FIT FOR NOTHING. Short story.

Round about this time of year last year, following the excessive indulgences of the merry season my weight ballooned to two hundred pounds on a five foot eight frame- a good portion of which was made up of chocolate, potato crisps, cake and residual calories left over from alcoholic beverages. So like millions of others at the beginning of the New Year, I decided on a life-changing routine to make me fitter, healthier and a little more attractive to myself and others.

So I went to a sports store where I felt as out of place as a goldfish in a pickle jar and selected a set of free-weights, the little hand held barbells; these ranged from five pounds to twelve. I bought two of each.

My first dilemma was, as I hadn’t exercised before going to the store, how would we get them home, especially as my wife was already burdened down with groceries? Fortunately this must happen frequently as the fit looking guy at the counter offered to carry them all over in a box to the car, which was parked across the road I carried the rubber mat.

Now the amazing thing to me looking back was that although I had absolutely no faith in being able to keep up a regimen of regular exercise, I actually did keep up to it for the whole year, but not without my wife’s encouragement, bullying and threats.
But more than that, she introduced me to an exercise manual.
I’d thought that all you had to do to get fit was to lift the weight things up and then put them down, once or twice a month and so was fascinated to learn when she showed me the routines in the book, passed on to her from her friend (the stunning Gloria, who once I almost opened a jam jar for).

In it were pages and pages of photographs of exercises in different stages of execution; ones for shoulders and arms, buttocks and legs, belly and chest and so on. The book said within weeks I would be toned up and shapely and honed ready for the beach.
The problem was one Mary Shanks of Florida wrote it and all the pictures were of her shapely torso the product of exercise and diet which apparently she wrote in the introduction had already inspired thousands of other pre-menopausal women to exercise and shape up.

She really was shapely no denying that, in fact I couldn’t believe she was real starting with her teeth, and the leotard she wore (which seemed to be made out of stretchy aluminium foil) barely disguised the fact that what lived beneath was real. But the book was for women.
I said to my wife, “I can’t do these, they’re for women.” I pointed out that underneath my
flab I was a man- (I knew for sure because I’d used a mirror to check)- and that it was beneath my manly pride to do ladies exercises, what if someone saw me. She had an answer for that, keep the curtains closed, and besides she said, Mary had written parallel versions of the ladies’ exercises for chaps.
Anyway I wasn’t convinced, so secretly I went to a bookshop and found the health and fitness shelf and looked out for books on male exercise routines. I flicked through a couple with the sort of not fully engaged casual interest that men feign when surupticiously looking through porno mags at the newsagents, pretending they’re looking at gardening magazines, But what I saw shocked me to the quick. I wasn’t going to put myself though that hell, besides I wanted to lose some weight and get a bit fitter, not end up with a body made of sausages which looked like it had been run over by tractor tires.

So a bit sheepishly I sat down with my mentor at home, who said she would be doing the exercises too the ones for ladies (but in a different room thank God) and so together we went through the exercise routine and discussed the moves, although to be quite honest I think I got a bit mixed up over exactly what parts of the exercises were for me even though even though my wife had marked them with a cross.
Well whatever, I got into it and avoided looking at the photos of Mary, who smiles out irrepressibly from every page but also looks like she’s come out of a jelly mould.

Although the routine was hard and painfully frustrating for the first few weeks, by the time the first birds were eyeing each other up in the trees in the yard, my weight had started to come down and I felt better, both with myself and with the world.
Mindst you, I had to cut out the wine that I love, that was a sacrifice but worth it if only for vanities sake as I even noticed women under sixty-five were now shooting me a glance every now and then and fewer forty year olds were offering me their seats on the subway! Plus my love life had improved vastly, mainly with myself, but that was a start!

In five months my weight came down from two hundred pounds to one hundred and seventy eight at one point, it was amazing! Though that didn’t last for long as I put muscle weight on back on, but just a few pounds, mainly on my peck things.
The neighbours were so impressed as now I even offered to carry the shopping in from the car.
I even had to get one of those things for making holes in leather belts as my belly shrank and I discovered clothes in the wardrobe, which for years I thought belonged to another man, but never had the courage to ask my wife about, which now fitted me.
So all in all it was a good thing.

There is just one thing, well three actually. Although I now have the body of a young sculpted Olympian, I have an old head which doesn’t quite go with it- I couldn’t find exercises for heads, and the other two Mary are- I now have seven inch conical breasts!

FIT FOR NOTHING. Short story.

John Sunderland

New York, United States

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Vanity thy name is Mary- stick to your gendre when exercising!

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  • Irene  Burdell
  • John Sunderland
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