Midwest Fitness

What working out looks like away from the glamour and glitz


All you coast dwellers think you have this workout business totally figured out. Let me tell you something: you don’t. Here in the Midwest we get serious about our fitness. It may be a little unorthodox, but you all eat what can only be described as yard work for most of your meals so cram it, Brynden.

Proper Attire

Let me be clear from the outset, it’s not that we couldn’t pull off wearing yoga pants, Under Armour skin-tight shirts, and various shoes for various exercise activities. We just choose not to.

Let’s take a look at some clothing options available to the Midwest Workout Enthusiast.

Women have a distinct and damn near universal exercise outfit around these parts: loose sweatpants, tucked into large white socks (it is unclear where these are procured); giant sweatshirt with the sleeves pulled up to the elbow; and super-wide white low-top shoes (with no branding/logos). And, just in case you were unaware, the sweatpants and sweatshirt are matching in color; usually a nice navy or heather grey.


Men, on the other hand, have a few different choices. A certain segment of the Midwest male population like to “look the part” by donning the classic old T-shirt that has been turned into a sleeveless shirt by a machete, gym shorts that hang way past the knees (shout out Fab Five), and, of course, “athletic” shoes that look like they get most of their use behind a lawn mower.

And then we have the “straight from work” look, mostly employed by your hard working, blue-collar types. This includes well-worn work boots, raggedy jeans or khakis (most likely manufactured by Carhartt), and a plain white T that is anything but white anymore. The most hardcore of these fellows show up caked in dirt and grime as if the mine shaft emptied directly into the gym. You might be saying to yourself — from your ocean-view treadmill — “surely they bring other clothes to change into before working out.” Their response to you would be something along the lines of: “f*ck you, p*ssy.”


Regarding outdoor fitness activities (mostly just walking), there are really two mainstay accessories us Midwestern folk rely on: large (usually 44oz) gas station fountain soda cups, and variously sized and shaped vaping devices.

Look, all of us fitness enthusiasts know that physical activity will make you sweat, which means you will need to hydrate. What better way for a sensible over-forty mom to replenish her fluids than with an easy-to-carry Big Gulp full of soda? Before you get your Lululemons in a bunch, yes, we know that water and Gatorade exist — we aren’t idiots. It’s just that water is gross and Gatorade is for hangovers.

We like to work out, and we like tobacco. For on-the-go nicotine consumption, nothing quite matches the efficiency of a vape pen, or tank, or Zach Morris mobile phone shaped box thing. While you’re walking — or running, if you are some kind of overachiever — you will need access to your nic, unless you want to go into a rage and punch random passersby. Also, the enormous cloud of vapor you expel looks totally awesome as you walk by a few townies sitting on their front porch.


For indoor activities, we like to listen to music. Just like you. However, we don’t wear earphones or headbuds or whatever you call them, we listen to music communally. That’s right, no matter who has control of the aux cord you can expect a steady diet of Kid Rock, Hinder, and all manner of Country.

Activity Options

The aforementioned walking — while guzzling soda or vaping — is a very popular Midwest fitness activity. That being said, please allow us a few caveats: the walk must be between half a mile and a mile, or as we call it “around the block a few times.” Also, participation in this activity should be limited to the months in which it is bearable enough outside to transverse that kind of distance. We need temps between 65 and 79 degrees. Anything outside that range is out of the question.


Luckily, a variation of the above can be used when the weather isn’t cooperating (read: most of the year). It is the tried and true “walk into the gym, walk on the treadmill for five minutes, walk out of the gym” technique. If the number of folks utilizing this routine is any indication of its effectiveness it must be life changing.

While the “walking” exercise is very popular in the Real America™ there are a few others that are gaining traction: the one set of half range-of-motion bench press routine; the join the gym for a month and never come back routine; the play pick-up basketball intermittently routine; the purchase $100 worth of workout DVDs that just collect dust routine; the any fitness-based item seen on infomercials routine; and the reminisce about how you were kind of in shape in high school because you completed puberty and possibly played sports routine.

I’ve provided ample evidence that Midwesterners like to exercise just as much as any liberal socialist in any blue state on either coast (and I didn’t even address “Farm Strong”). We certainly have our own style and definition of fitness, but that’s fine by us. You can take your hot yoga and your bike lanes and shove ‘em.

Now excuse me while I drive my car down the block to grab a 79 cent bucket of soda.