How Jersey Shore got me thinking about fitness again

It happens to everyone at that stage in life… you’ve finished high school, you’ve got the grades to go to uni, study shomething you’re interested in drank copious amounts of alcohol, partied like there was no tomorrow and hit on everything female with a pulse. Then you realised you had a semester or two to go before you hit the “Real World”. You wised up a bit – put some decent effort into your final subjects and out you popped into the world like a baby. Except instead of Mummy (I’m Australian – sue me), you’re looking for a job that will mean you don’t have to work as a hooker in the Cross to make ends meet.

Problem was, those carefree days at uni, where you could easily spend 1-2 hours 3 times a week at the best gym in Sydney (only thing from stopping it being #1 worldwide was the absence of a glute ham raise machine), take a full course load, work 20-30 hours a week and still have fun – it just doesn’t exist in the real world.

Next thing you know, you’re moving to another city for a job, feeling completely out of your element and isolated. So you buckle down, you create your social networks through work, you try to get more money at work because, well… who doesn’t like money right? And besides, that new car you just bought chews through the dollars like a rabid dog.

Next thing you know, you’re in a job where the level of responsibility starts to become serious. People with gravitas want you to “take the lead” on things. Money is spent (or not spent) on the basis of your recommendations. Programs designed to help people may have to be cut back based on your findings. No matter what you do, there will always be someone who finds your recommendations unpalatable and you will find a way to run into that person down the track.

You eventually get consumed by work, to the point where you’re reading emails over breakfast (coffee) at 6:30 in the morning. Sunday afternoons become a “catch-up on emails / schedule planning for the week”. Combine that with studying for a Masters degree and the next thing you know you’re doing an all nighter at least once a fortnight (two weeks for you yanks). Suddenly your personal time suddenly carries a price tag and is for sale to the highest bidder – it starts to make financial sense to outsource cleaning, ironing and cooking.

You come to the realisation that when you were trying to find a suit at the Menswear store all those years ago that the assistant who said, “You just finished uni and you’re about to start full-time work? I’ll get you a larger size” knew exactly what he was talking about. Even though at the time you thought he was being a douche for saying you’d get fat, he got the last laugh in.

Your old workouts where you would loosen up your ITB and get your posterior chain ready for squats and deadlifts over a 10 minute period are replaced with picking up a coffee around mid-morning. Freshly prepared garden salad, sweet potato and chicken drumsticks eventually morph into soggy pieces of cardboard from Dominos or other plastic food. Dinners that used to consist of meat and vegetables with a protein shake for dessert have become burger and fries with a thickshake to wash it down. Too cold to leave the house? Never mind, that Thai takeaway down the road does home delivery!

Shoulder aches that you diligently worked on in the gym with rotator cuff exercises come back to say hello again. Your hip balance gets thrown off from the large amount of ass to seat time and the distinct lack of glute ham raises. During one of these particular ass to seat sessions, you’re watching a show on your computer called Jersey Shore. In case you haven’t heard of it, imagine a bunch of people with a collective IQ below body temperature (Celsius, not Fahrenheit) with some personality conflicts given copious amounts of alcohol – all living in the one house. I’m sure if we could understand chimpanzees right now, they would probably say that they’re glad they hopped off the evolutionary pathway.

While the show can be safely classified as being crass, juvenile and at times re-tawded (watch the show or The Sopranos to get a handle on the accent), the characters are fundamentally likeable. Even though you think someone with a nickname as stupid as “The Situation” couldn’t possibly have anything good to say, you begin to realise that GTL (well, more the G – I get lobster legs when I Tan and I do my own Laundry) is something you miss greatly.

You realise that that perfect gym you went to at uni will have to remain a memory and you will have to settle with whatever overpriced, under equipped building you can find. Even though it won’t live up to your inflated expectations, the gym down the road will probably give you some decent physical challenges for the next few months, even if the place has the word “Pump” in its name (at least it doesn’t contain the word First or Fitness). You know that one day you will outgrow this place and you will eventually have to find a gym where you can be a monster at the oly station and dominate the squat rack. But until that day comes, you will remain the bitch of the Pumphouse.

“The Situation” describes GTL as being a method for becoming “Fresh” and “Mint”. For those of us who don’t speak Guido it’s ultimately about personal pride. Pride in yourself, your appearance and your possessions – pride in what you are made of, your aspirations, your achievements and your sense of self-worth.

While I very happily admit that I’ve let myself go, my personal pride is helping me get back to where I used to be and that is the story of how Jersey Shore got me thinking about fitness again.

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