The Blob Is Dead… Or at Least Dying

To say that I’m out of shape would be a gross disservice to anyone who actually has a shape.

My wife looked at me the other day and said, “Honey, I love you so much. Wouldn’t your creativity get a boost from increasing your cardiovascular activity to a level more in keeping with a world-class athlete?” Well, that’s what I heard. What she really said was, “God, you’re a blob. Get your ass in gear so I don’t have to find a husband after I bury you.” She loves me. She really loves me.

At a local business meeting, I ran into John McGuire, a retired Navy SEAL. Not that those guys ever retire; they just stop hurting the enemy and take it out on suburban blobs like me. John runs a program called Navy SEAL Physical Training, and he promises that he can help anyone improve his or her physical fitness. Anyone.

Why would a 41-year-old man with a wonderful wife, two great kids, and a career he loves subject himself to this torture? Because everyone laughed when I told them I could do it — and nobody laughs when I walk into a presentation for a new client or into a brainstorming session. But, most of all, I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.

I arrived at a local high school at 5:30 one morning for the first day of 10 one-hour sessions. Let me tell you, I was really nervous. All around me cars pulled in and Adonis-like men and women started climbing out of their cars. Taking a cue from them, I got out of the car. So far so good.

We walked over to John’s pickup truck, and John welcomed everyone to the first morning of training. “Go at your own pace, support each other, and teamwork is more important than a me-too attitude.”

He and his assistants went to the back of the truck and pulled out three contraptions that were probably used during the Inquisition to force confessions. John briefly outlined the program. In one hour, we were going to test our strength and endurance by doing pull-ups, sit-ups, and pushups and running 1.5 miles. All events would be timed, and we were supposed to support each other. Here are my first-day results:

    Pull-ups — 4
    Sit-ups in 2 minutes — 13
    Push-ups in 2 minutes — 14
    1.5-mile run — 15 minutes, 45 seconds

Pretty pathetic. But I did learn a few things that might be applicable to everyone in the advertising/marketing world:

  • Teamwork is critical. I was teamed with a guy who did 120 pushups and more than 100 sit-ups in two minutes. He didn’t laugh at me as I struggled to do one-tenth of those amounts. He encouraged me and even made me laugh.

    Are you supporting the lesser members of your team? Are you encouraging people to do their absolute best, or are you snickering and tearing them down?

  • Working at your own pace makes a difference. We’re all on different schedules. There were times during the 1.5-mile run when I thought I would lose a lung. As people ran past me, they shouted, “Hooyah!” — the tribal chant that I heard every time someone did something well. Funny how a little word can inspire. As I walked for part of the run around the track, I vowed that I would run through the finish line. I did.

    Do you demand that everyone work on the exact same schedule because it benefits you? Allow a little flexibility, and you’ll be surprised at the results. Not everyone is at their best at 6:00 a.m. or 6:00 p.m.

  • Getting off your butt makes you feel good. I’m the absolute last person on Earth to lecture anyone about their lifestyle or exercise habits, but I can tell you that even after one hour I feel great. I was always the last guy picked for dodgeball, kickball, softball (the list goes on and on), so I never felt any great need to keep in good shape. I found a reason: being around for my kids and wife. Do something that makes you feel good. Park far from the office and walk for a few minutes. Put the remote control out of reach. You get the idea.
  • Typing with your nose is painful and takes a very long time. When I returned from my triumphant hour this morning, I pulled my sorry ass up the stairs to take a shower. As I was turning off the water, I started to laugh uncontrollably. My sensitive wife called out, “What did you do this time, Mr. Atlas?” I replied, “I can’t raise my arms or feel my fingers. That’s a good thing, right?”

By the time you read this, I’ll have completed 4 of the 10 days of training. I’ll let you know if my numbers increase, although there’s only one way for them to go. If you’re out of shape and thinking about getting back to training or trying it for the first time, let me know. I’ll send you a personal “HOOYAH!” Write to me at

Related reading