How to Become a Gym-Rat

Barbell

First, consider going to the gym. Look in a mirror and lift up your stomach by grabbing a handful of fat. Reflect on all the times your friends said you looked a bit “whale-ish.” Nod slowly as you realize what they meant. Attempt a pull-up, but fail before even pulling up. Decide that it is, in fact, time to start going to the gym.

Search Google for the best gym in your area. Stumble onto an article explaining that most people stop going to the gym after a month, which is how gyms make their money. Laugh at the poor saps in the knowledge you would never do such a thing. You are, after all,“pretty athletic.” Discover Gold’s Gym and find out Arnold Schwarzenegger went there. Sign up immediately. Briefly consider hiring a personal trainer, but decide that you probably know more than they do. Spend a few minutes looking up exercises, then become distracted by videos of animals.

Decide it is probably best to go to the gym in the afternoon. Go to work beforehand and deliberately carry your gym bag on your shoulder all day. Whenever someone asks what you are carrying, respond: “Oh, this? Just my gym bag.” Rather than do your work, research exercises some more. Learn about something called “barbell squats,” which people on the internet assure you is safe to do on your first day. Get in your 1996 Honda Civic and drive down to the gym. In the parking lot, update your Facebook status to “gym, again.”

Upon opening the large, glass doors, realize you were born to go to the gym. Smile at the 230-pound mass of muscle with a face and legs walking by. He will nod and you will feel validated. Conclude that you are among your people. Immediately walk over to the dumbbell rack and decide to warm up with a light weight. Grab the 40-pound dumbbells and attempt a curl. Discover that you cannot, in fact, lift you arm up. Drop the dumbbells on the floor and use both hands to place them back on the rack, one at a time. Turn to the man next to you and say: “Long day.” Decide it is probably better to start elsewhere.

Remember watching a video on the internet about dead-lifts, which you saw just before the cat riding a skateboard. Decide they shouldn’t be too hard. Grab a barbell and throw on two 45-pound plates. Do the math in your head: 45+45=90. Realize that is an easy enough weight for a warm-up set. Forget to include the 45-pound barbell into the math. Place your feet under the bar and guesstimate that they should be as close as possible, then bend over with your back arched. Do not bend your knees at all, but rather lock them in place. Lift, while hyper-extending your back. Feel a crack in your spine. Decide that maybe dead-lifting was a bad idea.

Bending over slightly, with one arm on your back, look around the gym for a simpler exercise. Notice an elliptical in the back. Spend the next 20 minutes averaging 60 steps per minute on the machine. Get off and decide to try to squat—just once—before leaving.

Walk over to the squat rack and, learning from your previous mistake, place only two 35-poundplates on the barbell. Stand underneath the bar and rest it along your trapezius. Lift the bar and back up, just like the guy next to you is doing. Remember what you saw in the video about squatting: pretend that you are sitting into a chair, but not to let your knees bend beyond your toes. Descend. Pause. Realize you can’t get back up. Panic. Consider screaming for help. Throw the barbell off your shoulders and let it smash into the railing of the squat rack. Notice everyone is now looking at you. Decide that you have done pretty well for your first day and exit the gym. Determine you were in shape all along and do not need to go back.

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