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I fought the lawn… and the lawn won

Mr. Beefcakes Goes for the Burn

Filed under: Battle of the Bulge, Columns, Hubby on Sunday, October 1, 2000

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.  And sometimes a fancy workout machine is really just an oversized clothes hanger.  At least, that’s what I insisted as an employee from Scratch and Dent Fitness installed one slightly used Hoist 200 into our kitchen/family room.

I’m a fitness videotape kind of gal.  So was Hubby, until a few Hoist brochures revealed this gender blunder to him.

“Come on,” I said. “One reason we bought this house was because it had a walk-in closet. How much more clothes space do you need?”

“I’m gonna WORK OUT with it. End of discussion,” he said.

Two months later and he still hadn’t draped a pair of pants over it. When Didi came over to borrow some butter she caught him pulling down on the lat bar.

“Whoo-eee!” she squealed.

My head popped out of our refrigerator. “What?”

“Look at him! He’s working out!”

Hubby perked up when he heard this. He flexed coyly, a religious experience for Didi.

“OH MY GAWD!” she cried. “Look at those MUSCLES!”

I looked. He did seem kind of brawny in his sleeveless tee and shorts, and if he made one more pose I was going to have to throw a bucket of water over Didi.

Word travels fast in our little cul-de-sac. It wasn’t too long before my workout buddy Rita was itching to get some pointers from my newly buff husband. In a moment of temporary insanity I mentioned this to him.

“Great!” he said enthusiastically. “I’ll have both of you in peak form in no time.”

That night Rita and I stretched on beach towels in the kitchen/family room while he gave us a Navy Seals pep talk. He used sound bites like “terrify your muscles into submission,” and “forced to the end of your limits.”

I rolled my eyes like a punk in detention and glanced at Rita.  She was practically eating out of the palm of his leather weight-lifting glove.

I reconsidered. Hubby did have some incredible muscles. Should I dismiss this fitness visionary merely because I was married to him?

“Okay,” I said. “What do I have to do?”

He handed me a 40-pound dumbbell for some lat row exercises. Until then I’d managed to do lat rows with 15-pounders… and thought I was hot stuff doing it.

“No way,” I protested.

“Just do it,” he said.

I tried to pull the weight up but it wouldn’t budge. I peeked at Rita. Grimacing, she pulled hard on hers. It rested on the carpet, undisturbed.

Hubby winced.

Shaking his head, he brought us down to 35, and then 30 pounds. Finally, he said if we went any lower than 25 pounds we’d shame all of womankind. I pulled with all my strength but my elbow couldn’t make it past my back.

“Rita,” I grunted, “I’m seriously hating your guts right now.”

Hearing this, Rita hauled elbow on her dumbbell and managed to lift it. Not to be outdone, I doubled my efforts. The dumbbell inched upward. Soon we were sweating and snorting like pigs.

I suddenly remembered how much I disliked Hubby as my labor and delivery coach. Halfway through, he had dumped the Lamaze script to quote instead from Diatribes by Pat Riley.

“Work through the pain!” he had urged. “Rise above it! Use it! Stomp it! Mangle it!”

Somehow I made it through childbirth. But this Workout from Hell was going to kill me. How could I escape?  Probably I’d have to knock Hubby out–with one of the dumbbells I could lift over my head, a 12-pounder, maybe. It would be hard, though, unless Rita helped.

A cigar may be just a cigar, I thought while plotting my retreat, but the fitness visionary in my kitchen/family room was really just a frustrated Lakers coach with good muscle definition.

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