Byron Brooks, Fitness Center Security Guard — and Poet

By Emma Kilroy

Brooks is a tall, older man, with a friendly face under a black cap that reads “Security.” He spins comfortably in his rolling chair, scrolling through pictures and news stories on his tablet and greeting students as they enter the campus fitness center.

“I like this job. I like the atmosphere. It’s very relaxed, but you know, I’m around physical activity, which is positive. Sometimes when I’m straightening everything up in the morning I have to pick up the weights and put them on the rack, so I get in something of a workout that way.”

Brooks works at the center eight hours a day, six days a week, and has been working for Fordham for a little over a year. “I retired early. Before I worked for 27 years as an apartment supervisor in Manhattan. The staff said I was patient and understanding of human needs, but I was always insistent on productivity.”

One thing he misses about his old job is the community. “I know a few people [who work at Fordham], but only in passing and changing shifts. We just cycle in and out every day, whereas at my old job there would be extras. Employee awards, or just parties, where you could get to know one another, or have the chance to share a talent.” These are the events at which Brooks used to sing—“I haven’t had the chance to sing that much since I’m working here so much”—but that’s just the first of the laundry list of talents that he has to share, mostly related to the arts.

“I studied all sorts of different things in high school, but I wasn’t interested in that many of them. I did enough to get by. But when I was done with school and I was self-taught, I started to learn more. When you’re not under the gun you have a way of being more patient with yourself, you can cultivate yourself, so I got into more of the things I really liked. Like I got more into vocabulary. At one point I almost copied the whole dictionary. I had my own notebook, and I wrote ‘Brooks’s Dictionary,’ and I would write out the definitions of words I wanted to know. I would mostly pick words that I heard in conversation and check them.”

Brooks has a slow, particular way of speaking, and often pauses during conversation as if searching for the right word. His logophilia has lent itself to his love of poetry, which is one hobby he can continue while at work. “I’m always writing things down, and leaving them around and picking it back up later.” What does he write about? Anything and everything that might inspire him. “You know, sometimes you just become engulfed in a certain feeling about certain things. I actually wrote a poem about the gym once, about physical activity. I’ve written enough poems to publish two books, but I haven’t gotten around to publishing them just yet.”

Has his poetry ever crossed over with his love of music? “Sometimes I’ll write parts of songs. Just the words, the lyrical part, depending if I get that feeling. I can hear the music to match the words, but one time I tried to learn the keyboard, and I could not play that. I do love to sing.” Besides providing security at the fitness center and checking students in, he also plays part-time DJ, controlling the music that plays behind the whir of the treadmills, and knows more about Pandora than I do. “My favorite music is R&B. Sometimes I slip a couple of those songs in there, but mostly I try to keep it upbeat. You have to have a certain flow.”

FITNESS WORK OUT

A Poem by Byron Brooks

 

Whichever you seek, sexy figure, or buff physique, takes consistency to reach its peak.

Proper diet, rest at night, you want your body to look and feel just right. From bottom

to top takes a lot, plenty of cans but more cannot. You give up the goodies, let go the

sweets, more fish and fowl and less red meat.

 

Staying fit can prove quite a bit, you get discouraged you wanna’ quit, hard building that

muscle, can’t shake the weight, seems the more you do, the more it takes. Try your best

to lose the fat, before you know it, it slips right back, like paying a constant tab once you

stop here comes the flab. You learn, calories are hard to burn, and over indulging ensues

unsightly bulges.

 

There’s; Yoga, Zumba, Pilates, and Spinning, to help you on the course of winning.

Calisthenics help natural agility, weights or dumb bells increase ability. Walk the

elliptical, or run treadmill pacing in time as befits a drill. Attend the classes or, work

out alone whichever gets you in your zone.

 

Fellas spot as they bench press, too much weight can harm the chest. I’ve seen

girls lift as well as men hit the weights curl and bend. Some, dance or jump rope,

stretch out first to help them cope. Many do sit ups to get the abs stacked their

ultimate goal, a firm six pack.

 

There are many machines for different intentions

you have; arm, leg and back extensions, while I’m at it I’ll also mention, the hip

abduction for cheeks reduction. Recumbent bikes, core balls, mats on the floor,

many options to explore. To stay trim you must first begin, you can utilize the

bikes that spin, off the top if you don’t shine, stick it out you will with time.

 

Between, Gatorade, Powerade or, for whatever else you’ve paid the mirror reflects

progress you’ve made, or check the scale you’ll realize you haven’t failed. Now and

then you may fall off track, a spark of motivation gets you back. And as for the goal

you’re trying to reach there are instructors here qualified to teach.

 

Many work cardio to get things pumpin’ either way, the gym is jumpin’. Music gets the

atmosphere elevated, drinking plenty water keeps you hydrated. Still, there’s other ways

to work out too, you gravitate toward what’s best for you. There’s; jogging, swimming,

running track, there’s no one ideal way in fact.

 

 

It’s been said, you only get out what you put in that could mean trying again and again.

To stay fit, you must commit! Even, when it hurts a bit.

 

 

Working out can be a two edge sword but in the end there’s many rewards. You feel healthy

to say the least, and your life span could increase. You’ll feel like a King, seen as a Queen, as

the guys eyes start to gleam. Perhaps a little your ego grows knowing you look good in your

clothes. Compliments pour in, you feel on top as your day begins. Yes, each party feels great

no doubt because of, persistent, fitness workout.

 

 

 

                                                                   By. Byron P. Brooks Sr.

                                                                                6- 20-2014

 

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