Category Archives: Gym

Joining a Gym

Now that my carcass is pretty much relocated to Chicago it’s time to join a new gym. This seems like it would be easy – just find something between work and home, closer to home (for weekend workouts), with decent equipment and a monthly fee that won’t bankrupt me.

I tried out the local Ballys, which was characterized by sweaty lowlife who don’t wipe down the equipment or replace the plates on the weight machines. At least it was convenient and cheap(ish), though, so I considered joining. Mrs Bison suggested I look online for a deal. “They always have deals online” she opined, with the sure and certain insight of someone who has never actually joined a gym.

So I looked online and found the $19.99 a month*, $0 enrollment fee* offer. Did you spot the * sign? That means “restrictions apply”. If you click on the restrictions you will find the following text:

Offer Restrictions
One Club Easy Monthly Payment Plan Membership: No Enrollment Fee. First monthly payment of $19.99 to $29.99 (rate varies based on location selected), plus $29 card fee due at time of joining, then $19.99 to $29.99 per month as long as you remain a member. Monthly payments are subject to increase as stated in your Membership Agreement. A prorated usage fee through first scheduled payment date may be added. An annual fee of $19 or $29 may be charged to your provided account in December of each year. Annual fee varies by market. Recurring Credit Card (RCC) transactions only. Sales Tax not included (where applicable.)

I think I may have commented before that gym chains are usually cheating scum who want nothing more than to separate you from your hard-earned with visions of six-pack abs and spotless facilities, so this information hardly comes as a surprise.

First point – you can only pay by Recurring Credit Card transaction. Good luck cancelling that if you want to leave. Think you can contact the card provider? Think again – you signed an agreement with the gym, and they can keep debiting your card until you cancel with THEM. LA Fitness seems to have a particular penchant for “losing” cancellations that haven’t been sent via certified mail, if you look at their reputation on the web.

Note that there’s a $29 card fee at time of joining. So there’s $0 of enrollment fee, but you have to pay a $29 card fee, and you can only pay by card. If that’s not an “enrollment fee” what the fuck is it? Calling it a card fee is simply hiding the charge. Note also that you can be charged the fee every year in December if they feel like it. And that your fees may increase when they feel like it, according to an agreement which is referenced but not included in the small print. You should ALWAYS read the small print in agreement because therein lies the truth about how you’ll get fucked later, and you may as well be prepared.

To be fair to Ballys (though I’m not sure why, since they can’t be bothered to make slimy people carry a towel in their gym) their people did not have the “what can I do to get you in this car today” approach that the wankers at LA Fitness had, but my reaction when I see businesses try and hide charges and “cheat” in a small way is to assume that they would, by extension, be quite happy to cheat you in a big way later, and that hardly makes you want to give them your credit card now, does it?

Still, for anyone naive enough to believe what gyms tell you BEFORE you join, why not check out the satisfied customers with LA Fitness Problems as highlighted by You might end up with six-pack abs, but your wallet will look like a steroid boy’s wedding tackle.

Stand Well Back

I have seen a blue flame shoot from my anus.  Lighting farts is a skillful endeavor and if you want to know how then you’ll have to buy my book,  Mr Bison’s Journal. It’s packed full of short little stories and observations that are perfect for reading on the toilet as you curl one down.

Black Belt Jesus

I was in the gym today, inflicting the regular Saturday chest workout on myself, when I noticed this bloke in a T-shirt with the words “New Life Martial Arts – Kicking for Christ” on the back. Really? I’m not into the WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) thing, but among the many possibilities that my limited biblical education would suggest, kicking someone’s head in doesn’t figure very highly. I seem to recall he was more your “turn the other cheek” kind of guy, rather than “you karate do or you karate no do, Daniel-san”. Maybe I missed the bit where he backfisted a centurion before spin-kicking another and double-punching a third, all while naked from the waist up and displaying his rock-hard abs. It must have been in one of the Gnostic gospels I suppose, along with the parable of the nunchuks and the broken teeth.

The bloke in question was clearly a twat. Not just because he looked like a twat, but I saw him last week with his shirt off, flexing and posing in the mirror. This isn’t something you see much in our gym (in fact he’s the first I’ve observed actually take his shirt off to do it – we have a relatively low cunt-to-normal person ratio as a rule) and he’s obviously a big fan of the tanning booth too. So in addition to kicking heads in for Christ he’s also got the not-insignificant sin of pride to overcome. More than pride, actually – pompous, self-love would be more like it.

Isn’t it amazing when you look at a lot of religious people how few of their natural desires have to be sacrificed to their beliefs? Just by attaching the words “for Christ” to the back end of any hobby or pastime it’s instantly rendered holy. Want a new younger wife? Or three? Want to be able to have sex with underage girls? Welcome to the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints church – we’re fucking kids for Christ. Want to be fabulously wealthy, live in a mansion and fly around in a private jet? Welcome to the new world of Prosperity Theology, just leave your large donation in the envelope provided. I’m driving a Ferrari for Christ. Fuck off! It’s bullshit – you can tell all you need to know about people by watching how they behave. Sticking a fish on the back of your Porsche, or claiming that you’re giving Lap Dances for Christ doesn’t get you in the Fast Lane to holiness.

I’m fine with the whole martial arts thing of course – even Christian martial arts, I suppose. I just find the whole idea of attaching a deity to the back end to be laughable. At least it’s all pretty harmless stuff, compared to Islam. How about blowing up buses for Allah? Beheading hostages for Allah? Keeping women brainwashed and wrapped up in stupid black robes with only their eyes showing for Allah? Honor-killing your daughter for Allah?

All sorts of things that any normal person in a civilized society would regard as vile and reprehensible have to be tolerated simply because someone is doing them in the name of their particular god. Let’s drain the blood out of this goat while it’s alive and suffering, because our god said so. Let’s cut the foreskin off this tiny baby because our god said so. Yeah, “Mutilating Babies for Jehovah”. Don’t think I’ll be seeing that on a T-shirt any time soon.

Copyright © 2008 Edward Bison

Gone But Not Forgotten, Yet

Today I’m mourning the loss of my workout buddy. He didn’t die or anything – just moved away to Tampa, the lucky bastard, and he’s been gone a couple of months already. Still, today’s as good a day as any to remember him, partly because it was leg day in the gym and I really needed someone to give me a hard time about not putting more weight on the bar, and partly because he phoned me earlier, which elevated him to top of mind.

I’ve only had two workout buddies in the last decade, and they have to be selected carefully over time. This relationship is important and not to be entered into wantonly with just anyone who shows up at the gym. Jesus, I know people who’ve had more wives in that time. Obviously the role has a couple of basic requirements – he has to be able to spot you on the heavy weights and give you a combination of abuse and encouragement so that you’ll try harder. It helps if he lifts similar amounts of weight as you, but it’s also good if he kicks your arse on some exercises and vice versa, so there’s always something to aim for.

So much for the basics – there should be any number of people who fit in that category so why are so few people suitable? Well, there are some other important characteristics:

  • Not dressing in lycra or any other weird pansy clothing
  • Wanting to work out at similar times of day as you
  • Being the sort of person that you’re happy to spend an hour or two with several times a week, that is to say with similar views on women, politics and life in general, but capable of shutting up and not talking all the fucking time
  • Happy to check out the pretty girls in the gym, but ready to concentrate when you’re lifting and you need him to spot you (we had a guy who lifted with us occasionally, when his wife allowed him out, who would be incapable of tearing his eyes away from women – you could have three hundred pounds stuck on your windpipe and he’d be gazing at some tits over the other side of the room)
  • Not coming out with crap gym cliches like “it’s all you”
  • Not embarassing you by doing lame pansy squats or bench press that doesn’t reach the chest
  • Genuinely pleased when you hit a new personal best
  • Good personal hygiene, i.e. doesn’t smell like a three week old corpse or have breath like a dog’s flatulence
  • Comes with excellent stories of sexual excess through which you can live vicariously
  • Won’t puss out of coming to the gym because his girlfriend wants to do something on Saturday morning. (Typically girlfriends will test a bloke at some point to see if they are a higher priority than his workout – it’s a control thing.)
  • Not being a steroid user
  • Not being a twat
  • Not wearing shorts so that his junk is hanging over your head when he’s spotting you on the bench
  • Laughing out loud with you at the weird fuckers who show up at the gym

I’m sure that’s not an exhaustive list but it gives you some idea why there are so few people around who you’d want to count as a gym buddy. In fact I’ve decided that it would just be easier to move to Tampa than find a new one, a decision made all the more potentially attractive by another day of wind, rain, tornadoes and generally piss-poor Missouri weather.

Anyway, the gym was pretty empty today. There was the strange bloke in the matching lycra outfit, but there was no-one to look at and communicate with one raised eyebrow the question “what the fuck is wrong with him?” The blonde trainer with the great arse was in as well, but there was no-one there to notice and let you know with just a slight incline of the head that he’d be very happy to have her stand over him on the bench and maybe sit on his face. Yep, life at the old gym just got much duller. I’m keeping up the routine, though, because when I eventually get down to visit Tampa I’m not going to be the one taking abuse for lifting like a giant puff…

Copyright © 2008 Edward Bison

Yellow And Bent

It’s Sunday today so as usual I dragged my arse into the gym for a session of leg exercises. Deadlifting on Friday (because I worked late and couldn’t be bothered on Thursday) followed by a midnight soccer match, and the normal Saturday chest workout, meant that there was not much of me that didn’t hurt this morning. And what you really don’t need when everything hurts is to have to get in the power cage for squats. I confirmed with a couple of gym buddies that we all feel like shit when we walk in, and much better by the time we leave, although it’s not clear whether this “feeling better” is the result of the endorphins released by lifting or just having the whole bastard process over with for another day.

Lifting is only part of the process, however; there are two other critical parts of the equation if you want to build muscle, namely sleep and nutrition. Now, I sleep like utter shit (whatever the opposite of the “sleep of the righteous” is, that’s what I have) which means I concentrate more on the nutrition. Meaning I eat a lot.

I read somweher that you need to consume around 1.0-1.5g of protein for each lb of lean body mass in order to build muscle, although I can’t remember where I found that information, and you have to be careful when you read advice on the internet that it’s not aimed at steroid-using bodybuilders, for whom the normal rules of nutrition do not apply. It’s no good eating a 48 ounce steak every day either; since the body can’t store that protein you need to consume it in smaller, more frequent quantities, ideally six times per day.

So that means I ought to be eating something like 180g of protein a day. This is very approximate, since I have no idea what “lean body mass” means. Does it just mean “without fat”? And how much fat do I have anyway? It’s not like I can take it off and weigh it. But I figure that since I don’t take this stuff too seriously I should try and get five or six servings of around 30g of protein a day.

A 30g serving of protein could come from a chicken breast, a whole can of tuna, a serving of meat such as chili, or a whey protein shake made with skimmed milk (always buy the chocolate flavor since all other flavors are specially formulated to taste like arse). With dedication you could arrange to eat such a meal six times a day, not overdoing the carbohydrate (while focusing on complex forms) and combining plenty of fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately I used up all my dedication in the gym so I tend to fall back on three regular meals with odd protein shakes and cans of tuna thrown in between. When you have a full day at work with lots of travel as a bonus it’s hard to keep this up. (You try taking unidentified powder through airport security and then explaining to a sweaty fat TSA employee with the IQ of broccoli, who never even heard of the concept of exercise, that this is in fact whey protein.)

All of which brings me to my big problem. Gorillas. Yep, gorillas. Have you seen those bastards at the zoo? A fully grown silverback is a majestic animal with superb musculature and immense strength. Yet it sits there in the grass and appears to do precisely fuck-all in the way of exercise. When was the last time you saw one bench pressing? Or doing curls? And what does a beast like this eat in order to attain such impressive stature? Is it knocking back the steak, chicken, tuna, skimmed milk and whey protein? I think not. It’s eating bananas. Fucking bananas, and it puts on muscle like it can’t help it.

Perhaps I’ve underestimated the importance of sleep in muscle development since that is certainly something a gorilla seems to do a lot more of than me. I’ve never bought a men’s fitness magazine in my life, and I’m not about to start now, especially since they’re basically gay porn, but imagine how much thinner they would be if they just focused on the training techniques of the mountain gorilla: “Get bigger today! See inside for amazing training tips! Eat a lot of bananas and lie around in the grass!” Sounds like a good plan, except that, in contradiction of my own advice, I just finished a 5lb tub of banana-flavored GNC whey protein. It did indeed taste like arse, and pretty much ensured that I won’t be touching bananas for about a year. Guess I’ll just stick with lying in the grass then. Pity it’s so fucking cold out…

Copyright © 2008 Edward Bison

Runs Like A Slug

I decided to go to the track this morning and run. I don’t normally run – it’s very dull and painfull – but I do want to develop a certain level of cardio-vascular fitness to go with the ability to lift heavy weights, and nothing about my eating habits over the last week has done anything to improve my health. Having said that, this running thing is most assuredly NOT a New Year’s Resolution. The way I see it you either decide you want to do something or you don’t; the date ain’t going to make any difference.

Anyway, running is a miserable way to spend time and all the weight lifting doesn’t help. Most of the runners I know are skinny people who bounce along effortlessly and gracefully while I drag my giant carcass behind. This kind of display is best not done in front of neighbors and people who ever have to look at you with a straight face, so I dragged my carcass down to the track, where I could enjoy the company of other slug-like creatures desperately seeking a healthier lifestyle.

Well, let me tell you, it was fucking cold this morning. I knew the temperature was well below freezing before I went out, but I had not figured on the extra chill from the unusually strong winter winds. It was a wonderful bright morning, made more peaceful by the legions of hangover sufferers still in bed, and the only sound was that of the wind attempting to pull light poles out of the ground. I stepped out of my truck and my jacket nearly blew away. In an instant my testicles retreated inwards like startled puppies and I pulled on my hat while muttering unpleasant words. About ten yards from the truck I decided to go back for gloves, figuring that the risk of looking like a pussy was one I was willing to take in order to ensure that I would keep my fingers. (The list of things you cannot do without fingers is long indeed, and includes tying your shoes, wiping your arse and playing with breasts, none of which I was planning to give up in 2008.)

So I staggered around the track for about half an hour. The other slugs quickly left, possibly because of the cold, but more likely to avoid the risk that they would be the one required to resuscitate me if I collapsed. After about twenty minutes I could feel my fingers again, and my heart rate monitor eventually kicked in and informed me that against all odds I was not dead yet. I made it back to the truck and pulled the door closed to shut out the wind. The sudden silence and relative warmth were good, but my testes were in no mood to trust that I was not about to throw them out in the cold again.

Now back home, I feel that special righteousness that comes from doing extra exercise, and which ususally leads to bonus food consumption. Fortunately all the turkey has been eaten but there’s still half a Christmas cake and some Cadbury’s biscuits. At this rate I’ll be the fastest fat wanker on the track by Easter.

Copyright © 2008 Edward Bison

Big Rubber Balls

I happened to be in the gym with Doug The Dog over the weekend, when we had the dubious privilege of being accosted by a personal trainer. There’s a steady stream of personal trainers at this gym (and probably most gyms), a startling number of which are blonde women with an IQ of approximately 47. The same people who buy a lifetime membership to a gym that they will probably use twice, before deciding that exercise is something other people do, are often prevailed upon to purchase one-on-one personal training when they sign up. You see them being led round the gym in their ill-fitting workout gear, invariably wobbling with several years of accumulated lard.

Now I have nothing against people consulting a trainer per se, nor do I mind fat bastards coming to the gym – as I’ve said before I have respect for anyone who makes the effort to work out consistently. What bothers me is that these poor fuckers are trusting themselves to trainers who in many cases haven’t got the first sodding clue how to get them what they want. No matter if it’s a thirty year-old bloke who wants more muscle or a fifty year-old woman looking to avoid osteoporosis they’re going to end up with basically the same workout, and it always involves balls.

I’ve read in many places that squats are the single most complete exercise that you can do. You don’t have to go heavy – it’s just a great all-round exercise. But do you ever see a personal trainer introduce anyone to squats? Do you bollocks! Chances are that the first thing they’ll do is go and get the big red rubber ball and have their client make a dick of themselves with some stupid made-up routine. Personally I believe trainers pass the time by seeing who can make someone do the most ridiculous movements in public.

So, back to our trainer. Obviously they don’t put the bite on you right away – they work up to it, with questions like “Have you ever worked with a personal trainer?” and “Do you know what your body fat is?” but you can see it coming a mile away. In this case the trainer in question may have been struggling to reach the lofty heights of a 47 IQ, given her inability to subtract one number from another and calculate a target heart rate. She eventually got around to offering each of us a free evaluation, where we would get baseline measurements for all sorts of things. Only a complete retard would fail to realise that this data is utterly useless unless they go back repeatedly for paid sessions and get re-measured. It’s a hook, to get insecure people to pay for training they don’t need at exorbitant rates.

I’ve come to appreciate that people who pay for training aren’t actually buying the training; they’re purchasing absolution. Trainers know this and they make sure the session isn’t demanding, so the client keeps coming back, laboring under the sad delusion that a few minutes of undemanding exercise twice a week is going to erase the cumulative effects of fifteen years of donuts. You notice that the trainer spends more time chatting to the client about how their weekend went than pushing them to work harder. Eventually even the most deluded client realises that they have made zero progress, and quits, but a lot of money changed hands in the meantime. One of our trainers is a fabulous blonde specimen who ends each session by putting the client on his back (it’s usually a man), wrapping herself around one leg and stretching his hamstrings. What this is supposed to achieve I do not know, other than spontaneous and embarrassing wood for the client. It certainly keeps them coming back though. It’s practically a “happy ending”.

Not surprisingly I declined the opportunity to have a free consultation. Doug, on the other hand, signed up. His motives are not pure, though. Doug doesn’t need to know his body fat, biceps circumference or target heart rate. He just wants to see if he can get a shag. And who can blame him – after all, it’s certainly exercise.

Copyright 2007 Edward Bison

Mad Dogs & Englishmen from one of top humor books in 2012

It’s Memorial Day and I woke up with nothing better to do than cut the grass, so Mrs. Bison proposed a visit to the track to run some sprints. I got into the habit of this a couple of years ago – for some reason my workout partner wanted to run some 200m sprints so we used to go on a Sunday after the gym. It turns out I’m surprisingly quick for a big bloke, but only over short distances – anything longer and I’m completely useless. I have a friend who runs marathons and I joined him on a 6km run once; he was very polite about it, but I was undeniably shite.

Read the rest of this story in Mr Bison’s journal, one of the top humor books in 2012