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exercising my demons
that's why they call me the working (out) man
by mike julianelle

Exercising sucks. Going to the gym sucks. Watching what you eat sucks.

The exercise I usually partake in doesn't amount to much. It mostly consists of running around my neighborhood, for 3 to 4 miles, 3 to 5 times a week. And only when it's warm.

I don't go to the gym because I hate the gym. I hate people who like the gym and I hate the older men at the gym who inexplicably enjoy being nude in a crowd as much as they possibly can. They walk around, hold conversations, shave, style their hair and play solitaire in the nude. Is it a generation gap? Who knows. It's repulsive.

The gym, as a scene, is no fun. And since all I do is run and I can run outside for free, I don't feel the need to pay for a gym membership, especially if I'm also paying for the full senior citizen monty.

There's only one problem with running outside.

I live in New England. The weather in New England is -- to say the least -- fickle, and isn't always conducive to outdoor activities. Especially in the winter, which lasts approximately from mid-October until mid-May.

Needless to say, when it's cold out, or raining out, or snowing out, or all three, I don't run. Which means that I, like a bear, am forced to basically hibernate for 6 months a year. Thus, I don't exercise at all until spring arrives.

Even when it's gorgeous outside, I am pretty lazy about it. It is amazing how easy it is to get home from work and decide hey, I don't need to run today, I'll have a beer and watch some TV instead. Just give me 5 minutes between walking in from work and walking out to run, and I can pummel what little resolve I did or did not have into oblivion.

Lately, things have changed. I am getting married in September and I don't need my wedding pictures to immortalize me as a lazy slob with a huge gut. I don't have a mullet or a mustache and I won't be wearing a bolo tie, so I can safely avoid the humiliation of preserving those memories. But if I don't shape up, it'll end up looking like my fiance married Jimmy Kimmel. A fat(ter) Jimmy Kimmel. And since my fiance isn't Sarah Silverman (and thank God, because who really needs to hear queef jokes during a wedding?), that probably wouldn't fly.

So I've been making an effort. And, to my amazement, it's been working.

At the end of January, I joined a gym. And I have been going to said gym. As often as 6 times a week.

I have made exercise a part of my day. It is impossible to underestimate how big a role routine plays in being healthy. By stopping at the gym on my way home from work, I have eliminated the possibility of skipping my workout by flipping on the TV and peeking in the fridge. Plus, weather doesn't matter when you're on a treadmill inside a building. No excuses.

Because I've made it a habit, I am finally seeing results. Fresh off my winter hibernation, during which I puffed up so much I almost had to consider wearing what I like to call "John Candy" pants, I have managed to work off about 15 pounds in just about 10 weeks. Lose five more and I'll be in about the best shape of my life, especially since I have also been doing some weight lifting.

Tyler, my fitness consultant, whipped up a routine for me at no charge as part of my membership. He was very gentle, and I'll never forget his spiky hair and firm handshake. I think he was 19 years old and could bench press me 30 times. But I he'd break 10 on the Wonderlic. It's a tradeoff.

These days I even obsess a little bit over what I eat. During the week I try to keep it healthy and eat small meals. Sometimes I even eat Lean Cuisines for lunch. I like the Swedish meatballs. And though the weekends are typically a no-holds-barred free-for-all, I still hesitate to drink too many Harpoons or eat too much chips and salsa. God, I make myself sick (not literally).

But I look fantastic.

Upon reading this column, many of my friends will react with anger and disbelief. And rightfully so. Having a trainer and going to the gym and watching what I eat goes against every fiber of my being. In fact, these are things I've railed against for most of my life. I can't blame them for thinking I'm some kind of hypocrite. Hell, I might even hear the word "metrosexual." I deserve it. I don't even know who I am anymore.

But at least I know who I'm not. And that's Jimmy Kimmel.


Let's get real here. You don't want to know about me. You want to know about "me".

more about mike julianelle


raindrops not falling on my head
i ditch angry me for a sunshine bid
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topic: general
published: 10.20.04

dr. phull of it
take it from me, i'm not bald
by mike julianelle
topic: general
published: 2.16.05


robert melos
4.9.07 @ 2:49a

Running? Remember what happened to fitness guru Jim Fixx?

I jest. I used to go to a gym, but recently haven't had the time. Plus I'm not old enough for the senior set. You are to be commended for starting it and sticking to it. Best of luck with it.

alex b
4.9.07 @ 10:29p

I hate, hate, hate the gym. I hate muscle-bound weight-gloved steroid monkeys who throw down dumbbells with growls. I hate perky aerobics instructors. And I hate Pilates trainers with sculpted physiques who make it look so damn easy to keep in shape. I purposely started going to a yoga studio because I hate gyms.

But dude- good for you. It's amazing what exercise can do, and it's awesome that you're on your way to the best shape of your life.

And, it's also funny how motivation works- it seems to be strongest when you worry about looking like Jimmy Kimmel (or in my case, Jabba the Hutt). There's nothing like a fat roll to make you freak out, especially with a wedding on the way! Hopefully those pictures turn out wonderfully- and that you keep it up after the wedding, too.

lisa r
4.10.07 @ 8:11a

I must have lucked out. About 2 years ago I joined a gym here in Lancaster, and I love it. Keep in mind, I've never been a "got to get to the gym, I need my exercise endorphin fix" type of gal. However, I reached a point of being sick of being overweight and out of shape, and having no luck finding clothes that fit me and looked nice.

My boss at the time (who has since become one of my best friends) recommended her gym when I mentioned something about needing to find one, and she was right on the money. We are not up to our ears in muscle monkeys. Our class instructors may be perky at times, but for the most part they are real characters that make class fun---and that can be tough when you're in the 4th minute of a killer 5-minute squat set (I'm convinced that there is no way on earth lunges will EVER be fun). And they encourage us to go at our own pace, not deride us for not keeping up.

Most importantly, even though I still feel a little frumpy compared to some of my gym-mates, I do not feel surrounded by "sculpted" women in thongs and push-up bras (our gym discourages provocative clothing). I don't feel like the ungainly goose in a pond full of gorgeous swans.

Now, instead of dreading exercise, I look forward to my hour or so "working my butt off"--literally.

russ carr
4.10.07 @ 9:22a

You're so right about the nude old men thing. At times it verges on a creepy, "maybe I should tell someone at the front desk" level. Hey, I'm thrilled that you're comfortable in your skin. But this ain't a Roman bathhouse. Wrap a towel around your waist, at least!

I'm a five minute drive from our YMCA. If I'm so stank that I need to bother with a shower after exercising, I'll bring it home where the towels are bigger and softer. If I want old men bearing sausage, I'll visit Gearhardt, the bratwurst maker over at G&W.

tracey kelley
4.10.07 @ 10:55a

Hot Mike! Too bad he's taken, ladies!

Believe me, it's not just old men wandering around the locker room all aflush. Women do it too, and not just young hot women - mostly old hippie women who have no problem taking care of all - and I do mean ALL - of their personal hygiene needs right in front of you.

Thick or thin, I've never been fond of the locker room scene.

What I dislike most about gyms are people slamming weights and the house music louder than what's playing through my headphones.

jael mchenry
4.10.07 @ 1:34p

I can't stand the grunting.

mike julianelle
4.10.07 @ 4:33p

Thankfully, my gym has neither grunters nor muscleheads. Most times when I go, there are merely a few guys using the weights and stuff. The most convenient thing about my gym is that there are THREE different locations within easy distance, so I can use one during work if I can get away, another on the way home from work so as not to throw off my commute, and another that I can walk to for easy use on the weekends.

The most surprising thing about having made this a routine and being committed to it is not only how much I seem to enjoy it (maybe not so much doing it but HAVING DONE it), but it's how loathe I am to go more than 2 days without having made a trip to the gym and kept up my regimen.

It's like being a Catholic and skipping mass on Easter, except the guilt isn't due to a lifetime of brainwashing and fear, but merely to breaking the routine and losing ground in the fight against fat.

lisa r
4.11.07 @ 1:34a

We actually have a nice locker room, but there's a part of me that doesn't like feeling as if I'm on display when I'm changing clothes. I change and shower at home whenever possible.

Grunting's not a big problem in my gym, but the teenage and college girls who have chat-fests while working out are. I can take the loud music, and the clanking of weights, but those incessant conversations are distracting when I'm trying to track reps or follow something on the tv if I'm using the treadmill or elliptical trainer.

heather millen
4.13.07 @ 4:22p

Yay for Mike. I'm incredibly proud of him for this one. I underwent a similar thing a couple years ago where I made exercise part of my life and he didn't get it. Now he's hooked.

Our gym is Fitcorp, which centers around fitness for busy professionals. So I think we get more people who are interested in not fattening up in their daily office life, moreso than muscleheads. I hate them too.

Although, in LA, Fabio was a member at my gym. And on more than one occassion I heard the announcement, "Fabio, please come to the fitness office. Fabio to the fitness office." I'm convinced he staged them to do that.

juli mccarthy
4.13.07 @ 7:10p

I take bellydance classes, which I love, at the local park district fitness center. It's a beautiful facility, but I do stay out of the pool/locker room areas, and I will admit I am highly nonplussed by the rows and rows of orbital machines and treadmills that are lined up in front of windows. It reminds me of the rows of robots in "I Robot". *shudder*

I'm developing one hell of a good shimmy, BTW.

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