Friday, May 04, 2007

Gyms are Kinda Silly if You Think About It

It occurred to me the other day as I was in the gym that the whole concept of going to a gym to work out is a little odd, isn’t it? Not that I don’t love going, but the body, either human or otherwise, is set up to intake energy in the form of food in order to support its daily activities. If you are, say, a wildebeest or something these activities include running around a plain or savannah or polar ice cap or whatever and you intake food as needed by killing your prey. The point is, they don’t really tend to get fat.

Look at ancient history. There were no rooms with heavy rocks meant to be lifted and replaced in ancient Mesopotamia. The Greeks weren’t developing machines that allowed you to pretend you were walking stairs. Most of the people who were not rich had ridiculous amounts of physical labor to do and many went hungry. Though the agricultural revolution made it possible to provide enough food for everybody, I think you would be hard pressed to find a Spartan complaining about excessive portion size.

And so we arrive in 21st Century America. We are the first society, thanks to a lot of things, to have such an overabundance of food that we must find ways to burn the extra energy in order to stay healthy. We must invent pointless work to do in order to make sure we do not die early. What a strange, strange concept this would be to someone from a civilization of centuries past.

Could you imagine someone from, oh, say, the Persian Empire time traveling and showing up at a Bally’s in LA? “So, let me get this straight: You pick up that circular rock over there, lift it repeatedly over and over again for no reason, and put it right back where you found it. Then you go over to that machine over there and run as fast as you can, making sure you go absolutely nowhere? Then you finish off by sitting up then lying back down over and over and over again? And YOU pay HIM for the right to lift his circular rocks? What the Hell is wrong with you people?”

It’s true. What the hell is wrong with us? We have gotten so good a preserving our physical energy insofar as machines do the bulk of the work we used to, that most of us do not have to expend any energy aside from walking to and from our cars. And we have gotten so good at massive food production that there is now too much food and we must either consciously limit our consumption or find new and inventive ways of burning it off that have absolutely nothing to do with our vocation in life.

I love America, and the obesity thing is no longer exclusive to us. But I do believe we were the pioneers. So while it is certainly a pressing issue in this country, it is pretty funny to sit back and think about the problems of societies past, and think that our main problem is that we do not physically work hard enough and get too much food. So much so that we now pay people to tell us how to eat less and work harder. Back in the day, those people were called slave drivers. Now they need advanced degrees. We pay people for the right to lift their weight and run in one place. Awfully silly if you think about it. But I guess we do what we can. I am off to burn off some excessive energy intake now, and I suggest the rest of you do the same. Lest you end up looking like some 15th century nobility.


At 11:58 AM, Blogger The Diva's Thoughts said...

Some people need help and motivation to eat right and work out without hurting themselves.

At 1:28 PM, Blogger Moi said...

Perhaps the obesity thing isn't just "us" anymore, but the morbidly obese thing is all our's.

At 4:09 PM, Anonymous Obese Joe (my rapper name) said...

As someone who can be classified as Morbidly Obese, I take offense to that term. I prefer Metabolically Challenged. Its like saying I could get shot in the head and the cause of death would be because I was too fat. Actually, put a basketball in my hands and I'd probably hang with almost anyone. My whole thing is that the gym is soooo boring. There isn't anyfun to it. Hence the reason I like eating snickers, they're fun. I hate my gym, yet I continue to pay for it. I'd probably do a lot better with a home gym, part of the reason being I don't like being the fat guy at the gym. I've tried walking to the video store and other such places but the problem with that is that it can be so time consuming. As for the conundrum, the real culprit is science. Its led 'overpopulation', living longer, preservatives in our foods giving them longer shelf lives and transportation, and well the ability to produce more food. The scary part is we are no where near the capacity of food production in the USA, its just that a lot of our tastes have crossed waters and miles to other cultures and tastes.

At 7:47 PM, Blogger dmbmeg said...

I actually think about this ALL the time on the treadmill. Funny.

At 10:00 AM, Anonymous DF said...

Gyms were common in ancient Greece. Gymnos is Greek for naked, which was the state in which athletes prepared and competed for in games. They were also places for socializing.

"It is clear that our technology has surpassed our humanity" - Albert Einstein.

At 2:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the trick is that you really have to enjoy working out to stick at it. I love the gym, but I must say, in my building working out next to girls who have blowed dried their hair and put their lip gloss on for the occassion, is just damn annoying..Obese Joe..I understand your point, get a home gym. Who needs to feel like crap when in the gym? It's hard enough to get the motivation to go there!

At 12:21 PM, Blogger Manola Blablablanik said...

I agree, which is why I have always enjoyed other fitness activities that didn't feel like exercise (dance, yoga, skating, etc;)

At 7:38 PM, Anonymous Marjorie said...

One of the many things I miss about NYC walking everywhere

At 11:56 PM, Blogger The Plant Man said...

that's why i plant trees! who wants to go to a gym when you can make money and have fun outdoors?


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