I’ve been told on occasion I clean up well. That usually means a person is so surprised to see me wearing a dress shirt and/or tie they have no control over projectile vomiting that nonsense phrase in my direction. What does that even mean? Is it an implication that I go through life “unclean” most of the time? Does it assert that I forgo washing my shorts and t-shirts regularly, in favor of simply pulling them out of the pile and Febreze-ing them for re-wear? Does it I suggest that I don’t regularly shower in favor of having B.O.?

Wait — do I have B.O.? You guys would tell me, right?

I’ve decided to just file this with “Things White People Say” and move on. (Send your letters of complaint to Mary, P.O. Box Calm Down, Snowflake, AZ.)


Photo by Royal Anwar on Unsplash

Over the last decade, my policy has been to wear a tie to job interviews and funerals. And I haven’t been to any funerals. My hesitation to “clean up” is not because I don’t like looking sharp — a word my father used to use and I’ve come to accept as a perfectly fine descriptive word but I also have started using the word “slacks” so that may tell you something. Rather, I don’t like getting dressed up. Perhaps if Rosie from The Jetsons could drop-kick me into a suit every morning, I wouldn’t mind walking around looking like I am someone who lives to work rather than works to live.

So, bypassing the process would make a difference … temporarily. However, after two hours of being dressed up, I will undoubtedly be thinking about when I can get out of this clown suit. I mean, that’s plenty of time for enough people to see how nice I can look and maybe even capture a few pictures for posterity (or, perhaps a better word would be proof).

I’ve been lucky enough that for my entire professional career I’ve had the luxury of being able to wear whatever I want to the office. (I understand this policy can be a slippery slope. For example; I once worked at a place that had to include “No Chaps” in the dress code section of its employee handbook. Now, why do you suppose they put that in there?) I’m not one to push that envelope too far, although the flip-flop of my flip-flops as I ascended the stairs at Echo when I worked here full-time was a signal to everyone that I was approaching.

Photo by Hamza Baig on Unsplash

Let’s just say, I like to be comfortable. A lot of folks advise you should dress for the job you want, not for the job you have. That’s why I always dress like a lottery winner. And, honestly, I think all of us should.

It’s certainly not my place to tell people they shouldn’t wear a suit to work every day. But how many people stop to ask themselves why they are doing it? Does it make them more effective? Does it recharge Kevin’s brain so he can crunch those numbers better, or provide

Steve with the inspiration to draw sketches of houses?

The simplest answer is that it is “professional.” But what is dressing professionally, other than what society has deemed as such? People adhere to that notion of dressing like a Stepford employee because that’s what their father did, and his father and his father. Some of the most unprofessional people I’ve met were wearing Armani, and some of the most professional were wearing Adidas.

My work-attire choices may have cost me in the past, sure. There’s no question it is the main reason I never became a lawyer or a captain of industry.

Still, I think our country would be much more chill (a word I am using to counterbalance “sharp” and “slacks”) if we all just did business in casual attire.

I understand many of you won’t or can’t join me in this, but I’ll still be dressing like I’m always headed to a BBQ.

Photo courtesy of Michael Feinstein.

Michael Feinstein


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Gilles Toucas

Michael Feinstein will commemorate Judy Garland’s life on March 20 at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.


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I think it’s fair to say we all want that #fitlife, especially with Spring around the corner — as well as Gaypril on the way. Whether it’s pool season yet or not, everyone would choose to look fit over not looking fit, if they could have it with a snap of their fingers. OK, the vast majority of us would.

If you’ve met me, or have been reading my articles, you know that I live, sleep, eat and breathe fitness; it’s my heart and soul. That being said, I’m here to tell you that the concept of “fitness” is oftentimes tragically misunderstood.

Before you get too aggressive with your goal for pool season, let’s dive a bit deeper into what fitness means on the inside versus what it looks like on the outside, and common misconceptions around this concept.

1. Beware of the cultural pitfalls and misleading information around fitness.

Most of the bodies you see in the media are probably not real, they just look very convincing. As a trainer who also moonlights as a photographer and Photoshop wizard, I’m telling you that it is incredibly easy to alter pictures in materially misleading ways. Once you know the tricks of the trade, the imposters are easily spotted. But that’s not what this is about.

The point is: to the untrained eye, it can be devastatingly defeating to see such impossible standards. It seems as though the cultural pressure to look a certain way, to look perfect, has spread all the way from runway models to fitness novices with the help of smartphone apps.

The truth is that we fitness models look that cut, and that lean for only a couple days at a time. That’s it! In many cases, months or even close to a year of training, dieting and programming all go into looking like that for ONE day. Let that sink in for a second. Day to day, I am less cut, less tan and much flatter muscularly than what you see in some of my pictures. That’s just the nature of the beast. So, when you have a bad day on the scale, in the mirror or in any other scenario, remember that we’re all human and that the most legitimate photos you’re comparing yourself against were from someone’s very best day. That should help to keep things in perspective.

2. Most people want the results, without actually doing the work.

Fitness is not six pack abs, it’s not superficial, it is not temporary and it’s not an isolated phase in your life. Further, fitness is not something you do for someone else, do to spite someone else or even to impress someone else.

Fitness is confidence, toughness, dedication, coordination, power, balance, speed, strength (both literally and figuratively) and persistence in the face of all obstacles. This includes control over your attitude, your mood, your sleep, your schedule, your diet and other aspects of your life. This means getting that workout in when you least feel like it.

It’s not easy, and it’s definitely a grind that has good and bad days. You must show up and keep working on the days you’re tired, stressed, rushed, defeated, doubtful, afraid and so on. The days you actually have to overcome something instead of just checking your workout off your to-do list are the days you have the greatest opportunity to really make progress, push your body and see the most improvement.

3. Fitness is really an internal mindset. The external physique is the fringe benefit.

I’ve said this time and time again, and it might sound strange coming from such an aesthetic-focused trainer, but you are not your body. Your body is a tool, it’s a means to an end, to express your internal mindset, belief system, discipline and dedication to your workout program. Your physique will come and go. Your strength will come and go. Your abilities will wax and wane depending on what you’re training for at the time.

The outside will, and should, be always changing, but the inside is what we’re really after here. Good trainers want to train you to believe in yourself when sh*t gets hard. We want to train you to be resilient in the face of injury, obstacles and other setbacks. We want you to set ambitious goals and shoot for the moon because you can get there with smart programming and relentless will (do yourself a favor and ditch the crash diets and the photo editing software).

So, as you make your spring preparations for swimsuit season, try focusing on developing a sterling, unshakeable internal character and the muscles will come along the way, this I promise you.

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