There used to be a time when gym rats would judge you merely by the size of your ass—-or by the size of your free weights or by even the magazine that you read on the stationary bike. But ever since my gym installed TVs on its elliptical machines, there’s a whole new criteria for passing judgment on your machismo: what programs you watch.

Now, you have to understand that I spend most of my time sitting in chairs in dark rooms, stuffing high-calorie foods down my gullet. I don’t exactly look like Albert Pujols, you know? So I try to use stupid humor at the gym to overcompensate for my lack of pecs and washboard abs. I have a wide assortment of T-shirts with sayings on them, such as “I Like Glue!” or “Got Clemens?”

But yesterday, as I was working on destroying some of those calories tucked into body parts I didn’t have two years ago, I noticed that the woman next to me on the elliptical was watching a bloody episode of CSI on Spike TV. I was watching Emeril Lagasse make a grilled banana split on the Food Network. I felt the need to turn the channel to ESPN.

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