Tuesday, June 12, 2012

how gym saved my life

I never saw myself inside the gym. Ever since I came across the reality that most men, or gay men perhaps, are beefing it up inside these watering holes, I thought I'd rather be a deviant on my own and just be comfortable with my skin.

But that changed after my condition presented a new light.

Few weeks after I got off my bout with Nevirapine rash, I thought of trying to put on some poundage. I've always been a slim guy, weighing pathetically at 98 pounds. A few good home work added four to the scales. But still, if I'd consider my BMI, I'm still underweight.

I can't really express the impulse that took over me that night, but for reason too incomprehensible for me, I just walked to a nearby local gym, held on to my guts, and the rest was history.

Spare me the common knowledge. Yes, I do know and have heard of backdoor rendezvous happening inside gyms (or because of the gym) but I know where to put my place. I prefer to maintain urban solitude than to yap with other gay/straight men while heaving and ho-ing with weights at the bench press.

Of course, this one post will and cannot downplay the reality that some go there to ogle over other gym-goers, savor the visual feast, and far worse, prey on unwitting figures. It's a reality every gay man knows. It's an open secret. Some go to the gym because it's a bid to notice and be noticed. That's the prevailing milieu across the gay culture.

I still find it a bit awkward when I go to the gym and find too many men hitting it up with steels. Men everywhere. They, the trace of humidity due to their manly sweat, and their somewhat misplaced bravado. Probably because my main setting is "snob." I find it tad uncomfortable when a walking testosterone walks up on me and try to dig up a chat be it in a gym or somewhere else. So I didn't go during the usual peak hours. I prefer when the gym is a total abandonment and no one’s there. I reworked my circadian rhythm. Now being a morning lark, I get up early and do my routine in the morning on weekdays. No one goes there during those hours. And with no one around, I feel much more at ease.

I took the effort of going to the gym to regain a sense of self. I don't know, but, ever since this condition bit me, it seemed like I lost a sense of well-being. It appeared to me that I was careless about my health, considering the one too many complications that you get with HIV.

I couldn't be too brooding for the longest time. I have to be productive. I have to exert effort to turn my life around. And so I went to the gym. Stuck with the routine. Slept right. Ate right. Jugged glasses of protein. I don't smoke, drink, or do drugs. Those are off the list at the get go. The most that I can do is to gain weight. Working out taught me to be disciplined. To be persevering. And to push myself when I think I can't do it. Put simply, gym saved my life.

Not every gym goer wishes to sculpt his physique to have a rough sweltering oral sex (at the very least) in the showers. Not everyone does it for vanity's sake. Vanity will be there, yes, that's given. But that's not everyone's priority.

Half a year into this routine, I gained 26 pounds now. I sit somewhere between 123 and 126. Not bad for a six-month change of perspective.

Whenever I peer at myself in the mirror now and accidentally see old pictures of mine while cleaning my files, I couldn't help but grin. I see improvement, and it feels really nice.

I'll be continuing this routine for only God knows when but as long as there's a room for improvement I can go on despite the muscle soreness.

I guess to a PLHIV like me, going to the gym has a deeper sense. I do not simply want to look good. It's my way of picking up my shattered sense of health and trying to make best with this virus that will be with me for the rest of my life.


  1. Good for you! Sana maka-start din ako soon. Congrats on the improvements! :)

    1. Thanks! If you think it's going to benefit you and the way you view your health, you shouldn't think twice. :)