If you haven't noticed the increasing size of your fellow classmates, or perhaps just thought you were gradually shrinking, then you might not know that everybody has started working out. The popularity of exercise on campus and across the country is growing at a very rapid pace, though still not at as rapidly as the gerbil's kidney in my 8th grade science fair project. In fact, working out is so popular that the last time I came home, my dog was preoccupied doing ab curls. Either that or she had gained a significant amount of weight since the last time she tried rolling over. Regardless, exercise is becoming more and more a part of our daily lives. Up until a few months ago, I had chosen to ignore this obviously beneficial activity in favor of more amusing recreation, such as testing my microwave's threshold for aluminum. As a result, my muscles began slowly wasting away, mostly due to the enormous doses of electromagnetic waves my body was receiving (my molars are now magnetic— water fountains are hell) but also partly from the lack of exercise. One afternoon, while saving up my energy so I could go take a nap, it became evident to me that I needed to get in shape.

Your first time taking the painful plunge into fitness, you will probably feel a lot like Rick Morranis' son in Honey, I Blew Up the Kids—the title of which lead me to expect a much cooler premise than was delivered. You'll feel this way because some of the regulars at the gym are so large that their workout regiment seems to consist of lifting weights until their shirts don't fit. There's also usually one or two guys named something like Thoth, who are so enormous that their deltoids are represented in Congress.

But what real world value does being that big even have? Except for some rare instances when a car needs towing, it's useless. Some people will argue that it serves to increase sex appeal. In that respect, I will agree: there are women who are attracted to men of this gargantuan size. However, these are only the extraordinarily skinny women whose weight is not anchor enough to resist their gravitational pull.

I should also warn newcomers that to communicate with others in the gym, you must ascertain a working knowledge of "Gymerish", the language most often used by weightlifters. To quickly overview this foreign language, I'll tell you that it's similar to English except you must use your deepest tone and never pronounce a consonant, much like a drunk gorilla who has no tongue (I heard he lost it in a wood chopping accident). For instance, the sentence "Excuse me, are you using this bench?" is roughly pronounced "Eh. Yusin' thisb'nch?"

I know all of this might seem like a lot to take in, but it's better you hear it from me than from some Where Did I Come From-like picture book your parents hand you—or from some obnoxious kid it at the lunch table.

To help you with the changes you'll be going through, there actually is an organization of which many are unaware. We help each other out. For instance, if I see a guy scrawnier or nearly as scrawny as myself, I will work out near him, sometimes hoarding the weights so the larger guys in the gym can't increase the size gap. I call it "the Fellowship of Skinny Punks" although we also go by "the Please Don't Hurt Us Guild."

At the last meeting, we assembled the following steps to help you look manly in the weight room. Here they are for your convenience:
1.) When counting your repititions out loud, start at 400.
2.) Never use the blueberry ab cows that are sitting against the walls. If you haven't seen what I'm talking about, these look like giant blueberries with utters. I'm not sure how the nipples got involved but as far as I can tell, these things were part of some agricultural experiment designed to combine fruit juice and milk. The experiment obviously went horribly awry and for an unknown reason the blueberry ab cows are now ambiguously feminine.
3.) Beware! Excruciatingly painful exercises are given sugar-coated titles like 'butterflies' or 'fish flops.' This is done so you won't realize that during your strain, one of your eyes has swelled to the size of a colossal grapefruit. So, don't let the names fool you. A few days ago I was crippled from a combination of 'shrugs' and 'curls', which sounds a lot more like something a confused roley-poley bug might do than a grueling workout.
4.) Lastly, get a physical trainer to work with you to organize a strict exercise regiment. Go about this seriously. Set reachable goals. Eat well and stretch before every routine—and down steroids by the fistful.

As you become a more and more avid weight lifter, you might need to review these rules from time to time because weight lifting does decrease your intelligence. I've seen it happen. It seems like for every plate over 200 pounds that a guy stacks on the bar, an SAT answer that he knew in high school shoots out of one of his ears: "Hey, Jim, throw another 10 pounds on the bar." "You sure you don't need to know that the relationship between the words 'belittle' and 'exalt' is the same as is shared by the words 'vituperate' and 'praise'?" "I'm Positive."

I hope I've helped orient you for when the time comes that you decide your belly fat is starting to resemble way too many Golden Girls. Enjoy your crippling amounts of soreness and I now leave you with one parting pearl of wisdom: When doing bench press, make sure the guy spotting you is wearing shorts that fall longer than three inches above his knees. It's a good rule of thumb, but it's referred to as something far worse than the rule of thumb by us in the Fellowship.

If you've got questions, responses, or you'd like to comment on my driving, please feel free to email me at comeydean@yahoo.com