By Danny Manslaughter
The everlasting gruel of modern industrial capitalism, eventually leads the majority to feel dehumanized, exploited and in the throws chronic depression. There’s very little to argue on the fact that we are working more for less, becoming unhealthier and suffering the slow fate of a frog on ‘low’ in the crock pot. When the lens of the microscope is peered into, we see a minute version of ourselves, struggling through life in an endless hustle for more money, working until health is lost and all capital accumulated thus far is used to regain health. Truths like this, lead many of us to be searching for something. Perhaps, one may find comfort in organized religion, the membership in a ‘secret society’, and reliance on substances to alter feelings. Partially, this feeling leads some of us to pursue bodybuilding. We make our own institutions, subcultures, sports, teams, etc. these days and follow them in what has to be a very direct response to very-real culture alienated from the natural world and the ‘human spirit’. We only wish to grasp on to something at times, to provide some more meaning to this life or at the very least not become terrified at the silence between storms.
For whatever reason, on this small floating rock of ours, people eventually discover bodybuilding. When a person becomes immersed in this subculture, to even use the term ‘lifestyle’ is ill-fitting. The concrete truth being that if this were a ‘lifestyle’, it certainly requires and attracts a very OCD element to it. So not only is this a lifestyle (that can consume much time between meal prepping, eating, exercise and even though processes), it’s a lifestyle very few can endure for long and be successful at. Many can join a fitness club and gym and make progress for a few months (before dropping off the face of the earth) but rarely does one take the steps to later on compete in a live bodybuilding competition.
Unfortunately a new-comer to bodybuilding (and god-building) is living in an era where the traditional old-school, ‘hardcore’, and bodybuilding gyms are dying off like faded fads of the past. The ones that exist attract much attention and generate more revenue per capita than that of many of the franchise monoliths, but appear as mere unclogged, pure pores in the valley of giant pus-filled cysts which are chain gyms. In the early 1990’s the record companies, clothing companies and ‘mainstream society’ capitalized on the grunge phenomena (Thanks to Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’), creating a breakthrough for Alternative Rock and Punk bands to reach a larger audience. It was great in many aspects, but later what appeared on modern-rock radio was a slough of very generic and ‘safe’ sounding ‘punk’ bands that were void of any originality, danger or fun, The gusto was taken from the music and a safe version was marketed to the masses.
Long before punk rock was co-opted by the dominant corporate culture, gyms were as well. In the map of evolutionary fitness we can see the sequence of ‘barbell clubs’ and traditional gyms where bodybuilders started the original ’fitness industry’ to the gargantuan industry of gym chains the country provides now. The lovely chain gym adorns every street corner of every block and is populated by SSRI- Chugging membership sales teams, with smiles as big as your biceps and hideous synthesizer-voice ‘in the club’ music bumping through the speakers at every moment. You enjoy the right of being stuck into a perpetual contract, a random ‘wellness fee’ taken out of your bank account at random every year, waiting after 4 people to use a treadmill and two hours to complete a chest workout (just waiting on machines). Bodybuilding is very simple in essence. Basically myself and others would just like to lift some weights, take some illicit substances to induce hypertrophy and eventually oil ourselves up in a glamorized pageant. Is it really that much to ask? Unfortunately, the gym industry and the entire gamet of other ‘muscle tycoons’ have fucked us over on even having proper venues to exercise in this era.
If there is a local Mom & Pop, Old School, or otherwise traditional type gym in your area, please support it. While the franchises offer convenience, it’s a watered down, comfortable meme of what we really want. Bodybuilding has a rich history and global reach much wider than some actual US professional sports. How insulting that it becomes increasingly harder for us (bodybuilders and god-builders) proper places to train. We built this sucker, let’s collectively burn it down with a scorched earth policy. At the very least let’s take back the experience of training and revisit the essential spiritual and cultural phenomena of the local gym. The gains will be better, the kinship will be greater and you may just work a little harder, causing those endorphins to spike that much higher.
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