No Pain No Gain

by Tony Shea on January 17, 2013


Katy McCaffrey, our Contributing Editor here in Los Angeles, wrote in her blog earlier this week about how she and her husband have begun the grueling regime that is the Insanity workout, the new get ripped quick religion. In her article, she mentions describing the new fad to another couple and encouraging them to join the legions of the insane. I am part of that couple, along with my wife.

We were all out on News Year’s Eve together when Katy and G, her husband with whom I am in Candygram For Mongo incidentally,  began their tale of Insanity and how they were going to follow the program’s 60 day regimen towards having unbelievable bodies that would be like snakes of hard rope when they were through. I, meanwhile, was looking for the waiter to bring me another drink as I reached for the passing hors d’oeuvres tray for the tenth time to snatch another miniature crab cake and pop it in my mouth.

The last thing I want to hear on New Year’s Eve is people’s resolutions to lose weight, and get fit and quit smoking  and drinking and taking pills and manage their finances better and learn to speak Finnish or join a Moose Lodge. It’s not that I am against self improvement. On the contrary, I believe in the process of personal evolution. All we can do is try to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be, here and now. But I’m not doing Insanity.

This was my immediate response to Katy’s and G’s new enthusiasm. Not for me, I said, as G gleefully described the disclaimer that precedes the workout DVD, cautioning those weak of spirit and mind and flesh that Insanity has specifically been designed not for the average hum drum person, but for those exceptional people willing to push themselves beyond their typical bodily endurance and enter the Valhalla of the truly motivated who seek enlightenment through physical perfection. Definitely not for me. Is there not wisdom in knowing your limitations?

When I think of working out I do not think of professional trainers and professional athletes, I think of Mark Twain. I think of long walks and semi-leisurely bike rides. To that end, I walk two miles a day. Five days a week I walk on flat terrain. Once a week, I hike either in Griffith Park or Runyon Canyon. Runyon is a like a night club in the middle of the day there’s so many hot bodies walking around. Griffith Park is the more serene of the hikes. You practically have the place to yourself as you walk along. You can do an entire hike and not see anyone other than the occasional coyote. Click here to see a photo essay of one of my Griffith hikes.

I ditched my IPod a long time ago. When I go outdoors, I do not want to be propelled on a tidal wave of workout aggression blasting Megadeth in my ears. I want quiet, a chance to think, to listen to a bird, or perhaps just the wind in the trees. I have become less intense now that I have crossed the 40 yard line. Some of this has to do with the fact that I have practiced TM for the last fifteen years, quietly repeating the mantras designed to infiltrate my subconscious mind and fill it with peace and tranquility. In with health, harmony and happiness, I repeat to myself in my mind as I inhale deeply and fully through my nose, exhaling slowly through my mouth, out with death, disease and despair. I credit TM with many things. It is the gateway to the subconscious world of dreams, a never ending fountain of ideas. I also credit it with curing, what was for a time, an unstoppable seething rage that lived within me like a demon. I have mellowed, and this to me represents the hard fought process of my own personal growth. I am not doing Insanity, do you hear me?

My wife, however, was seduced by Katy and G and their description of the benefits of an insane body. She is ready to reclaim her former self in the aftermath of having a baby. This is her New Year’s resolution.

Two days after our New Year’s dinner, the Insanity DVD’s had arrived. I support my wife’s desires and dreams. And if she thinks Insanity is the way to go, then who am I to stop her? I also recognize that her success in this mater benefits me, since presumably by the end of March she will have the body of an eighteen year old cheerleader.

The first night she did the Insanity workout she felt shortness of breath like she was having a heart attack and then had to open the front door and get some air while she gagged on the front lawn.

But aren’t the struggles, the things that we are most challenged by, the things in life that we ultimately remember with the greatest fondness? Graduating high school, or college, getting a promotion at work, getting married, having a child, retiring – all require years of effort and these are the things that we really celebrate, the things that provide a deeper sense of joy and above all else meaning in our lives. Insanity is only 60 days, after all. No pain, no gain. This makes sense to me. But I’m also not doing Insanity.

Part of my reason for not doing Insanity is that I have had almost as many broken bones as Evel Knievel. For the record: left hand 3 times, right hand 3 times, left foot 3 times, right foot 3 times, left arm, 2 ribs, right thumb, right leg, three concussions, and a dozen broken bones in my face after it was shattered in a car accident, requiring five metal plates to make me look like a person again.  It’s a miracle I am alive, for in fact I was dead for almost a minute there on the street before the paramedics brought me back to life with their shock paddles like Frankenstein’s monster. I feel that I have had in full measure my amount of cosmically preordained pain. I am not doing Insanity, do you hear me?


No Pain No Gain

I don’t have anything to prove. Maybe I am a defeatist, but I don’t think that I can be in the best shape of my life. My best was when I was 27 or 28 or 29. That was, ahem, ten years ago. I am content to grow old and pulpy and soft. Or am I? I ask myself. Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night. Goodness, man, you’re in the prime of your life. Do It, the voice inside is me saying. Are you nuts? I re-assume control as I watch my wife, on day 4 of the program, getting stronger, becoming slowly insane.

“Having a baby is harder than this,” she says, doing squat leaps that she now refers to as “Froggers.”

“But you had a C-section,” I remind her.

“Not that, just being pregnant.” She turns to sneer at me in my weakness, never able to know the ordeal of pregnancy, with eyes shining like a wolf. In sixty days time, I fear she will be like a fire breathing dragon, awoken from its slumber. I will be powerless against her. She will have the body of a tri-athlete, and I will still be a bulldog. I realize that I too must make my New Year’s resolution to be better and demonstrate this to her if I have any hope of keeping her heart, not to mention my masculine pride.

I rise from the couch and stand beside her as she begins to furiously run in place, and then my legs are moving, and for a moment I take a breath and lunge into the madness.

Tony Shea ( Editor-in-Chief, New York)

Tony Shea is based in New York, having recently moved from Los Angeles after more than a decade on the sunny coast. His short films have won numerous awards and screened at major festivals around the world including Comic-Con. As a musician, he is the lead singer for Los Angeles rock n’ roll band Candygram For Mongo (C4M) who has been a featured artist on Clear Channel Radio’s Discover New Music Program and whose songs have been heard on Battlestar Gallactica (Syfy Channel) and Unhitched (Fox) among other shows and films.

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