The Dow diaries, part II: All day, every day

Hello, friends. It’s me again, back to bring you another installment of health and wellness related stories from across Hope’s campus. This week I had the distinct pleasure of discussing workout routines with a good friend and reallife fitness fanatic, John VanderVliet. Faced with the decision of who to feature in this edition, John came out as the obvious choice, not only because he sweats up a storm every single day, but because he is my only friend who says the word “grind” unironically.

John is a busy guy, with a major in business and a passion for all things financial – investments, hedge funds, you name it. For as much as he likes money, there might be something that he loves even more: hitting the gym. If you looked at a list of John’s frequently visited locations, the Dow would be second only to his residence hall. He estimates that over the course of 2018, there were two days he failed to work out, and that’s only because he was throwing up. The man is a machine! When I sat down with John to talk with him about his rigorous fitness routine, the first thing I wanted to know was what keeps him motivated. “It’s fun,” he said. “I go to the gym because it’s a good time, and well, you know.” He paused and gestured to himself. At six foot, three inches, John is frequently mistaken for an athlete. In addition to making a daily trip to the Dow, John maintains a strict diet with little flexibility when it comes to snacks or sweets. This combination of meeting lofty nutritional goals and pushing his body to its limits has yielded results that seem somewhat unattainable.

Contrary to the stereotypes associated with those who love fitness, John does not lord his success over his friends. While he is proud of his hard work and happy with his disciplined lifestyle, he is shocked when other people anticipate that he will judge them for indulging in a slice of pizza or taking a day off from working out. In fact it took weeks of coercing to get John to go on the record about hitting the gym. When I finally sat down to write this article, he made sure to check in with me every few minutes to ensure that I wasn’t including too many personal details or painting him as some jerk whose personality is built solely on the fact that he enjoys working out. My next question was what kind of routine John would recommend for someone who was just starting their fitness journey. “Just drag yourself to the gym,” he told me. “You don’t actually have to exercise or do anything. Even doing homework upstairs will help to get you in the right mindset.

Just putting in the effort to be at the gym is a good start.” John stopped for a moment, then added, “Don’t go too overboard, or else you’ll get muscle soreness.” Not convinced yet? Former NFL linebacker Terry Crews advised Reddit users to treat the gym like a spa, saying, “The habit of going to the gym is more important than the workout.” He recommends reading a magazine and only staying for as long as you’re having fun. While it is unlikely that you will find me lounging at the Dow in the days to come, I have found that the advice of Crews and Vander Vliet alike ring true. At the end of our talk, I thanked John for his time and willingness to open up about such an important part of his life. “What’s that?” he asked, looking up from his homework. “Uh…” I said, panicking because I had said something supremely uncool. “Do you know what season it is?” “Bulking season,” John said, smiling. “It’s bulking season.”

Ruth Holloway (’21) serves as a Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Anchor alongside the brilliant Claire Buck. She is studying political science and history and in her spare time enjoys cooking, reading, hiking, and finding good music for her radio show at WTHS. Ruth has applied to eleven graduate programs with the aspiration of becoming a professor of political science. If that doesn't work out, she will probably go off the grid and raise sled dogs in the far reaches of the Alaskan wilderness.

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