Hey WOD junkies, guess who just won a National Magazine Award for his “rigorous parsing of film’s new vernacular”?
I got the news in the hospital where I’m currently recovering from a blown-out spleen. I’d just gotten full extension on my 23rd AMRAP set of kettlebell single-leg rotational deadlifts when most of the muscle cells in my body began exploding and that big-boy weight came crashing down on top of me crushing multiple internal organs. Don’t worry. I’m fine. In fact, news of this latest PR got me so amped I was able to rep out 100 burpees before my stitches popped and I began to bleed out again.
The real workout starts when medical
professionals are begging you to stop.
When I first started reviewing movies, I was chained to a desk job and struggling to squeeze in 30 minutes on the elliptical with all the other self-defeating chubbers refusing to live up to their full potential. Unable to afford the paleo paste of high-protein carrion and seaweed that I thrive on today, I was still eating food. I had the kind of average body that, if you saw it, would make you want to puke.
Oh thrusters! Oh muscle-ups!
I stand ready to be transformed.
I will bathe myself in sweat if you
wash away the hated flab.
So I cashed in my 401(k) to join an elite fitness community that meets in an oil-stained garage in the heavy industrial area outside of town, and started the first blog dedicated to healthy male bodies in the movies. Back then, if you wanted to watch an actor with lean muscle mass on the big screen, your options were adult theaters specializing in gay pornography and simulcasts of men’s gymnastics. Now I can be watching an indie flick about some slob who eats fast food at his desk for every meal, but if he pops his shirt off he’ll look like a dehydrated endurance athlete who just finished repping out 500 push-ups. On my best days, I like to think I helped usher in this new golden age.
I want to inspire people.
I want someone to look at me and say,
“Because of you I didn’t give up.
Because of you I’m not gross anymore.”
The review that earned me my current gig as film critic for Crossfit’s official magazine was for Les Misérables in 2012. Like anyone with a beating heart and a chiseled torso whose muscles piston in beautiful harmony when he runs 100-meter suicides shirtless on the beach — I loved Hugh Jackman’s vascular performance. I zeroed in on the scene-stealing work of his forearms, writing, “Here, this oft-neglected region of the body isn’t just sinew and ropy muscle, but a window into the shredded songbird’s tortured soul. Wordlessly they speak of Jean Valjean’s lonely imprisonment — of endless nights filled with endurance-testing bodyweight exercises and furious masturbation.”
Of course, my opinions haven’t always been popular. My essay “Why Are So Many Film Critics Blowing Their Loads Over Glamour Muscles?” had some harsh words for my peers. I was the lone vote for “300” as the best film of all time in the last Sight & Sound poll, and I’m still getting blowback for tweeting the day that Philip Seymour Hoffman died that Capote and Synecdoche, New York would’ve been better if they’d starred Joe Manganiello.
Keep away from people who try
to belittle your ambitions.
Small people always do that,
but the great ones have optimal muscle density.
But like anyone who walks into a box strong and crawls out stronger knows — it’s results that matter. Jai Courtney taking home the Academy Award for Best Actor was huge for fans of powerful physical acting. His sculpted lats were the muscular heart of the American Gigolo remake, expressing Julian’s thwarted desire to transpose physical and socio-economic mobility. (You got one right for once, Oscars!) I’m also overseeing a project for Criterion, digitally updating American classics to bring the actors’ physiques in line with modern sensibilities. Finally, Gregory Peck’s pecs will be as firm and unyielding as Atticus Finch’s moral courage.
Now if you’re worrying if all this recognition will change me– don’t. I still love going to the movies, I still love getting after that #FitLife, and I still have a body fat percentage so low I can no longer produce sperm.
Whenever you want to quit your workout,
just imagine yourself climaxing like a warrior king
at peace with being the last of his bloodline — your
emission as soft and dry as dandelion seeds.
I also have a lot more to accomplish before I reach the ultra-fit nirvana that lies just beyond system-wide organ failure. I want to dedicate more of my column to notable women’s performances. We’ve nearly achieved a beautiful uniformity with the male actor’s physique, so it’s distressing to see such a variety of women’s body shapes and sizes in the movies today.
And, of course, I will keep hitting the box every day — ever seeking that next PR, always preparing for whatever contingency life throws at me next.
Should civilization crumble — seek the desert!
Perform the final WOD and evolve your body beyond
all physical limits to unite the scattered remnants
of humanity with your terrible functional strength!