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Articles and thoughts by Peter Holslin

Fitness vs. gluttony

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Fitness vs. gluttony

There’s nothing like an invitation to the beach to remind a person of their unsightly flab. To lose those love-handles or carve that bikini body in record time, join the most bruising workout course I know of: Iron Camp at Urban Body Gym & Juice Bar (3148 University Ave. in North Park), which packs six months of cardio and weight training into a six-week program. Attracting both hardened iron-pumpers and out-of-shape newbs like me, the camp includes two weekly workout sessions, a prescribed daily regimen of exercises—including barbell squats, dumbbell sumo squats, machine hack squats and every other squat imaginable—and workshops covering dietary issues. But while campers have reported incredible weight loss after completing a single camp, Urban Body owner Frank Kole says the program isn’t designed to shave pounds so much as reform someone’s very lifestyle. At a recent workshop, campers confessed to their various “evils”—micro-brewed beer, gourmet chocolate-chip cookies, meats all and sundry—and discussed how to control their temptations. Counseling that nobody’s perfect, Kole himself admitted to hoarding Juicy Fruit gum and Mike & Ike candies (“Hi, my name is Frank. Sugar is my evil”), giving the session the feel of a Gourmands Anonymous meeting.

But if that isn’t your thing…

Head to Tower Bar (4757 University Ave. in City Heights) on a Thursday around 11 p.m. to join the eating competition, where bar-goers inhale anything from hard-boiled eggs to raw onions. The fastest eater gets a $30 bar tab, but Tower Bar owner Mick Rossler isn’t going to make it easy. In the past, competitors have eaten wasabi peas with chopsticks or washed down sleeves of saltine crackers with hot sauce. Aside from packing their stomachs with the main course, competitors must drink a pint of soda water through a cocktail straw, eat a fortune cookie, read their fortune out loud and down a shot of peach schnapps. It’s enough to shake the confidence of even the most overzealous eater. And any competitor will certainly come face to face with Danny Puskarcik, a Tower Bar regular renowned for chomping a massive cucumber with no hands in just over four minutes. One recent Thursday, this nearly undisputed speed eater (he’s won every competition except one, when he was shit-faced and got disqualified for breaking the rules) dispatched a pile of tater tots and Skittles with the greatest of ease. “Grow up poor,” he advised. “It teaches you to eat quick.”

—Peter Holslin

This appeared as part of CityBeat‘s Summer Guide 2010. To read the full guide, click here.

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