skinny guy working out

It’s not a popular opinion, but skinny boys have problems, too.

Clothing stores routinely only carry clothes that look like oversized smocks on us, people suspect we don’t eat enough or are bulimic, and we live in perpetual fear that we won’t be able to lift that heavy box without dropping it (along with our pride). And on top of that, unlike the shlubby blokes in movies directed by middle-aged white men, we rarely see skinny leading men snagging the out-of-our-league, impossibly-hot love interest in movies. Even Logan Lerman recently started working out. And with a name like that you sort of expect a concave chest.

I am a skinny boy. Always have been, this is undeniable. I was a member of a gym many moons ago, but was so undisciplined with it that you could barely say it happened. I recently joined another on a whim of uncomfortable body anxiety, and this time a strange thing happened and I actually grew to like it. I actively started making time to go, bought one of those comically over-sized tubs of protein powder that I presumed taste like grass, and spent money on workout clothes that not only looked nice, but disguised the flat-chested skin and bones beneath. I admit, I got a bit hooked.

Furthermore, I began eating healthier, stopped drinking as much soda as I was wont to do, and my smoker friend started to feel guilty being around me. I was really rather pleased with myself, but also ashamed that I had let myself get so carried away by something as ultimately meaningless as biceps that actually form a shape when I flex as opposed to just drooping like the bags under an insomniac’s eyes.

I’m tempted to call it an epidemic. With a plethora of ridiculously inexpensive gyms and a seemingly growing number of freelancers, actors, artists and shift-workers with too much spare time on their hands (at least that’s what dating apps like Grindr are telling me), it’s become far too easy to see the skinny boy at the gym attempting to become the next Colby Keller of Brooklyn. Sure, we may fumble the hypothetical ball from time to time – unless it’s a medicine ball, in which case: wow I know what a medicine ball is! – and we may look a little bit confused when staring at the wall of dumbbells, sheepishly checking our arms as well as the other guys around us to see how much weight we can realistically handle without toppling over backwards. But make no mistake: we’re coming out of the woodwork like we’re in the final scene of Les Miserables.

It’s only a matter of time before we start wearing hyper-colored tank tops, casually looking at our reflection in shop windows and finding ways to carry ourselves that show off our newfound bodies, like becoming a permanent strap-hanger on the subway. It’s only a matter of time before we start “complaining” about clothes no longer fitting, looking at Channing Tatum and genuinely believing we could attract someone that looks like that (or substitute whatever gender/celebrity you wish), and filling our Instagram feeds with #sorrynotsorry selfies. I’ve already had to ditch one pair of shorts because my squats have apparently made it impossible to wear them, while others no longer need a belt. We will try to act bashful when a friend flatters us, “oh, these ol’ things?” – but we will likely fail miserably trying to hide that smile.

Luckily, I hate human interaction with strangers so I haven’t started giving advice on the weights floor, but I’d be lying if I didn’t think to myself, “wow, some people have no idea how to do correct shoulder shrugs!” I tell you, it’s positively sickening. I make myself do another set of reps just as punishment. I’d hate myself more if I didn’t feel so chuffed over my newfound curved arm-shapes.

Of course, perhaps most obvious of all is that our sex drives go through the roof! It’s all of these wonderful new endorphins and sweat-fuelled imagery, the likes of which we haven’t had since gym class. So if you weren’t thinking twice about that skinny boy performing his tricep pull-down or working the cable row machine like a metaphorical beast, then maybe you should.

We may not be able to bench-press our own bodyweight (yet?), but if we can overcome our genetically-induced gym shyness, then there’s probably more to us than meets the eye.