It was less Magic Mike and more The Full Monty.
By Frank Kobola
The Cosmopolitan.com office is a complicated place for a guy to be during the week leading up to the premiere of Magic Mike XXL. So I’m not exactly sure why I agreed to try out a “stripper lifestyle” for a week, but I did, so now that was beside the point. The least I can say is that I was self-aware enough to know I needed guidance, so I enlisted the help of Devin from La Bare (a strip club in Texas you might be familiar with thanks to Joe Manganiello’s documentary and their employees appearing in the Magic Mike movies) as my mentor on the path to stripperdom. And despite the inherent sexiness of the occupation, literally nothing sexy happened to me. Maybe it’s sexier when Devin does it.
Devin told me my first meal of the day would be some egg whites and oatmeal. I didn’t mind the oatmeal. And while I have nothing against egg whites, I should clarify that “some egg whites” is actually “seven egg whites.” That’s more egg whites than I’ve ever felt like eating. Devin also eats six full meals a day. These aren’t snacks. It’s not like he has three square meals and then some peanuts or a handful of popcorn. This dude eats breakfast, then a chicken breast, then grilled fish, then another fish, then a steak, then a chicken breast. Every day. I love food, but I was not looking forward to my stomach exploding by meal four.
Vitamins and supplements like fish oil are also necessary daily for the Greek god physique I was hoping to attain in seven days. Devin also takes HMB 1000, a supplement that GETS YOU JACKED or something. (It’s actually an amino acid that keeps you from — god forbid — losing muscle mass when you do cardio. Being a male stripper means walking the fine line between being sexily ripped and being so muscle-bound that you can’t keep your endurance up. You need endurance for the hours of grinding you’ll be doing later.) I tried the supplement, but it’s too soon to tell if it really did anything for me. In other words: I don’t look like Channing Tatum yet. Yet.
Conceptually, I didn’t mind the things I was allowed to eat on the stripper diet. It’s healthy, it’s reasonable, and it doesn’t leave you starving. But I could not wrap my head around six meals a day. I wound up averaging around four. I stuck to mostly fish and chicken for lunch, since that was easier to get from my work cafeteria, then had an early dinner, which was actually pretty great. If you don’t eat dinner before 6, you really should try it. Old people got that one right. Then I’d hit the gym and eat another meal of chicken or fish afterward around 10 p.m.
And if you’re wondering: Sunday is cheat day for Devin. Beautiful, beautiful cheat day. There’s something about eating healthy that just makes you want to wrap Chinese food in a pizza like a crazy burrito.
I did pretty OK for myself and stuck to drinking water (Devin drinks a gallon a day), although I did end up eating a cake pop on the sixth day of the experiment. I don’t even like cake pops. It was a coworker’s birthday and they were there and I broke down. I texted Devin about it:
He said it was OK, but I have a feeling Devin never makes mistakes and thinks less of me now.
The male entertainment community seems to be wide-ranging in their grooming habits, but everyone does some sort of basic maintenance. Devin’s fellow La Bare dancer Axl weighed in on the important topic. “Some guys trim everyday, others do every week or two. It’s usually depends on hair type and growth,” he said. “I don’t know any guy that actually waxes though.” I was pretty thankful to hear that. I know it’s common for male athletes to wax, but if I could be spared that pain, I wasn’t complaining.
So I, uh … trimmed down there. I’m no stranger to the art of manscaping, but this week, I did it every day. Was it as difficult as the dieting or as grueling as the workouts? No. Was it annoying to set aside time every day to take a razor to my balls? Yes. I can’t imagine having to constantly make sure every hair on my body is on point. Then again, I also can’t imagine being in public in a gold banana hammock, so.
Devin works out twice a day: once in the morning and once really late at night, after he gets off work.
I woke up at 5 a.m. to get in my workout before work, so I already hated it. I don’t know what’s worse: waking up at 5 a.m. to go to the gym, or waking up at 5 a.m. to go the gym knowing you’ll be going to the gym again at night. I like to go to the gym once a day. I also like sleeping.
Once you get over the hurdle of waking up so early, Devin’s morning set isn’t so bad. He focuses on his abs, doing a 15-minute circuit of leg lifts, knee raises, and a handful of other exercises. Then he throws in some cardio. It’s worth noting that abs are the only thing he focuses on daily, because I guess that’s the real money-maker.
Nights are the more intense workouts. Devin rotates his focus from chest, to back, to legs, to arms, to shoulders. He boxes on Saturday and does a light day on Sunday (only one gym visit). He does not take days off. It’s an easy hour at the gym each night, on top of the morning routine. Plus, Devin works five hours a night in between, and he’s spending a lot of that time dancing. I sit in a chair all day, and I was dying by day three.
Conclusion: Stripping is hard work, and I didn’t even try to dance up on women. I’m not sure Magic Mike and its sequel do a great job of showing you just how hard the lifestyle really is. A couple training montages and vignettes of sweaty abs don’t do the pro-athlete level of commitment it takes to do this job justice.
In the end, a week wasn’t enough to see Tatum-esque changes in my body, but I did feel the results of the intense workouts. The twice-a-day gym and the double dinners will probably have to go, but I’m going to try to keep doing Devin’s supplements and ab routine. Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to stick to eating more lean protein (and fewer cake pops) too. And any time I need motivation, I can just go watch Magic Mike to see what I could look like.
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Photo credit courtesy of author.