He called me “average”. All of my life I’ve been above-average. My parents told me so. My teachers told me so. I was in advanced classes in high school. I did reasonably well in college. I earned a master’s degree from a top-something school. And in sports, I was always pretty good, not always the best, but always a pretty good player and coach. I’ve been a teacher now for 25 years of my life, which I can safely argue wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t at least above-average.

But there it was. My trainer called me “average”.

I got what he meant – non-extremus largus humanus. I wasn’t the typical body-is-my-temple, count every gram and calorie, never-miss-a workout gym beast. In those terms, yeah, I might be average.

But even then I contend I’m an above-average average guy. I’ve worked my butt off, literally, for the past three years. I’ve been pretty darned disciplined for an “average” guy. I haven’t had a Diet Coke in three years (water, water, and more water). I’ve lifted, run, stepped, jumped, crunched, pushed, pulled, punched, and slammed. I’ve endured aches, pains, knots, soreness, and even injury. Most guys my age or even ten years younger aren’t doing this and probably couldn’t. I’m at least an apprentice beast.

I am above-average.

My life consists of a lot of average guy stuff. I’m a teacher of 150+ nearly-fully-functional adult, wear-you-out kids by day, and a dog-dad when I get home. I rarely get more than six hours of sleep. There’s grocery shopping, dry cleaning, feed my canine child, feed me, clean up after previously mentioned canine child, clean the house, laundry, pay bills, walk canine child, maybe get to see my friends, AND workout.

Each workout night involves a 45 minute drive (each way) to the body shrine. I could easily save time, money, stress, and the planet, by going to a perfect good gym five minutes from my house. I know how to do the build-a-better-body stuff. But I know me. What’s missing down the street is the environment and my make-me-do-it trainer. Without those, the gym around the corner would be missing me too.

Three years on, and I look and feel better than ever. I saw a photo of me from ten years ago, another from twenty years ago – frightening. My above-average discipline and commitment has paid off. Full disclosure – because of the average guy to-do-list mentioned above, I don’t always do everything I’m supposed to all the time. Sometimes I can only get to the gym three times in a week instead of four.

Sometimes I finish the day a few ounces short on the water intake. And I’ve come to realize and accept that it’s okay. I do most, most of the time.

I had lunch with friends the other day – Mexican food place. The wrinkle to this was one of my trainer’s impromptu physically draining, psychologically challenging carb-deplete events which began the day before. My friends and I had scheduled and rescheduled this lunch a few times. Mexican food and no chips? No tortillas? That’s right. I arrived a few minutes before the others and the waiter presented a mental battle of chips down in front of me. No one would know… except me. Yeah, average guy stuff.

Recently, a guy – or more accurately – an obese guy, has been working with a trainer nearly every night I’m working out. Another “average” guy with way below-average fitness. I watch him occasionally. I remember when he first started and his comments about how hard this getting-in-shape stuff is. I tried to encourage him by letting him know it takes time and patience. It wasn’t that long ago that I was struggling to get through even the most basic workout. I’ve wondered how he could have let himself get that way. I’ve also realized looking at those photos from just a few years back that it very easily could have been me.

But there he is, an average guy. He’s been at it for a few weeks now. He’s (and I’ve) already gotten past the hardest part – he’s here.

So for the average guy, Phil Knight is right – just do it. Doing something is better than doing nothing.

Doing more is better than doing some.

Fifties and fit. (I’m still above-average.)

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