Gym Bros, Reluctant Girlfriends, and Human Clay

I’d love to have someone who looks like Michele Levesque as my girlfriend. But at what cost?

At the gym where I frequently workout, I often see a sight that I’m pretty sure many of you can also recognize.

I see a huge Gym Bro who looks like he spends way too much of his free time lifting weights and avoiding cardio (not to mention Leg Day) drag his girlfriend (or wife) to the gym with him. She may or may not be in shape. She may or may not even want to be there. Perhaps she’d rather be at home watching reruns of The Bachelorette or reading a book. Or going out to drinks with her friends. Or going to the gym, but not five times a week.

Gym Bro clearly loves working out. You can see it in his huge arms, enormous chest, and cocky strut. The Reluctant Girlfriend of Gym Bro is a different matter. She could be skinny, a bit overweight, or perhaps quite obese. But the body type she isn’t is “muscular.” And you can tell, whether he is willing to admit it or not, that he’d love it for her to become as muscular as he is.

He teaches her how to deadlift, squat, bench press, and shoulder press. She does as she’s told, but you can tell she does it with little enthusiasm. When she uses improper form, he lashes out, or at the very least aggressively tries to correct her “errors.” Not wanting to upset him further, she does her best to please him. It’s a sad sight to see. It’s pathetic. You feel sorry for her and secretly desire to punch him in the face.

I could very well be misinterpreting this situation, or maybe I’m spot on. I don’t see this all the time, but it happens enough that I feel compelled to write about it. Long story short, Gym Bro secretly – or not so secretly – wants his girlfriend to look a certain way. He thinks she’s too skinny, too fat, or too average. Regardless, he wants her to bulk up. He wants her to look like Michele Levesque, even if she has no desire herself to look like that. For those of you who don’t know who I’m talking about, Michele is a gorgeous fitness model who possesses the ideal look: she’s fit, unquestionably feminine, as gorgeous as a supermodel, and has built enough muscle to turn people’s heads – but not so much muscle that she upstages the man she’s with.

Lauranda Nall has some nice triceps.

Our friend the Gym Bro understands that women who look like Miss Levesque, Julie Germaine, Autumn Cleveland, Lauranda Nall, and Sheronica Sade Henton don’t just grow on trees. They are far from a dime a dozen. They are a one-in-a-million rare specimen that must be treasured because they are few and far between. However, Gym Bro secretly dreams about possessing a girlfriend with such a treasured physique…and will not sit around idly and wait for it to happen.

Therefore, he must take matters into his own hands. Even if that requires “forcing” his girlfriend to put a pair of dumbbells into her hands.

Thus, he nudges her in the direction of bulking up like him. He tells her it’s a healthy choice. He reassures her she won’t start “looking like a man.” He insists she’ll develop more confidence, curves in all the right places, and unsolicited compliments from complete strangers (naturally, the flattering kinds of compliments, not the creepy ones). She sort of goes along with it. After all, she wants to spend quality time with her boyfriend, right? Who wouldn’t?

She goes to the gym whenever he goes to the gym. They lift together. He “trains” her and cheers her on. He gives out advice as if it were candied apples on Halloween. She learns how to lift. She’s taught the proper form, breathing techniques, and recovery methods. He makes post-workout protein shakes for the both of them. She begrudgingly drinks it every single time. Maybe she likes the taste, maybe she doesn’t. But it’s all to keep their relationship intact, so it must be worth it.

If this scenario doesn’t seem familiar to you, don’t worry. Sooner or later you’ll witness something like this up close. And it’ll make you squirm. Or at the very least, feel sorry for her and all involved. You might start to ask yourself whether this behavior crosses into the territory of abuse. Does it? You sure hope not, but how can these thoughts not come to mind?

Sheronica Sade Henton showing off her hard work.

Essentially, Gym Bro wants his Reluctant Girlfriend to become Human Clay. He wants to sculpt her into becoming a Perfect Muscle Goddess who will fulfill his every lustful carnal desire. He wants her to become an Amazon, a strong confident young woman who takes life by the horns and never relents in pursuing her goals. He wants the ultimate arm candy. He wants a sexy flesh-and-blood trophy he can call his own and show off to his fellow gym bros.

Meanwhile, you get the sense she doesn’t really want to do this. She’s all for living a healthy life and looking good, but is it worth the soreness and agony of going to the gym all the damn time? It goes without saying that one does not simply become a Muscle Goddess overnight. Nor does it happen by accident. You only look like Cindy Landolt if you put in the effort to look like Cindy Landolt. If you don’t want to look like her, then you won’t ever look like her. It’s as simple as that.

The scenario described above troubles me. But unfortunately, I see it – and hear about it – all too often. It’s frustrating. It’s maddening to see. But alas, it’s quite common. When you start to “force” somebody to do something they don’t actually want to do, that’s problematic.

As I’ve written before countless times, I love muscular women. But I would never pressure my significant other to ever become a muscular woman unless she genuinely wanted to become one. And if that were to happen, I’d enthusiastically support her 100%. But if not, I’d understand completely.

It’s perfectly natural for straight guys to be attracted to muscular women. It happens more frequently than a lot of us are aware of. And it’s also understandable why many of us dream about having a muscular girlfriend. Who wouldn’t want to come home every night after a long day of work to a woman who looks like Minna Pajulahti? I know I would!

And you can share a bed with her every f*****g day? Count me in!

So the awfully awkward situation where guys start to treat their girlfriends like Human Clay seems sort of inevitable. Isn’t that the logical next step? Isn’t this just a natural progression for anyone who appreciates fit women? Well, no. It doesn’t have to be this way.

I fully believe that a woman has every right to pursue bodybuilding and fitness if they choose to do so. Many women find participating in the sport empowering, uplifting, and worthwhile. Yes, it’s a cliché to use the word “empower” when we’re dealing with women and their physical appearance, but clichés are formed for a reason. For many women, bodybuilding has helped them deal with trauma, overcome emotional obstacles, and provide them with a renewed sense of purpose. The list of benefits goes on.

Who wouldn’t want to come home every night to a woman who looks just like Cindy Landolt?

However, women also have the right to not pursue bodybuilding if such a lifestyle does not totally appeal to them. This seems obvious, yet this is not really at the heart of the problem. I don’t think too many women are forced to lift weights at the gym at gunpoint. But pressure (both overt and subtle) from a loved one can be just as coercive. The desire to please your partner will drive people to do almost anything. The same goes for the fear of losing a loved one – and by “losing,” I mean that person choosing to find a different lover, not death.

I understand why a guy would want a sexy muscle goddess for a girlfriend. Trust me, I daydream about this all the time! But, I’d like to think I would never cross that line and pressure my better half to torture herself at the gym just because I want the shape of her body to be more pleasing to my eye. But this is not about me being “holier than thou.” All I want to do is send a warning to those of you who might (or already have) cross that line, either intentionally or unintentionally.

There’s nothing malicious about wanting your partner to look and feel healthy. After all, don’t we all want to be with our loved ones for as long as possible? Of course we do. But this goes deeper than that. This is about the ethics of female muscle fandom. This is about being a decent human being.

No person is Human Clay. No person should ever feel obliged to do anything against their will for any reason whatsoever. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a muscular girlfriend. It’s quite another thing to use coercive measures to make that dream come true. Even if you’re a Gym Bro who thinks they have good intentions at heart, odds are not everyone around you will agree. Being a Reluctant Girlfriend is like being stuck between a rock and a hard place. Of course you want to look fabulous and sexy. But what are you willing to sacrifice in order to do that? And who is allowed to define what “fabulous and sexy” even means?

If I could snap my fingers and magically make a Sexy Powerful Muscle Goddess appear right before my very eyes, I wouldn’t think twice about doing it. But alas we don’t live in a universe where such miracles are possible. While it never hurts to dream, it can hurt the ones we love if we bully them into fulfilling our dreams – regardless if such a thing is even feasible in the first place.

Autumn Cleveland is heating it up.

At the end of the day, the awkward relationship between Gym Bro and Reluctant Girlfriend is probably never going to go away. It will always be here with us until the world comes to an end. Or until we discover a secret potion that miraculously transforms a humble bumpkin into Muscle Cinderella. If that ever happens, instead of a glass slipper, would the Handsome Prince go around town seeing whose torso is muscular enough to handle a weightlifting belt that was left behind?

In conclusion, we all want Cindy Landolt to be our girlfriend. But women who actually look like her are not so common. So accept that. Understand that we can’t always get what we want, just like The Rolling Stones once reminded us. But, as they also remind us, we get what we need:

A loving companion who joyfully goes to the gym with you but doesn’t want to lift super heavy. It may not fulfill all your dirty desires, but it’s much more realistic. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

The lesson to be learned is this: don’t pressure her to be a bodybuilder. Let her get her workout in, kiss her on the cheek, and tell her “I love you the way you are.” And if she’d rather stay at home and play Candy Crush Saga while you’re across town busting your tail at the squat rack, let her…even if you’d rather watch her bust her tail while jealous onlookers stare at you with envy in their hearts.

Let her be who she wants to be. Period.

That is how you live happily ever after.

This is the Moment When She is at the Peak of Her Power

Tina Nguyen is at her most powerful right here.

She stares straight ahead, her gaze can pierce through your soul. She’s exhausted. She’s fatigued. She’s determined. She’s ready.

With 65-pound dumbbells in each hand, hanging casually next to her hips, she takes in a deep breath and regards herself in the mirror – not out of vanity, but out of a concern for maintaining proper form and technique. She’s a professional in mind and spirit, though not in livelihood (yet).

With astonishing confidence, grace, and strength, she lifts one dumbbell up to her chest, the cold metal barely grazing her collarbone. She exhales and slowly lowers the heavy weight back to her side, returning it perfectly to where it previously was. Then she lifts the other dumbbell upward in the exact same manner, this time her other collarbone experiences the unforgiving touch of the frosty iron. All the while, curious onlookers can see large veins running down her hardened biceps as she powers through these lifts. It seems like with each repetition, the veins get more pronounced as her biceps grow larger and larger.

The blood rushing into her arms coincides with the blood rushing into the private areas of the males in close proximity. They are unable to concentrate on their own workouts because they are too distracted by hers.

But none of them would have it any other way.

Oh boy. Have you ever experienced a scenario similar to this? I know I have. Maybe not at my local gym – though there have been a few isolated incidents – but certainly while watching Internet videos of female bodybuilders lifting heavy weights. If you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing such a beautiful phenomenon in recent days, drop whatever you are doing and conduct a few Google searches to whet your starving appetite.

For people who love female bodybuilders, athletes, weightlifters, and fitness models, there are few things that turn us on more than to watch our beloved ladies grind at the gym. Glamour photoshoots behind a pristine white backdrop are fine. So are professionally-done photo sessions taken on an immaculate white sandy beach. But few pieces of media can seriously contend with a video (even if it’s grainy and shot on an iPhone) that showcases a muscular woman laboring hard to become – or remain – a muscular woman.

Indeed, workout videos are our porn. This is nothing new. There already exists a blog post exploring this topic. However, what deserves further examination is a specific moment in these videos that particularly makes our hearts leap out of our chests:

The moment of muscle peak.

This is probably best exemplified in the above example of a female bodybuilder doing bicep curls. But it’s even more evident when she’s doing preacher curls. Preacher curls are, in case you are not familiar with exercise jargon – isolation lifts in which you place your arms against an incline bench (or pad) and lift either a barbell or dumbbell upward toward your chest, targeting specifically your biceps. Visually speaking, preacher curls make for excellent video fodder because you can noticeably see the participant’s biceps swelling up as he or she completes the lift.

Sexy muscle mama Dena Anne Weiner.

When we see a muscle-bound woman’s face strain as she struggles to finish the final repetition of her grueling set, it’s difficult to watch this with zero physical reaction. How can your pulse not start to race, your heart beat a little faster, and blood not rush to your groin? I’d stop being such an adamant female muscle lover if such reactions ceased to take place inside me.

It is at this moment when her biceps are at its largest. “The Moment of Muscle Peak” is so arousing because it symbolizes in a single still frame why we love female bodybuilders so much: They had to earn their gorgeous muscles through hard work and hard work only. No shortcuts, no underserving gains, and certainly no free passes. She didn’t earn her muscles by paying a plastic surgeon to implant them underneath her skin. She may take drugs, but drugs alone do not produce large muscle mass. That only comes from expending sweat, energy, and burning more calories than some of us consume.

Here is the video that inspired me to write this post. It shows world-renowned Swiss female bodybuilder Jay Fuchs doing preacher curls at the gym. Follow her (or periodically revisit) her Instagram account if you don’t already. She completes a few repetitions of preacher curls with her left arm. We see the veins pop out of her skin. We see her bicep grow to its largest possible size. We see it expand and contract. We witness how tired she must be. We empathize with her struggle and admire how she is able to persevere through it. But we also notice how beautifully her bicep “jumps” up as she squeezes the dumbbell close to her chest. It’s as though it’s going to burst open. We are amazed how her skin is able to physically contain so much swollen flesh.

But alas, her muscles are able to expand and contract without her skin peeling open. What a miracle! After she is done with her set, she drops the dumbbell on the floor and flexes for her audience. We now see, in a classic sequence, the simple dynamic of “cause and effect.” We see her lifting weights at the gym. And now we see the results of her years of hard work!

How Miss Fuchs transformed herself into an Angelic Muscle Goddess isn’t a mystery. It’s not a secret. There’s no magic potion that made it happen. It’s all out in the open. The ways and means are as simple as it gets: Hard work, hard work, and more hard work. She has nothing to hide. She also has everything to gain. So do we.

The aforementioned Jay Fuchs.

Jay Fuch’s social media feed, as well as the feeds of hundreds of other beautiful muscular women around the globe, provides a simple yet provocatively arousing look into why some men love muscular women so damn much. “The Moment of Muscle Peak” isn’t just confined to when her muscles are actually at its largest. It’s the exact moment (or moments) when you symbolically get to witness what it is that separates a muscular woman from a “normal looking” woman. It’s the moment when it stops being all fun and games and, as the colloquialism goes, “shit gets real.”

Maybe it’s when Minna Pajulahti is attempting an impressive single deadlift. Or when Lisa Cross finishes her last squat. Perhaps it’s seeing Theresa Ivancik grunt her way toward completing a set of shoulder presses. Or seeing a female Olympic sprinter cross the finish line. Or a lady CrossFit athlete climbing up and down a rope.

It’s the moment when she’s at the peak of her power. When she’s actively doing the hard work necessary to transform herself into a better version of herself. It’s not for show. She’s not showing off for the camera or trying to put on a performance. She doesn’t care if she’s wearing makeup or if she looks “camera ready.” All of that is inconsequential nonsense. The only thing on her mind is finishing her set, breathing steadily, and moving on to the next lift. The rest will take care of itself. She doesn’t care one iota if her hair is unkempt or if she doesn’t quite look like a polished supermodel. After all, when you have muscles that big…who has the right to criticize you?

The Moment of Muscle Peak is when she is at her most unstoppable. It’s when we are helpless to do anything else but witness “true beauty” in action. Unlike a boring and passive Sleeping Beauty, a female bodybuilder busting her tail at the gym is a Wide Awake Muscle Queen Who Refuses to Take Shortcuts and Deserves Her Accolades. She ain’t no princess, sweetheart. She isn’t even a queen, despite the idiomatic expression. Instead, she’s a peasant. She’s Cinderella without the Fairy Godmother granting her temporary “princess status” until the clock strikes midnight.

She’s so damn beautiful because she’s a peasant who earned her regal status not by merely wearing a tiara, but by building up so much muscle on her body that you can’t help but mindlessly stare at her while you struggle to pick up your jaw off the floor.

The biceps on Monique Jones are enough to give me a heart attack.

A female bodybuilder isn’t at her most powerful when she’s got some hapless guy in a headlock or a scissor hold. Nor is she at the height of her authority when she has someone tied to a bed while she squeezes his balls until he begs her to stop. That is, in my humble opinion, a somewhat superficial form of expressing one’s power. Rather, she’s at the height of her power when she’s all alone in the weight room, with sweat dripping down her face, struggling to finish that one final rep before she can’t handle it anymore. Afterward, as she’s breathing hard like a racehorse and chugging down water to help her recover, she’s at her weakest. But in her weakness she finds her strength. She punishes her body so that it can emerge even more powerful than before. She’s drained of her energy for now, but not for very long. Eventually, she’ll refuel and rest up to the point where she can do it all again…this time harder and more strenuously than before.

Female bodybuilders are lone wolves. They aren’t lonely by choice, rather it’s a byproduct of the life they’ve chosen to lead. More often than not, her workouts are not made public. A short 30-second video clip posted on YouTube or Instagram doesn’t do justice to her full training regimen. It’s not even a drop in the bucket. The vast majority of the time she’s all alone at the gym (or at least, she’s all alone in her own personal bubble) away from smartphone cameras or preying eyes. She grinds away for several hours a week in the privacy of her own little world. She spends an inordinate amount of time cooking unglamorous food that tastes the same but plays a crucial role in helping her build muscle mass. She’s constantly reading up on supplementation tips and making valuable contacts – both in-person and online – who can help her succeed at her dream of living life as a bodybuilder.

These lone wolves do have their moment in the spotlight, however. They do compete in bodybuilding shows. They do pose for sexy photo or video shoots. They do meet starry-eyed clients for muscle worship or wrestling sessions. They do walk out in public and see the stunned faces on complete strangers who were not expecting to randomly see a woman with so much muscle. When you’re an entrepreneurial female bodybuilder, it’s impossible to be kept a secret forever.

Muscle goddess Angie Semsch.

But once again, that’s just a drop in the proverbial bucket. The process it takes to be a bodybuilder isn’t for the faint of heart, nor is it terribly exciting day-in and day-out. But for those of us who do appreciate the arduous journey it takes to become a Divine Muscle Goddess, we cannot help but stare with our undivided attention as she’s lifting that heavy dumbbell. In that moment, she’s defying gravity, challenging our preconceived notions, and taking one step closer toward reaching her final destination. We can’t always describe why we love watching this; but we do regardless.

The Moment of Muscle Peak, therefore, has two meanings: It’s both the moment when her muscles are at its most swollen and strained; and it’s the moment when she’s at her most empowered. It’s both literal and figurative. When Jay Fuchs is isolating her biceps and lifting that dumbbell toward her beautiful chest, she’s showing us two sides of her personality. One side is her willingness to do the hard work necessary to develop large muscles. The other side is her devotion to striving toward an ideal.

And what is that ideal? She wants to be the best version of herself that she can possibly be. She refuses to settle for anything less than that. And why would she? What would be the point?

As fans of Miss Fuchs and countless others like her, we do not see any other point. Seriously. If you can think of a reason why Jay shouldn’t pursue her personal ideal, you can tell us after we’ve picked up our jaws off the floor.

The Adventures of Ryan Takahashi: Chapter Ten – Monday Morning Blues

Good God. Is it Monday already?

I look at my alarm clock and see it is 4:58 a.m. I turn it off before it decides to ring.

Shit. Garfield the cat is right. Mondays do suck.

My shift at Wellford Fitness Center starts at 6 a.m., which is when the gym opens to the public. That means I have to wake up at 5 a.m. to give myself enough time to eat breakfast and get some coffee in me.

I usually make my own coffee. Today is no exception. I only buy already-brewed coffee on Sunday mornings when I make my weekly trek across the street to D’Angelo’s Café. This is partly the reason why I didn’t order anything at the espresso bar when I first met Cindi. Why pay two dollars for coffee that I could make for myself at a much cheaper price?

After a hearty breakfast of Wheaties and a bagel with cream cheese, I chase down a cup of iced coffee (I’m too lazy to heat it up in the microwave) and head out the door.

Five minutes later I enter through the back door and put on my dark red Wellford Fitness Center t-shirt that’s sitting in my employee locker. Believe it or not, the company gives us four pairs of these shirts in order to prevent us from wearing the same shirt all week. I think this is a good policy. Gyms smell bad enough. We don’t want the foul stench of employees making things worse.

I usually feel a bit depressed on Monday mornings (who doesn’t?), but today I’m feeling especially down-trodden considering my week ahead. I have five whole days before I see the Goddess Cindi again. I wonder what time she gets up every morning to start her workout? Is she an early riser, or does she workout in the afternoons/evenings? I should ask her the next time I see her.

It is my turn today to man the front desk. I’m in charge of the front desk from 6 to 9 a.m. From 9 to noon I clean and do laundry (we provide workout towels for everyone).

As the clock approaches 6 a.m., I see our first customer of the day show up. And right on schedule. It’s Dale, a 40-something businessman who’s always here right when we open. Dale and his wife are both former college athletes who have raised two ridiculously athletic children. Their daughter is currently training for the Olympics as a gymnast and their older son is a high school track star. No big deal.

I unlock the front door at the stroke of 6 and let Dale in, who waits outside patiently like always.

“Good morning, sir.”

“Good morning to you, Ryan.”

I scan his membership card and he strolls toward the locker rooms. Next I see Frances, an elderly 80-something woman who does water aerobics every morning. The class doesn’t start until 7, but she likes to be here early so she can read the newspaper before her workout.

“Hi Frances. How are the grandchildren?”

“They’re rude and they don’t listen,” she sheepishly says. I scan her membership card and wisely choose not to ask any more questions. She’s always in a pissy mood. But she seems to have a positive relationship with her grandchildren, so I’m a little taken aback that she thinks they’re rude and don’t listen.

Us whippersnappers are a real pain in the butt, aren’t we?

“Have a good workout,” I tell her as she leaves.

Frances doesn’t respond.

Somehow, my feelings aren’t hurt. My heart will go on.

Minutes later more people start to come in large groups. We’re talking people ranging from the very old to people my age looking to become as buff as possible. Try as they might, but they’ll never have anything on my Cindi. She’s buffer than anyone on the planet.

“My” Cindi? Am I claiming ownership over her? She should claim ownership over ME. She deserves that much.

As it approaches 7:30, the gym finally becomes lively with the noises of chit chat, treadmills running at full blast, the clank of 45-pound metal plates rubbing against each other and the usually grunts and groans of people getting a quality workout.

My mind starts to wander. What is Cindi doing right now? She’s definitely at the gym. She has to be. If she works out early on a Sunday morning, there’s no reason why she wouldn’t be at the gym earlier on a Monday morning.

“This sucks,” I tell myself out loud. It sucks that I have to wait five days before I can see her again. God, she’s like a drug. I’ve only met her once and I’m already at the stage where I can’t get her out of my mind.

Cindi North, you Beautiful Muscular Temptress. You’ve cast a spell on me. And I like it. A lot.

I giggle when I think about our first sexual encounter together. I totally prematurely ejaculated all over her face. I was humiliated at the time, but I can laugh at it now. It’s true when they say that time heals all wounds. But everything was totally worth it when she performed oral sex on me later. That felt divine. Absolutely divine. And I got to come on her eight-pack abdominal muscles. That was ridiculously hot.

I continue to daydream until I hear a woman’s voice call out to me.

“Excuse me, sir. Uh, excuse me?”

I immediately wake up from my mini-daydream.

“Uh, sorry. What is it? How may I help you?”

I look at the woman speaking to me and I almost stop breathing when I see her.

Hot damn.

She’s a young black woman who looks to be anywhere between 25 and 30. She’s fairly tall, maybe between 5’10” and 6”. She’s wearing a bright pink sports bra and a matching pair of tight spandex shorts that leaves nothing to the imagination. She has very dark skin that looks as black as night and as smooth as silk. Her angular face looks very exotic and unbelievably beautiful. I’m not a world-renowned traveler, but there’s something in her look and in her voice that tells me she wasn’t born in this country. I don’t know. But she’s simply gorgeous.

“I’m new in town and I have a free one-week pass. Do I give this to you?” she asks politely.

Her voice does sound like it has a slight African accent to it. I struggle to look at her face once I take a peek at her large, plump, bountiful breasts. Unlike Cindi, this woman has breasts. And very enticing. I want to squeeze them right now. But that would get me fired.

“Yes, you can give that to me. Can I see it?”

She hands it to me and I see that it’s legit.

“Alright, this is good for exactly one week, so it expires next Monday. Let me scan it for you.” I scan it and give it back to her. I take a quick look at her midriff and see she has a modest four-pack of abs developing. After I scan her paper card I look at the computer and see her name is Monifa Okendu. That’s a name you don’t hear too often around here.

“Thank you,” she says.

“Alright, have you ever been here before, Monifa?”

“No. I just moved here yesterday morning.”

“Oh! Welcome into town. Where are you originally from?”

“Ethiopia. But I’ve lived in New York City for the past three years.”

“In that case, welcome to Seattle. Would you like someone to give you a tour of our facility? I can ask a staff person to show you around.”

“Thank you, but no thanks. I think I can find everything I need just fine.”

“Alright. The women’s locker room is on the opposite side of the men’s locker room to your left. You will have to provide your own locks, however. Did you bring your own today?”

“Yes.”

“Good. It’s wise to do whatever you can to prevent against theft. We’re usually pretty good around here, but you never know. So, we offer workout towels for all our clients, including guests. Just drop them off in this box after you’re finished. Any other questions?”

“I don’t think so. Thank you very much.”

“Oh, I forgot to mention. Guests are allowed to attend all the classes we offer except for the advanced ones. Here’s a brochure explaining everything we offer here.”

I hand her a brochure and she puts it in her gym bag. Her toned arms look delicious.

“Thank you very much. You’ve been very helpful. What’s your name?”

“My name is Ryan. Enjoy your workout, Monifa.”

With that, Monifa turns around and walks toward the locker rooms. I take a look at her butt as she leaves. Holy mackerel! Lush, ample, perfectly rounded and taut, she nearly competes with Cindi’s impeccable derriere, but not quite. No one can compare to Goddess Cindi.

Well, that Monifa is quite a physical specimen! I hope she chooses to work out here long-term. That would make my mornings a lot easier to bear.

Just when I thought my morning got a little better, I look outside and see it has begun to rain. Hard. I mean, pouring down rain. Cats and dogs. Sheesh. Typical Seattle weather. Whenever a Monday seems to become somewhat tolerable, Mother Nature finds a way to slap you in the face and bring you back to reality.

The rest of my morning passes without a hitch. Nothing too spectacular. Later when I return to the front desk to pick up the box of dirty towels, I catch a peek of Monifa (whose bright pink and revealing outfit is extremely hard to miss) deadlifting what looks to be about 135 pounds, which is the metal bar plus a 45-pound plate on both sides. Not bad. It’s not quite the 500 pounds that Cindi can do, but that’s pretty darn impressive for a woman.

Wow, will Cindi ever leave my mind? Not for a long time, let me tell you.

As I walk into the laundry room I bump into Michelle, the ridiculously cute receptionist/personal trainer who works here.

“Hi Michelle. How many clients do you have today?”

“Only three. But they’re real clients, not the fake ones I’m usually stuck with.”

“You mean real athletes?”

“Yeah. One girl plays high school volleyball. Another girl wants to be a competitive figure model. And the other is a lady who’s determined to lose all her baby fat before Thanksgiving.”

“Before Thanksgiving? She better get on it. That’ll be here sooner than you think.”

“Well, she seems determined enough. See you around, sugar.”

Michelle, wearing a black Wellford Fitness Center sports bra and tight black shorts (not unlike what Monifa is wearing today), takes a swig from her coffee tumbler and goes into the workout area, leaving me alone holding a box of smelly towels. Dear God, these reek. Holy shit. If I don’t load these into the machine right away, I might just barf.

Ugg!

Oh, and by the way, Michelle usually calls every guy she knows “sugar,” so don’t get too excited on my behalf.

“That Monifa looks like she could become a competitive figure model,” I say to myself.

Loading the towels into a washing machine, I (for some really odd reason) start to think about Sam’s job offer he talked about yesterday. How would I like to be a drug dealer for the rich and wealthy? It would be easy money, these are people who don’t typically get involved in random street shootings and if I ever get caught, they could use their power and influence to get me off without any trouble. I mean, they’d do that, right?

And depending on what kind of drugs I’d be dealing, I might be able to meet more FBBs like Cindi North. Steroids and other human growth hormones are considered drugs, right?

But I’d never be able to meet another woman quite like Cindi. She’s a statuesque Goddess. But if women like her exist, there should be others like her. That makes sense. And I seriously don’t want to work here for the rest of my life. These smelly towels can always be washed by someone without a college degree.

I hope I’m not sounding too elitist.

But I digress. Sam and his buddies probably aren’t the type of people I want to associate myself with on a regular basis. I’d much rather hang out with Cindi and make love to her. Hell, who wouldn’t?

The thought of making love to a celestial muscle Goddess like Cindi is enough to carry me through the rest of the day.

The Adventures of Ryan Takahashi: Chapter Two – Lazy Saturday Afternoon Workout

I woke up Saturday morning with a massive erection that refused to go away. All throughout breakfast my penis remained as hard as a rock. What a way to begin a lazy Saturday.

All I could think about was her. Cindi North. Cindi North. Beautiful and gorgeous Cindi North.

Cindi North.

Who is this woman? I’ve never heard of her. I thought I was familiar with all the major FBBs, especially the ones who are local. When I finally rolled out of bed at 10:30 a.m., I switched on my computer and Googled her.

And what did I find? Nothing much.

There’s a Cindi North who’s a real estate agent in Tennessee. I don’t think it’s her. There’s a couple in Texas who recently gave birth to a daughter named Cindi North. That’s definitely not her. There are women named Cindy North, but none are even close to being an FBB (the one who comes closest is a Zumba instructor in San Diego). This does not sit right with me. Female bodybuilders are usually very searchable. I then tried Bing and Yahoo and still got the same results. What if I searched for her directly on bodybuilding websites?

Twenty minutes later, I still got nothing. Who is this woman? Is she even real? She has to be real. I know she’s real.

“Damn. Maybe I’m being delusional. She might not be real,” I say to myself.

I can’t deny the possibility that I’m being had by some jerk. Anyone can steal the image of an anonymous FBB and pretend it’s them. Anyone who’s even remotely computer literate can pose as someone else. Dammit! I’m being duped by some asshole on Craigslist!!!

This realization makes me both angry and devastated. I want to kick something and then bawl my eyes out.

Bawl my eyes out? Over someone who’s not even real? Shit, I’m getting desperate. This is what happens when you’re a 20-something virgin.

Huh? Have I not mentioned this yet? Yes, laugh all you want. I’m a virgin. A virgin. I’ve never had sex. My penis has never been inside a woman. That kind of virgin. I’m 23-years-old. Go ahead! Laugh. I’ll wait while you get it out of your system.

*Pause*

Okay, let’s resume.

Suddenly, it hit me. Maybe, just maybe, her real name is Cindi North but professionally she goes by something else. Of course! Plenty of female bodybuilders go by different names when they compete. She probably has a completely different identity that’s separate from “Cindi North.” That’s not outside the realm of possibility.

I hope that’s it. That has to be it. If not, I’m going to be disappointed all over again.

As I mentioned earlier, this is a dream come true. But a dream can shatter in an instant. As they say, if it’s too good to be true, it usually is. I hope this is an exception.

Now, on to video games.

I attempt to distract myself with Halo 3 and Call of Duty, but all I could see on the screen is her. I watch a few episodes of Family Guy. It helps temporarily, but I still can not get her out of my mind. I eat some leftover spaghetti and pack my gym bag. I think I should get a good workout in before dinner. That should prepare me for my chat tonight at 8 p.m.

To help me get in the mood for working out, I reopen Cindi’s picture and stare at it for a good two minutes.

Look at her body. Her thighs could crush a bowling ball. Her shoulders could lift a truck. Her abs look so delicious. I want this woman so badly!

Cindi North. Cindi North. Cindi North. Cindi North. Cindi North…

Great. My erection has returned. Let’s hope it disappears before I have to take off my pants.

I work out at Wellford Fitness Center, a local family-owned gym that’s been in existence for nearly half a century. The owner, Thomas Wellford, inherited the business from his mother, Eliza Wellford, a former Olympic bronze medalist weightlifter. Thomas is a nice man and hired me as a part-time janitor (I work early mornings Monday through Friday) after I started working out there a year ago. One perk from working at WFC is that I get to exercise there for free. I can even take all the Yoga and Zumba classes at no charge. This is something usually reserved for Gold Level members.

I can walk to the gym because it’s only six blocks away from my apartment. Onward!

Three minutes later, I stroll through the front doors and say hi to Michelle, the cute receptionist/personal trainer who usually mans the front desk on Saturdays.

“Hi Michelle.”

“Hey Ryan. What are you doing today? Legs? Arms?” she asks as she scans my membership card.

“Neither. Shoulders and chest,” I inform her as she hands the card back to me.

“My mistake. It’s lighter than usual today for some reason.”

“There’s a big game today. The Huskies are playing USC. The winner is guaranteed a spot in the Rose Bowl.”

“Oh. Who’s going to win?”

“Well, they don’t play until later today. I think the Trojans are going to win. Even though the game’s here, they have a more talented team.”

“We’ll definitely turn it on when the game starts. Enjoy your workout.”

“Thanks, Michelle.”

Michelle waves to me and immediately helps the next person in line, just as a professional should. She’s 36-years-old but looks 20. Michelle has beach blonde hair, large perky breasts and a very toned body you cannot help but stare at lustfully. Michelle is the type of person every woman hates. She’s gorgeous, looks 15 years younger than she actually is, has two children (ages 10 and 8, if my memory serves me correctly) and has a body that makes every man stop dead in his tracks. She recently divorced her husband when she discovered he was having an affair with another woman. I find this perplexing because how on earth can you possibly find a woman sexier than Michelle?

Her ex-husband is a typical musclehead jerk who spends way too much time at the gym (it’s no surprise that they met here) and does nothing but show off. I’ve met him many times and I think he’s the douchebag to end all douchebags. What did Michelle see in him?

Dan (he calls himself “Big Danny”) is definitely your stereotypical asshole who looks like a male model, treats people like garbage, but always keeps getting women. He’s fairly handsome, built like a linebacker, and, from what I’ve seen in the locker room shower, he’s hung like a horse.

Dan is the type of guy who parades around the locker room naked for long periods of time because he wants to show off his body to everybody. In addition to having way too much muscle, his very large penis does nothing to tame his ego. Maybe that’s what Michelle saw in him. A great roll in the hay.

Of course, Michelle would never date me. I’m the boring Asian guy nobody wants to hang out with except for fellow Asians. Michelle always smiles at me but I know she has no intention to do anything with me outside of work. There’s no doubt I can’t compete with Dan in the category of physical beauty.

But enough about that douche. I remember the first time he saw me naked. I saw him glance down at my penis and smile condescendingly. I’ll never forgive him for that.

Thankfully, since the divorce Dan has switched gyms. I have not seen him in more than two months. Good riddance.

I walk into the locker room and choose my favorite locker, #218. I have no idea why it’s my favorite. I picked this one the first time I came here and have stuck with it ever since. If that one is being used, my backup is #220. But today, #218 is empty.

“How’s it going, buddy?” a familiar voice says to me.

I turn around and see Jason Marquee, an old friend from high school. Jason is a black guy who was a standout wide receiver on our football team. He received a lot of interest from Division I colleges (including UCLA, Baylor, Boston College and Michigan State), but unfortunately during the last game of his senior year he suffered a catastrophic injury when a free safety tackled him by the knees and tore his ACL. Jason eventually recovered from this injury but his speed and quickness never fully returned. I feel really bad for him. He’s definitely the type of guy you want to root for to succeed.

“I’m doing pretty well. Are you going to watch the game later today?”

“Yeah. I just got done with my workout and I’m on my way out. Who are you pulling for?”

“I don’t really care either way. I just want a good game.”

“Cop out answer! Just kidding, bro. I guess I do too.”

“Are you going to watch it with your girlfriend?”

“Yes, sir. She’s a proud Husky and wouldn’t miss it for anything. But I have to go. She’s expecting me right about now.”

“Awesome. Have fun. Say hello to her for me.”

“Yeah, yeah. I will. Have a good workout, Ryan.”

“Take care, Jason. See you around.”

Jason leaves with his gym back slung over his left shoulder. I undress and slap on my smelly workout clothes. Oh, God. I need to do laundry this week.

Jason, like Dan, is also hung like a horse. But unlike Dan, Jason is very modest about himself and is a very likeable guy. The injury really humbled him. I remember how cocky he was in high school. Hell, you would be too if you had national talent scouts watching you on the sidelines every week. Jason is the only guy with a penis that’s large enough to compete with Dan. But Dan still wins. I shudder to think what Big Dan looks like when he’s, uh, big.

I really start to shudder when I think about Dan’s large package ramming into Michelle’s tight little body. Michelle is not a large woman. But she must have enjoyed the sex. Why else would she have stayed with him for so long and have two kids from him?

Whatever. Time to work out.

Today is a chest and shoulder day. I can bench press 155, which doesn’t seem like much because… well, it’s not much. But I do 4 sets of 12 so I think I get a decent workout every time I do it. I’m slowly working my way up and hope I can get to 200 pounds by the end of the year.

I wonder how much Cindi can bench. Probably 300 or 350. She looks pretty damn strong. I can just imagine her massive chest heaving up and down as she grunts, huffs, puffs and sweat drips off her pretty face.

Dang. My erection is back. I hope nobody notices.

The workout area is sparse as most people are more interested in college football than burning calories. Personally, I’d also rather eat potato chips and drink beer than bust my butt at the gym, but my conscious wouldn’t let me rest easy. Sloth is the easiest path toward failure. Whatever “failure” means in this case.

I begin with a little cardio. The cardio area usually has ESPN playing. Maybe I can catch the tail end of some other game before the Big Game starts. The upstairs section is dedicated to treadmills, Stair Masters, elliptical machines, rowing machines and other cardio equipment. This area is usually dominated by women and high school kids training for track. Today there’s an old black lady, two college-aged Asian girls who appear to be friends (don’t worry; neither of them are particularly attractive), a really buff middle-aged guy and myself. The really buff middle-aged guy is named Tony. We’ve talked a few times and he’s a very nice guy. He’s the type who spends too much time flirting with the pretty young ladies at the gym between his sets. And his sets are pretty insane. Tony can lift with the best of them.

Tony sees me and nods his head. I nod back. This is usually the extent of our conversations together.

I choose a treadmill and see there’s an NBA pre-season game playing instead of college football. Whatever. I’ll watch anything.

After running a good two miles, I go downstairs, take a long drink at the water fountain and head to the weightlifting area. Hm. No one’s here. Tony has moved on and is currently squatting what looks to be about 315 pounds. Out of the corner of my eye I see Hot Blondie, a young woman who comes here constantly. I don’t know her real name, but she’s as gorgeous as a supermodel and keeps her body in ridiculously good shape. From what I’ve gathered overhearing her conversations with other people (some call it eavesdropping, I call it the consequences of exercising in close quarters), she works at one of those bikini coffee shops. I’ve never been to one of those but I’d love to see her in a bikini. Oh, baby…

Today Hot Blondie is wearing a bright red athletic bra, matching spandex shorts (which are tight as hell), white tennis shoes and her iPod. She has no qualms about showing off her figure in public. Hell, she gets paid to do it for a living (while making lattes and Americanos, of course).

Usually I get distracted when Hot Blondie works out near me. But today all I can think about is Miss North and her magnificently buff body. It’s almost to the point where I’m seeing her everywhere. There she is squatting next to Tony. There she is bench pressing right next to me. There she is blasting her biceps with 80 pound dumbbells. There she is doing shoulder presses with 70 pound dumbbells. Yikes. This erection has been with me for at least fifteen minutes!

During my sets I try to think of nothing but my lifts. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, being unfocused at the gym is a recipe for disaster. I’ve witnessed too many accidents during my time working here. One time a bunch of brainless high school jocks were messing around and accidentally bumped into someone doing lunges. That person fell down and badly twisted their ankle. Thomas did not think twice about banning them forever after that unfortunate incident. Good riddance.

Holy crap. Hot Blondie’s doing squats. Don’t get distracted, Tony. I love surreptitiously watching her do squats. Watching her long, toned legs and butt move up and down is enough to make me climax on the spot. That would be messy if this were to actually happen.

As expected, Tony has finished his set and is now striking up a conversation with Hot Blondie. I have no doubt they’ve had sex before. Tony has hinted to me that they have and I can believe it. Rumor has it Hot Blondie is not the monogamous type. But would she ever sleep with me? Definitely not. Like Michelle, she has alternate tastes in guys. Particularly guys who aren’t Asian.

But enough of that. There’s an FBB out there who wants to do me (or is it she wants me to do her?). That’s enough to be proud of for the moment.

Time to resume my workout.

After I finish bench pressing I move on to various shoulder exercises. I usually cap off my workout with stretching and doing 800 crunches. Yes, I do that many crunches. I have a fairly decent four-pack that you can see when I suck in my gut. I’m still working on the other two to show up. But not Cindi. She has at least an eight-pack going on.

The closest I ever get to talking with Hot Blondie is during my stretching. Not too many guys stretch after lifting, which is something that could be very dangerous. Lots of women come to the stretching mats. Some are young and shapely, others are old and baggy. When Hot Blondie starts doing her yoga stretches right next to me, it’s difficult to not get an erection. And it’s even more difficult to hide it when you’re wearing gym shorts.

Now it’s time to take a shower. I probably smell like a third-world prison. Shower time is an odd time because it’s when all the guys get to see each other naked. Wellford Fitness Center has a large communal shower room where up to twenty guys can shower at once. And this is when we “compare” each other to see how we “measure up.”

When I say “measure up,” I don’t just mean penis size (even though that’s what I was really referring to). We silently compare the size of our biceps, chests, shoulders, backs, legs, abs and other muscle areas. Guys with the biggest muscles get the respect. Guys who don’t are quietly judged. As for me, I’m somewhere in the middle. I look toned but I’m not buff by any means. I’m someone people mildly respect but don’t revere. Dan, Tony and Jason are all guys people revere.

I’ve already said Dan and Jason are very well-endowed. Tony is not quite in their range but he doesn’t seem embarrassed about letting everything hang loose. At the moment there’s me and two other guys. Both are near elderly and probably couldn’t get it up if they tried. At least I have them beat on that front.

But then Big Mark walks in.

Big Mark is the only guy who can physically compare with Dan. Big Danny and Big Mark were rivals back in the day. Every time the two of them worked out together it clearly became a contest to see who could lift more. Big Mark was at least 6 foot 5 and looked like a power forward on steroids (to be honest with you, I wouldn’t be surprised if he actually were on the juice). I didn’t see Big Mark in the weight room, so I’m going to guess he just got out of the swimming pool. Big Mark usually swims a few laps in the pool, showers, lifts insane amounts of weight and showers again.

“Hey there,” Big Mark says to me.

“Hi,” I reply back.

“Are you going to watch the game today?”

“Yes, sir. I’m pulling for UW to win.”

“Yeah, me too. But it’s not going to happen. No way, man.”

“Got to keep the faith, bro. Got to keep the faith.”

“True that.”

Big Mark is a lot nicer than Dan. Big Mark can get a little douchey at times, but I usually keep my distance from him. Besides, it hurts my neck to have to look up all the time to talk to him.

Completely naked, Big Mark looks like a Greek god. He has a body covered with large muscles and a face that looks like an Abercrombie & Fitch model. His penis is not as long as Dan’s or Jason’s, but it looks a lot thicker. Do women prefer length or girth?

Big Mark quickly rinses off and heads out.

“Have a good work out,” I say.

“Thanks. You heading out?”

“Yeah, I’m done here.”

“Alright. See you around,” he says.

Yeah, I’ll see him around. Hopefully the next time I see him I’ll be devirginized. Then I-

Wait.

Losing my virginity? Soon? To a beautiful female bodybuilder? Yes, please.

It’s time to get out of here and see where destiny takes me.