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LIFE BY LOUIS: Woes of a male gym instructor

Monday January 21 2019

“That one you need to do some sit-ups, some upper body exercises to develop core strength,

“That one you need to do some sit-ups, some upper body exercises to develop core strength," I instructed her. ILLUSTRATION | IGAH 

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Among my new year resolutions is to return to the gym and try and cut out the effects of gluttonous consumption over the Christmas season. This is a copy and paste resolution that has existed in my to-do list since the turn of the century.

The more I consume, the less I work out, and this probably cuts across everyone else because my regular gym runs idle from around mid-December to early January.

My first stop on reaching the gym is at the weighing machine. This is where you linger with the vain hope that the scale is damaged and the weight being displayed on the screen belongs to another person. You also try to shield the screen from view lest someone peeps and suspects you to be responsible for food insecurity the country with your excessive consumption habits.

You remove your shoes and any extra clothing that can be shed off and gingerly step on the scales for a second reading. It is down by a measly 500grams. The reality finally dawns on you; all the meat and roast potatoes you gobbled over the festivities deposited directly on your waist and tummy.

You proceed to the exercise area, right in front of a big mirror. I think the reason why gyms install l mirrors in the gym is to constantly remind you of your sagging middle torso that sticks out proudly like a national monument.

Your reflection reminds you of a certain successful entrepreneur with big political connections, and your ambitions to run for a political office are momentarily rekindled.
“Now that exercise you are doing is for helping with which section of the body?” I feel the presence of this lady behind me even before I see and hear her. I am trying to have some personal time with my protruding tummy, but the devil has a way of bringing distractions even when you hide in a cave.

“It helps with the neck and shoulders,” I lie through clenched teeth. The truth of the matter is that the squats I was in the middle of help with firming up the thighs and bottoms. But I will not be found discussing such anatomy with a female stranger.


“Let me try it out”, she insists. I get mixed feelings. I do not mind her joining me as we firm up our lower torsos but, is my soul strong enough to withstand such tempting indulgences?

“Hold the bar like this, stand with feet slightly apart, arc your back, tighten your tummy, breathe out as you go down, inhale as you come up and hold the breath. Push out your… eeh…erm.…your behind, don’t lock your knees,” I instruct, proud to hear myself sound like a renowned fitness instructor. The thoughts of starting a personal home fitness YouTube channel cross my mind.

I try to get back to my workout schedule but my customer won’t give me a break.

“I want to cut this, which is the best exercise?” Even without looking, I can tell she is tapping her lower tummy.

Again my strict Christian upbringing does not allow me to stare at a woman tapping at her tummy, so I keep my eyes focused on an imaginary view in the horizon. Such tapping actions can cause instant blindness and a lengthy stay in the cruel fires of hell, I have not forgotten my catechism teachings.

“That one you need to do some sit-ups, some upper body exercises to develop core strength, try aerobics and Zumba too, running or fast walking, pull-ups and so on,” I respond briskly.

My eyes begin to scout for a safe place for me to faint in case she asks me to hold up her feet as she does the sit-ups. Like it always happens in the hostage rescue movies, Ted the masculine trainer checks in and takes over this impossible task of explaining lower tummy trimming exercises.

I skip doing my stretches and rush back to my desk with shaking hands. Male gym instructors have their work cut out for them, and it is a career that I should steer away from.