Your first gyms session is tough but rewarding. A light mist of sweat covers your arms and face, dampening your hair and causing it to adhere to your forehead. Your smile stretches wide: you’ve done a good job today; you’ve taken your first step toward a better version of yourself.
You retrieve your bag from the locker before heading out to the parking lot. While you stand outside your car fumbling for your keys, a sign next to the parking lot’s security barrier arm catches your attention. It reads:
NO EXIT WITHOUT CODE
“Crap,” you grumble as you cease trying to find your keys and make your way back to the gym. You pass your key fob over the access reader and push through the front door then make the immediate right into the manager’s office.
Jeremy, the general manager, is at his desk working. His heavily muscled frame looks comically out of place in the small office chair in which he sits. He hunches over the desk as his meaty fingers pound away at the keys of his keyboard.
Jeremy looks up from his work and greets you with a warm smile. “Hey, new guy!” he says cheerily. “What can I do for you?”
“Hey, can I get the code for the parking lot gate?” you ask timidly.
“I don’t know, man,” he replies, still smiling, “can you bench press two hundred pounds?”
You give a short, forced chuckle at his joke and throw your hands up in an exaggerated shrug. “Not yet!”
Jeremy returns your laugh in a more genuine fashion. “Well, I guess you can’t get the code yet!” he says, whimsically cocking his head to the side.
“Can I get that code?”
Jeremy’s smile disappears instantly. He stands up and his imposing figure looms over you in the dim light of the office. “Did you suddenly gain the ability to throw up two bucks of iron during our conversation?”
“No,” you say, your voice cracking in fear.
“Then I guess you better get back in there and start knocking out some reps, new guy. Weaklings don’t get the code.”
Jeremy begins to make his way around the desk, his fists clenched and his face twisted into an angry scowl.
You backpedal, retreating into the gym proper.
“Get on that fucking bench, bitch!” he shouts.
You jump at his scream and run to the bench, planting your back on the black faux leather.
“You know what to do, motherfucker, put that bar on your chest and put it back up in the air,” Jeremy screams as he stands over you. “You will pick heavy shit up and put it back down until you can pick heavier shit up and put it back down and you will notleave this gym until that goal is accomplished. This is your home now, you hungry skeleton!”
You cry as you press the weight away from your chest. “You…can’t…do this!”
He pushes the weight back down onto your chest. “I can do it all I want. Unless you get strong enough to stop me.”
You decide right then you’re not going to die in here. It’s time to get swole.