We Can Work It Out

Staying fit against your will

By Al Carlos Hernandez
Published on LatinoLA: September 3, 2003

We Can Work It Out

There comes a time when a workout becomes work, when you come to the realization that you now have to work out because to have to, not because you want to.

In California, most of us guys who look like Cruz Bustamante, want to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger, end up looking like Grey Davis after a laborious work out.

I?m not sure when it ended for me.

Even well into our thirties my homies Cadillac George, Danny D., and the Pajeros and I would go to an urban gym and play 3 on 3 basketball 3 times a week, often 4 to 5 hours at a time. After the game we would sit outside a small corner store spitting game about how well we did. It didn?t matter much if we won or not, there was consolation in knowing that other cats our age were couch potatoes and were losing the street soldier virility.

We worked out because we loved the competition, it was fun, it wasn?t about how we looked, and it felt strong to be at the top of our game. For me, getting older and staying in shape isn?t about looks as much as confidence. It?s not that we have to be able to throw down in a fist fight; the older I get the probability of that grows less and less, and given the body politic, should something like that occur, the chances of me fighting fair are inconceivable.

It all stopped when George moved away?Well the real truth, is it stopped when George and I got a 3 on 3 beat -down by two High Schoolers. Then George moved away.

My wife has a serious exercise regimen. She gets up early, goes down stairs and works the treadmill while listening to gospel acts like Fred Hammond, Yolanda Adams, and The Sons of Champlain. Wait, she doesn?t listen to the Sons. I was still sleeping when I thought I heard them. It?s all I can do to grab a shower, make it into the kitchen for coffee and pan dulce.

It doesn?t matter who you are, one day a fat roll appears just above the belt line. Getting bigger or rounder for me isn?t a major deal, as I can still fit into suits I bought 10 years ago. This says two things; my dress up wardrobe is criminally out of style. Two, I?ve cleverly lowered my belt so the spare tire can fold over the top.

Dieting for me is not an option, I?ve spent more than half my life broke, eating traditional foods, and now that I can afford a porterhouse the size of a catcher's mitt, I?m not going to graze on a bowl of plants or eat a piece of fish that wouldn't satisfy a Geisha girl. The male solution to weight gain is to buy bigger clothes.

Acquiescent to realistic health concerns, pursuant to reasonable belly control measures, I have decided to once again walk around a local lake twice a week. The walk is five point something miles in circumference. My wife and I walked it regularly several years ago, but at the end we were always so hungry we would go directly to the House of Pancakes, slam a gold card on the table and negate the earnest effort.

Because of my work schedule, I work out -- or not -- during the day once, sometimes twice a week. Like most of you we have a health club membership that didn?t pay off. It seems I would always find myself in a hot tub or a steam room with really old folks who had nothing else to do and it gave me the creeps. They, assuming that I was out of work, would try to engage in old dude conversation about the benefits of gainful employment, and how their daughters third husband was taking goof balls pills.

Middle age is a good thing, if you consider the alternative. Working out feels good after you do it, but a five mile walk takes a few days to recover from, particularly if when you walk, you pace yourself in between a "my wife threw me out of the house and forced me to work out" shuffle and a manic cumbia to the nearest bathroom.

Contrary to popular thought, it's how you feel, it's not how you look that counts.

?Why stand up when you can sit down? Why sit down when you can lie down??

-WC Fields

About Al Carlos Hernandez:
Al Carlos needs to lose a few pounds.

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