526. “Do You Like to Exercise?”

In response to The New York Times article “650 Prompts for Narrative and Personal Writing.”


526. “Do You Like to Exercise?”


“Yo, bro, can we work in a set with you?”


“Yuh, jus give me a sec.”


We’re in the downtown YMCA stepping down from the indoor track and stepping in to a sun lit gymnasium, my brother and I (asking a 200 LBS dude if he can share the calf raises machine with us, no, no, keep the 45s on). My brother has been coming here for the last year, regularly. He has his own routine, and I am glad to get back on some machines and barbells. Since the summer I have cut back on gym memberships, and stuck to a tight 50-minute exercise: run 20 mins to a park, 10 mins of push ups, planks and crunches, then 20 mins back: this meant I could eat shower and eat lunch within an hour of getting home from work. Anyway… I did miss the gym these last couple of months. I do like to exercise.


“What’s next?” I ask my brother.


He hasn’t broken a sweat. “Squats.”


By the fourth set I’m shaking, and cheating my way (not-all-the-way) down by that second rep.


“What’s next?” I ask my brother, cracking my neck and back.


“Box springs.”


I have never done them before. He and another gym bro jump a meter and a half up onto a red and a green colored box, while I’m off to the side, hopping on and off a square pedestal. I couldn’t duck down to jump, really, to barely get up on that thing. Basically, it hurt to jump, and it hurt to not be able to jump, know what I mean? Leg days are tough.




“This rollie thing, abs.”


I smile, and remind my brother to go all the way down on his first set. Then it’s my turn. I collapse on my third rep. (I haven’t been able to do any abs since that ‘rollie thing’ three days ago.)


“Let’s go home,” he says, 30 mins later, wiping his forehead with a dry YMCA towel.


Nodding, I breath between gulps of  fountain water water.


His routine kicked my butt, but I feel great this week, after four days of gym in a row. It’s good to be back in Houston. It’s good to be working out again. I missed it. I like it. I remember years ago introducing my brother to bench flies and skull crushers and yes even the squat machine… but now, he’s doing squats free with a bar, and I’m lowing the iron every time we switch off between sets. Proud, yes; annoyed, too. But damn, that pump. Worth it all.


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