Summer is supposed to be a time of excitement and adventure. In high school, it meant not having to listen to Mrs. Dix ruin the ending of Marley and Me (honestly, I had no idea Marley was going to [SPOILERS!] die at the end of it) and the beginning of mindless summer jobs, off-season practices and skinny dipping with the cute girls from the soccer team in your buddy’s lake. In college, while it meant leaving your friends and go-to blackout buddies, it meant going to a new city or town for an internship that was supposed to get you invaluable “professional development” experience, aka finding new blackout buddies.
After college, however, things change. Summer goes from finding new and exciting things to do in new and exciting places to doing the same old and mundane thing in the same old and mundane places, just with more sweat. Even though it’s bookended by Memorial Day and Labor Day with America’s Perpetual 21st in the middle, summer always seems to have longer work days, increased travel and ridiculous deadlines. And everyone knows that The Bachelor is better than The Bachelorette.
This summer has been no different. Starting with one the hardest days of my life and ending with a huge end-of-year performance review with moving a multi-million dollar lab in between, this summer was not quite the most enjoyable time in my life. There was no getting drunk in tropical locations that I managed to get an internship at or stealing booze out of my parents’ liquor cabinet or rolling out of bed at 11 to do nothing all day. No, this summer was pretty much an average post-grad summer – it sucked.
I felt like I needed a change. Work wasn’t going well, running wasn’t going well, and I didn’t even the energy to booze myself up after work when I got home. One of my coworkers, a small Asian girl who’s about my age and a religious yoga enthusiast, suggested that I do a fitness class at the gym that we both go to. Initially, I brushed this idea off faster than Rex Ryan brushes vegetables off his plate #FreeBrady. Go to a workout class? Who does she think I am? A 50-year-old woman? Hell, I’m not gonna sit there and step onto and off of boxes for thirty minutes. No, I thought – nay, I knew – that I was above workout classes.
But as the days got shittier and my boss got more demanding, I had to reconsider. Maybe a workout class would be for me. I still can’t run as much as I want, and when I swim, I look more awkward than Peyton Manning trying to deny that he took HGH. “Sure,” I told my coworker, “I’ll come to this class. On one condition: you have to come with me.” I made my bed, so now it was time to sleep in it. So on Friday at 12:10, a white Jewish dude and a small Asian girl walked into “Total Muscle Challenge” and their lives were forever altered. Or at least the Jewish dude’s was.
As we settled in, grabbing a yoga mat from the impeccably neat stack in the corner, my partner-in-death decided that she wanted to locate ourselves right in the middle of the workout studio. Not quite my top choice, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers, can they? As soon as we set our mats down, our workout leader identified herself by half-yelling into her nifty little headset: “Awesome day, my name is Storm, and we’re gonna get fit today!” Oh no… this was not starting well. She told us to grab our weights, and since my mom didn’t raise no beta-male, I obviously grabbed the heaviest set of dumbbells in the room. For whatever reason, in addition to being the only dude and one of two people under 40 in the studio, the gym administration decided to emasculate me even further by making the heaviest dumbbells pink. But alas, I crossed the Rubicon; the die was cast. I grabbed the pink dumbbells and headed to my spot in the center of a bunch of overweight, middle-aged women and my coworker, who at this point was 100 percent hardcore judging me.
The “Total Muscle Challenge” started slow with some weird aerobic class steps and squats and whatever other things our very aptly named leader decided to make us do. And then, all of a sudden, it started to storm. As soon as she started to have us do exercises with the dumbbells, I realized that grabbing the pink ones were I mistake; there was no way that my arms were going to make it through 40 minutes of picking up and putting down these pink demons that I decided to slowly kill myself with. The end was nigh, the afternoon was dark and full of terrors.
As the workout progressed, everything got harder and harder. I was able to do less and less of what Storm was yelling at us to do as the middle-aged women somehow channeled their old woman strength and powered through like Hulk-ettes. Twenty minutes into the workout, Bruce Springsteen blared through the speakers underneath Storm’s fake-cheery voice. My sweat was getting so much into my eyes that my vision blurred. Twenty-five minutes into the workout, as Tom Petty started to very appropriately tell me to not come around no more, I began to slip on the sweat that was puddling in the floor around me. Thirty minutes into the workout, I started to get tunnel vision as we did yet another round of overhead presses while the pink death traps were treating me like a gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo in May.
But then, 35 minutes into the 7th circle of hell, the fog cleared. I wiped the sweat from my eyes, put down my dumbbells, and looked around. No one else was breathing hard. No one else was even sweating. I had a pool of sweat around me, completely soaking through my shirt and my shorts, and all the other ladies looked like they just got done cheering for little Johnny at his soccer game.
As we put our dumbbells and our yoga mats away and began to file out of the room, Storm decided that this was time to make me feel even more the Chinese national basketball team and gave me a little smirk as I passed her. She knew full well just how broken of a man I was at that point, and she was going to bask in all my misery before probably eating a live rattlesnake on a bed of kale for lunch or whatever it is personal trainers do for their meals. I had never known what it was like to be the absolute worst in the room at something until a bunch of middle-aged titans and my tiny Asian coworker put me in my place. At this point, it looks like the only way to avoid the inexorable fall to beta-maleness is to just buy a truck. .
Image via YouTube