crying gains

Why Crying Can be Good for Gains: Balancing Fitness with Life’s Everyday Grind

He’s not wearing the brand-new t-shirt that’s hot off the press of some well-followed YouTube channel. She’s not filming her workout at 2 p.m. on a workday at some sterile, urbanite gym. There’s no Instagram photos being taken of some nutritionally obscure food supplement. There’s no glitz, and there’s no glam, which is why I like the visceral rawness that emanates from the motivational videos below.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of the more traditional fitness personalities. Figuring out the calories in your latte and fretting over which lifting shoes to wear has its place (as well as its sponsor). It’s entertaining and all in good fun as gains are still being made. That sounds sarcastic on my part, but I’m being absolutely honest. I like the beautiful people and trite affirmations—the shiny-ness of it all appeals to me.

However, there are times when I want to see someone who’s doing it for real, someone who is possibly juggling the responsibility of family and work. Not the kind of work where you make your own fitness schedule, but the kind of work most of us do, the kind that lasts from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.—if you’re lucky. It’s the kind of work that might make you reachable by phone and/or laptop at all times of the day, the kind that often involves working nights and weekends.

And getting back to family, I’m not talking about the “family” that includes the dog at the apartment and the person they happen to be dating. Again, I’m still a really big fan of these channels, and I know it sounds like I’m ranting. In fact, I apologize if I’m offending anyone. I would actually like to interview these people for the site, but alas, I will probably need a much larger following and some actual sponsors to gain traction. But getting back to family, there are times when only a person who has never had a newborn or two would say something like, “Everyone has an hour or two a day. You just gotta make time.”

But if we’re going to be ageist, let us not forget to point the finger at ourselves as well. My fellow old-school brethren might be overdosing on Metamucil while blaring the ever-popular Bon Jovi from ten-year-old headphones. Perhaps our all-white sneakers, analog flip phones and shuffleboard Saturdays hold no appeal for today’s whippersnappers. Maybe the youth of today really don’t like hearing the same stories about our kids over and over and over…. But I digress again. For brevity’s sake, let us return back to the aforementioned videos. Some of these videos include episodes of crying, because as we all know, life can suck sometimes and then the “feels” just come out.

  1. First up is Clarence Newman’s Fat to Fit at 48. The guy seemingly trains in a dungeon. His brutal honesty comes across through the Rocky music, plethora of baseball caps and posters that include Jackie Chan, Steve McQueen and Bruce Lee. What’s up with the trash-bag ceiling? The man trains with dumb bells that look like they were made from the Cold War era. He’s not worried about anything except results.
  2. The original documentary featuring Elle Ip gives us an honest look at being a mother struggling to reach fitness goals. The documentary is slow and plodding. It was hard to for me to watch in its entirety because the documentary feels like it was edited for senior citizens, but the payoff is worth it. No mentor, no coach, no nanny, no chef, no personal trainer, no nutritionist, no nothing. The shots of her crying in bed while caring for a newborn and toddler are as real as it gets. The house/apartment is a wreck at times (as anyone with kids can relate to) and there’s even a scene where she works out using a PoweBlock dumbbell, in what looks to be a closet, while discussing the desire to eat cheese.
  3. I lumped a couple together. Stuart MacDonald’s original I Want to Look Like That Guy documentary (no link as I think he took it down to promote the newest version) has some pretty good moments as well. His breakdown over eating a burrito is pretty epic. He does train in a gym with a professional coach, but it’s still a good look at the realities of life. I would also throw in Anita Miron’s video, which feels more like an infomercial at times. The scene with her working out with a crawling baby definitely feels genuine.

I would also like to point out that some of the people featured in these videos may have gone on to work in the fitness industry and created content that doesn’t necessarily fit the genre I’m describing. It doesn’t matter because it’s all good. We need the shiny stuff to help balance out the days of drudgery in our real lives. In the end, these were just some videos I found interesting for their depictions of grinding it out, nothing more and nothing less.

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