I am just going to put this out there. Gyms suck. Okay, to clarify, they suck for me. I hate gyms, which is a weird position to be in for someone blogging in this fashion. Obviously I really don’t care much if anyone else goes to the gym but I loathe the place. Why? Below is my thesis.
Before you read, however, be aware that I am not down on gym users. If you enjoy it then crack on. I am just outlining my feelings about it, and the pretence that it is about fitness and health.
Being outdoors is a person’s birthright. Given the choice of running a trail or running on a machine? For me there is no contest. Besides, a treadmill is literally a conveyor belt. Why would you wish to be a cog in a machine?
I have a theory that barflies and weightlifters are the same people. They just hang around the same places, peacocking, waiting for something to happen. When they aren’t lifting drinks up and down they are lifting weights up and then putting them back down again.
Then we have the following Honour Roll of Pillocks:
- Mr I have to roar when lifting in order to inform everybody in the gym that I am picking up the heavy thing
- Mr I drop the weights deliberately and as loudly as possible in order to inform everybody in the gym that I have now finished lifting the heavy thing
- Mr I leave my disgusting sweat all over the heavy thing because I am a selfish ass
- Mr I don’t put the heavy thing away because I am an arrogant ass
- Mr I have got to get my shirt off at every opportunity to prove that I have been lifting the heavy thing
I could go on but you get the point I am sure. Nobody likes these people. Literally.
The gym is part of an algorithm. There are those who go believing that if they eat nothing but chicken and broccoli six times a day and then do exercise then they will achieve something to do with muscles. They are probably correct. That being said, I much prefer reality. Just as Tyler Durden sneers at those who enrol at a gym trying to look like the models they see on posters, I too roll my eyes at the pursuing of an external ideal. The guys who joined Fight Club were, after a few weeks, ‘carved out of wood’. I wager that if you put any one of these preening peacocks at the gym in a bar fight and they would fall apart.
My preference is not to be a cookie cutter man with ￼8% body fat because David Gandy has and I have to look like him. I want to be the best version of myself, and the best I can be is what real life makes me. Cycling the hard hills of Lancashire or commuting on the bike, running the trails all around me and hiking the beautiful Yorkshire Dales and Lakeland? That makes you rugged, dependable, strong and monolithic. Weathered, well -used musculature carved out by real life is authentic. It is a body that tells a story. When you see a physique like that you know that it is a canvas with a painting telling a tale that is more than ‘yeah, I lift brah. What do you bench?’
Be honest ladies, who do you really want on your arm? Do you want the guy who takes you to a restaurant and then asks about the weight of the bananas in the banoffee pie in case he is five grams over the carbohydrate allowance in his fifth small meal of the day? Or do you want the resilient, tough, weathered guy, maybe he’s ex-military, maybe he’s had a few knocks, the guy who won’t wax his chest, doesn’t use the sun bed, but who will tuck you under his wing, safe and sound? I think that we all know the answer and it is not the permatanned, malnourished, walking crisis of masculinity who worries day and night about how alpha he is.
Let’s be real here. Being ripped or muscular isn’t about fitness, health and wellness. It’s visual. It’s about looking good. Naturally we all want to look good, but there comes a point where the line is crossed from sanity to vanity, and that line is the front door of the gym. Don’t believe me? Consider this: there is no exercise that you can do in a gym that you can’t do for yourself, in private without paying a monthly fee. And please, let’s not have the ‘but if I’m paying it makes me go’ excuse. Everybody knows that most people go to the gym three times in January and then never go back. Just tell the truth. You go there because you’re vain.
Still in denial? Then what are we to make of the fact that the proliferation of gyms everywhere has seen a concomitant skyrocketing in obesity and sedentary lifestyles? It’s obvious. We are not made to flog ourselves to death for an hour and then eat dreadful food and do nothing else. We are each made to move constantly and to use that movement to influence the world in our own way. Working out and nutrition is a public health catastrophe. It simply does not work and it never has. We are fatter than ever, sicker than ever and yet we have never had more and cheaper gym access.
The key to health and happiness? Look after your life in such a way that you never stop moving, you cook for yourself and you do exercise that is meaningful and joyful rather than monotonous lifting and dropping.
Life is too short to weigh your bananas.