Herculean Fitness

Herculean Fitness Eric M. Bahle June 28, 20008

“It is not about daily increase, but daily decrease. Hack away unessentials.”—Bruce Lee.

Health and fitness is not a hidden mystery. It has been corrupted and confused, corporate logoed and buzzworded, mystified and obfuscated. Gym is short for gymnasium. A Spartan hoplite trained daily in his gym. He trained naked on the dirt and sand, open to the sky. He had no Nautilus or Hammer Strength machines, no Stairmasters or spinning cycles. And he forged a body and spirit whose legend shows no sign of diminishing twenty-five centuries later. What do you think he would make of a gym with carpet, air conditioning, chrome machines and mirrors on every wall? Hack away the unessentials and see the simple truth. Fire, forge, heat, hammer, shape, temper. This is the discipline.

Thou shalt move thy ass. Your body was not designed to hunch in a cubicle for nine hours a day. It was designed to walk over miles and miles of grassland. It was designed to run through forests after game. To throw a spear and swing a club. Get up off that couch that wasn’t designed for your body. Run. Jogging is for pussies. Get your legs pumping and your lungs heaving. Forget about your target fat burning zone. You’ll know your heart rate is up because it will be thudding in your chest like a trip hammer. Your heart will beg you to stop and you will ignore it. You will command your legs to keep moving and they will obey you.

Thou shalt hit things. Play tackle football. Crowd each other on a racquetball court. Work over a heavy bag or focus mitts. Kick, punch, knee, attack. Spar with someone. Wooden sticks, bamboo swords, or bare hands. You are not a mint condition collectible action figure. Open the original packaging. Get cut, bruised, scarred. Swell, bleed, hurt. Inflict pain, take pain. The pain, the pain, the beautiful pain. Look another person in the eye and punch them in the face. Look them in the eye when they come back with a leg kick.

Thou shalt lift. Get the fuck off that leg curl machine and do some fucking work. Load a metal bar with big metal plates and move it. Adductor-abductor machine? Fuck that. Real lifts are ugly with ugly names. Squat, dead lift, skull crusher, crucifix, hang cleans, clean and jerk, snatch. If you want your body to change you have to make it work. If you’re not scared of the iron on the bar, there’s not enough iron on the bar.

Thou shalt not whine. Your excuses are worth exactly shit. Don’t even try to give me one because unless it’s a sudden onset of death, it’s bullshit. If you want to train then train. I’ve seen a one-legged wrestler. What’s your excuse? I’ve seen a wrestler with no legs and only one good arm. What’s your excuse? I’ve seen a paraplegic compete in a bodybuilding contest and a quadriplegic play rugby. What’s your excuse? I’ve seen a soldier with his eye blown out who graduated Ranger school? What’s your excuse? That’s what I thought.

Thou shalt not stop. Make the choice to start and then never stop. Goals are good but they can be traps. Lose twenty pounds. Done. Now what? This is training. This is discipline. Make it a part of your life. Your whole life. Here’s a goal. Never stop. Jack Palance doing one-armed pushups at the Oscars. Legendary. Jack Lalanne towing a yacht with his teeth for his seventieth birthday. Epic. Can’t get to the gym? Train in your garage. If a prisoner can build a Greek god’s physique in a six by eight cell, you can do it in your living room. If you make it part of your life, your life will be long and worth living. Train until it’s part of your personality. When your coworkers look at you like you’re crazy, you’re on the right track. Train until it’s part of your psyche. When your coworkers tell you straight out that you’re crazy, now you’re doing it right.


About Eric Bahle

Eric Bahle stopped going to his real job so he could be a full time digital author and storyteller. He loves being in the woods with his bow or on the water in his kayak. He lives in Pennsylvania with his lovely wife and a mongrel dog. He is working on his next bestselling story.


  1. Wolf In The Fold says

    Just some of my thoughts on exercise. The word herculean took me to Hercules which made me think of the Spartans in ‘300’.

    Also: “The pain, the pain, the beatiful pain.” I use that line alot but it’s not mine. I got it from that movie where one of those Wayans brothers plays a Marine sniper.

  2. Love ya man. I’m going to print this out and put it on my mirror for motivation. Now I have no doubt you will be a kick ass (all pun intended) trainer.


  3. Wolf In The Fold says

    Thanx, sweetheart. Motivation is actually the hardest part. I’ve done things like eat standing up at the counter when I get home from work. Because if I sit down the couch molecularly bonds to my ass.