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Hitting the Gym with HIV Fitness Expert Nelson Vergel

I’m as vain as the next guy. And if the next guy happens to be modest, or straight, or comfortable in his own skin, then it’s really no contest. I’m way more vain. Describing my vanity requires making up new words. Vainer. The vainiest. Psychovain.

GymGrab 4That must be the old Mark, because the new one is appearing in gym clothes standing next to HIV fitness and nutrition expert Nelson Vergel. There I am, all doughy and smiling, thirty pounds heavier after a year without a cigarette (how long do I get to legitimately use that reasoning?). But anything for you, my friends.

And besides, the meaning of fitness for me has changed, however slowly, from the size of my biceps to the overall health of my body. After a misguided youth devoted to “looking hot” and feeding my drug addiction (a period that stretched into my 40’s, who am I kidding?), standing around in a gym with my gut exposed is real progress for me.

In my first video blog with Nelson (“Fitness Stud Nelson Vergel Raids My Fridge”), he ransacked my kitchen and offered great tips on eating right. In this new video, we hit the gym for a lesson on aerobic activity and weight lifting. With issues like bone density more vital for people with HIV, weight training makes sense.

Still to come: Nelson takes me on an eye-opening tour of the grocery store ” and cautions me about walking down the aisles. And for more great information from Nelson, his new book Testosterone: A Man’s Guide is now available through sellers like Amazon.

Friends FitnessI’d like to extend a special thanks to The Poverello Center in Ft Lauderdale. Poverello not only provides food for people with AIDS, they created the Friends Fitness Center (photos above) and graciously allowed Nelson and I to film this video there. And speaking of filming, my friend Kai patiently worked the cameras for several hours and I appreciate it.

Thanks for watching, my friends, and please be well.




By | 2011-11-04T07:19:06+00:00 February 3rd, 2011|Gay Life, Living with HIV/AIDS, My Fabulous Disease, News|7 Comments


  1. Matthew P February 3, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Eight weeks before noticing any change in the body at all? Yikes! I must admit that going to the gym three times last week felt great. Not going there yet THIS week, feels like I am the absolute laziest person on the planet. But, I will do my best to give myself a bit of a break and not be hard on myself.

  2. Bill A February 3, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Good stuff. Thanks Mark!

  3. Rich in Boston February 3, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    Wonderful refresher from Nelson, and of course your comments at the end are spot on !!

    As always thanks Mark, can’t wait to see the visit to Publix 🙂


  4. Donna February 5, 2011 at 3:04 am

    Love this . I am aware that HIV Positive people have body problems from the meds. I am so glad you had done this segment. We have spoken before a while ago. No one talks about this. And yes, it is nice to think we will grow old… I just don’t want to go too far positive or not LOL. I am older than you, and I see why he said that. I have friend who refused to do the pt after a fall, well he never left the rehab center because he couldn’t WALK, and that is what happens to a lot of the older seniors… NO MUSCLE. It doesn’t take long to lose it either. this scares me. SO I am crazy at the gym every day. I love what your friend said about the 8 reps. if it is to easy, up the weight. great advise. love you and your segments. Donna 😉

  5. Don February 5, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    “It’s all about the pooping.” very funny. Great video Mark. It’s great to see so many other HIV+ dudes becoming more proactive about their health. I have met several other brothers at Ironman and ultra-marathon races over the last couple of years. I am also crewing for some poz guys that are doing the Ride Across America this June. It’s very inspirational

  6. Kai February 6, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    Although, I experienced the making of the video (I was the camera man), now that I am watching it, it is a great way to begin an exercise program. People pay big bucks for what we are watching here!!
    (And a great camera man you were. Thanks, Kai! — Mark)

  7. Rollins July 17, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Hello, I was wondering what advice you may have for someone who wants to open a HIV positive gym?

    (The “Friends” gym that Nelson and I used in this video is a program of The Poverello Center, a charity that provides food and other services to people with HIV/AIDS, and that would be my suggestion: don’t start from scratch. Partner with an existing agency with an existing client base, that might have the resources to help get you started. — Mark)

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