Amazon.com bestseller, The Movement: How I Got This Body By Never Going to The Gym in My Life, details the struggles of fitness guru Jack Garbarino and the specifics of The Movement workout. The workout and the book were featured on one of this season’s best episodes of Comedy Central’s Nathan For You. In hopes of helping a struggling moving company, Nathan Fielder devises a plan for the company to save money on labor costs by turning furniture moving into a fitness craze. In doing so, people would actually be paying the moving company to move furniture and “work out.” Body builder Jack Garbarino was recruited to be the spokesperson for The Movement, and craigslist’s Austin Bowers was hired to ghostwrite the story of his weight-loss journey.
Though this is a fictionalization of Garbarino’s life, his battle with middle school bullies and his confrontation with a South African splinter cell organization are tragically all-too-real. The book details his life up to the creation of The Movement, a workout inspired by Garbarino’s days as a furniture mover.
Bowers was given few details on Garbarino but a lot of creative freedom in writing his life story. The result is the memoir of Jack Garbarino: Fitness guru, Steve Job’s childhood best friend, and mentor to the jungle children. If you think of it as a self-help book, the story is a bit dry and tough to swallow, but perhaps Bowers is a dry comedic mastermind, a visionary of satire whose work is to be remembered and cherished forever. In that case, The Movement is simply a delight.
Very little of the book is about the actual workout, though there are some helpful diagrams if you’re interested in actually trying The Movement. The book’s opening chapter details Jack’s troubling middle school years when he was continuously bullied for being an overweight nerd with no friends. His saving grace from his mean classmates was being able to spend his weekends with his best friend, Steve Jobs.
The introduction of “Stevey” Jobs was unexpected but in no way the most bizarre part of The Movement. Plus, Jobs was soon to leave Jack and move to Cupertino, so he could skip two grades and further his tech career. Jobs and Garbarino lost touch, as soon as Jobs “met some kid named Wozneyak, or something like that.” The typo was purposeful, I guess to reiterate how much Jack disliked the idea of Steve Jobs having new friends? The spelling was corrected a few lines down, “the Wozniak guy—he told me how to spell it the second time he brought him up.”
Garbarino’s mom died and he fell in love with Amber, the real estate agent who was in charge of selling his dead mother’s home. He spent most of the next year having sex with Amber and spending his mom’s life insurance money. Though The Movement is technically a self-help book, Bowers takes some liberties and ventures into the Romance realm from time to time. “Her warm, wet lips touched mine and I could taste the beer on her tongue when it slipped between my teeth like a buttery piece of pancake sliding down my gullet.” Sliding down my gullet?
The story takes a bit of a philanthropic turn before getting to the weight loss portion of the weight loss book. Garbarino’s dream was always to teach the jungle children of Africa. (Stevey always knew he’d be a teacher.) With Amber’s good graces he moved to Africa to work with an organization called A Can for Africa, A Can for Everyone—the best name for a fake Africa-based charitable organization ever conceived.
Garbarino took special interest in one “jungle child,” a fat boy named Dende. Over time, they formed a very special connection but unfortunately, Dende was murdered by baboons. Not the monkey, “baboon” was the codename for a violent militant group based near the school. (Bowers makes some questionable naming choices throughout The Movement, specifically when referring to native-born South Africans.)
Following Dende’s murder, Garbarino moved back to America, got a divorce and tried to drown himself. As is true for most, his life was turned around the day he was offered a job at a nearby moving company. Before he knew it, Jack was shedding the pounds and getting tattoos that represent his inner strength. He got a lion tattooed on his bicep, which Bowers describes as Garbarino’s middle school mascot and a symbol of power. In reality, the tattoo on Garbarino’s bicep is of the Macedonian flag. Either way, a definite source of strength for Garbarino.
The specific workouts of The Movement are accompanied with stick figure drawings illustrating the exercises Garbarino created at the moving company. If Bowers took as many liberties with creating these exercises as he did with Garbarino’s life story, I definitely wouldn’t recommend trying The Movement as a workout. That said, if you’re craving the weirdness of Nathan For You, but really want to spend the afternoon curled up with a book filled with typos, I definitely recommend The Movement.
Zoë Klar is a brave young writer and Internet human. Follow her on Twitter @zoeklar.