It’s sweeping the nation, the lecture theatre, the classroom, pubs, clubs, social hubs; the living room, library, bedroom; it is sweeping, no, benching its way into conversation: gym hype.
– Went gym earlier.
– What’ju do?
– Biceps, triceps, quads, abs, head, shoulders, knees, toes.
– Keep those heavy weights heavy and those protein shakes ya go-to bevvy, bro.
You can probably tell where this article is going to go from here. I could harp on about the Olympic-driven fitness spike, execute a detailed exposition of the effects airbrushed TV shows and magazine photo shoots have had on an image conscious youth, leading to gym-obsessed body enhancement; I could dig out statistics regarding image-related mental disorders; I could bang on about the damage vanity does to society – the pain it causes those who didn’t do so well in the genetic lottery, the evil cosmetic-corporations it props up, the falseness and insecurity it breeds socially.
Instead, I am going to discuss a more day-to-day issue that arises from an image-obsessed youth: the sheer inanity of conversation.
I live in a four man house. All – bar me – have a membership at the uni gym. I have absolutely nothing against getting in shape or maintaining fitness – I can even tolerate ‘getting hench’ (although at times this tolerance does run thin – stop being so abominably vain and read a book). But when ‘gym’ spills over into everyday activity, everyday conversation, I find myself with my head in my hands cringing my (perfectly toned and no-need-for-maintenance) arse off.
A typical conversation between my housemates in the mornings may run like this…
– Gym later?
– Yeah, what shall we do?
– <insert list of random body parts>
– Yeah, and maybe <insert controversial body part> ?
– Woah, we did that yesterday? Are you not aching?
– You’re aching, from that? Ha! *Scoff*
– Ah, this is a perfect pre-gym meal
And in the evenings…
– Huge session *shakes expensive protein-but-could-be-a-baby bottle*
– Yeah, abs workout before bed?
If this is the conversation at home, I can only imagine the chat in-gym. Probably something like this –
– <insert random body part>
– <insert random Ronnie Coleman quote>
– <insert random body part>
– <COME ON!!!!!!!!!!!>
Students: the intellectual future? Motivated young thinkers well-equipped to tackle the problems of the modern world? If the solution to the problems of the modern world boiled down to bench-pressing til you’re blue in the face, or applying as much fake-tan to your skin as is physically possible, then yeah – maybe. But unfortunately the problems that face us require more thought than this – and how can mature thoughts or ideas develop in a culture so obsessed with how it looks, so obsessed with its tan, so obsessed with being able to lift a heavier weight? Vanity strangles intellectual and creative potential.
But, gym-monkeys: please keep using your thoughts and vocal chords to organise your bench-press routine – maybe you’ll be able to lift 1kg more tomorrow! That’d be useful and so great. Never mind broadening your mind – broadening your biceps as much as possible should most definitely be the priority.
This probably comes across as some bitchy, bitter tribute to my housemates’ new found obsession – and for the most part it is – but surely everybody knows of a gym-monkey or a fake tan junkie – they’re everywhere, and society is suffering because of it.
Maybe if there is one thing we can all do in an attempt to prevent this brainless conversation – symptomatic of ‘get bare wench’ disorder and other vanity-driven diseases – from spreading any further, it is to respond to lamentation of a particularly sore / neglected muscle group – or indeed any unasked-for physical self-analysis – with quick-fire general knowledge questions such as: ‘what is the capital city of Iceland? Of Egypt? Of Argentina?’
Perhaps this light trivia will coax the gym-monkey / vanity slave from giving a detailed report on his / her rowing machine performance, and we could probe with more thoughtful questions on popular culture and current affairs: ‘Do you follow Homeland?’ ‘What are your thoughts on the US presidential elections?’
Maybe this petty small-talk would stimulate the gym-monkey / vanity slave’s mind a little, and alter his / her conversational-priorities (offering up a list of body-parts that must be worked on may begin to appear less important). Indeed, maybe conscious thought is returning to the gym-monkey – perhaps the vanity slave participates in an intelligent conversation, requiring thought, wit, humour! Maybe curiosity is sparked, an intellectual project embarked upon, a contribution to human civilization made!
Probably a few more quick-fire general knowledge questions needed first, though.
Please, gym-monkeys / vanity slaves everywhere (not that you’ll be reading this – the brain seems to be omitted from lists of body-parts that need a work out), although the amount of kg you so heroically lift / km you so heroically row really impresses me, I don’t need to hear about it. So – instead of giving me the low-down on how many pull ups you did before all those sit ups – chat to me about something that actually matters.
Tl;dr – If you go to the gym then good for you. If you bore others with what you do at the gym then you need to get a life.