For the first time in my adult life, I am finally getting to a place where I can enjoy the routine and rewards of regularly going to the gym. But as my dadbod transforms into a slightly-more-toned dadbod, there was one muscle system that wasn't getting pushed to the limit with the rest of me: my penis.
So when I was made aware of Private Gym, a program that claims to be "simply the world's best personal trainer for your pelvic muscle system," and "as good as Viagra," I was intrigued. It's Kegels for dudes—and there's a slew of research indicating that a regular Kegel exercise program can benefit a woman's health in myriad ways, such as reducing instances of urinary and fecal incontinence, preventing prolapses, and restoring vaginal sensation during intercourse. The medical community also seems to be in agreement that men ought to be doing similar exercises to achieve similar health benefits, but not too many men heed that advice, probably because men are stupid.
I'd thought my sexual and urinary health were pretty solid, but I had to stop and ask myself some of the hard-hitting questions the Private Gym site was asking me: Was my prostate really as healthy as it could be? Did I have supreme control over my bladder? Were my ejaculations "forceful" enough? Reader, I bought the gym.
What later arrived in the mail wasn't quite the Bowflex of pulleys and cables I'd imagined. The package contained a book, a DVD, a carrying case (for when I take my dick gym on vacation with me), and a rubberized snap bracelet to slip over the head of my penis with a 2.5-ounce weight attached to the bottom. There was also another 2.5-ounce weight I could magnet on to the first one once I had built up my love muscle a bit.
So I wasn't getting the high-tech Ivan Drago treatment. But if simple exercises worked for Rocky, they could work for my penis.
I cracked open Male Pelvic Fitness, the 150-page tome in front of me, and started absorbing the words of Dr. Andrew Siegel, a physician, urological surgeon, and prolific health book author. His other titles include Finding Your Own Fountain of Youth: The Essential Guide for Maximizing Health, Wellness, Fitness & Longevity and Promiscuous Eating: Understanding And Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship With Food. The text combined the claw-your-eyes-out-from-boredom dryness of an anatomy textbook with the slimy "Yeah, bro! You ready to smash?" vibes of a PUA subreddit.
But I wasn't here to read, dammit. I was here to pump iron with my dick! Eager to get started, I watched the instructional DVD, which vocally guided me through a workout plan from basic training through resistance training.
Every other day, I squeezed and released my pelvic floor muscles for ten minutes at a time, sans erection, to build up my base strength. Private Gym said I was performing a bunch of different exercises, but really it came down to whether or not I was holding my squeeze for one second or three and whether or not I was squeezing or squeezing hard. I did this routine while crawling in traffic, while watching a movie, and while seated at cafes with nice families strolling by, blissfully unaware of how hard I was squeezing.
After the first week, I wasn't really noticing any of the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) I'd experience at the non-penile gym. Was this even working? Had I just shelled out $100 for a cock workout that didn't even work? I wasn't sure, but I pushed onward, and after a few weeks of basic training, I was ready to start using the weights.
Related: VICE visits Miami, Florida, to speak to one of the leading penis doctors in the country and find out what it's worth to get your penis operated on.
Women have the option of discretely going about their day carrying around Ben Wa balls or the like as a way of strengthening their pelvic floor muscles. I had no such luck when it came to my weight training. These weighted exercises required me to be pantsless and erect for their duration, with some mid-workout re-stimulations inevitably required. I live alone, but the idea (unlikely as it may have been) of the police or a burglar breaking down my front door and catching me in the act was enough for me to relegate all that undignified nonsense to the shower.
More squeezing. More releasing. Inevitably, I'd lose my hard-on after a few "reps" and have to joylessly stroke myself back to rigidity able to hold the weight. My dick seemed to know this ploy was not rooted in pleasure, and stubbornly refused to cooperate. Just get through these next few minutes, I coached it. I promise to reward us if we make it to the end. And so we did. But it was as perfunctory and boring a jerk session as you'd might imagine. And I had no way of telling if my orgasms had become any more forceful than before I set out on this path.
After a month of training, it was time for an assessment. I asked a sex partner if she'd noticed any differences in my performance before and after.
"I mean, you were pretty fucking hard last time, but I also don't think we'd drank anything that night so it's hard to compare it to a previous time," she said. "Sorryyyy. I should've paid more attention to see if there was a difference."
I wasn't exactly imagining my dick was going to suddenly grow a bicep with a waving American flag tattooed on it like I was living in a Popeye bit, but finding out there was no discernible change in performance was a bit disheartening. Then again, maybe it was all a matter of perspective. Maybe my dick had already already been performing at the level of a Pumping Iron–era Schwarzenegger. Yes. That had to be it.
For the time being, I've retired the Private Gym to a place of honor beside my other work-out-at-home schemes in my coat closet, where it sits next to P90X DVDs and a doorframe pull-up bar. I'll continue to make myself go to the gym, however—at least those results are visible. And who knows? Maybe I'll keep flexing my taint during rush hour. LA traffic isn't getting better any time soon.
Follow Justin Caffier on Twitter.