Man About Menifee: It's Time to Get Back in Shape

By David Baker

Testing and displaying the upper limits of one’s physical prowess is a concept familiar to most men. In fact, body building has its own set of myths in our culture.

Every young man who has gone through a weight training class has heard the tale of the sixth century Grecian soldier and Olympic Wrestler, Milos of Croton, who is said to have started training as a boy by carrying a calf on his shoulders for several hours every day until eventually the calf grew to a bull. Weight Training coaches today use this story to illustrate the benefits of a training method called progressive resistance.

When I was a kid, we lived on an acre of land in a smaller town in the outskirts of San Diego. As the oldest, it often became my responsibility to mow the yard. Now when I say mow the yard, this was a process that took approximately 12 hours, usually split over a Saturday and Sunday.

From the time I was 13 years old, I would gather the clippings and stuff the trash cans as full as I could carry and haul them to the end of our driveway for the trash man (this was before trash cans had wheels, mind you). One day when I was about 16, my parents got a note from the trash company that we were filling the cans too full and the trash collectors could not lift them anymore.

When I heard this, I chuckled because by that time I was carrying them one-handed all the way with my arm fully extended upward. This was no steer, but it filled me with a certain sense of pride.

Later, during my junior and senior year in high school, I joined weight training and I began to learn about the different muscle groups, how they worked together and how to train. It was a wonderful experience for me.

Over the years, as it happens so often, life concerns such as bills, kids, my job, have taken priority over health and fitness. I’ve often joked that I’m in shape, as long as you consider round a shape. So when I saw the signs for Fitness 19 last fall and heard they had the lower pre-opening rates, I jumped at the opportunity.

The gym, which opens Dec. 24, will have cardio machines, weight training, and personal trainers on staff, and even certain classes will be available to members without paying an extra class fee. A good friend of mine is teaching the Zumba class, and you should believe me when I tell you, she earns her nickname of “Barbie Sergeant”.

Every week or so, I’ve driven by and seen the building take shape. I’ve spoken to a number of the employees already who know me at least by sight now. There were a number of delays, but finally this Tuesday they are opening and I will be glad to see it happen.

So I am putting it out there for all my readers. Join me in the pledge to change shape and get more fit. I may never have the body of a Greek Warrior, but maybe a little less cushion around the middle couldn’t hurt.

Have a safe and healthy holiday.

David Baker, our Man About Menifee, writes about his adventures in and around town every week in this space. You may leave comments for him here or email him at


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