First we invented the wheel and made life easier for ourselves. Ever since that time, we strived to regain that washboard definition our abdominal muscles used to have when we ran everywhere. Nowadays we do crunches, sit-ups, and leg lifts to put a few extra dents in that expanse of human anatomy that we have to cover up in the summer to evade the ravages of skin cancer.

A few years ago exercise physiologists questioned the point of it all. There once was a theory called spot reduction. The theory states that if you work a region of your body, fat will be melt away from that area like a turd in a rainstorm. Once the fat melts away, it will expose that hitherto fat inundated six-pack.

This, of course, doesn’t happen. Fat appears, disappears, or stays constant because of your relationship with calories. If you consume more calories than you burn, you gain fat. If you consume less, you lose fat. If the balance is equal, there is no net change. (I’m starting to sound like the auditor who took a look at the Canadian Government Employment Transition Fund and discovered the government gave away $2 billion in tax dollars without recording a nickel. That should prove there’s no such thing as spot reduction.)

“Since there’s no such thing as spot reduction,” said one exercise expert at a workshop I attended recently. “Wouldn’t the time spent on abdominal work be better spent on other aspects of fitness – such as posture or sport-specific exercises?” Another asked, “Doesn’t everyone get a good abdominal workout during the cardio?”

Those were interesting questions. I spent months including posture exercises in my classes, but I did it with abdominal work. I take another view about abdominal work. I think there is nothing wrong with strengthening the them. Strong abdominal muscles mean support for the back. Plus, my participants come to class because of the rigorous workout. If I cut back, they would stop coming. Even though they all know about the fallacy of the spot reduction theory, they want their muscles to be strong. My participants are nothing if not strong.

Unfortunately, the sport-specific exercises were short-lived in my class. I made an exercise for softball where participants punched their open left hands with their right (unless they were left handed.) My participants didn’t like crouching over yelling, “Swing batter! Swing batter batter batter!” They told me that, on no uncertain terms, there was no room for infield chatter in an aerobics class.

For those who are still unconvinced, here’s a poem from “Awakening the Hunk Within” that should remove all doubt. I wrote it in honour of one of my participants who graduated (!) From newcomer to exotic dancer in six months.


I think about them every day. They’ve become my life’s ambition.

I exercise them constantly, to improve their definition.

I want to see abdominal dents. A six-pack if you like,

So I spend my time with crunches, then invent a pose to strike.


I do my crunches on the floor, and I always take good care,

That as I lift I squeeze them tight, and purge my lungs of air.

It’s cheaper than a tummy tuck, and I like to save a dollar,

Yet my six-pack’s still a four-pack with a twelve pack’s plastic collar.


Psychiatrists often ask me, “What’s the cause of your obsession?”

“Why not leave well enough alone? Is it demonic possession?”

“Is there something living in there? Something alien? Something Fierce.”

I tell them of my aspiration. To get my naval pierced.


A nose ring in the naval calls attention to the terrain,

That surrounds the indentation, through which our food once came.

What irony. To smooth things out, I must get rid of jelly,

Or else no one would ever see a nose ring in my belly.

 Mike Broderick is an Employment Specialist for the Neil Squire Society in Burnaby where he finds employment for people with physical disabilities. Part of this work means affiliation with the Vancouver Board of Trade where he is a member of the Ambassador Club, the Burnaby Board of Trade where he is a member of the Labour Task Force, the Tri Cities Chamber of Commerce where he is an active member of the 10X10 initiative, and the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce. He also does some work as a field Archaeologist. He is also a fitness instructor and frequent contributor of fitness humour articles to alive  

You can reach him at home at michael_broderick@telus.net or at michaelb@neilsquire.ca. re looking for a change, start with a resume makeover at competitive rates

When he is not doing all the above, he lives in Port Coquitlam with his partner Cecelia


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