I’m feeling ambivalent about the whole fitspo (Fitness Inspiration) nonsense.
On the one hand, I suppose if I’ve going to be training for physical events, I really am, no kidding, an athlete. I really do think a lot of people would benefit from having some sort of physical ability benchmark and putting some energy into maintaining it.
On the other, I live in a culture that doesn’t treat people who fail to fit norms very well. I mean, the attitude towards the morality of health is really getting to Erewhonian* levels of absurdity. (News flash: While you can influence your health a little, quite a bit really isn’t under your control and it’s not a matter of morality)
It’s getting uncomfortable in the gym. They’re seeing me as “one of us” now. Even though I am fat, I’m there every morning like they are. So, I get to hear the non-exerciser contempt. Possibly it’s fat contempt as well, but they don’t say that to my face. I’m perfectly physically capable of knocking the shit out of most of them, and its patently obvious. They’re not dumb.
But there is this level of smug because they’re in the gym at five thirty every morning. I don’t like it. I’m there at that time because I’m a morning person, I like a swim to get me going and I want to work out and am more consistent in doing so when I do it first thing rolling out of bed before my brain engages. I consider sleeping in, have a frappachino for breakfast, then doing the day with no workout at all a completely valid choice. When I was on a Big Life-Eating Professional Project, I did just that. (Well, I was chugging espresso, but you get the point)
Now, I’m more comfortable and do my day better physically stronger, so that’s what I do. My benchmark is whether or not walking two miles gets me tired, if I can easily change a 5 gallon water bottle in a cooler, or can lift a suitcase over my head onto the train luggage rack. But honestly? 15 minutes of weight training every weekday and a few nice walks on the Rail Trail would give me about what I’d need there. I’m training more like an hour a day on weekdays and longer swims on the weekend. This is hobby levels of activity, ‘kay? I’m having fun with it and all that smack, but it’s not making me somehow a “good fatty” who deserves better treatment than non-exercising people of the same (or bigger) size!
And that’s what gets to me. If you’re working out at five thirty every morning, going for a run a couple of evenings a week, and going on long hikes or triathlons on the weekends, it’s totally not about health and fitness any more. It’s a damn hobby. It’s no more moral than knitting, for God’s sake.
* Erewhon, by Samuel Butler is a satire on Victorian society in which a culture is posited where physical illness is considered immoral and are treated harshly, but mental illness and other related problems are given kindly sympathy.