Happy Fitness

I've taken to exercising along with fitness programs on television in an effort to find ways to stay in shape while avoiding paying half my salary to a gym where I have to wait in line ten minutes to tone those hard to reach lats. After watching a bunch, I realized something was off, and it wasn't just my right hip. It was THEM.

I have nothing against the TV exercise instructors, because their crunching their abs to make sure I don't turn into a tubby ball of goo. I respect 'em. But what burns my buns more than Ellen Barrett after an hour long workout is this: they can't stop smiling. It's relentless. It's as if they've been hypnotized by Ms. America, it's like they're auditioning for Valley of the Dolls, it's as if their brains have been sucked out through a straw and replaced by vanilla milkshakes. What's with all the smiling, kids? You're sweating! Just once I'd like to see Ellen lean over her knee, wipe her forehead and exclaim, "fuck, this workout is kicking my ass!"

Wouldn't that make you feel better (and by you, I mean "me")? Because you're not even bending over, wiping your forehead and exclaiming anything, because you stopped about halfway through the workout, walked outside, kicked the neighbor's cat and bought yourself an ice cream Sundae. You're a human being, after all, and wouldn't it be easier to finish one of those workouts if the person you were following was human as well? No, it wouldn't, who are you trying to kid? You're lazy, stop blaming Ellen Barrett.

Wait, I've gotten off track again. Okay, I would marry Ellen. She's perky, in shape and she says things like, "You're doing great," which, lets face it, is something most guys want to hear in as many contexts as possible. But I'd love to see her after the show, clutching her side: "Damn, I've got a cramp, I've got a cramp." That would make her endearing, lovable and more like you, me and everyone else. So what's with all the phony smiling?

I think it's because we're living in a culture where nothing is supposed to be difficult. If it's hard to do, it's not worth doing. My Uncle Abe was over my house the other day to watch football and eat me out of nachos when he said, in between bouts of terrible gas, "There has never yet been a man in our history who led a life of ease whose name is worth remembering." It sounded like something Theodore Roosevelt would say, but my Uncle has a way of exceeding the intelligence of our collective human history. His point is that no one gets anything done unless he applies himself, but marketing people know they can convince you that it's not true. They put a shine, a gloss on everything -- they want you to waste your life, to sit in front of the television and get excited by the Dustbuster, they want you to go to your computer and order a thighmaster, they want you to eat McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken and put enough pressure on your poor heart to turn a coal into a diamond. They want you to pin a numb smile on your face, go through life like a dummy, smiling meaninglessly all the way into the dirt. They want you -- us -- to believe life is SUPPOSED to be easy. Life, lets face it, isn't easy, and in our culture there are too many reasons for giving up, for addicting yourself to Ally McBeal, cocaine or self-love blogging.

The fitness experts know what's going on, they're on the front lines, because that body they have took a shitload of work. Someone, I suspect, is forcing them to do all that smiling. The producers are convinced it's the only way audiences will stick with it: "Make it seem easy, Ellen." The experts need to get their own channel, run by fitness gurus, owned by fitness gurus, where they can whisper to us honestly: "Look, this is going to take a lot of work, you slob. But after a few months, if you stick with me, you might be able to climb down a flight of stairs without losing your breath. You and I are just alike except for one thing. I do 500 crunches a day and you can't lay off those Twinkies. You disgust me!"

Ellen, don't hesitate to say hi!