A new me

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By Marcos Najera

Happy New Year. This year I will re-invent myself. New Year means new Marcos.

It’s not that I have a big problem with myself. But I do think it is time for a change. A different haircut, a different style, maybe even an attitude re-adjustment. Something. I need life renewed for some reason. I can’t pinpoint it.

More than anything, I think I want to return planned health to my life — not just spontaneous health. Funny enough, my day job is very active and physically demanding. I load and unload a heavy theater set every day and jump around it as a performer for Childsplay Theatre of Arizona. I currently play Tomás Rivera in the play Tomás and the Library Lady.  It’s a great job because my entire day is very motion-filled. I have felt my body physically change over the last year of the tour with the daily lifting of the wood and steel flats, appliqués and big boxes that make up our set.

Our stage manager, Kristen, asked me recently, “Did you put Big Poppa in the van by yourself? Geez!”

“Big Poppa” is the heavy wooden cube that spins and is filled with books. When we first started the tour it took three of us to lift it. Now, I feel like a fabulous big giant lesbian because I can just throw it in the van myself with a grunt and a smile. It’s about the size of a small kitchen table, but think solid mass. At the end of every day, I feel physically good because my day is active; but I want more. I want results that can only come from a well-conceived fitness regime, not just spontaneous activity.

I used to have that. I used to be more conscious of making and taking time to get to spin classes, bikram yoga and to swim laps. But the moment I gave up my desk job to become a full-time actor, I also gave up that planned physicality. This has proved fabulous and disastrous for me.

Now, since I spend my day lifting, jumping and singing (how juvenile does that sound?), I have given up time at the gym. While I can tell I have grown stronger, I have also noticed that I get winded more quickly because I am not doing consistent cardio work. Imagine my delight, shock and horror when I received a message from my editor, Anita.  My voicemail said, “Marcos, call me!  I have a fun idea I want to talk to you about.”

When I called Anita, she gleefully informed me that the editorial staff had a meeting where they decided I would be a great candidate to do a fitness makeover for the New Year.

“Won’t that be fun?!”’ asked Anita.

Yes and no, I thought. But first, I had to get over the notion that the staff at Latino Perspectives had a MEETING where they AGREED I needed a fitness makeover. The very idea that a group of people sat around a table and analyzed the girth of your ass is quixotically amusing at best. A wonderful and diplomatic editor indeed, Ms. Anita said, “It’s not that we think you need a fitness makeover — we just think you would have the most fun with the makeover.”

Damn, she’s good.  I fell for it.  I always fall for it.

So stand by my gentle readers. There just might be less of me to love this year. I am officially dubbing our adventure: LP Drops the LB.  The tragic thing is that this will not be on the BL (Brown Low). We are putting it out there for you to follow. Thrill of success, agony of da’ feet  — all that jazz. That’s right, the new me this year involves some crazy fitness challenge dreamed up by the LP staff after their much ballyhooed meeting where it was decided I would be the “fun” one to try on this New Year workout.  Is “fun” a euphemism for “husky” these days?

Ni modo. It actually does sound like fun. I hope they hook me up with a hot trainer. That would be great motivation. I used to have a hot trainer named Chris.  He is even on TV now and then. Chris was cool; he was a lot of fun and I learned a lot about lifting from him, but I had to break up with him because he was confused — and I don’t mean about his dumb bells. I do secretly wish I was still training with him because I had great results. Or at least respectable results.

In the meantime, I am getting ready for this fitness challenge by going on daily hunts for Christmas cookies. It’s hard work. I even threw out my back in hot pursuit. Luckily, I have a secret weapon. His name is Dr. Eric. He is the coolest guy. The only drag is that he lives in Tucson and he is married. Nonetheless, this dude rocks. He owns and operates a joint near the U of A called, cleverly enough, The Joint. For $20 you can “pop” in for a pop-in chiropractic adjustment. (I know what you are thinking: only crack whores and columnists go to chiropractors. If that is what your skewed mind thinks, then you are right.) And I love it. I used to be a skeptic when it came to chiropractic care. Same with crack, but earlier during our Childsplay tour, we rolled through Tucson and my cast mate Heather convinced me to try The Joint. At the time it was only fifteen bucks for a pop-in adjustment (what’s the deal Doc Eric?).  ;-)

Heather and I walked into Dr. Eric’s place, 800 E. University Blvd., Suite 100, next to the Starbuck’s on Tucson’s University Avenue. I can’t remember exactly, but I think either John Coltrane or Ornette Coleman was playing loudly throughout the comfortable space. We were greeted by hot U of A chicks at the receptionist desk who were well-informed, friendly and professional. On the wall, Dr. Eric has signed pictures from a bunch of UA star athletes who solicit his services. I had no idea who any of them were, but I could totally rattle off the character names from the CATS poster of the national touring cast who had visited Dr. Eric as well. They gave him a signed poster. Hey, performers are athletes, too! We are probably more alike then we realize: we all face endurance battles and speed tests.

Long story short, I was hooked. Now, every time I get down to Tucson, I pop in for my pop-in. After months of being banged around on a theater tour my joints and lower back were badly out of line. Dr. Eric put them back where they needed to be. (For info, visit or call (520) 622-3886.) Talk about renewal.

I’m here to say if it’s good enough for UA Wildcats, theater CATS, and crack whore columnists, it’s good enough for you. I just hope he and his wife Eunice move to Phoenix soon. We need a Joint in Phoenix. More to the point, I need a Joint in Phoenix. And I bet that sentiment will grow stronger as I advance on my fitness challenge.

Perhaps Dr. Eric would be willing to be my Latino Perspectives team chiropractor during the big fitness challenge? (Insert big-ass hint here.) Say we can make it so, Doc. We’ll give you an LP Drops the LB T-shirt (if Anita orders some)!

Random sidebar: do you know they sell fresh tamales next to the hot dogs in some Tucson gas stations?  Is that common? No wonder Dr. Eric has such brisk business.  Everyone in Tucson has sciatica from ready access to fabulously inappropriate snack foods.

Alright, I digress. Enough procrastinating. I need to hit the gym. So I’ll sign off. Stay tuned. Wish me luck and Happy 2007, gentle reader.

– XO, M

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