Diego Lopez is an MMA instructor and a standup comedian. Sometimes I’m not sure which comes first. On stage his act would playfully riff on his job and the specifics of working out. But in the last few months Lopez’s comedy started to take on an antagonistic tone. He’d berate the audience with suggestions and comments. If you feel lonely surround yourself with gym mirrors to make it look like there are more people in your life. People with abs should pay less in taxes. It all kind of read like a P90x instructor going through an existential crisis.
I first met Lopez through mutual friends in comedy and bonded over our curiosity with fitness and powerlifting. Between talking jokes we’d discuss the finer points of kettlebell technique—two people in the middle of a very particular and mostly insufferable venn diagram. It was all very fun and lighthearted.
But lately it feels like Lopez has been living his gimmick. The act has expanded to online workout videos he’s dubbed Nihilift. Fully committing to the bit the comedian is insistent that the videos aren’t meant as comedy at all, but rather a reflection of a society that’s grown physically and mentally lazy in its own contentment. They double as a training guide and really depressing life lesson. Recently I sat down with Lopez to talk about Nihilift and his new outlook on getting in shape.
VICE: What is the Nihilift fitness routine and how did you come up with the concept?
Diego Lopez: Routine? It’s not figure skating, don’t call it a routine. It’s an acceptance of the fact that you are insignificant and nothing you do outside of the gym matters. Nihilift materialized because of my disdain for these social media fitness content creators. These peppy dorks peddling the fallacy of a fun time at the gym as a cure all. I don’t work out because I’m happy, I work out because I am pathetic and unlovable. Like we all are. Especially you. We’re so obsessed with decadence it is upsetting. You shouldn’t be as happy as you are. Self imposed discomfort is your duty.
I mean, OK. But if nothings matter then what is the point of working out at all? Are you trying to convert your existential terror into weight loss?
Existential terror is not a weight loss technique. At best, it is the catalyst for the desire of weight loss. But when you see through the bullshit, you realize fear is a luxury of the ignorant. This will all end and you will cease to exist, so why not pop out a couple sets of rows? Luckily, the best way to get rid of pesky belly fat is to decompose. That will happen soon enough.
Who would you recommend try Nihilift? What results can they expect if they follow your recommendations?
The majority of people won’t connect and that’s fine. It’s for the people that know life is bad, so they choose to make it worse, by exercising so much they kill any social life they may have had. If you look forward to tomorrow or you say things like, “That’s great!” maybe you should go try rock climbing class on Groupon. You should expect to be continually disappointed in your own body and told be reminded that suffering is your only true birthright. The good news is nothing keeps your metabolism burning like enduring agony.
That sounds pretty terrible, Diego. You’re in pretty great shape but you seem super miserable. I don’t know why anyone would follow you into this.
First of all, I don’t appreciate your tone. You might think I’m in great shape but you can’t fool me, my body is trash and always will be. Just because you can’t change something doesn’t mean you get to sit there and not push numbers. You’re thinking like a coward. The idea that being ‘In shape’ makes you happy is offensive.
Cool. So if people we’re going to try Nihilift what would you want them to get out of it.
Shame. I look at people who’ve been tricked into thinking they matter and it stinks. Nihilift reminds us no one cares about us or wants to spend time with us so we should be at the gym, alone under a barbell.
And that’s supposed to help people? It’s supposed to make them feel better about their body?
I don’t know why you think I’m interested in helping people. I don’t care about you or your body, I want you to feel as bad as I do if not worse.
This whole gimmick seems like a misguided plea for attention rooted in a poor understanding of fitness, comedy, and Nietzsche.
I knew you were gonna pull some “I went to college” bullshit on me. Nietzsche was a fucking dork who couldn’t deadlift his own bodyweight. Everything you or I will ever do is a misguided plea for attention. The only thing that should be getting attention is PRs—that’s personal records, by the way—everything else is a distraction.
Great. As a hypothetical, if I followed your routine, what would I be doing in the first month and what results could I expect?
I swear if you keep calling it a routine I’m gonna shove you under a pile of med balls. If you trained in my ‘routine’ you would have no support from me. You would be training without encouragement. You will be choosing discomfort. You are going to be lifting heavy things until you can’t then proceed to belittle yourself mentally for being so pitiful. You will be back squatting while I tell you how well your ex is doing without you. Every protein shake comes with a list of your shortcomings as a friend and or lover. Warm ups include a slideshow of everyone who has made a greater impact on the world than you. Your results would be insignificant, no matter how much stronger you got, it wasn’t enough.
Neat. Thanks. I’m sure this is going to work out great for everyone involved.
Photos by Mike Abrusci @ mikeabrusci
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