Posts Tagged ‘Exercise’

Working Out a Living

Just back from the gym. It’s been close to three weeks now that I’ve been doing this exercise thing, and over two weeks that I’ve been managing around 45 minutes almost every day. And it’s good. I feel good, I’m losing the pot belly, and I’m starting to think this isn’t necessarily such a bad thing to incorporate into my life.

It is, however, giving me pause to reflect on exercise and society more generally.

I am reminded of Back to the Future iii. Yes, that’s right, I am referring not only to a Michael J. Fox movie, but to the last of his installments as Marty McFly, time-travelling teenager. In this one, he’s taken back to 1885 to experience the Old West as only Hollywood fluff-comedy can imagine it, and in one scene wanders into a bar and begins to chat up the rough-and-tumble types on the subject of the future. Among other items thrown around – exercise. There are cars, he says, to take you wherever you want to go. Really, scoffs his audience – so no one needs to be able to walk anymore? Oh sure, people walk, answers our young hero, but for fun. This, of course, generates no end of laughter and a serious consideration of whether this young weirdo ought to be pummelled for spewing such ludicrous ideas. But wait, I think today…What an interesting little scene that is. Cause it reflects exactly what I’ve been thinking on since doing the gym routine.

Humans are made to move. To run, to jump, to be active. Like all animals, our bodies are constructed in such a way that the daily routine of living should, as a general rule, keep us strong and healthy. I mean, God and Evolution didn’t get together and invent creatures that needed to take any special steps to stay alive. No, living is enough to keep life going, each animal well-balanced so that it’s appetites, growth requirements and social needs all get met through your basic day to day activities.

So, as I make my way to and from the gym, I am struck by how this exercise thing is illustrative of what’s happened with us as beings, how dramatically we have transformed our basic way of life in the world. I mean, what this shows is that the society we have created is so far from natural that it cannot even provide for the basics required to sustain life. In a significant part of the world, humans now – like no other animal and like no time previously – have to make a conscious choice to live, to engage in activities that will sustain us. And that, to me, is just plain frightening.

We know capitalism is pure evil. We know what it does to us as social beings. We know that it destroys communities and destroys souls. And we know, too, that this disposable culture has been devestating for us physically as well. This isn’t news. But somehow the act of working out every day has brought it to the front of my mind in a new way, has made me particularly aware of what exactly this indicates. That we have built a society that does not sustain life, that for the first time ever, life does not flow naturally from the living but is something that must be consciously nurtured. Thought you had it all worked out, God and Evolution? Hah! We won’t be bound by your grand designs! We can re-create ourselves as something else entirely, something never before seen – a being whose social order, whose daily routines, are inconsistent with the requirements of life and yet which continues to exist aganst all odds.

Treadmills and rowers and weights, oh my!


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