Hey, I’m Danté. #01

Lately, I’ve been starting my weekends with a routine that best fits the events that go on in my life. However, my day starts with gym and let’s face it – girls love a fit body on a guy. Which is not the case with me because I have what most call ‘dad bod’ and for the last few years it has been the shape that all of my friends associate me with.
I walk through the mall and make my way there, passing all sorts of temptation. Pizza Perfect, Fish ‘n Chips, Philly Cheesesteak Co. – my motivation slowly fades like,
“Fuck gym, actually. A good body is 70% diet, right? And with said diet, some things are best eaten in moderation. One bloody burger for the month won’t hurt!”
I repeat that in my head over and over as I gloss over the mini blackboard outside BrewTown café. A barista catches my eye and I could swear that the women who get hired here are selected from a model catalogue. I join a queue and prepare to order a very healthy coffee, to impress. Two others in front me and a guy approaches the counter to make his order. When I tell you the jokes he was throwing at her, making her laugh…
And oh, what a cute laugh it was. But the wtf moment about this was how long it took the dude to order the damn coffee. It was joke after joke with this guy. And hey, it made sense. He was tall, I would say at least six feet with the good looks and all of the muscles in the right places.
And myself? Ha.

So thank you, universe. I walked out of the store and continued to the gym.
The bright smiles and the smell of chlorine welcomed me as I entered the house of gains. The first order up was that I do cardio and on the weekends this place was full of people getting ready to slay the day and conquer tonight. The usual with the women and old men on the top floor with all of the cardio and the bottom floor with the gym bunnies and dudes getting jacked up. I walk the first floor looking for a good treadmill to use, preferably one with a good view of the pond that was outside the gym surrounded by a park. I go to fill my water bottle up and look around carefully, lo and behold there is one between a couple and another woman. The guy was on the far left treadmill, his girlfriend to my left, and the other lady on my right. I get to it and begin, setting all the settings and starting the playlist off of my phone – some Rap Saved Me by 21 Savage (feat. Quavo). The couple both ran at the same speed – typical – and the lady ran as if she were training for the Commonwealth Games. As for me, I just take it easy and she looked over to my side and could tell the same thing from seeing my asthma pumps (yes, I need two as I can never tell which is likely to run out first).
My goal was to reach 2 kilometres today, beating my record of 1.5 last week. To some of you reading this, you might be giggling thinking that your 10km minimum is something to gloat about.
But this is my story.
A few minutes go by and I’m there holding onto the treadmill console to keep myself up, breathing so heavily that my body moves with every breath. Sweat dripped from every part of my face and I could see in the peripheral of my vision that some were staring at me.
Whatever happened to the “At least he’s trying?”
I look up at the console to see how far I had come and it read 1.72 km, 35 minutes.
Good enough, I think to myself. At least I tried.

I head down to the muscle section, towel on my head and the sweat still on my face to show the ladies that I put in the work! But as I see myself in the giant wall mirrors, I look like a fatso who just left the sauna. The sweat had moistened my shirt to a point that my man-boobs swallowed my shirt beneath their crevices. I adjusted myself and wondered what others thought about – I always pay attention to what others think.
The bench press was the only free weight machine available and as I set my towel down, you would be amazed as to how many teenagers were here. The worst part of it all was how many of them wore their noodle vests and posed by the mirror, close enough to show the ridges and contours of their muscles, snapping pics for social media.
Wait, no – scratch that. What was worse were the guys staring at this blonde woman doing hip thrusts. I won’t lie, she most certainly had the body, but come on gents…
I lined up the weights onto the bar and lay down to start just a gentle warm up.
Four sets of twelve reps, each set I increase the weight.
As I start, I close my eyes and get into the rhythm of the song – Baby I’m Yours by Breakbot (feat. Irfane). I pump the iron (eugh, I hate using this term) until my set is done. I get up to add more weights and see a few people staring at me.
One of the things that instantly make me anxious. Some even had their phone out and as I looked at them, they would shy away and continue whatever they were doing.
“Hey, man, how are you able to lift all of that?” one man spoke and the guy was ripped beyond belief.
“U-uh,” I stutter and look at the bar.
Before I could answer him, you would also flip your shit at how much I can bench. With the bar being 20 kilograms itself, I had eight 20kg discs on. A total of 180kg (including the bar).
“It’s easy, I guess,” I said which others heard as well and there was a lot of chatter.
Okay – anxiety levels reaching an all-time high. I took my towel and bottle and walked out, away and out of the gym.

Sigh, such is my life. I’m Danté. There’s a reason I hate going to the gym because this usually happens. Earlier this week I signed up to this gym as the same scenario occurred at my previous one. And so it seems I will have to find a new place to exercise because this dad bod is not going to become better at this rate.
To actually answer that guy’s question – I don’t know how I’m able to lift such weights with ease. I’ve never known how I got this way.

I’m 28 years old, I work as a Quality Assurance consultant, earning an average salary. Like most, I was born with a physical condition and for me, that would be my asthma.
But when I was a kid, I attended a party where myself and the other kids climbed a tree to see the birthday boy’s new treehouse. The branch, of course, had a weight limit and would not be able to hold more than 4 of the 10 kids. I was not allowed to climb the tree as I had a mother who was super protective over me possibly getting an asthma attack when interacting with the outside world. I could hear the branch starting to tear and felt I had to do something. As it broke, I moved from the porch to the tree, which was just a couple of metres away, in a split second, and caught the branch holding the treehouse. With my strength, I held the branch upright so that the kids could get out. It was that day I developed my distaste of being stared at as every adult and child, including my mother, stared at me in awe. I thought I had done good but the parents would call their child away from me with scared looks on their face.
Ever since that day, I’ve never really known what gave me such strength and speed. Mother wouldn’t get me tested – three reasons being 1) I didn’t want to become a research project, and 2) I was fine, and 3) we ought to never question the Lord’s gifts, says mother.
I know what you’re probably wondering – Have you saved anyone? Are you a hero?
No – I’m just Danté. Saved a few, here and there. But not for self-righteous reasons.
Because, well, humans are fucking dumb. The shit I’ve saved people from… My gosh.
Besides, I don’t have the money to develop a suit of some sort to withstand what I’m able to withstand, and I can’t seem to lose weight without exercise which I clearly can’t get without being looked at like a freak.

Walking to my car, I receive a text message from a friend asking if I wanted to out tonight for the usual ‘chick hunting‘. I sigh and agree to go. I can’t be single forever, right?
I start the engine and the 10h00 o’clock news are on the radio. There’s a burning building not too far from here causing traffic – AND I HATE TRAFFIC. I drive towards the exact location thinking to myself that some idiot probably left the oven on.
I just hope there aren’t too many stairs to climb and people to carry.

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