weightlifter-failWhat is the measure of a man? This is a question that has eluded philosophers, teachers, coaches and the IRS for generations, and I think I’ve found the answer. It’s around 45 pounds. How can I say this with such certainty? Because that is the precise weight of a lifting bar. You know what I’m talking about, one of those contraptions that metal plates are affixed to and then lifted, hefted and tossed about the gym. As it so happens, these bars are extremely prolific, and I have yet to go to a gym that did not employ several of them as a means by which to intimidate and abuse paying customers. Not coincidentally, I think said bars are also a tool of the devil, although the science behind that theory is still a little shaky.

Yesterdays workout at the Springfield CrossFit gym involved lifting these bars in a movement known as a “clean”. I’d describe it to you, but that would be akin to me describing cold fusion principles: I’d just be making it up. Here’s the downside of all this business – outside of some lame attempts in the past to bench press and curl, I’ve never in my life lifted weights, so I lack what some call “proper form”. Roughly translated, what this means is that while all the other people are pushing around the iron and getting all pumped up, I’m having fits in the corner and risking some serious back injury while making all the noises I assume you’re supposed to make while lifting weights. I don’t know, I’m just faking it the whole time. I grunt and heave and sweat a lot, but really, nothing’s getting done.

Unfortunately for me, this does not go un-noticed by the sadists, aka trainers, here at CrossFit. In order to protect his identity, I’ll call the trainer from yesterday “Ryan”, since his real name sounds exactly like that, but with a “B”.  So anyways, “Ryan” didn’t waste much time in sending me to my own corner of the mat and make demands that I show him my “form” with regards to this “clean” lift. Using only the bar. What follows does not please him, and I am guessing that is because it resembles the mating dance of an irritated baboon. Face red, sweat running down my leg hair, I set the bar back down with a self satisfied look on my face while “Ryan” looks at me as though he just caught me making love to trash can. He’s incredulous. I’m good with it. And ne’er the two shall meet. He spends the next half hour keeping tabs of my form, taking enough time out of coaching others to yell at me ULI! Again! No, I don’t care about your “feelings”! AGAIN! (or something to that effect). I tried to shake my fist at him, but by this time, I’ve no strength left. It looks more like some sort of limp-wristed wave, matching nicely with the drool leaking out of the corner of my mouth. He continued to glare at me as though seriously considering outfitting me with a helmet to wear. He seemed to take offense that I refused to “open my hips” for him during these lifts, and that’s just because I’m not that kind of guy. I’m no man-slut, no exceptions; just ask anyone. No, scratch that, just take my word for it.

I can see that this “Ryan” character is not going to buy any of my formless bullshit, so I try in earnest to do it right. Out of 743 attempts I get it right exactly three times. That’s a number I can live with. “Ryan” can’t. The war of wills is going to be an ongoing engagement – but I recently recieved vital information that shall give me an unmistakeable advantage. Apparently he harbors an unhealthy fear of lobsters. No idea why, but when I head into the gym tonight? You bet your ass I’ll be toting a couple of fresh cockroaches of the ocean, one under each arm, ready to again do battle. And this time I’ll be sure to use the proper form.