March 10, 2005

Two Days In Seven

An early morning conversation. Yesterday.
"I'm so glad it's Wednesday."
"Because it's so much better than Tuesday or Monday."
"Because I hate my job! No, I don't hate it... it's just boring..."
As I walked to work, I realised that my last statement isn't entirely accurate. My job is okay. It occurred to me that what I ought to have said is, "Because I live for the weekends."

There was an article in last Wednesday's Dominion Post titled "Gym: the New Religion." The story reports on Victoria University researcher William Hoverd’s recently published study, ‘Working Out My Salvation.’ Hoverd’s basic premise is that "fat cells within the body are like original sin." I found the comparison fascinating, if somewhat extreme. He looks at the reasons people are driven to work out and the ways gyms promote themselves.
"People come into the gym, they’re observed, they change into different clothes, then they go through these exercises, and then you wash at the end and clean yourself. It’s a very secular ritualistic element but there’s still all those parallels there."
His study looks at extreme Christian asceticism, flagellation and the Protestant work ethic as well as touching on more modern concepts of "economic efficiency and third-wave feminism to suggest there is a modern-day belief that beauty and sexual attractiveness equal happiness and financial success." Hoverd says,
"It’s something that hasn’t been done before, it’s a new way of looking at religion and a new way of looking at the gym."
Omykiss directed me to this article from the Economist in December 2002, suggesting that it’s not actually a new comparison at all. It’s very interesting reading.

So of course I’ve been asking myself: why do I go to the gym? I'm a new convert; I've been going since mid-December. Do I go to the gym as a substitute for the religion I was brought up with? I don't think so. I think a subtle combination of influences lead to my membership - living for a long time with two gym bunnies, reading Microserfs again, hearing a good friend saying, "This is the prime of my life. If I'm not in good shape now, I never will be," a desire to look after myself. Like anyone exposed to popular media, I like the idea of abdominal muscles. Mostly I think that establishing a habit like going to the gym three or four times a week pleases me. I definitely don't live for the gym. What I do live for is the weekend.

Rather than paying homage to (or with) my body, I'm more inclined to worship at the altar of the weekend. The weekend is sacrosanct. That's right. Sacred and inviolable. I don't go to the gym on the weekend. I don't generally do much at all. And that's the way I like it.


Blogger limegreen said...

I'm interested that you've become a gym convert. I've recently de-acquired my "thesis-gut", although frankly, I'm now at a point where I'm alarmed that I may still be getting skinnier. However, rather than gymming, I think my new found fitness (my resting heart-rate is down 5) is a function of my new digs: the gardening, and the 30 minutes walk through the gardens. I heart it.

11:29 PM  
Blogger Jessie said...

What is a thesis-gut?

Btw, this comments box took even longer to load than the next eleven days. Sorry for the inconvenience. I expect you've all had lots to say too.

1:33 AM  
Blogger Nelson said...

Douglas Coupland is my god. He's the sole reason I went to visit the 4 Legoland temples around the world. Legoland California is the best.

Yeah having problems with blogger (in general, not just comments) today too.

10:53 AM  
Blogger Heck said...

Finally, comments working again! Now I must remember what I wanted to say... Hours ago. I'll be back.

2:35 AM  
Blogger Jessie said...

I figured it out. Going to the gym is an investment in my future health and wellbeing. And it's easer than saving money.

PS Comments are a bit screwy at the moment. I'm working on it (read: switching off 'puter and going to hang at the gardens - what an incredible weekend! Perfect weather!)

9:20 PM  
Blogger limegreen said...

It's a funny cartoon. Well funny for me anyway. I think it's something to do with when you get really really really really sick of writing your thesis. So rather than go home for lunch/tea etc. sugary snacks and energy drinks and spending every possible waking moment writing, or at least sitting in front of the computer. Basically, no exercise, and lots of snackin.

10:42 PM  
Blogger Morphess said...

Thesis gut! :-)

1:43 AM  
Blogger Jessie said...

Hey Nelson, I forgot - I went to (the original) Legoland in Billund, Denmark - it was great! Six or seven of us hired a car and drove there from Copenhagen.

You've been to it, right? See now, I had a good time and all, but I wouldn't go to the other 3 on the strength of it.

4:29 AM  
Anonymous Omkiss said...

Hi Jessie, I do know a few people who have a kind of religious attitude to the gym thing ..... not me.

I know it's crazy but it's just easier for me to get a bit of exercise in the gym than get out and do a few rounds of the park.

11:44 PM  

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