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Sit Up And
Take Notice

by Stephen Lautens


March 9, 2001

Who would have guessed that those gym teachers were right?

I avoided gym as best I could all though high school. It didn't matter if it was ballroom dancing or health - if it got me out of the locker room, I took it. By the end of high school I had a better theoretical understanding of human reproduction than Masters or Johnson. And trust me, that information has ended up being a whole lot more useful to me than knowing how to kick field goals.

So after avoiding exercise all my life, I've recently started a modest program of sit-ups every morning.

I want to make it clear that I'm not doing it for health reasons. I know that people who exercise live longer - although some studies suggest that if you deduct the time spent exercising, showering and looking for the perfect jogging shoes under $200, you actually end up minus a few years.

And it's not like I'm trying to fend off the Grim Reaper. I may be over 40, but there's life in the old boy yet. And the way the value of my RRSPs has dropped through the floor lately, I can't afford to die, let alone retire.

No, my decision to get into shape is pure male vanity. Let's face it, vanity is the only thing that ever gets a man to do anything difficult or unpleasant. For example, it's impossible to get a man to do something relatively easy like hit the laundry basket or rinse the sink after shaving. But when it comes to getting painful hairplugs or slicing a few millimetres off their eyeballs so they don't have to wear glasses, men will head off without a second thought.

I still have a full head of hair and can spot a nickel across the room, so my own vanity is in other areas. It started last summer when I realized I was always wearing a shirt to the beach. I said it was because of the sun, but let's face it, what real man is afraid of third degree sunburn or a little skin cancer?

Why did I start wearing a shirt with my bathing suit? Simple - my chest has slowly been moving down to join my stomach. I didn't realize I was even doing it, but I was covering up the fact I was gradually getting a little doughy around the middle.

Then I noticed that when I ran down the stairs, my stomach kept running for another ten seconds.

So with summer only a dozen or so blizzards away, I've decided I need to exercise before they start fitting me for a flowered beach muumuu.

To prove this is a matter of vanity and not health, I steadfastly refuse to exercise anything that will not be visible in a bathing suit. If my heart was on the outside, I might consider a cardio workout, but since it isn't I'm concentrating solely on sucking in my flabby belly.

And don't get the wrong impression - I haven't turned the house into a gym or bought another membership in a health club I'll never visit. All I'm talking about is a couple dozen sit ups every morning.

After all, I wouldn't want to overdo it.

© Stephen Lautens 2001

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