Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The Myth of Fitness

In case you haven't noticed, there's an insidious epidemic sweeping the country that's affecting every person's mental and physical health, including yours. It may be the worst assault on your wellbeing you ever encounter, and yet you and a hundreds of million other unsuspecting victims may never realize it, as it feeds on your very physical, emotional and financial existence.

It stared out as the fitness craze, which now has become an ever better fitting moniker, mainly because so many people are frenzied in their attempts to achieve an imaginary level of "fitness" for absolutely no real purpose, other than perpetuating their own self-loathing for not living up to someone else's ideals.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no fan of obesity or the sedentary lifestyle. I'm the first one to jump up from my desk for a brisk walk around the block or a few sets of resistance work. I'm right there with you when it comes to doing a little cardio to work off last night's pasta overload. But you won't see me in the gym, sweating it out for hours, several times a week, in pursuit of a goal that's never really been defined.

Everywhere I look, I'm forced to gaze upon sweaty bodies on expensive machines glorifying the notion of "physical fitness" when in fact those images present nothing more of value than what you might see in a Calvin Klein ad. I mean, how fit does someone really have to be?  It reminds me of that Seinfeld episode where Kenny tells Jerry, "You should work out," and Jerry replies, "Why?"

People keep falling for a never-ending torrent of expensive supplements and foods whose recommendations and benefits are disproven on a weekly basis, as more and more faux science promises results that nobody can really define.  Yes, you're aging. No, this supplement won't make you young again. Wise up. Even Elon Musk can't bluff investors into developing a time machine, and he's as good as hackery gets.

As if fitness mania's corporal assault weren't damaging enough, your wallet is taking a pretty healthy beating of its own. Home exercise machines have become a 21st century status symbol, promising body contouring while delivering nothing more than an increase in isolation from what little social contact is left. For thousands of dollars, you can now steam up your attic while avoiding other humans completely.

How can that be healthy?

The fact is that if you really want to understand your optimal physical fitness, you need look no further than your family tree, because like it or not, your physicality is far more dependent on your genes than your credit card.  The fact is that nobody has the time, money or actual reason to dive into the expensive, vague notion of ultimate fitness. Nobody needs the machines, the wardrobe, the supplements or special menus.

What they do need is a healthy dose of self-reliance and a realization that like everything else, when you take care of yourself -- physically, financially and emotionally -- you're as fit as you're ever going to want to be.

Now, who's up for a pizza?