Nike’s Living Room Cup Taught The Small Of My Spine A Lesson It’ll Never Forget

Join me, Ronaldo, Vinícius and young Erling in seeing “how many abs we can do.”

If you’re like me, this past month has been so goddamn awful for your fitness that you can only refuse to acknowledge anything. Without rec soccer and the gym, I’m half-man, half-beer. 

A few days ago I forced myself out on a run after being deeply troubled by an inner voice saying my time for running was now over — everything was just too exceedingly difficult to even contemplate doing, so don’t do it. That’s my mind without exercise. It’s a real bastard.

But I downloaded the Zombies, Run app, failed to outrun the zombies a couple times, felt like my joints would collapse, battered the pavement with my leaden feet, perspired too much and ultimately felt a lot better. I obviously need more of it, so news of Nike’s “Living Room Cup” felt like a godsend.

According to the press release, “The Living Room Cup” is a digital workout series that “offers a new space to compete against Nike pro athletes through weekly fitness challenges.” Having almost passed out on a 25-minute run, it’s only logical that I should now compete against Nike’s finest sportspeople. Bring on Cristiano Ronaldo.

Yes, the Juventus and Portugal legend issued the first challenge, and it’s described as an “ab workout.” Maybe I’m behind the times, but I have no clue what this is. The “core crusher” workout? Ronaldo himself simply frames it as "how many abs" he can do. 

With his feet pointed to the sky, his back curled excruciatingly and his top knot on fleek, Ronaldo proceeds to do 142 "reps" in 45 seconds, all whilst giving us those creepy Ronaldo winks. Stop doing that, Ronaldo. 

I have no clue what constitutes a rep. He’s gyrating on his mat, almost touching his toes but not. I don’t know how he doesn’t fart. I don’t know why his bones don’t crack and crunch like a normal 35-year-old. 

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I need more instruction on this challenge. Thankfully, Real Madrid’s Vinícius Júnior has accepted Ronaldo’s challenge, but this is where things fall apart.

Vinícius puts his legs out at a 45 degree angle. This is entirely different from what Ronaldo just taught me — this might as well be an entirely different exercise. His concept of “reps” is even more difficult to understand — he’s just bouncing to Drake’s “Toosie Slide.”

If he wasn’t 19, this would kill him. My back hurts watching.

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What about Erling Håland? The Zen Master has his legs and arms locked; he’s as rigid as a 60-year-old truck driver. But, damn, that boy can core crush.

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I’m more confused than ever about the proper form and what constitutes a rep, but then here comes sprinter Caster Semenya. Look at this — the South African keeps that 90 degree bend, TOUCHES HER TOES and absolutely crushes everyone with 176 in 45 seconds. This has to be the proper way to do it. Ronaldo, Vinícius, Håland, ... you should all be ashamed.    

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My turn.

I set my iPhone stopwatch for 45 seconds. I try to get my legs at that 90 degree angle like some sort of humanoid protractor. It’s hard. I start the timer. I can’t touch my toes. I gotta go Vinícius on this one. I can feel the rhythm. I got a dance, but it’s really on some street shit. I think i just shit my pants.

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