Me Vasa Es Su Vasa: The Viral Pleasures of Working Out Once Again

I am overweight. I know this. I live with this. And I always have.

Growing up, my father would become suddenly violent and constantly hurt me with his words and fists; when he was finally finished, I would always waddle to the fat-filled sanctuary of various foodstuffs that I had hidden to find what little relief I could in all kinds of nasty eats, the chub-inducing grub a comforting consort that was always there, always loving me, always healing me.

And then I died.

Nowadays, however, when this bastard life and the sons of bitches that live in it attack me as they are usually wont to do, instead of filling my gut with slop I just go to the gym and, each time, workout a little bit harder than the day before, getting stronger and feeling better, centering myself and my feelings. That’s pretty good for a “lazy usurper,” right?

Since my stroke three years ago, through excessively hard work I’ve managed to lose around 150 pounds, give or take the twenty that I recently put on during the Covid crisis when the gyms in my area were eternally shuttered. Before then, my habit was to walk to Gold’s Gym everyday and put in an hour or so of strenuous exercise, for almost a year.

Sadly, when the gyms finally opened back up, Gold’s stayed closed, this time for good.

As I was waiting for my expensive membership to end—no, Gold’s wouldn’t let that go even in a pandemic—a new place opened on the gravesite of the old Buy for Less called Vasa Fitness, 2500 N. Penn Ave. A few weeks ago, I finally joined and have been walking the half-mile to and from every day, exercising again and doing a pretty good job of it; not to get all positive on you, but I feel that if I keep my eyes on the thighs, I can get back on track.

And I’ll try to avoid Covid, of course.

Television’s “Marquee Moon” usually starts off the workout, beginning with the legs, cycling my way up to the arms—the worst part, personally—usually doing four sets of 25 reps each, an admittedly tedious routine that I learned when I was in rehab, slowly increasing whatever machine’s weight by ten to fifteen pounds every few weeks. It always leaves me with sensual pains that hurt so bad, every muscle burning with the softest of sighs.

But that’s not to say there aren’t a few things at Vasa that are mildly annoying to me. Whereas Gold’s Gym was a serious place for serious workouts, Vasa seems to be more of a youthful meat market, with a lot of presumably OCU kids on their phones. Nearly every visit, when I’m in the middle of a stressful workout, I’ll have to either wait or skip an important machine because some imbecile is blindly playing with social media or some other telephonic bullshit.

Personally though, like many places I step into these days, at 42, I always feel like I’m the oldest—and in here, the fattest—person in the entire gym and, truthfully, I usually am. For a long time, that inane fear of wrecked stares and whispered insults kept me out of health clubs until I finally realized that I’d much rather have a person insult me, real or imagined, for working out than not. In a word, fuck ‘em.

Vasa has three membership stages, with mine being somewhere around $21 a month—$26 after fees—and, in a couple of weeks, another $50 add-on, which, like most gyms, is a pretty expected fee. But, for that twenty bucks, I get a swimming pool (that I can’t use), a sauna (that’s currently closed) and, best of all, a hydro-massage chair that I’ve only used once but, if I’m being graphically honest, gave me pornographic pleasure as the small waves rolled up and down my taut buttocks.

So yeah, I’m overweight and, you know, I might be until the day I die. But at least I can be damn sure I won’t be buried in a piano crate.


Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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19 Responses

  1. 150 – that’s impressive regardless of your starting point! Over the last decade I’ve lost 150 but gained 160. You’re providing inspiration on an otherwise bland Thursday.

  2. Congratulations! Keep your resolve, your self respect, and pride going. Ain’t no piano crate gonna take you down. (I consistently read and enjoy your posts.)

  3. More information on this chair please

  4. Ugh, I feel ya. I’ve fought my weight all my life and about ten years ago through lots of hard work I was able to actually jog a 5k and even buy clothes in stores that weren’t plus size specialties!

    But that was ten years ago. I’ve about gained back the 100 pounds or so but still love exercise. I don’t jog anymore (ain’t no full-body sports bras that can handle THAT, amirite?) but a good walk or swim is great when the weather is right. Anyway, you’re not alone and I really appreciate your words. I have yet to rejoin a gym because that calls for commitment and I’m not quite there. The shame of the loss then regain is like a boulder.

    Keep on trucking. Those phone-addled kids who move if you stand over them, letting your sweat drop and drizzle their screens. We’ve all got you back!

  5. Technically, F*ck ’em is two words.

    1. What a helpful and much-needed comment! What would the internet do without random anonymous trolls to point out completely irrelevant things and add nothing to the comment section?

      But while I’m here (well actually), “in a word” just means to summarize. It doesn’t mean literally one word. Google it. Not exactly the gotcha comment you thought it was.

      1. Jesus Christ, decaf. Try it.

        1. Oh, and by the way, I’m neither random nor anonymous.

  6. What G-Dub, Michael, and Dani said.

  7. Keep up the good work Louis!! We’re all rooting for you!

  8. Keep it up mang!

  9. Louis, you gotta flip the script, brother. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like, there are always gonna be those that try and beat you down. The only person you’re competing with is you. Are you better today then you were yesterday? That’s the only question you have to answer. Anything else is just a distraction.

    Just a suggestion; put yourself out there. I know it may seem tough during covid days. Look around, find a guy that seems to be on your schedule. Get to know them. I think you’ll be surprised. Most people love to teach and would be glad to work with you, either as a coach or workout buddy. If you’re in the gym, we’re all there for the same reason. Some are a little (or a lot) farther along the path than others, but it’s a lot more tolerable when you have someone help you along and you know we’re all heading in the same direction. It’s progress, not perfection.

    1. good comment.
      flip the script man. who cares about what others think.

      you give to much power to others.
      understandable as a child but you’re a grown-ass man in a free country. do what you want to do and to hell with others.

      as my stepdad used to say:
      unless they are f*ing you, feeding you, or funding you, their opinion doesn’t mean shit.

  10. Years ago when they were first getting popular (early 80s?) I was
    contracted to do some work inside of several gyms that were for ladies

    I felt pretty out of place being the only guy, so I was extra discreet in
    checking out the women in their workout garbs. I was kinda surprised
    to discover that they were all in good shape and didn’t look like they needed
    to be there at all. Not being familiar with the gyms, I would have expected a
    bunch of chubby ones instead.

    And to this day I often feel sort of baffled seeing people jogging and so forth
    because I’m used to associating physical activity with either work that you get
    paid to do or else some kind of chore that simply has to be done.
    But I suppose it depends on your life’s circumstances and increasingly people
    are stuck in a cubicle all day, pushing one button after the other.
    Exercise has it’s way of making you feel more alive and makes life more stimulating
    and I’ve heard that people can become addicted to the adrenaline rush.

    Boils down to the fact that technology and labor savings inventions evolve a lot
    faster than what our human bodies do. Couple that with fast junk food and it’ll
    explain probably the biggest problem with living in the U.S.A.
    All good things have their drawbacks.

    1. Your observations aren’t incorrect, just incomplete. Technology has made it easier than ever to do nothing physical, and those women at the gym looked like that because they were in the gym and it had become part of their lifestyle.
      I can tell you, from my own personal experience, your exercise and eating become a habit. Just as we develop bad habits, you can also develop positive habits. If I don’t follow my routine or if I over indulge on some type of food that I shouldn’t, I feel bad, I feel all outta sorts until I can get back into my routine. Once you cross that boundary (and it seems that Louis has) when you feel worse when you don’t exercise and eat right , it gets a whole lot easier. Some people can get a kind of high from exercising, I’ve never been one of those. I feel good when it’s done, but I hate every step, every rep. It hurts, it’s uncomfortable and there’s a thousand things I’d rather be doing, but his is what has to be done.
      If you’ve never been one of those “gym or exercise people”, that’s OK, I’d encourage you to try. Start slow, don’t worry about what other people think. Don’t get too sore right away, ease into it, again, it’s not a competition. It only takes about 2 weeks and suddenly it seems like the thing you should be doing. And if you’ve fallen off the wagon, like a few posters above, that’s OK too. It’s never too late to get back to where you were and move forward from there. You are in control of your attitude.

      Are you better today than you were yesterday? Progress not perfection.

  11. Louis, ignore the meat heads!!! I spent a lot of my adult life severely obese. I’ve lost and maintained a 250+ weight loss. It took me a long time to not feel like I was being watched and talked about, even at a ‘normal’ weight. Getting that self-confidence is hard, but you are getting there every day you step into the gym. I need to get back myself, you just might be the motivation I need!

  12. It really is a shame that so many people are intimidated by gyms and being the most out of shape person there. Honestly, it should be celebrated when someone tries to better themselves.

    But yeah, my biggest gym pet peeve is machine squatting, and I know the pain of having to change my routine because some people decided they needed 30 minutes to do 2 sets of an exercise.

  13. A couple of my friends will drive over to their spa, where they are going to exercise, and look for the closest spot to park. Same thing when they go to the grocery store. They pay somebody else to mow their lawns (feels too much like manual labor), but hop on powered machines to walk nowhere.
    Spas are essential for some people with otherwise sedentary jobs and lifestyles. However, if exercise is not integrated into our overall lives, it is likely to suffer the same fate as all the multitudinous diets, and then many can end up feeling worse than when they started.
    Because of our savannah ape past, our bodies are meant to be moving most of the all the time.

  14. Way to go Louis. We are all rooting for you. I used to be super skinny then life happened. I am a little pudgy but my doctor just said to keep moving in the forward direction. Any movement is good. I have stayed the same weight for about a year now but I am toning up and feeling good. Life comes at you fast as you know.

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