In my 33 years of life, I’ve never once been “in shape.” I didn’t do the high school sports thing, am not much of a runner or dedicated cyclist, and never bought into indoor gym workouts. Instead, my exercise regime — which has intermittently involved bicycling, running, hiking, and walking over the past decade, but never amounts to more than a couple hours of sweaty activity on a good week — has always been focused on stopping short of being totally chunky, which tends to leave me somewhere between stout and portly. And for those of you who’ve ever ridden that divide, it’s not exactly the most comfortable place to be — especially when you live in Santa Barbara, where almost everyone seems to either be blessed with slim genetics or able to spend enough time at the gym to have the supermodel body.

So it’s with great trepidation that I announce my next self-assigned endeavor, one that’s already feeling a lot more stupid than some of my more dangerous warzone-related undertakings of years past: I’m becoming a guinea pig experiment for the dudes down at Crossfit Pacific Coast on Anacapa Street, where a bright orange barf bucket sits center stage. If my introductory visit is any indication — after less than seven minutes of rowing, squatting, sitting up, pushing up, and pulling up, I felt lightheaded, had to walk around the block for fresh air, and then puked all over the street — then the next three months will be filled with plenty of pain for me and laughs for you.

To be perfectly honest, that day’s “baseline workout” came the afternoon following our paper’s annual Christmas party, where hundreds of Santa Barbara’s best and brightest come to drink, dance, and dialogue together. It’s also notorious in our office for being a drunken doozy of a night for staffers, and while I can’t say that the 2010 version approached the all-night debauchery of my younger years past, I can confirm that the midnight nightcap at Mel’s Lounge made for a slow morning. I thought I’d recovered in time for the 1 p.m. workout, but then I puked. I can only hope it was because of the alcohol. If it wasn’t, then there’ll be more of that to come.

And in the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that one of the owners of Crossfit Pacific Coast is Eric Malzone, who was in my high school graduating class (Bellarmine College Prep, class of ’95 for those keeping track). We weren’t friends then, and since he’s been anointed my head torturer, we probably won’t be friends after this experience, but we aren’t entirely strangers either. So if this diary features any references to all boys Catholic school in San Jose — or to my great aunt, Sister Aileen Donahue, who was Malzone’s elementary school principal at Sacred Heart in Saratoga — now you know why.

My first full workout is Wednesday morning, January 5. Stay tuned to for the results. For more on the program, see


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