At the gym 

I was doing chest this evening at Gold’s Twin Oaks, doing the usual flat and incline bench presses, flyes, triceps dips, and some other routines whose names escape me now, when a trainer approached me and asked why I haven’t joined a competition yet, perhaps referring to a bodybuilding competition. I replied that I got “no time.” Really I don’t have, but I am more daunted by the fact of appearing in front of a crowd in thongs or board shorts with a body that is less than perfect. 

Haha. I’m kidding about the last sentence, but seriously who wouldn’t be? I’m an aging man whose present concerns do not include joining a bodybuilding contest.

I’m lifting heavy these days. The heaviest I can lift lying down is 230lbs. I can deadlift 300 but can only squat 140. I’m currently weighing 200 with a BMI of 22. My weight hovers between 198 to 202lbs. The heaviest I’ve gotten is 208lbs. That’s during the summer of this year when I did not have to stay up late to prepare for my classes and other work.  I’m doing cardio only when I remember, which means I don’t. My abs appear in the morning, but retract after lunch then reappear before I sleep at night, but they are not as defined as when I was in my early 20s. I know they’re there, only that they’re surrounded by a rather thick layer of adipose tissues that some lovingly call love handles. But I am working on this part, too. 

I’ve reached a point when I workout out of routine and nothing more, not even to look good, because I’m way past the point when I’d still care about what people think of how I look. I’m out of the dating scene for more than six years now. I’ve stopped hooking up, going out on a Saturday night, and checking myself out in mirrors. 

I go to gym in the same way a bald man runs his fingers on that space that used to be occupied by his now gone hair. 

Working out is the closest I can get to that really physical activity that has shaped the male’s anatomy for millennia. I’m sedentary most of the day except at night when I sweat it out, doing routines that do not serve any practical significance except exhaust the body so it can be as exhausted as the mind. 

Comfort

john 2

I workout five days in a week. When my all my paid work finishes at 4:30, I read for an hour after or take a walk around the area, make dinner at 5:30 or 6, take a one-hour nap, then have dinner at seven. After that, I allow myself to be drowned by asinine noise emanating from the TV, or if I could think of anything better to do, I write. At around ten when I get tired of thinking, reading, or working, I hop on to my ever dependable black trainers and walk to a nearby Gold’s and sweat it off until I’m sure I have enough. Although this part doesn’t come too easy as there are days when the call of sleep is much stronger than my desire to grow bulging biceps or massive pecs. At 11:30 or just before midnight, I retire to my bed contented with the delusion that my day is spent well.

A part of me tells me this is not all there is to life. That I must be a part of an entity bigger than myself. That I need to figure out the role of my piece in this giant puzzle. That having a mission will give meaning to my existence. Ho hum.

One of the many advantages of having a routine is that one always finds himself resorting to auto-pilot, freeing up the mind for more important cerebration. One issue, however, with routine is that its repeated rhythmic humming is so comforting that if one is not careful enough he will be left in a state of coma he might not recover from, or in the event he recovers, forever altering him, maybe even disabling some of his important functions.

And that I fear.

We all want to feel secure with the knowledge that the current state of things will not change any time soon, that what we are working on right now will remain relevant until we’re able to adjust to something new well enough.

Some will exhort, these are the more driven ones, to seize our moment in the sun. To chase the wind.

But what if my goal is paralysis, stasis, sedentariness, comfort?