It’s 07:00. Your fitness instructor Debbie has you standing at the bottom of a set of a hundred stairs. Your breath curls out of your mouth like you were dragon born.
There’s a dude standing next to you with a bunch of UnderArmour camo on — his name is Carl and he works in IT up at the university. He’s 43 and approximately 278 pounds with male pattern baldness, the kind with the one tuft that just won’t die — and he looks like he’s going to shit himself.
All you’ve eaten for breakfast is a protein shake that looked like something you’d slather onto roof, but Kaiser Debbie told you to drink it, and drink it you did.
“Now, when I count to five, I want all you to drag your no good, low down, saggy asses up over them stairs,” bellows Deb. “And I don’t want to hear a peep out of you — do you hear me?!”
“Yes, Kaiser Debbie!”
“1, 2, 3… 5! Move your asses!”
“This is war!”
BREAKING NEWS: THIS ISN’T WAR.
It’s never been war.
The militarization of weight loss is fucking ridiculous.
The notion that you are somehow training to do battle is laughable and destructive.
Why is it destructive?
Because you’re saying to yourself that the only way that you can get healthy is fight that very same self.
You become your own nemesis. And that can’t be good for the old noggin’.
It’s a marketing stunt. That’s all it is.
And don’t get me started on “Sexy For Santa”.
“Sexy For Santa?”
Picture this conversation happening around the Christmas Tree…
Daughter: Mommy, why are you sweating so much?
Mom: Well, honey, Mommy’s running up and down stadium stairs in an effort to get sexy for Santa.
Daughter: But, why do you need to be sexy for Santa. He’s old and fat.
Mom: Now, you listen here, if you’re not careful he’ll be bringing you coal this Christmas.
Daughter: Wow Mom, Santa sounds like a real catch.
In this scenario you’re not only telling people that you need to be sexy to have somebody love you, but you’re also really fucking up Christmas in a big way.
“Sexy For Santa?”
What next, “emaciated for Easter Bunny”?
I’m not trying to discourage anyone who wants to go around with a hoola-hoop and wiggle their arse off, or storm around the house with a shake weight in your hand making inappropriate gestures as you work up a sweat. I’m not. Far be it for me to judge, I think if it works for you then give ‘er.
Let your freak flag fly.
I’m talking about the fitness industry’s need to make things sound sexy or dangerous or heroic.
Ain’t nothin’ heroic about a burpee, man. Ain’t nothin’ much about a burpee at all, as a matter of fact — they’re pretty much useless.
And hey look, I’m a copywriter by trade, and I understand the need for a business or a brand to market their product. I get that. They want to differentiate themselves from the other fitness groups, and stand out in the sea of sameness. Which are all really smart business goals.
But, come on?
The truth of it all is there’s nothing fancy about it. In large part it’s just lifting things and putting them down, pulling on cables, and moving one foot in front of the other.
A Romanian dead lift is a Romanian deadlift, it doesn’t matter if you’re doing it to impress old St. Nich or not. You still gotta lift it and put it down and do it over and over again.
You see the beauty of a gym — which isn’t for everyone, by the way — is the ritual. The exercises become something of a mantra that you repeat over and over again.
For me, it’s a drive towards clarity. I am focused mentally, and physically when I leave. I’ve taken an hour out of my day and made it all about me. And that, is worth its weight in gold.
My fitness centre (The Energy Company — shameless plug) is very small. It’s just equipment and great people. It’s not about bravado, or sexualization, or military drills, or even Santa. It’s just about goals. Your goals.
I can tell you this — with almost absolute certainty — nothing meaningful can come from battling yourself. Nor can it come from working towards an expectation that’s set out by somebody other than yourself.
Anything that has ever been done well and done right in the world has been done out of love.
And anyone who tells you differently — is just trying to sell you something.