I was in the market for a new pair of workout shoes. Nothing crazy, just some kicks to throw on so I could crank out eight reps of 95-pounds on the squat rack before puking up bile all over myself. As fate would have it, while perusing Instagram I noticed J.J. Watt had just released his first signature shoe. They were affordable, not too flashy, and I’m a Houston Texans fan, so I ordered a pair from Academy Sports + Outdoors. Little did I know, that impulse buy would change my life forever.
The JJ’s arrived a few days later. I laced up my new shoes, pausing only for a moment to enjoy that new shoe smell that wafts up from the cardboard box, put them on, and got in my car to hit LA Fitness for a workout — a workout that would never happen.
Two blocks from the gym while jamming some Fort Minor to get in the zone, I suddenly blacked out. I came to in a nursing home 46-miles from my house, massaging the wrinkled and callus-covered feet of a 92-year-old woman named Ellouise.
I was rattled, but chalked the whole experience up to an acid flashback, drove home and never told a soul.
Three days later, I found myself with an hour to kill, so I suited up in my workout gear to get a pump in. As I sat on my couch tying my JJ’s, it happened again. A total blackout. The next thing I knew, I was carrying lumber at a Habitat For Humanity build. I approached someone who looked like they might be in charge and asked how long I’d been at it.
“Just over three days!” the stranger proclaimed. “You’ve been working your butt off day and night without sleep, but anytime one of us approached you to ask if you needed a break you’d just scream, ‘HUNT GREATNESS!’ and go about your business.”
I immediately made an appointment to have a CAT scan and make sure I didn’t have a brain tumor. The doctors found nothing. They said I was in perfectly good health. When I explained the two experiences, the doctors all chuckled like I was some kind of practical joker. But I wasn’t laughing. No, I wasn’t laughing at all.
Two weeks passed during which I made zero effort to go to the gym or do any type of physical activity out of fear that I’d blackout and make the world a better place. Then, one day, I finally mustered up the courage to go for a run in some Adidas Ultra Boosts. I returned home unharmed without doing volunteer work or any good for society whatsoever.
Maybe it was all just a fluke, I thought. My mind was having some weird reaction to my attempts to workout or something like that. Yeah, that’s it. Everything is back to normal. I’m fine.
Two nights later, my dog woke me up near dawn so I would take him outside to go potty. Half awake, I stumbled to my closet and indiscriminately grabbed a pair of shoes to put on. You don’t know fear until you come out of a blackout doing box jumps with a meth-addict named Tanner in a soup kitchen for the homeless. And what did I see when I looked down at my feet? I don’t have to tell you.
At that point, I was nearly certain there was some mysterious power in the JJ’s. Each and every time I’d put them on, I blacked out and ended up doing community service or some kind of philanthropy. But I needed to be certain. I needed proof before I could tell my story to the world.
The next morning, I put on an old pair of Nike Frees with the goal of hitting the gym and working out. I made it to LA Fitness unscathed. I put my phone and wallet in a locker, stretched, did some warmup reps, and made it through almost an entire planned workout before getting tired/physically ill and going home.
Part one of my experiment was complete.
The following afternoon, I put on some Under Armour workout shorts, an old fraternity rush t-shirt from college, and sat down, staring at my JJ’s. This was it. The moment of truth. I slid them onto my feet and began making bunny ears with the laces.
I regained consciousness somewhere in Uganda, hand-feeding malaria-stricken African children while wearing an Astros hat, Reebok t-shirt and University of Wisconsin basketball shorts.
After spending $1,450 on a flight back to the United States, I took my JJ’s straight to Goodwill. Maybe someone with a stronger desire to help their community, dream big, work hard, better the world, hunt greatness, and serve the needy will find some use for them, but that someone isn’t me. .