TAMPA — I'm not much of a workout guy. I have a couple of 5-pound weights that I lift every few months in momentary bursts of ambition, but mostly I just take brisk morning walks around the neighborhood, an exercise doctors prescribe for older guys to postpone the heart attack.
So it's quite a shock to this 66-year-old frame when I try Bob Kissel's Max Q Fitness routine. Each repetition — 40 spread over five machines — feels impossible to do, but somehow the machine lets me slowly push through it. Stuck there in a half-rep is a helpless, hopeless feeling. If I were my own monitor, I'd quit and maybe go lie down somewhere.
But Kissel is right beside me, cheering me on.
"Way to fight it down. Good! Excellent! Excellent! Doing great,'' he says.
"Oh, man,'' I grunt. My exhalations sound like a steam engine.
The last reps on the last machine seem insurmountable. Somehow it doesn't help when Kissel says, "Four left.''
For 36 hours after the workout, I stick to the diet, eating about 2 ounces of chicken every two hours, six servings for the day. It gets rather boring, but I could have mixed it up a bit, maybe eating ham for one serving, roast beef for another, egg whites for another.
In that amount of time, according to Kissel's biomass meter, I lost 2.2 pounds of body fat, .03 pounds of visceral fat — or fat around my intestines — and gained 0.7 pounds of muscle, for a drop in body weight of about a pound.
I feel muscles I never think about, such as those running along the collarbone and just above the back of my elbows. After three days, the soreness is gone.
That's when more ambitious people return for another workout.