They say that unless you use — hire — a trainer at your local gym, your workout will be less than worthwhile, more of the recreational variety than a way to turn your body into a powerhouse of energy and svelte glory. “They,” of course, have it right. Annoyingly so.

Over a couple of decades and more I’ve used trainers to try getting a little more value out of doing “curls for the girls,” but given that there wasn’t much consistency to my efforts, it remains that I’m not scaring anybody. Rambling through a locker room with only a towel in my defense I suppose that I’m at least on a par with most guys in my age range. But the goal, is it not, is to range a little closer to pecs that don’t require an over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder and knees that you can see without bending way over? I’d like a mid-40s profile, which would mean surgery, so something that’s reminiscent of a dozen years ago would be gratifying.

Last Friday that meant off to the gym with a sense of mission, and to a session-with-no-messin’ under the tutiledge of a guy named Mark.

Now I know why I waited so long! I’m pretty sure I didn’t break anything — no rattling parts, that sort of thing — but it is possible that I bent a few items here and there.

Phase One: a treacherous device called the elliptical. I’d heard, not to say been warned, about this one. A key to successful workouts is to get your blood rushing in a torrent from head to foot. The elliptical did that to the point where just getting off onto solid ground was thought-provoking. I did five minutes, during which I kept asking Mark, “Am I done yet?” For the pros, of course, that much is just for openers, but for me, getting up to 15 minutes or more could take years. So some adjustments are needed.

I really had to sit down for a couple of minutes and denied that I was feeling a bit woozy. After that we went up the stairs (My God! Stairs!) and played for a while on various torture devices so I could get the feel of the kind of regimen I’ve committed myself to over the rest of my life, six days a week.

Tough stuff. The notion incorporates that dreaded four-letter word, “work.” If you’re not out there in a chain gang bustin’ up rocks, a work-like, synthetic approach is required. Not “needed,” required. The bad news is that good health — like inspiration — comes from working, not waiting.

Now if you’re like me, you do bring a certain resentment to ideas like this. Why, at the beginning of the final third of your life, are you now required to abandon all that’s comfortable and seemingly deserved and exchange it for sweat? Wouldn’t you think that by now you’ve built up a wonderful reserve of muscle and blood and good looks that would allow you to coast until the ultimate calling?

Apparently not. Turns out we’re like fresh produce left outside the refrigerator: we rot.

So what you do is you try to make it fun. You try to make it social. You try to make it la raison de la faire. You tell yourself, Hey, I used to do this kind of stuff when I was a kid. Nuthin’ to it. And, you dirty old dog, you remind yourself of the lovelies in leotards who will be working the treadmills.

But you know what will actually get you there, uniformed up and ready to go once again?


And I thought we’d had quite enough of that already.