Wednesday, May 07, 2008


I pushed really heavy weight today. Our workout was bis and tris with some abs thrown in; also thrown in was some philosophical talk about life, the state of the world, the science of simplicity and a good workout. My guru, our tainer Ray, and I see eye to eye on the workout thing. We are devoted to the gym, to good health, to our bodies, to our workouts - to the exhileration we get from working out. For the last couple of weeks he has been workint out WITH us, rather than training us. We three get into an almost silent groove, speaking only a little, just focusing on trianing ourselves as hard as we can. One day he and I were talking about the happiness this brings us, this moment when the sweat is dripping down your face and you and a couple of other guys who are serious about their workout are all pushing your heaviest weight. It is addictive and it's an addiction I am happy to have.

I'm beginning to wane off of another addiction that I have had - but it is one of a like theme.

It is a reality tv show on Bravo called Work Out.

I actually missed the first season of Work Out because I was so busy working all the time that I just didn't have the time to look for it, to find it, to tape it and to watch it. It wasn't until I caught an episode (while flipping stations) during season two that I found myself completely caught up in it. Now, I'm not really a fan of Reality tv. I like talent shows - specifically IDOL and DANCING WITH THE STARS and SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE. I, especially, like the dance shows because I used to dance (still do, in the living room, at the disco and on the subway platform) and because it is a physically based talent. I have no idea how a person sings like the people who win IDOL; I have a slight idea what is required to dance on these shows. It awes me.
We don't watch the competition shows like AMAZING RACE, OPRAH'S BIG GIVE... hell, I don't even know the names of any others. And I really don't like the nasty reality shows like I LOVE NEW YORK or the ones about SWEET SIXTEEN and FLAVA FLAV... the shows with people in rehab and nasty people living in the same house and making each other miserable - well, they make me sad. I DO watch SURVIVOR. We love that show. It's the only one of its kind we watch. OH! The dating shows...blech. Makeover shows can be ok. It all just depends on the show, honestly. I can't bear Project Runway or the Modeling shows because the contestants take delight in being bitchy (ick - the cooking shows look horrifying in commercials - NASTY PEOPLE) BUT I did watch Sheer Genius. The host was Jaclyn Smith! I had to! The other thing is -- there's no surprise on that show; a shitty haircut is a shitty haircut - bam! you're off the show.

I got into WORK OUT, though because of my obsession with health and fitness. I liked watching things around the gym. I LOVED watching the workouts and seeing what new things I could learn. And I really loved the change that the trainers were making in the lives of their clients.

Mind you.... Some of the trainers had the skankiest personalities.
Oh. Well. Whatcha gonna do.
I watched season two with devotion. I really liked the little blonde girl, Rebecca; she was fun, she had whimsy, she was honest about herself and her need to be paid attention to. I REALLY liked the trainer named Erika - she was a straight up gal who didn't seem to carry a lot of drama filled baggage around, baggage that opened easily and spilled out all the time. She was a good trainer and a good person and she just showed up and did her job. Me likee. Oh. Hot, too. There were some people on the staff of the gym who just seemed boring (and, indeed, didn't make it back for season two...): a sweet and cute gal named Zen who wanted to be a stand up comic, a misogynistic black dude who thought he was the shit (to his discredit) and often talked about resenting his boss for hooking up for a lot of lesbian sex with women he should have but can't-blech; and a boring one that DID make it back for season two but at least he was hot - that would be the other black guy, Gregg, who was never a drama mama but who, clearly, had issues regarding some matters. The cast rounded out with these two queens. Mind you, one of them is gay but the other is straight. No matter, though, they are these two queens. The gay guy, Jesse, I at least liked, in spite of all the crises he seemed to be at the center of. The straight one, Peeler, was just this overly inflated, testosterone laden hick. Together, they provided the perfect foils for the star of the show, the uber dyke, alpha female, trainer of the Gods, Jackie Warner.

So, as I watched season two, as I picked up work out tricks and tips, as I got into the stories and the lives of the trainers and their clients, I found myself wondering how? why? who? I mean, really... who out in Hollywood decided that we needed a reality show set in a gym that was run by Xena The Warrior Princess, who charges four hundred dollars an hour to train people? Believe you me, if I could charge that much, I would too. But who had this idea? What is more, I began to notice that each episode became more and more about less and less. Jackie is a lesbian and her mother doesn't approve. There's a surprise! The trainers are all dating and hooking up ... some of them with the boss. There's a surprise! The trainers are all catty and bitchy with each other, about each other, behind each other's backs. There's a surprise! So I would start to get a little bored. Then BAM! Something would happen to get my attention.
There was this man. There was this man.
There was this trainer named Doug Blaisdell. I am sure that a lot of people tuned in to see him because he was your basic nightmare: gorgeous and great. He was beautiful of body and generous of self. He had an indomitable spirit and he was one of the greatest trainers a person could hope to find. There were scenes of him handling fragile clients, visions of him handling inter personal relationships with his colleagues, moments of him handling the special needs of his medically challenged ex. He was the heart of the show.
And then he died.
Doug's death was much written about and much discussed but it remains (for me) shrouded in mystery and best left alone. He was a good man and now he is gone. That is all one need know, truly, unless one were a member of his family (of friends).
Watching Doug on the show was an inspiration to me.
Also an inspiration to me was watching the way that Jackie and her trainers helped (actually helped) a group of overweight people deal with their food and body issues and begin to heal.
These are the kinds of things that made me keep watching WORK OUT.
The new season of the show has started and I just watched the third (I think..maybe fourth) episode. I've seen all the episodes this season and they have replaced some of the boring people with more interesting people... a man so hot to look at and so aware of the camera (at all times) that he comes off as pretentious and phony. Yeah, I'm gonna tune in cause THAT'S a lot of fun to look at. There are two new female trainers - one, clearly, wants to be a lady gunny sargeant and the other, clearly, wants to be a porn star. Ok, THAT'S gonna be a big draw. The biggest change of the new season, though, is that there is almost no working out at all anymore. It's just a soap opera -- it's a soap opera where the producers don't have to pay the cast as much money as they would pay them if they were actors and MEMBERS of a UNION. This is why reality tv exists, isn't it? Small salaries for people who are so desperate to be famous that they will humiliate themselves on tv in a reality show on a small network. There's a lot of gossiping, a lot of instigating, a lot of back biting, a lot of kvetching and (as always) a lot of sex. Snore.
How many times can we see Jackie in the therapist's office? How many times can we see her make out with her girlfriend at the dinner table (surrounded by the other employees of the gym) or worse, in a public restaurant (and I don't mean a kiss - I mean tongues, for extended periods of time). And that's another thing.... Jackie has stopped being a trainer, a health and fitness professional, and started being this monster. She runs roughshod over everyone, treats employees, friends and lovers alike as though they were items on an obstacle course she must run in order to get to the top of the mountain. What she appears to be ignoring is what everyone who has read a movie star biography, watched an Aaron Spelling soap opera or seen a Bette Davis movie already knows: Hollywood is in California and both specialize in earthquakes - when you get to the top of the mountain, it is going to shift and you are going to fall off.
Let's face it, the show isn't THAT interesting and if it keeps on the path it is on, they will lose all their devoted viewers. You can only play the same record so many times before you begin skipping certain tracks.
I have to admit that I do have some hope... it's the new masseur, JD (I think that is his name) - he appears, after two episodes, to have the heart that Doug Blaisdell had and brought to the show. That might be good for the dynamic of Work Out - if they don't get a hold of him and drag him to the dark side, making him another nasty. Or maybe he and Erika will continue to be positive forces around the gym. We'll see.
Well...MAYBE I'll see.

I went to the gym on Monday to do chest and shoulders (and cardio) with my two guys. Heaven. I was talking to Ray about this show - I have discussed it with him before. He doesn't watch tv, he isn't interested and he doesn't have time. He has a wife and kids and a life. He works out because it is his passion and joy; he is extremely centered and peaceful and non judgemental. It is all about the workout. I told him that I had been watching the show and was appalled by all the drama. He said to me "It's all entertainment. You have to remember that it isn't that way in real life, most of the time. It's all staged because it is all entertainment." I realized that he was right. At our gym there doesn't seem to be a lot of mess and drama (occasionally there might be a dust up, usually at the hands of one particular trainer who seems to thrive on chaos); people show up and train and go home. Ta da.
I told Ray that I had seen the latest episode, in which all the male trainers went on a six mile mud run and that the most self agrandizing of the men (he always claims that his hands are the hands of Michelangelo) got a cramp after one mile and couldn't keep up; I told him that (natch) they all had to run bare chested and that I laughed and laughed because two of them were SLICED and the other PERSONAL TRAINERS were FAT. Oh, yeah. Big pecs, big shoulders, big arms and BIG BELLIES. I said "that made me feel better" Ray asked me why and I told him "It tells me that I'm not the only one with problems with my body, I'm not the only one with issues and struggles and that even people on tv who work in this profession aren't perfect."
And do you know what my guru, my teacher, my gunny said to me?

"You're up. Pick up those 30 pound weights and give me 15 perfect presses."
Please note that the photos of Work Out are from the internet; the photos of me with Pat and Ray were done with my camera.


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