Day 4: Health and Fitness

Today we have another ‘inspirational quote’ prompt, :/ I hope our prompters aren’t running out of ideas…

“Write your own inspirational quote which promotes health and fitness. Then sell it to the masses, tell why everyone should live by your words.”

I’m going by the ‘health and fitness’ part, as you can see by the title. This went way differently in my head… oh well, Enjoy!

Alec’s calf muscles screamed at him, but he kept pedaling as Carlo, the Trainer, walked by checking the totals on all the bikes.

Carlo glanced at Alec’s readout and shook his head, making a tick on his notepad. “This is very disappointing Alec, very disappointing,” he said. “You’ve gotta pick up the pace Alec, you need to get motivated!”

“Yes Carlo,” Alec said, wiping sweat from his brow with the back of his hand.

Alec gazed out the window at the burger joint across the street. Just one more mile and he could get some food. Carlo bounced away on toned legs wrapped in skin-tight, blue shorts. Alec wore black track pants to cover his own legs, which had stayed persistently flabby the two months he’d belonged to the Fitness Church, as the gym was called. There was no stopping until he met his target weight; the Trainers were very serious about it. Alec got calls at home when he was late to the gym, and one time Carlo had come to knock on his door when he’d been home with a cold.

Finally the monitor pinged his success. Alec stepped off the bike and leaned with hands against his knees. His drenched t-shirt clung to a thick gut that heaved in and out with shaky breaths. He gulped water from a plastic bottle, and headed for the door.

Carlo appeared in front of him, clipboard in hand, before he could get past the front desk.

“Alec, a word,” said Carlo, furrowing his thick eyebrows.

“I’m just leav-”

“Your workout today was very disappointing,” Carlo said, tapping his pen on the clipboard. “Do you always do the bare minimum in life?”

Alec shook his head, his cheeks wobbling.

“You do believe in fitness, don’t you?” Tap, tap, tap. 

“I do, yes of course,” Alec nodded, his eyes darting to the glass door behind Carlo, and his car outside.

“You don’t need to take another Health Class do-”

“No! No,” Alec grabbed Carlos arm. “I believe in fitness. Health and fitness first, life second.”

Alec swallowed hard and forced himself not to break contact with Carlo’s wild, brown eyes. He could not go to another class. The hours of demeaning activities, humiliating name-calling and yelling had left him crying himself to sleep every night for the duration. Carlo had been the worst of them, often keeping Alec after the class to make him do sit-ups, and mocking him the entire time.

Carlo grunted and scribbled something. “I’m glad to year you are devoted to fitness, Alec, and I want you to succeed in living a healthy life. That’s why we are going to up your bike ride to 6 miles, and give you one hour of personal time with me per week.”

Alec’s skin went cold and he choked back his horror. “Yes, yes of course, the Trainer knows best.”

Carlo smiled and nodded, and after a long, painful moment, moved aside to let Alec out the door. As Alec left, he saw Carlo talking to the woman at the front desk, and both of them looking at him with hard eyes.

Alec slumped into the drivers seat and let out a shuddering sigh. Through the large glass windows he watched three trainers pull a round woman from one of the bikes and push her to the ground. The trainers waved their arms, and members set down their weights and got off their treadmills to stand in a circle around the woman and watch her try to do sit-ups. With tears in his eyes, Alec put the car in reverse, and drove away.

Ten minutes later, Alec stood in line at King Burger deciding between the Double Bacon Monster and the Chicken Bacon Supreme. His stomach twinged and yowled. He licked his lips, imagining the greasy bacon and juicy beef.

“Alec,” said a voice behind him.

Alec jumped and turned around. Carlo and two other Trainers stood holding clipboards, their eyes narrowed and stern.

“This is not Healthy, Alec,” said Carlo, tapping his pen. “I’m signing you up for a class.”

Alec was out the door before the sentence was finished. He fumbled his key into his car door and peeled out of the parking lot.

“No, no, no,” he said, squeezing the steering wheel in death-grip. They’d never let him go now, he’d be stuck in that room forever, with the Trainers standing around him in a circle, laughing at him.

He pulled into his driveway and stumbled into his house, locking the door behind him. He could just stay here and he’d be fine.

His cellphone rang and he let out a yelp, mashing the power button until the screen went black.

He lowered the blinds and turned out the lights, then hurried to his kitchen. He pulled open the refrigerator and sighed in relief. It was still there, tucked in the back, safe and secure behind a half-empty milk carton.

He grabbed the grease-stained bag with shaking hands and ripped it open.  Wilted lettuce and shriveled tomatoes sat on cold beef, beaded with congealed fat. Thick strips of bacon sat trapped in cold cheese. He tore into it, bursting into tears as the flavors mingled in his mouth like old friends coming home.

A knock at the door stopped him mid-chew. A piece of lettuce plopped to the ground.

“Alec,” Carlo said, at the front door. “Alec we are worried about you, let us in.”

Alec forced down the barely chewed bite and took another large chomp out of the burger.

“Alec we know you’re here, your car is outside,” said Carlo. Alec thought he could hear Carlo’s pen tap tap taping on the clipboard even now.

“Leave me alone!” he shouted, spraying bits of beef.

He heard footsteps on his back porch, then a creaking sound. He hadn’t locked the back door. He rushed down the hall, but it was too late. A Trainer in tight shorts and a tank-top came toward him, shaking his head in disgust.

“Alec, this is shameful,” he said.

Carlo and the third trainer came in behind him.

“Alec,” they both said.

“No, leave me alone! I don’t care about fitness anymore!” Alec held his burger at them like a shield as he backed away.

“Health and Fitness, Alec,” they said, surrounding him. “Health and Fitness are important. Don’t you want to be Fit?”

Alec fell to his knees under their gaze, still clutching the burger, holding it toward them like some talisman that might ward them off.

“Let’s see you do a sit-up, Alec,” said Carlo, tapping his pen.

“No! No, go away!” Alec curled into a ball, hugging the burger as they grabbed his arms and legs.

~

Alec strode into the Fitness Church, clipboard in hand. His new blue shorts were tight on his thick, muscled thighs. “Morning Carlo, Health and Fitness to you,” he said, nodding at Carlo.

Carlo nodded and made a tick on his clipboard, “On time as usual Alec,” he said. “Let’s get to work.”

Alec grinned and scanned the gym. There was a thick woman on a treadmill who could use some encouragement. He jogged over, eager to let her know all about Health and Fitness.

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