Skinny Daily Post


I didn’t feel like going to the gym yesterday, but I went anyway.

When I was a kid, my older brothers were both athletes who played little league, joined the track team, and were passionate about sports. My complete lack of interest in organized physical activity led to me being branded a sissy from the earliest I can remember. Once in junior high, when we were required to run a mile around the school grounds, I “cut” and didn’t go the whole way, and the teacher lined up the entire class and made me apologize to them. By the time I was in high school a series of increasingly sadistic gym teachers had created in me the belief that all organized sporting activity was poisonous, cruel and unnecessary. Not surprisingly, I also came to believe that I was a terrible weakling and possessed of an almost criminal lack of interest in anything “athletic.”

Then, when I was in my late 20s, I joined a gym near my office because it had some aerobics classes that I found interesting, and there I discovered some weight machines that allowed me to safely build up my strength. Over time I really became addicted and even hired a personal trainer. Unfortunately I paid no attention to my eating, so while I built up my endurance and my strength, I also padded my body with ever greater amounts of fat. Having repeatedly attempted to starve myself thin, I eventually found myself at my highest weight ever — over 200 pounds by the time I turned forty.

Amazingly, I discovered that my weight gain’s negative affect on my ability to be active was really depressing me. Could it be that this sissy, who hates sports, and loathes gym teachers, had become a jock?! For the first time ever, I had a compelling reason to find a healthy and sane way to drop 50 pounds. As a result, I’ve discovered wonderful muscles I never knew existed and a new-found appreciation of my body’s capabilities. Its never easy to work out, and I don’t always get a rush from exercise, but I do know now that I am a strong, athletic person, and I really love to look and feel the way I do.

I didn’t feel like going to the gym yesterday, but I went anyway.

7 thoughts on “I didn’t feel like it

  1. Richard Inlander says:

    This beautifully written piece is a painful reminder of my growing up in Chicago in the ’40’s and ’50’s with the loathesome “sissy” label. At the same time it is a wonderful, uplifting affirmation of how far I have come from there, and what a strong, healthy, beautiful man I truly am. Thank you, Jonathan.

  2. Blader says:

    I remember the sadism of gym teachers and gym class. It has taken a long time to get past it and I still prefer private workouts to anything in public. I am so happy to see my own daughter’s course selections include ‘Personal Fitness Strategies’ as a separate option from traditional physical education and team sports. Maybe there’s hope for her generation.

    I’m a recovering phys-ed phobic.

  3. Marla says:

    Yay Jonathan! I find that my newly-acquired physical abilities are much more motivating than what I see in the mirror. It’s really exciting to be able to DO things.

    It does seem that “gym class” has changed a little in the past decade. It was a horror for so many of us, I hope it can progress beyond the sadistic mind-set.

  4. jappy says:

    Unfortunately your experience was common. I don’t know how it is today.

    I was fortunate to be active & fit as a child & excelled at phys. ed. But there were countless girls, especially ones who were overweight, who could not possibly do the “normal” activities. They, too, were ridiculed & pushed without any thought of their abilities, only the wrong judgment of a “teacher”. I could never understand why the gym teacher was such an idiot when it was so obvious! And the male coaches were even worse to the boys.

    My daughter joined the high school track team in the 80s only to have a coach who made them run up & down stairs to build strength. That’s fine except they weren’t ALLOWED to stretch beforehand! Consequently my daughter & a few others developed shin splints. She was so discouraged by the coach’s attitude that she became exercise-phobic.

    I certainly hope today’s gym teachers & coaches do not have the same attitudes.

  5. k says:

    Re: the previous comment.

    As I understand, stretching a cold muscle will do no good and may do harm. The body and limbs should be allowed to warm up first, with a few minutes of gentle effort (e,g, running on the spot, skipping, stationary bike).

    I personally tend to very tight calves (and consequent pain in the shins, probably from some degree of comparmentalisation – where the muscle swells in its sheath enough to cause pain). Stretching when cold is next to impossible. I do it after exercise and have some success.

    The running up and down stairs may have been intended to incorporate such a warmup (if it was built up gradually).

    Of course to build up strength, it would probably have been better to have combination of weights (to build the muscle) and sprint training (to train the brain to use said muscles).

  6. Kelly says:

    I would never recommend running stairs before stretching or doing an easier warm-up though. It’s too hard on the knees, ankles, shins, and calves.

  7. k says:

    Up isn’t so bad, it’s *down* that’s the killer! I forgot about down for some reason in my last post.

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