I recently decided to get into optimal shape. I’m already adept at getting into good shape, since I’m forced to do it every spring after back-sliding into a mire of fast food and catatonia each winter.
No, I’m getting in optimal shape. That can be defined in a lot of ways. A common one is selecting the sizzling bits of famous actors, like Gerald Butler’s chest, or Brad Pitt’s abs, and Frankenstening them together into The Hottest Man ever.
But I don’t WANT Brad Pitt’s abs, as mouth-wateringly alluring as they are – I just want my own body. When I was 27.
It had been a particularly unhealthy winter, those eight years ago, and by spring it felt like I was wearing one of those learn-to-swim flotation devices around my midsection at all times. To combat this, I ordered* P90X, a set of X-treme home workout videos.
P90X features an intensely bro-ish 45-year-old man named Tony Horton displaying exercises to the viewer via four sweating P90X graduates who probably all want to punch him in the face.
“How many more ya goin do, Brian?” Horton yells six inches from one of the graduate’s faces, which is crimson and twitching with the strain of lifting barbells the size of cable spools.
“How many more ya gonna do Brian? Huh? How many more ya gonna do Brian? How many more ya gonna do?”
Horton seems like the type of guy who was ostracized in high school for being soft and socially inept and decided to start lifting weighs Junior year to rectify this. He poses, he boasts, he grunts, he creepily strokes a single finger along the flexing muscles of the male graduates to show you “good form.” He’s a joy to watch.
I personally think Horton ended up being the host of the videos because you just want him to shut the fuck up so badly it gives you a surge of anger and adrenaline and you end up working out harder.
It certainly worked for me. I got into incredible shape in a few months, SUCH incredible shape I had to pay a photography major $70 to shoot a sensual series of me shirtless.
I justified this disturbingly vainglorious act at the time through my friend Carling, who occasionally modeled.
“It’s NOT the same,” she retorted when I laid out the justification.
“Why not?!” I shot back.
“Because people pay ME to model.”
I went with kind of a nature-man vibe for the series, beckoning the confused photographer along as I clambered up trees and posed besides swamps. I wasn’t wearing a shirt or shoes, so I kept accidentally cutting myself on bits of nature, and a couple of the photos were rejected because of visible blood.
But the other ones came out GREAT. SO great, in fact, that when I came upon them a few months ago, I collapsed into a shaking ball of grief for what my body had become.
While brooding over this a few nights later at a party, an older inebriated friend of mine gave me his two cents.
“All THIS,” he slurred while waving his palm from my head to my toes, “Iz gonna be GONE in a few years.”
“Fuck that,” I said to myself. “No, FUCK that.”
And so I purchased P90X.**
It’s a vigorous program. I do the routines in a kind of multi-purpose room in my house that serves as my office and a guest room when not in use as an exercise studio. It shares a wall with my housemate Marissa’s bedroom, a wall so microscopically thin I have to warn visiting friends not to have sex in it.
But Marissa is privy to the equally disturbing sounds of me doing P90x. It sounds something like this:
[sound of large weight being dropped]
[sound of Roger collapsing in defeat]
-Jesus [panting] I can’t– I can’t fuckin do it [more panting] That hurts so MUCH. How does a– How does anyone-[coughing, spitting] Shut the FUCK up, Tony!
I’m only a couple weeks into it, and it’s a struggle. There IS the slight possibility this means my greater…maturity is holding me back from performing at the optimum level I did eight years ago.
But TONY HORTON does it, and that man’s a decade older than me. And if there’s one person I should strive to mirror, it’s him.