I am one who takes an odd pleasure at measuring the pulse of fitness culture wherever I go. I’ve concluded that the posture of fitness in any place reveals more about an environment than it’s street signs and once a month town-hall meetings.
I adopted this eye for fitness culture long ago. I suppose it’s due to the fact that I’m on an infinite search to find the utopia. I have yet to find it.
Fitness culture around the world is widely broad. And since I haven’t been everywhere, I can only report on a few regions.
In south Florida, the goal is to wear as few articles of clothing as possible when attending the gym regardless of what month it is.
In Paris, there’s a general aversion to sweating. And dear Lord, whatever you do, don’t get caught in joggers and a merino wool pullover hoodie on the street, people look at you like you have leprosy.
I’ve only been to Nashville, Tennessee when you can cut the humidity with a butter knife. So, my report of this place in one-dimensional workouts are a lot shorter since you don’t have to warm up.
In Los Angeles, it’s state law that you spend one-fifth of your income on green juices, organic mangoes, and gym memberships. And also, a separate spending account must be established for apparel.
If you’re not careful, you can spend two weeks in Nosara, Costa Rica doing yoga and eating vegan food and think you’re in Los Angeles.
In Rome, all of the antiquing and site-seeing is logged as daily exercise.
In Portland, Oregon training of the mind is just as important as the training of the body.
In Barcelona, Spain I met a young doctor who explained to me that a full two hours is dedicated to the gym on his workdays.
In Bloomington, Indiana, the best gym I could find was a modest outdoor setup. A pull-up bar, and a dip station at Bryan Park.
Given my observational stance, it’s only natural that I am drawn to my friend Neil at my local big box gym. I’ve had many conversations with Neil, but it’s only today that I notice him from afar.
I’ve witnessed many forms of lifting, but Neil’s aura is one I admire. This is a different kind of Lifting. He as all the necessary traits to succeed in the iron game. Most notably, the fire for lifting that screams this is an act against a sedentary nature. His frightening intensity in the weight room reminds me of Russell Westbrook on the hardwood. I always wonder if this trait can be taught or it’s something people are born with.
His style is simple but effective. He’s fifty-five years old with a physique that makes most 25-year-olds tuck their tails. There is no fanfare, no grandeur, no bullshit to his Lifting. I’ve watched him. Squats, presses, curls, dips, and pulls make up the bulk of his Lifting. When he is Lifting, you don’t dare distract him or talk to him. But he doesn’t have to tell anyone this. It almost seems like when he is Lifting, he is protected from distraction.
Remarkably, Neil doesn’t walk with his chin-up despite the fact that he’s in better shape than 90% of our country. Neil, in fact, is one of the kindest people I’ve met. I find that I highly approve of Neil and the way he handles himself. Excellent, but humble.
I want to participate in this way. Perhaps my fascination with fitness culture is not one grounded in journalism—where one looks in from the outside to report back—but instead, a search of a disciple who models what I aim to be.
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