High class? Low class? No class. NO FITNESS CLASS. NEVER.

I am going to tell you something that you may not even know about yourself: you don’t need a fitness class. “Wow, thank you for the compliment,” you reply. Hey—I am not complimenting you. Do you need to move, and sweat, and feel the burn, and look death in the eye as you struggle to complete the last rep, unsure if your heart will hold up but willing to take the gamble? Yes. You need all of that. Probably some therapy and a new attitude, as well. But you do not need to go to the gym and instead of working out stand in a line along the wall with a lot of bored-looking people who are waiting for the “class room” to open up so they can take Cardio Shrug Maxxx with Evan, the “awesome” trainer, meaning you think he is attractive, which has no correlation to expertise, I promise you that.

While you are waiting for Evan your enemy is working out. Get it?

Punks come up to me- “Hey man,” (they address me with a rude and unearned level of familiarity which reeks of menace) “why you gotta tell people not to take a ‘fitness class?’ How do you expect people to get in shape without a ‘fitness class?’ How do you expect ‘personal trainers’ and ‘spin instructors’ such as myself to earn a living if we are unable to convince people that they need to ‘go online’ and ‘sign up’ for a ‘fitness class’ if they want to ‘get toned?’”

“Sorry,” I tell them in a matter-of-fact way. “But you’ve got no class.”

“And also people shouldn’t buy some ‘Class Pass’ either—it locks them into a downward spiral of dependency rather than self-reliance,” I add, while I’m walking away fast, in case they’re unstable.

Is the sports conditioning workout class at “The Tone House” really the hardest workout class in town? No. Here is the hardest workout class in town:

A person stands in a field, alone. She looks left. No one is there. She looks right. No one is there. She looks behind her. No one is there. She looks ahead of her. No one is there.

No one is there.

She squats down. She stands up. “One.” She squats down. She stands up. “Two.” Her mind soars free, far above her earthly location, exploring the universe. Continuing her Zen-like movements, she sets aside the pain inside of her and allows her spirit to explore the depths of her soul. There is no field. There is no ground. There is no here. There is no air. There is only a movement, and a oneness with it, and a fatigue in which she swims to reach the shores of wisdom, always visible but receding, tantalizing, a chase propelled by physical power but which ends in an intangible place deep within, or deep without—the distinction disappears.

“One million,” she says. She blinks. Wow—without even thinking about it, she did a million squats.

Now that’s what I call a “workout class.” Not some bullshit in a room with type-A people wearing spandex and holding “body bars.”

Who am I? Just a man—or perhaps a messenger? A messenger from a place of truth and wisdom? Perhaps. To the sweaty masses, crowded into uncomfortable rooms with mirrors on the walls, jumping over cones and swinging kettlebells and circuit training battle ropes until they all trip over one another in a sweaty heap, as someone wearing a tight shirt and a headset mic yells “Andddd, begin!” over and over: is this what you truly want? Are you happy here? Is this how you envision yourself: a single automaton, at the mercy of an “instructor,” a robot, a servant, a powerless pawn in the game of fitness?

If so I feel sorry for you my man.

Walk out of your fitness class. Walk out right now, never to return. Save your money. Put that money in your pocket. Smile. Go find an unpopulated sidewalk, or parking lot, or city park, or old abandoned factory. Now do burpees. Do burpees, god damn you. Do burpees until you can do no more. Catch your breath friend. Now do more burpees. Keep doing it, again and again. Do burpees until you just hate everything. Congratulations, you just got a better workout than Core Toning Plyo Body Burn Boot Camp Class....


You think you need to pay a motherfucker to tell you how to work out? Here: “Do a lot of something that makes you tired.” Now you know the secret. You don’t need to pay someone to tell you “do lunges” while you’re standing next to this guy and another guy and the other guy. You can do that yourself. Save your money. Save your time. Save your sanity. Save yourself from buying one of those ostentatious Under Armour “shirts I clearly bought just to wear to the gym,” and they look new and bright and everyone can tell you barely even wear it that much, defeating the purpose. Save it, my man. Go into your basement and do knuckle pushups until it looks like you got into a fight even though you didn’t.

Be thankful you’re not a “classy” person. (You’re a scumbag—and in this case, it’s a compliment, though it does point to troubling aspects of your character outside of the gym setting, which very fortunately for you fall outside the bounds of today’s discussion.)

[Illustration by Jim Cooke. More I of the Tiger can be found here.]