It seems like “the dead of night” when the iPhone’s jazzy jingle dances into the dark.

That’s because it is — 3:56 a.m.!

Then a tricky maneuver to find it, grab it and tap it on the blurry target in the middle of its slippery glass surface for a nine-minute snooze reprieve, before starting all over again.

And again.

Tapping is critical, as “sliding” a finger will cancel the alarm (and score two more hours of primo, deep coma-like sleep) … and get me in BIG trouble to start the day!

Blast-off out the door needs to be by 4:47 a.m. for the short joy ride downtown, sans traffic (and cars) on Highway 101 — California’s longest highway, according to a trusted confidential source (Pssst: Wikipedia).

Final destination is ProForm Fitness & Training — a storefront gym that’s wedged between a dance studio and eco-friendly dry cleaners.

PFT has it all: weights, exercise machines, ESPN, loud music … and pain.

There are three of us here — Mateo, Zuck and Yours Truly — collectively, a 40-year age difference (OUCH!!) separates me (senior citizen) from them (“da boyz”).

Initially tethered by work at a local community bank — we’re now cemented in these 5 a.m. workouts and all the fun banter, mock accusations and joking around (and the pain) that’s become our weekday morning ritual.

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Mateo Limon provides hands-on community support at the Veterans Day Parade Luncheon earlier this month. (Randy Weiss photo)

Mateo Limon provides hands-on community support at the Veterans Day Parade Luncheon earlier this month. (Randy Weiss photo)

Meet Mateo

Single dude Matthew Limon, 44, hails from Tulare … grew up on a farm … youngest of seven brothers and sisters … moved to Santa Barbara in 1993 … seemingly knows everyone in town … one of the funniest and most kind-hearted people you will ever meet … just finished his fourth season as a volunteer YFL assistant coach … loves the UCLA Bruins, Oakland Raiders and helping others.

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It’s a special “Early A.M. Fraternity” of sorts — with Rudy Arriaga (“The Cable Guy” from Cox) here on M-W-F, and with women and those others, like Phil, who arrive much later with personal trainers — cool pros like Shawn, Wy from Team PWY, Nicola and local legend Dave Esparza.

After my initial six-week, fill-in stint wrapped up in early November 2013 with Zuck’s return to America and PFT — it was time for me to peel off, as everyone knows a trio workout team simply doesn’t work.

“No, stay and work out with us,” Zuck said.

It’s a life-saving offer, to say the least (lost 25 pounds, so far) — and like having a couple of personal trainers/drill sergeants shouting wild encouragement to make you do things that your body seriously questions if it’s gonna work …

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Michael Zuckerman and Yvette Padilla, at PathPoint's 50th anniversary celebration in Los Angeles, are expecting their fist child in early December. (Randy Weiss photo)

Michael Zuckerman and Yvette Padilla, at PathPoint’s 50th anniversary celebration in Los Angeles, are expecting their fist child in early December. (Randy Weiss photo)

Meet Zuck

Soon-to-be-a-poppa, Michael Zuckerman, 36, grew up in Willows, a small town just outside Chico in “NorCal” … second of four brothers … parents are both retired teachers … Dad was also a high school football and wrestling coach, where Michael shined … was an All-American junior college wrestler … one of the most focused people you’ll ever meet … just lost 41 pounds in two months(!) to win his third Jiu Jitsu world championship … recently moved to Carp(interia), Home of the World’s Safest Beach …

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Now, a year later, it’s still an every day commitment, with rare exception.

We’ve also done a bunch of crazy stuff waaay beyond lifting weights:

Plank challenges … 3X weekly, post workout, 6 a.m. “SBCC stadiums” (think opposite of “Stairway to Heaven”) … uber-inverted ab crunches galore … the “wheel of misfortune” that one rolls out on the floor from the knees (looks easy on TV!) …  sunrise swims in the Arctic waters off Leadbetter Beach … teaming up for summer Nite Moves and Reef & Run venues … shooting testosterone-laden texts … threatening to pull “The Man Card” anytime one misses a workout … and the latest: “Mo-Vember” mustache challenge!!

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Bottom line?  

Especially at Thanksgiving — I’m especially thankful these two great friends help keep me fit, having fun and, of course, feeling young!

Oh!! Almost forgot …

Friday sessions are always celebrated afterward with coffee (and muffins) at The Daily Grind at Mission and De la Vina streets.

“We’ll all have the usual,” I say to the young red-headed barista at the counter.

“Ha! You’re not that special that I know what you’re having,” she responds with a big smile and a fist bump.

Another wonderful connection!

And, not bad, still only 6:15 a.m. …

— Randy Weiss is local freelance writer and longtime Noozhawk contributing writer. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.