Tag Archives: gym

Workout pro

When I started working out last month, I expected to get some results, eventually. I mean, this is all so new to me. Just basic techniques like stretching, how to correctly handle a small dumbbell, these were all foreign concepts to me. Push-ups. I started doing push-ups and I could barely get to ten. And I’m sure my form was way off, my back arched, by the sixth or seventh, I couldn’t really tell if I was going all the way down and up.


But that was just a month ago, and it’s like now I’m already a completely different person. I can’t even begin to think of to what I can attribute my rapid success. It’s like, week one, I was terrible, I was sore, I couldn’t do anything. And then immediately into week two, I somehow transformed into this workout pro. I don’t know how to explain it.

Like the push-ups. Remember how I said I could barely do ten? Now I have yet to find my upward limit. The other day at the gym, I was almost getting frustrated. What turned into a pre-workout warm-up wound up consuming the entirety my afternoon. I said to myself, you know what? I’m just going to do as many push-ups as I can.

I lost count. It was somewhere around four hundred when my mind couldn’t keep up with the monotony anymore. And by the time I looked up at the clock, not only had I gotten lost in my physical routine, but I’d completely lost track of time. I was only supposed to be there for an hour, but the gym guy had to tap me on my back, he was like, “Hey bro, we’re closing.”

“Closing?” I couldn’t believe it, “You mean I’ve been doing push-ups here for six hours straight?” Shit, I thought, that means I definitely must have missed work. What was I going to tell my boss, that after only six days of starting a New Years workout resolution, I’ve somehow made enough progress to where I’m able to continuously do push-ups, one after the other, with no sign of ever needing to stop, even for a small break?

“And the craziest thing is, I never even felt tired!” I tried telling my boss, who, it’s not just that he was skeptical, it’s that he wasn’t interested in even entertaining my story. “It’s true,” I tried to catch his attention again as he turned away, “I’m telling you, watch, look, I’ll get down right now. One. Two. Three. Four.”

But he was just like, “Get off the floor Rob, you look like an idiot. I have a restaurant to run, I’m not going to sit here and watch you do push-ups. Just … if you miss one more shift, that’s it, we’re going to have to let you go.”

And right as he was saying that, I got this idea, like fine, I don’t need this stupid job anymore. I could work for the gym. I could be like a personal trainer. So I said, “How about I let myself go,” and I threw down my apron and stormed out. And I went straight to the gym.

“Hire me,” I told the guy at the front desk, “I want to work here at the gym.” And the guy said, “Well, I guess we could use someone to make sure all the weights go back on the racks after people are done using them.”

I said, “No, I don’t think you get it. I want to be a trainer. I can do like an unlimited amount of push-ups.”

And he said, “Well, that’s great, but you know, you have to get certified to be a trainer, and even then, you’ve got to build up a clientele, so if you bring say, ten or eleven people here, get them a gym membership, I mean, we could give them a preferential rate, then maybe we could talk about giving you a cut.”

“Wait a second,” I told him, “Client base? Do you want to see me do push-ups? Seriously, ask the guy who closed the other night. He had to kick me out. I was doing push-ups for like six hours straight.”

“Look, that’s terrific, really, but this is a business, so unless you can somehow make a successful business model out of those push-ups … well, like I said, you’re more than welcome to start part-time racking weights.”

And that sucked, because it was only like seven an hour, and I had a lot of bills to pay. My old boss wasn’t that forgiving either, he let me back, but I had to start over as busboy, which meant a lot of hours for a lot less pay. In fact I was spending so much time at the restaurant that I didn’t have any time to work out, I barely had any money to pay for my gym membership.

By the time I found an hour to sneak away, it was like months later, all of that muscle I’d built up, well, if you don’t use it, you lose it, right? And so I was back to square one, I couldn’t even finish ten push-ups. And of course, guess who walked by right as I was struggling around number seven. It was the gym owner.

“Keep pushing there buddy, you’re doing great.” Why couldn’t he have walked by when I was at the top of my game, huh? Because I don’t think he believed me, if only he could have seen, I was just cranking out push-ups, I could have powered a small city just on upper body strength.

“Keep pushing!” he wasn’t even talking to me anymore, he was just walking around the gym, doling out generic motivation to everyone in the room, “You’re doing a great job!”

I joined a gym

I saw this deal on Groupon for a gym by my house. Usually I only run, outside, but lately I’ve been feeling like it might do me some good to change up the routine. There are a bunch of reasons why I’ve never gone to a gym before, the self-consciousness of working out in front of other people, the not really knowing how to use any of the equipment. I remember one time I went to the university gym while I was in school, I had no idea what I was doing. I sat down at some machine where you put your arms on a platform and start moving some weight attached to a bunch of cables. It wasn’t even that heavy, I swear, but I totally did something wrong, because I couldn’t move my arm for like a week. And it wasn’t soreness, I know what being sore feels like, this was like somebody punched me straight in the triceps.


Honestly, probably the biggest obstacle preventing me from signing up is the cost. Most gyms by me are in the fifty dollar a month range, and I don’t know, I can’t even bring myself to subscribe to cable TV, there’s no way I want to drop that much money on a gym membership. But this Groupon sounded like such a good deal, just two hundred bucks for an entire year, no membership fee, unlimited classes.

I could make that work. On the way over I thought about the closest I’ve ever come to doing something like this, it was about four years ago, I wanted to take a yoga class, just to see what everybody was talking about. The lady at the front desk told me that a single class would be twenty bucks, or, I could spend thirty and get an unlimited monthly pass. Some guy behind me chimed in, “That is probably the best deal in New York.”

Sold. Then I went inside the studio and it turned out that the guy who encouraged me was the instructor. I felt played. I felt even more played when, a month after I had taken several classes a week, I enthusiastically asked how much it would be to continue my membership. That’s when they started throwing numbers at me, like big numbers, four hundred dollars, stuff like that.

I prepared myself for similar tactics at the gym. While I’d never been to a real gym before, I’ve seen plenty of stuff on TV, how they sit you down, they try to rope you in immediately. Sure enough, I walk to the front desk and the guy’s like, “How’d you hear about us?” My plan was to demand the two hundred dollar deal and stick to my guns, but as soon as I said the word, “Groupon,” the guy told me, “OK, well, we can iron out the details later. Let me you show you around the facility.”

And I knew right away that the two hundred dollar yearly wasn’t going to happen. All of my questions were met with a “We’ll get to that,” as the trainer showing me around guided me through his carefully orchestrated gym-membership speech. He showed me the protein shake bar, the spin studio, “You want to go check out the bathrooms?” he offered, “Eh, I don’t know, I don’t really think that’s necessary.”

“All right, well, unless you’re sure you don’t want to go check out the bathrooms, let’s go to my office and fill out some paperwork.” Wow, this guy was aggressive, both about the bathrooms and the roping me in to a membership. I followed him to a desk and he went from trainer to car salesmen as soon as he sat down in his leather chair. “All right,” he took out a piece of paper and started writing down numbers, “Let’s get down to business.”

“What about the Groupon?” I was kind of surprised about how meek I sounded sitting in this chair, something about taking a tour through this factory of muscle and sweat, here I was, I looked like I just rolled out of bed, I was wearing a Batman t-shirt and jeans, whereas normally I feel like I’m in great shape thanks to running, now I felt just really skinny and awkward.

“The Groupon expired,” he dismissed the offer, which I later learned after rechecking it out, it never really was an option to begin with. When you went to try and buy the Groupon, it would tell you that it was sold out, even though they kept posting the same ad every month or so. “But come on,” he tried to persuade me, “Thirty bucks a month, that’s a dollar a day, unlimited classes, it’s a great deal.”

It did sound like a good deal, and I don’t know if it was him taking advantage of my insecurities, but I had a pretty strong urge to join the gym. He could see me thinking, he could sense my hesitation, and taking something right out of the used car salesmen playbook, he looked at me and said, “You know what? I like you. I can tell you’re serious about working out.”

Really? He likes me? And how could he tell how serious I was? He wrote down the number seven on the piece of paper, “So here’s what I’m going to do for you. You see this seven dollar membership fee?” he drew a big circle around the seven, “I’m going to take care of that seven dollars for you,” he crossed out the seven, a big X across the whole paper.

I looked at him for a minute, he stared me down, right in the eye.