Richard Simmons, Eat Your Heart Out

I’ve got friends that spin, box and keep weekly gym sessions with personal trainers but what about the rest of us, those whose motto is not higher, faster, stronger but lower, slower and battery operated?

Like Black Friday for retailers when the majority of sales are made in the weeks before Christmas; January brings a surge of new customers to local gyms intent on fulfilling their new year’s resolution to lose the muffin top and whip that beer gut into a six pack.

Full of good intentions, we ambitiously sign up for the Slick and Slim Package; the one year, nonrefundable, all-hours access pass with a free personal training session with Kong, the sixth runner-up in the 2005 Mr. Universe contest.

Then, after a new wardrobe of high tech, fast drying, odor-resistant workout clothes matched with equally expensive advanced footwear is bought, we head over to the gym and amongst the grunts, flexing and damp exercise machines we’re faced with the hard truth. It’s all work and no play.

Even the gym lingo sounds painful; crunches, military squat, medicine ball, feel the burn, push yourself, get out of your comfort zone, ten more-nine-more-eight-more repetitions.

The fundamental problem with working out is that for most of us, it’s unpleasant. There’s the pain of exertion, the hassle of cleaning up, the day-after burn and all that messy sweat. No wonder come March, the waiting time for the treadmill drops from half an hour to zero.

Fitness is a multi-billion industry but why hasn’t someone addressed the needs of the couch potato elite? We who dive in, hopeful of revealing our inner Adonis or Venus but after the third visit give up, resolved to accept a more earth-bound form complete with love handles, winged upper arms and a butt that looks like two pigs canoodling in a gunny sack.

Instead of routines that make us strain and sweat; why not have a gym full of equipment that provides a work-out that’s pleasant and pain free?

The ideal gym would have the calming meditation of a yoga yard, the pampering luxury of a day spa, the testosterone bluster of a muscle gym and most importantly; the passive-exercise machines that do all the work for you.

Imagine a world where you’d be met with a set of billowy gymjamas (like pajamas only softer) and terry-cloth booties. Lycra, spandex and all clothing with printed inspirational mottos (Just Do It) would be banned. A Milkshake Bar (low fat of course) would grace the lounge, along with a string quarter playing softly in the background.

Kids are welcome too. They’re issued black and white striped gymjammies and put in a sound-proof playroom that only opens from the outside. The jail screws, er…babysitters are there to ensure Mom and Dad enjoy doing their time.

And knowing that it’s hard enough making one new year’s resolution much less two; a specially hermetically-sealed Smoker’s Room with extra-strength exhaust fans and an ashtray on every cross trainer is part and parcel of the new No Pain, No Strain gym prototype.

Ready for your workout? Step up to The Jiggler. Loop the belt behind your back, resting it gently on your hips and let the Jiggler shake away those unsightly fatty rolls on your waist while you hydrate with a cool Whisky Sour. Or lie down on the treatment bed and let the Rock Abs Roller massage the fat out and leave toned muscle in. At the same time, have a facial, a cigar or even a nap. After all, a one hour snooze burns the calorie equivalent of two slices of yummy honey-glazed bacon.

And so refreshed if not essentially fitter; we too could experience that “runner’s high” (I think it feels like heartburn) without having to do actual physical labor.

But until the dream becomes a reality and “resistance training” refers to choosing Molten Chocolate Lava Mounds over Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheesecake, the next best thing to looking fitter without working out is standing near someone who’s in worse shape than you. So then, who’s coming to the nursing home with me?



Dinah Chong Watkins has been around since the age of Methuselah – oh no wait, that’s her husband. Still a child bride (it’s all relative), she escaped the cold, snowy winters of Toronto for the cold, smoggy winters of Beijing. She likes Pina Coladas, long walks on the beach and is counting on her husband’s 401K to provide all that. In the meantime, she hopes you’ll get a chuckle or two out of her writing because laughter is priceless or at least that’s what her editor said when she asked for a raise. Enjoy more of her writing at

2 responses to “Richard Simmons, Eat Your Heart Out

  1. I almost choked on an Oreo reading this because I was giggling too much.

    I f’ing hate ‘the gym.’

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