Work to work-out: the strange and normalised world of fitness


Following a long, arduous day of sitting communing with a screen, many people manage to squeeze a slot of intense moving in between their work-day and their evening.

The evening will invariably supply its own form of seating, whether it be the soft sofa of domesticity or the perch of a bar-stool, but working-out, as it is called, on appointed days at a set hour, has become an integral part of the weekly routine of many a modern woman and man.

The birth of the fitness Industry

In the last part of the 20th century the medical establishment recognized that although it had managed to win the battle over infectious diseases [with hygiene, antibiotics and vaccinations], that there was a sharp rise in the amount of people dying from chronic diseases. And it became clear that one of the main reasons for this was the decline in everyday physical activity.

By Jon Bennett (London's farewell to the Routemaster) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons

A study was done as early as 1953 on the comparative health of bus-drivers and bus conductors on London double-decker buses. It was found that bus drivers were twice as likely to die of heart disease as bus conductors, who spent their time moving around collecting fares.

[Since 2005 there are no conductors on London buses]

Seeing this decline, doctors began promoting physical activity as a health requirement. And so the fitness industry was born.

In the last few decades the industry has continued to grow, expand and thrive inversely to how functionally inactive people have become in their daily lives.

Three strange things have happened;

  • Moving has become separate from everyday life. Nowadays there is ordinary, everyday life, and set and scheduled times for moving.

  • People go to specialised places to move their bodies, called gyms or studios. In fact, strangely, people often drive to a 'moving place', overlooking the fact that they could have walked or run to that place and thereby have added a bit of natural moving to their scheduled moving.

  • The moving in these sessions is usually condensed and intense. Whereas once people did random bits of moderate physical activity throughout their day, nowadays sessions of moving have become compressed and intense, and have no connection to functionality.

And the strangest thing of all, is that within a few decades this has all come to be considered normal.

It's worth remembering [and here's the rub] that the bodies that accompany us throughout our days and nights are made up of moving parts: bones, joints, muscles, tendons etc just waiting to be recruited into action.

Would you consider, for example..........?

La Grande Bouffe - Marco Ferreri

............adopting a more economic way of eating i.e. rather than eating according to the old-fashioned, time-wasting, 3-meals-a-day routine, you could schedule eating 3-4 times a week, sessions in which you would consume very large quantities, that would suffice you for the rest of the time.

Does that make sense? Is the digestive system really built to function according to this fasting-bingeing routine?

Is the muscular-skeletal system really suited to a life of physical inactivity with short bursts of extreme exertion?

How much of your moving is reacreational and how much is functional?


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