.  That’s my story anyway.

Remember, I’m an idiot.

Anyhow, 1 minute of jumping jacks was no big deal, but I did begin to sweat a bit.

Good start.

Next, I moved to the V-sit station, otherwise known as “Boat Pose” for all you yogi’s out there.  I have included boat pose into my usual off season core routine for years so I felt I was in a good position (no pun intended) to rock this shit out just as I had done with the jumping jacks.  However, 20 seconds into my V-sit and I was like, “hey, this is pretty fucking hard” as my core muscles began to bitch and complain.  Then it hit me: I haven’t really done any core or upper body strength conditioning since April/May when I switched my training to a more outdoor orientated endurance focused program.

Shit, this might really suck after all and the sweat just definitely beginning to flow.

The next circuit was side-planks which I can do fairly well, not that this prevented any of the sweat from flowing, that’s for sure.

Next up was Burpees.  Oh sweat Jesus, no.  Not the burpees!


If you remember anything about my ranting about burpees before (see link above), I hate fucking burpees.  I even hate Royal H. Burpee for conjuring up this god forsaken exercise.  Couple that with the fact that Andi added this new little kick out with the legs at the end and, yeah, it totally sucked balls.  After the 30 seconds or so, I was sweating like the pig who knows he’s dinner and my bandana was producing a slow and steady stream of sweat down my face.  By the 1 minute mark I felt 100% spent and was wondering how I was ever going to complete the rest of this circuit.  Making matters worse, the other 3 ladies in the class looked like this was just another day at the office and making it all look so simple.

My motivation was definitely beginning to wane some.

After those stupid burpees, it was skipping.  Now I can’t skip to save my life but, actually, it wasn’t so bad and I was able to more or less keep a decent skip going without too much interruption.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Take THAT you Grade 3 playground bitches!  FINALLY!  Something that was better suited to my preference for cardio-related exercise; a singular repetitive action held for a specific duration of time.

By this time the sweat was now volleying off my brow with every hop, skip and jump as my bandana had reached its maximum saturation point.

Next on the Devil’s circuit was push-ups.  Thank Christ!  Something I can do to show off my imminent manliness.

I assumed the position and on the final count of 15 seconds, started to put on what I figured was going to be a total display of upper body uber-awesomeness. “Hey ladies, check this shit out”, I thought.  After all, I like to rock out the medicine ball push-ups in my workout warm-ups, so normal push-ups would be easy right?


I got to about 18 and my arms and shoulders started to give out.  Ho-lee shit.  By this point, a pool of bodily fluid had formed under my forehead where the sweat was now cascading off in a complete Angel Falls-esque deluge.  After 22 push-ups (about 45 seconds into the circuit), I had to take a break.

Not. Good.

Next up was the “Up and Down Plank”; rising and lowering yourself up and down on your forearms which, after all those push-ups ranked up there with dipping my forearms in battery acid.  I think I managed for the whole minute but, truthfully, I also think I was hallucinating by this point so I may not have.  I don’t rightly remember.  What I do remember is that the mat underneath me was a total lake of sweat and tears meaning, of course, that all the other ladies coming into the station after me would now have to do their own routine in a pool of my rankness.

Sorry girls.

The side-to-side bench jump was next; hopping back and forth over a bench.  As much as this sucked, I know from my limited experience with plyometrics that this is an ideal exercise for runners so I tried my best to cinch up the ‘ol apple sack and get ‘em done.  I think I managed about a dozen or so before having to take a quick break lest I suffer a total cardiac arrest and end up doing a face plant into the bench.  By now, I was dripping fluids from just about everywhere and my shirt, shorts and bandanas was now carrying about 10 extra lbs of moisture.  I swear, I think even my eyeballs were sweating.

The other ladies though were still smiling, joking, and chatting amongst themselves.  Me?  I had forgotten what my name was and my motivation was somewhere between “fuck this shit”  and non-existent, particularly since I realized that only 10 minutes had passed.  So much for being an Ironman, ha!

The next 15 second transition couldn’t come soon enough.

Mountain Climbers” were next.   Now, it has to be said, I like my mountain climbers like I like my burpees like I like hot lead being poured down my pants. “Andi, you suck”, I thought to myself.  Luckily (or ‘unluckily’, depending on what side of the tipping point you prefer to look at it), my Morton’s Neuroma didn’t bother me so bad and I was able to do about a dozen without much pain or discomfort.  I confess though, I did cheat a bit when Andi’s back was turned and I assumed the child’s pose for a few seconds.

I was dying.

After what seemed like an hour, she blew the whistle signaling us to move on.

The wide grip “lat pull down” with bungee strap was next on her hit list.  Any thoughts I had of this being easy were immediately shot down when my chest muscles were aching after about 20 seconds.


Stop the madness.

“Bent over row” with 15 lbs weights were immediately afterwards and, while not torturous thanks to my swim conditioning, they certainly weren’t “easy” after two minutes of lighting my chest muscles on fire with that damned bungee strap.  A lake of pain and disappointment was now forming on the floor underneath my brow while I struggled through this second to last exercise.

The whistle blew again and I moved to the last exercise to complete the circuit: sprints.

Well, they weren’t sprints so much as they were a slow, painful shuffle between gym walls.  However, I gritted through it as, like the skipping, this was within my endurance-based wheelhouse.  I will admit though, I’ve never been happy to hear that final whistle blow completing…the first  circuit.

Fuck. Wait.

You mean I have to do this all over UH-again?

For the past 15 minutes, a not-so-small snail trail of sweat and tears was being left behind me in a grosser, moister breadcrumb trail from station to station.  How in the Sam hell was I ever going to do this one more time?  Maybe I would be lucky and Andi would offer us a 13th exercise, a Colt 45 to the temple in order to put me out of my misery (I’d say “We” here, but the other ladies looked perfectly fine).  So much for my thinking that this wouldn’t be “too  challenging” and I made a mental note to never believe myself again.

My realization here is that endurance training is fine and dandy, and I have taught myself to endure long sustained painful efforts, but this short and fast circuit shit really fucking sucks.  Meaning, it’s perfect for what I believe I need right now in order to begin rebuilding my fitness base, lose weight and start preparing for more the focused strength training to come.  I wasn’t terribly happy with this realization at this particular point in time, mind you, but there it was.

Somehow, through the grace of God, I managed to persevere through another round of torture, being mindful to flip the mats after me for the ladies since I was by now leaking profusely from every pour.  So much so, it was hard to not slip and slide all over the place during some of my exercises (again, that’s my story).  As a warm down we had to do 5 minutes of abdominal exercises including reverse and bicycle crunches.  Basically, this was just adding insult to injury by this point as I could barely hold my legs in the air and lied there like a bloated beached whale.

Finally, the 45 minutes passed.

The bad news: I need work…LOTS of work.  The good news: I now have my inspiration to get back at it if any of this Ironman business is ever going to happen in July.  My goal now (as much as I am loathe to say it), is to join this class each week for the next few months to begin burning off all the craft beer and tapas plates I’ve indulging in lately and build back my core strength that, somewhere down the road, I’ve managed to lose altogether.

Yup.  One thing is for certain, it’s going to be a long, upward (not to mention wet) struggle this winter.

God help me.

So it seems to be, that every few months or so, I tend to encounter some sort of bizarre behavior at the gym as I document as acknowledge with a ‘Gym J. Bullock’ (click HERE) award, or as simply another story in my on-going ‘Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…’  series (click HERE and HERE).  Oh, and lest we forget the Black Mamba (click HERE).

And as far as weird-ass behavior goes, today was definitely the day.

Now, for matter of reference sake, I recently just moved my gym membership at the YMCA to the more local branch since HRH  is no longer taking swimming lessons through the original branch.  It’s all good though as I genuinely love this new branch. I like their approach to creating and supporting the local community, I like the people who work there, and I like that they let me yell at people for 60 minutes every Monday night as a spin instructor.  The only downside is that they don’t have all the frou-frou amenities that the other gyms provided, like a “Member’s Plus” change room to use; it’s “gen pop” all the way.  Now, a locker room is a locker room at the end of the day with all the usual assortment of wacko’s, weirdo’s, and people for whom there are really no words, but now that I’m without the beloved safe haven of the “Member’s Plus” change room, I have about a dozen pre-pubescent boys staring at my junk every time I change and get showered.

“Hey peanut, quit staring at my lunch box.”


Anyway, it is what it is and usually I’m there early in the morning or later in the evening so it’s not so bad. This morning, however, the gates didn’t so much ‘open’ as they completely and epically failed on a grandiose New Orleans levee scale and a total watershed of imminent craziness flooded out all over the place. I guess that didn’t sound so good, so allow me to explain…

I finished my morning swim workout as per usual without incident.  Of course, there were all the usual “swim types” to deal with as well as all the typical issues as they relate to lane swimming, but I just consider  these things now as an occupational hazard of being in the pool.  I like to think it teaches me patience.  Anyway, after I finished I made my way into the showers – as you typically do – and that’s when all the craziness started.

In the shower already was an old guy who looked as if he’d already spent the better part of the morning there.  He didn’t seem to be washing, rinsing or any other of the standard things you might expect to see someone doing in the shower.  No, he was just kinda standing there…passing time.  Even more disconcerting was the big shit-eating grin that he had spread over his face as he stood there loitering away under his stream of water.  Seriously, he was the kind of guy that my teachers in grade school warned me about getting into vans with.  Had there been anywhere else to shower at the time, certainly, I would have been there.

As it is now, the shower area is pretty small with only 5 shower heads so even if you’re at opposite ends of the shower area, you’re still in close proximity with anyone else who might also be sharing the vicinity, as this guy was.  So I returned his creepy ass smile politely (and modestly I might add) before immediately casting my eyes to the floor and started making with the suds.  Now it also needs to be mentioned here that the showers at this particular gym also utilize a “water conservation” approach, where the facet shuts off after a minute or so and therefore reducing the amount of water waste.  That potentially means that mid-suds, you might have to reach over and reactivate the shower head should it turn off in order to resume your rinsing.  No big deal though, right?  And it’s usually not.  However, as I was “sudsing up” on this particular occasion the flow of water on my shower temporarily cut out, and out of the corner of my eye I see the creepy old dude in the corner come hustled over to reset the water flow for me.

Did he….just….???

Yup.  He did.

And now he was standing there grinning at me like a total psychopath waiting for some sort of friendly acknowledgement.


“Umm, thanks?”, I offered nervously.

Strange behavior as it was, I tried to pretend it didn’t happen and simply returned my eyes to the ground and proceeded with the business of scrubbing my privates.  He genuinely looked very pleased with himself though, as if he had just something incredibly noble like assisting a helpless turtle cross a busy highway or rescue a kitten from a tree, and so he continued to harbor that weird ass grin on his face as I returned to my shower.

Usually – in my experience anyway – heterosexual naked men don’t like to go anywhere near other heterosexual naked men and we approach these situations very delicately, as if coming in too close to another man’s nekkid bid’ness will result in our automatically becoming gay or something, like one of those Reed frogs who will spontaneously change  sexes for whatever reason.  Clearly, this old guy has never read the “Man Code” as it relates to these types of exposed situations.  Hopefully, though, this was just one of the “one off” circumstances that I could just laugh off (later of course) and carry on with my day.

However, in another minute or two he did it again. The water cut out and before you could say “rub a dub dub”, he comes over to reset my water…UH-again!

The fuck?!

The water  cut off as I was scrubbing my ball sack and there he was, coming to my apparent “rescue” again with that helpful expression that seemed to be fishing for some sort of acknowledgement like he had just done me this huge favor.  Bizarre!  This time, I was less cordial and gave him a strange look and proceeded back to tending to my sack.  Clearly this was not the reaction he was hoping for…not that it stopped him any.

It’s also worth noting here that, for the record, I wasn’t actively seeking this specific reaction by purposely allowing my water flow to cut out.  No, sir!  It’s just that after 90 minutes to a few hours in the pool, and I like to give myself a thorough lathering so I don’t go home smelling like the battlefields of Ypres so I often opt to let the water cut out as I’m lathering up and then just restart it when I’m ready.  Besides, I’m all for the water conservation thing anyway, so it’s no big deal.  So, for whatever reason, this guy now felt like it was his civic dude to help out when I didn’t really need or want  it.  Suffice to say, I was less than thrilled about it.

Usually, I am big advocate when it comes to “love thy neighbor” and “be kind to strangers”, but this was fucking ridiculous.  Now the guy was simply standing there desperately waiting for the opportunity to present itself so he could rush to my aid and lend a helping hand.  On the third and even fourth time, I awkwardly smiled appreciatively, but by the fifth time, I stopped acknowledging him altogether as this was beginning to get out of hand (no pun intended) and I was getting pretty aggravated, if not completely freaked out.  Clearly this guy isn’t dealing with a full deck if his morning is spent in the Men’s showers helping other dudes with their shower facets.  That’s some fucking strange ass shit!

So, now, here I was showering with someone who, for all I know, is also picturing my genitals as a potentially nice addition to his basement rec room as a lamp shade or something equally decorative.

“Yes, that’s it buddy. Get all sudsy and smooth. Here, let me help reset that water for you. Yes, that’s it.  Go on, get all sparkly clean and baby-smooth.  Boy is your nut sack going to look nice on my trophy shelf.”

Or, worse yet, he was going to come at me with a chainsaw a la Scarface.  Now, where he might have been hiding a chainsaw exactly is totally beyond imaging but the point is, had my shower not ended right then and there I was forced to spend a single moment longer with Joe Creepoid, I might have gone all Norman Bates right there and ended up beating him mercilessly within an inch of his life for violation of space, not to mention shower privacy.  After all, I’ve seen too many grizzly bathroom shower scenes that didn’t end so well in B-movie horrors (click HERE) as a kid to not take this lightly so, now, I’ve added a new rule to my ever-growing list of Locker Room Commandments:

“Thou shalt NEVER fuck with another man’s shower facet…EVER!”

Lord knows that the gym is a literal breeding ground of schmucks. From your typical bevy of weight room goons (which are many – click HERE), to the girls who monopolize the machines in order to take selfies of their boobs, to the guy who likes to trim his pubic hair on the changing room sofa, and lest we forget the Black Mamba.  Shit, you can probably even add me to this cast of characters as well given I’ve had my own fair share of awkward moments (click HERE).  And now that it’s winter and most people are taking to the indoors for their workouts, never mind the influx of current New Years Resolutioner’s, that pool of schmuck’s is a-plenty for sure.

For me, part of going to the gym is the morbid attraction to scope out these schmucks in their natural habitat.  I consider it as something to do between sets on my mat, and such was the case yesterday on a recent visit to the gym to complete a short functional strength and core routine after work. To say the gym was “busy” would be like suggesting that Miley Cyrus is merely a bit “off”.  Suffice to say, it was fucking crazy.  I could barely squeeze myself into a corner without also rubbing asses with either the tweener in neon spandex and the scary looking bearded guy in the gnarly, stained “Tap Out” t-shirt who looked like he’d sooner eat me than offer me a little room to workout out.  So, while the schmuck-watching was great, it was with great haste that I ran through my series of planks, push-ups and crunches to get the fuck out of there…which I did.

Now, if you think the actual gym floor has its fair share of wacko’s, than the locker room would be the Ground Zero from which all the imminent wackiness emanates, and yesterday proved no different. My basic strategy on any given day is to get in and get out as quickly as possible without making eye-contact, or being forced into any “howdy do’s”, etcetera and so forth; less is definitely more when it comes to the locker room in my opinion.  But, every now and again, you see something that will suddenly make you freeze in your tracks and gape in bewildered astonishment.  And such was the case yesterday, when I spotted this years’ winning recipient of the “Gym J. Bullock Award” for total and complete gym buffoonery.

It has to be said, it’s a total crap shoot each and every time you walk into the showers. It’s like blindly walking into a crime scene in that you’re never really going to know what you’re going to witness. It could be something mundane and ordinary, or it could be a total bloodbath.

And yesterday was a total bloodbath.

Upon walking into the showers and retiring to a corner showerhead I quickly and discretely took stock of my surroundings as men are prone to do when naked and, therefore, feeling vulnerable. In there with me at this specific time was the requisite old guy, some dude on the opposite side of the showers minding his own business, and…that’s it.  Perfect!  And so it went for a few minutes or so until another guy entered and sidled up to the showerhead directly next to mine.

Immediately, I was like:

Nevermind that there were any number of showerheads available elsewhere that he could have easily chosen from (seriously, choosing shower facets is like choosing urinals, you select the one as far away from everybody else as possible), it’s what he did next that completely freaked me out, earning him this years’ award hands down.  No contest.

At first, he just stood there under the cascading water, dousing himself as one typical does, but then he proceeded to fondle his junk for the next few seconds or so.  And not just “fondle” fondle, but literally tugging at himself like he was playing with a Stretch Armstrong (click HERE) or something.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I realize your frank and beans need a thorough cleaning as well – they get sweaty too – but there is a very specific point at which it becomes too much. When it comes to washing your privates, I like to observe the “five second rule” similar to when food falls on the floor; providing it’s retrieved within the allotted five second time frame, it is still safe to eat.  Well, in this case, after five seconds of scrubbing your junk, it’s no longer cleaning…it’s just fucking weird.  And this guy was the epitome of weird in the way he was pulling at it, rubbing it, and whipping it around like he was going to lasso a steer.  Honestly, it was very disconcerting.

But then seconds turned into, well, minutes, and there he still is…thwacking at it like he was trying to punish it for some misdeed or other.  Although it seemed like hours, I’m sure it was only three to four minutes he was doing this but, still, that’s a fucking long  time to spend playing with your genitals in a public shower!

But he wasn’t done yet, oh no.  After the initial round of yanking and tugging during which I was sure he was going to rip it off, he proceeded to get a fistful of soap from the dispenser and started to lather it all up…like, seriously lather up.  Okay, weird just turned to extremely awkward as, suddenly the shower area turned into an Ibiza foam party.

At this point, I had to vacate the premises…quickly. The sounds of slapping and flapping were simply too much to bear.  It was freaking me out to be perfectly honest.  And I wasn’t the only one either, as just about every other guy in the shower decided to join me in my exodus, so, clearly, I wasn’t the only one who thought this behavior was inappropriate.  Hey, when you actually manage to scare old dudes out of the showers, you just know that whatever it is you’re doing is fucking bizarre.  And this guy brought it in spades.

I think I may actually need therapy now.