high-minded drivel

high-minded (adjective) - refined; cultured; particularly civilized. drivel (noun) - senseless talk; nonsense.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Cut me Mick

I'm in perfect blogging position right now.  On the couch, laptop on lap, football game on TV muted, O.A.R. playing on Pandora, and arms involuntarily bent at an appropriate angle to put my hands on the keyboard.  My arms are involuntarily bent because this week I got a membership to the rec center down the street, and on my first day did some dumbbell curls for the first time in years.  Consequently, I now cannot fully extend my arms without groaning in pain.

I decided to start going to a gym again because completely neglecting exercise can only go on so long.  Without a pending marathon, and having grown tired of using The Wheel and my stability ball in my room, it seemed like time to try something new.  While I've had a love-hate (mostly hate) relationship with gyms since graduating from undergrad, I decided to give the gym setting another chance.  This time, however, I did not go back to the OSU gyms or some other corporate-style facility.  No, this time I joined the rec center that's only a block away from my house, and it was clearly the right decision.

As a teenage I remember going to the YMCA in downtown East Liverpool with Dad and Nate.  It was old, with worn-out equipment for the most part, floorboards that creaked, and regulars that you grew accustomed to seeing each time you went for a workout.  It had a sloped running track circling a basketball court below.  For a long time the court was the old-style "carpet" floor, and you couldn't shoot from the corners without getting stuffed by the aforementioned track above.  All in all, it was a great place.

Upon coming to Ohio State I obviously started going to the OSU gym (Jesse Owens North, specifically), and it was good.  Different atmosphere, no doubt, but perfect for when you're in college.  But after graduating, continuing to go to the OSU gyms became less appealing.  The crowds, the volume of the music, the price of admission, the TVs.  It became more exhausting than energizing.  Contrast that with the rec center I've now started going to: no crowds, just locals, no TVs, a boombox in the corner rather than crap playing over loudspeakers, and old, "comfortable" equipment rather than stuff that is being spit-shined every 5 minutes by staff members reminding you to use clips.  At a price of $20 for four months, it's a steal.  It's like being transported back to the East Liverpool Y.

This rec center is also old-school because it's got a boxing room where young kids and teenagers can learn to box and then compete, Rocky-style.  This is totally appropriate, not because I intend to take up boxing, but because Rocky is serving as my inspiration to get back into working out.  Since I've been off for a few months now, I know that starting again will be rather difficult.  There won't be quick, easy progress.  It will be slow and painful.  I have to keep this in mind, accept it, and push through it.  Did Rocky run up all the steps at the art museum his first time out?  No.  It didn't happen until the end of the training montage, after hard work over time had paid off.  To ensure that this mindset is firmly fixed for me, I actually purchased a poster of that Rocky scene, pictured below.  It's going to hang right above the door to my room so that on those mornings when I get up and don't want to run, or on those evenings when I feel worn out from work, I'll have that poster sitting before me, confronting me with the fact that Rocky didn't make excuses or complain about being tired.  If you think it's silly that I find my motivation from a completely fictional character, then well, I can't really argue.  But it works.

Perhaps I should go all the way and purchase a tight gray jogging outfit.

There is one key piece still missing though, and that's a clear motivation.  In college there were several clear motivating factors: being strong was beneficial when playing basketball at JO North, being strong was beneficial when working on-site with Habitat, and being strong (or more accurately, looking strong) was (theoretically) beneficial when walking around campus in t-shirts with college girls around.  But now, there isn't the same element of competitive basketball, I don't need to be strong to sit in a cubicle day after day, and there's not much to show off when you wear a long-sleeved dress shirt every day.  So other than the motivation to be able to make it to the hills and survive  by virtue of my fitness and strength when the Russians invade, what is there?  What will be my Apollo Creed?  Or, to take a different, perhaps more legitimate perspective, does a worthwhile motivation exist?  Here are a few potentials:

1. Start picking fights, making it necessary to be strong so that I don't get beat up constantly.
Decision: Not a good option.  Winning fights has more to do with toughness than strength.

2. Enter a competition, like the Arnold Fitness Challenge.
Decision: This is an okay option, but....meh.  I think I'd be embarrassed to tell somebody that I entered the Arnie, and I'm just talking about the general fitness competitions, not the body-building.

3. Working out hard burns calories, which allows me to eat lots of food.
Decision: Too American, not to mention disgusting.

4. Exercising will make me healthy and prolong my life.
Decision: There's no guarantee of this, and I'm planning on being dead at 50 anyway.

5. You may not be in college now, but there are still females around.
Decision: Much like winning fights is more about toughness than strength, attracting girls is more about confidence than appearance.  Fail.

6. Get a new job, like as a bouncer at a bar.
Decision: Firearms.

7. Constantly trying to find a "motivation" is equivalent to being a whiner.
Decision: Obviously.  What's your point?

8. Going to the gym gives you something to write about on your blog.
Decision: Agreed.  Done.

I thought Balboa was a chump, but you....


  1. Well, how 'bout this - exercise helps build strength AND confidence.

    Trust me, I know from experience... Since I've gone from "holy crap I can't lift anything" to "WTF - how did I just put up 355 lbs on a squat?" I find myself walking around with a confidence that borders on arrogance.

    Plus, I have even less to keep me going to the gym - the whole being engaged thing means that I don't have a good reason.

  2. Sounds like somebody is bordering on starting to pick fights :-)

    Seriously though, that is awesome. Will be interested to hear more about how you did it.

    Also, I think an argument could be made that "I'm engaged so I don't have motivation" could quickly reverse course and turn into "Must...get...out...of...house..." Just sayin' :-)