Certain names have been changed to protect the identities of those involved.

It all started in Connecticut. I was standing outside the Stamford train station waiting for my old friend Bruce when a colossal creature came barrelling towards me. I stood transfixed, it was like a Michelangelo statue come to life, an ideal of the human form. After it lifted me bodily with one hand and placed me into a car with extreme care, my luggage hanging off its pinky by a strap, I began to wonder, “Could this be Bruce?”

“Sam, it’s so good to see you again!” exclaimed Bruce, extending his arms for a hug.

Indeed, after a few more days of contemplation over the weekend staying at his house, meeting his family and hearing him tell me, “yes, I’m Bruce,” I decided that this must be none other than Bruce himself! I sputtered and blurted my surprise at his transformation, and he only smiled the burly smile of the ultra-bro. “Sam,” he intoned solemnly, “You, too, can be like me. Let me take you to my Dojo.”

The dojo was unmistakable. What else but sinewy glory could be found in a place such as this?

As we approached the dojo, Bruce stopped me. “We are not yet worthy of the front door. We must go to the back.”

As I descended the stairs into the basement, a man stepped out of the darkness. This was the man Bruce would refer to only by a name I later forgot. Flexing his athletic fingers, the man sized me up. When I looked at him questioningly he said, “Tonight we fight to the death. Don’t worry, we’ll go easy on you.”

Two weeks later I was out of the hospital and getting ready to put together my dissertation proposal. My neck ached from staring at the screen, and I wondered what I could do to keep my body from falling apart while I stared at a screen and typed on a keyboard for twelve hours a day, seven days a week. My answer came in the form of another hulking beast, who grabbed me with both hands and threw me fifty feet into the air, leaping like a gazelle to catch me and place me gently back onto the ground. “Hello, Alice.” I smiled, “I think I need an exercise coach.”

This is an undoctored photo of Alice.

Alice looked at me like she was seeing me for the first time. “Sam,” she said, in muscular tones, “Ever since I first met you I have dreamed you would one day ask me that.”

And so my fitness regimen began.

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