Illustration by Jim Cooke

Congratulations on your resolve to get into the best shape of your life this year. You will fail.

Advertisement

This time, you are determined. You have seen the photos of beach bodies. You have gazed with envy at the sexy slim people by the pool. You see the NFL players’ locker room interviews and feel jealousy that they can so casually wear a towel in the workplace. You have glanced more than once at the straining sleeves of Derek, in the office. Derek, with his stupid biceps. You want to be like him.

You will fail.

Advertisement

You will get the gym membership. The good gym membership. You will splurge—an investment in yourself. You will get the running shoes. You will get the workout buddy. You will get the Fit Bit. You will get the Class Pass. You will spin, or Crossfit, or spring for that personal trainer. You will Orange Theory SoulCycle Boot Camp Barre Parkour Pilates. You will sign up for indoor rock climbing and outdoor yoga. You will get an app to track your calories and your steps and your diet and your reps. You will chart this shit out. You will set goals. You will write them on the calendar. You will find positive reinforcement. You will be all set. You will feel good about this.

Don’t.

You have been misinformed. You have been misled. Somewhere along the line, you got the wrong idea. I should be more specific: you allowed yourself to be seduced by inaccuracy. You wanted it to be true. Your personal weakness took control. You fell into its trap. This is not a situation in which you can blame the world at large. “Tra la, whatever could I do, this is just the way the world is.”(-you). No. The problem is not the world. The problem is you.

Sponsored

Let me tell you what your problem is. Here is your problem: You think this is all about your will. You think this is about your stated desire to get out there and “do it” this year. You think that your commitment and your Class Pass and your Positive Reinforcement Network will bring about the goal that you seek. Wrong. Wrong, motherfucker. You are wrong. Let me tell you what your commitment and your Class Pass and your Positive Reinforcement Network will get you:

Nothing!!!

Advertisement

Advertisement

What is the total value of all of the plans and promises and preparations you are making to succeed at your fitness goals? Nothing. The total value is zero. The total value of all of it is less than the value of one single pushup. Because one single pushup is at least a tiny step towards becoming stronger. Sitting on the couch feeling determined is not a step towards anything except becoming a person I will not talk to at a party because you go on and on about the virtues of the “Nike Fit” item. I excuse myself to go to the bathroom—and while I’m in there, I do burpees. Right next to the toilet. Because that is what it takes.

Can you say that you “have it?” Maybe you’ll find the answer on your “Nike Fit?” Keep pushing those buttons. See what that gets you.

Shakespeare: a great writer. Big deal. What did all of his words get him in the fitness arena? Not a damn thing. Like you, he loved to sit in a chair, declaiming on all of the great things that he planned to do in the near future. As time went by, it turned out that he just kept sitting in that chair, declaiming. And while he was declaiming, his more determined rivals were doing pullups off of the branch of a variety of tree that grows in England. Was Shakespeare in fact bullied by the “doers” of his time, forced to be their little servant boy? Historians may never know for sure. But if he was, he certainly could not have done anything about it except bleat in pathetic poetic verse, having never risen from his desk to do the squats necessary to empower himself to rush at them with overwhelming force.

Advertisement

I’ve seen your type a million times and I laugh in your fucking face. Not just because you do not have a key card that would allow you to enter my building and confront me, but also because you have made the fatal mistakes that separates the non-hardcore from the hardcore. You have convinced yourself that the battle is already won. That nice warm feeling you get from telling everyone how much you are going to work out this year is enough for you. You prefer it to the warm feeling of blood soaking your palms after doing bear crawls in a rocky field. I am here to boldly tell you that all of your talk is not worth the spittle expelled when you say it. Your plans are worthless. Your goals are worthless. Your fitness calendar is worthless. Your stated determination is worthless. Don’t give me words. Give me pushups. Thousands and thousands of them, steadily and without end as seasons change and the moon waxes, then wanes. Right now, sitting in a nice chair, you imagine that you will do so. But will you? No. What you say now means nothing. All that matters is what you will do when you feel the pain. And what you will do is quit. That is why your peppy resolutions ring so hollow. You will walk up to the mountain of hardcoreness. But you will never climb it. Sure, you could walk through the pain and into the promised land. But you won’t. You will talk. And then, you will fail.

Prove me wrong.


The “I of the Tiger” archives.