If you’ve read even a tenth of the thousands of posts I’ve made over the past few years then you know of my obsession with getting swole as the kids say. Tonight I’d like to write a short piece in tribute to a friend who usually reads this blog (though he never comments). I’ve mentioned him before, needled him with my words, had fun at his expense. Most of the time I think he’s gotten a kick out of it. Sometimes I think I pissed him off. Always, though, I’ve been grateful for his help.
My friend’s name is Joseph. We work together, teaching different levels of the same subject to high school students. When I first met him almost four years ago the thing I noticed was that the guy is pretty much in shape – the kind of shape all men want to be in. Many achieve that shape in their teens and lose it. Some gain that shape later in life as a result of a mid-life crisis. I always wondered about how to get that shape but never seemed to have the right tools, knowledge, or plan. Stifling my raging jealousy I asked if he would train me (having found out he actually had done that sort of thing).
And then I spent two and a half years not taking his advice all the while wondering why I still looked like a creature from a 1950’s horror movie and he, well, he looked great.
Ultimately I discovered a program called Insanity. I mentioned to him that I wanted to give it a shot. To my surprise he praised the program highly and said to go for it. He did warn me that it would be one of the hardest things I’d ever done.
I shrank back a bit nervous but undeterred. I tried to keep all of his maxims in mind. The biggest phrase he repeats again and again is that it takes time. You know what I did? I adopted the attitude that I would probably finish the 60 day program and still look like shit but that I would promise myself to be satisfied just for finishing something that hard.
What’s funny is that this guy actually offered unsolicited compliments along the way, commenting on how noticeable the change in my appearance was. This was funny to me as I couldn’t really see it. Oh, I convinced myself I could see dream results but I wanted to believe that this was in my mind lest I find myself getting let down again. I also knew not to ever compare myself to him. He’s worked out a long time and it shows. To mirror his results I’d have to do this until I’m 60.
Anyway, I finished Insanity, took a tiny break of about two weeks for my dad’s funeral, and started my current program – BodyBeast. This one is designed to bulk me up. I still have mixed feelings about my progress. And I have mixed feelings, too, about whether I will ever achieve the look I’m after. What’s interesting though is that the trainer enthusiastically invited me to work out with him this week. He wants to see the workouts, offer his advice, and, I suppose, his encouragement. I’ll admit I’m a little nervous. It must be kind of cool for him getting to watch someone who is where he was 20 years ago. It’s not so hot for me knowing I’ve got 20 years to go but from him I’ve learned not to focus on that. My true fear is that my performance – either the ultimate results or just in the gym here and now – will be disappointing to him. I did a back and biceps workout tonight, lifting weights for about an hour, following the program. I feel pretty good. I don’t know how I’ll feel in a few days standing in this guy’s house watching him run circles around me with heavier weights, more reps, and a blood-thirsty look in his eyes. Have I mentioned that he turns psychotic when he works out? But if I keep his own words in mind I should be fine. It’s all about fixing my form, doing what I can, doing something at all, and waiting 20 years. He said to me once: “Don’t look at a scale, don’t take measurements… Do your pants fit better than they did a month ago? Then you’re doing fine.” Well, my pants certainly do fit better these days. And for that, I am grateful. And I offer my thanks for the help and a prayer that he doesn’t demolish what’s left of my morale.
I’m going to be the badass-est 60 year-old on the beach.