I think I might quit the gym this month!
“How could you think of doing such a thing, especially at the start of a New Year?” you ask.
Good question. Let me try to explain.
My Normal Routine
This morning, I went to the gym to work out with a friend as I normally do at the start of my week. Not to my surprise, the parking spaces were much more limited. Upon entering the facility, the number of vacancies on the cardio equipment was also significantly reduced. It was obvious that many people were working on a resolution of personal health and fitness. No problem there. Good for them.
So you may conclude that I am thinking of quitting the gym because of the number of newbies in January and then joining back in February when things tame down. That is a great guess and it was a tempting thought. However, it is not the reason I am considering quitting. I am actually happy to see more people trying to take care of themselves physically.
Here’s how the idea came about. My good friend Chris and I were exercising on neighboring elliptical machines and talking about life. As I looked out upon the landscape of people in front of me scurrying around from machine to machine something struck me for the very first time. Here we were, a cluster of human beings, created in the likeness of God, moving about like a bunch of experimental lab rats. I turned to my friend Chris and said, “Is this really what life is supposed to look like?”
Slow down the treadmill of your life for a few moments and muse over a these questions:
- Don’t you find it bizarre that we run on a treadmill and go absolutely no where? Weren’t we meant to run for a greater purpose?
- Isn’t it strange that we lift weights only to set them back on the rack for the next person to lift?
- Weren’t our muscles meant for the purpose of building something more than a healthy looking physique?
The Problem As Best I Can Describe
The problem as I see it, is that my modern day life has become all together too predictable, safe, unadventurous, inauthentic and may I even suggest, plastic. Maybe I’m speaking for myself, but I feel like I was created for something so much more real, adventurous, lively and at times down right scary. I’m not thinking roller coaster here, folks. That is a modern rendition of adventure and thrill, a numbing supplement to the real thing and the antithesis to what I have in mind.
Just think back to the days of hunter-gatherer societies of our ancestors. These rugged men and woman would get their exercise running after wild game, not around an imaginary track connected by little blinking dots of light.
These brave souls would need to build a fire to cook their food. I create a fire for ambiance or to roast marshmallows.
Today was the first time in my adult life that I ever realized why some people love to go hunting.
And when it comes to our Christian heritage, just think of guys like the Apostle Paul who said, “I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again.” (2 Corinthians 11:23) I just cannot picture Paul running on a treadmill in the morning!
Don’t get me wrong. I am not ungrateful for the beautiful home that shelters my family or the safe neighborhood where I reside or the gym that I am fortunate enough to work out in. I am not overlooking these blessings or life comforts by any stretch of the imagination.
I’m just speculating and musing that the modern day life of 9-5 jobs and everyday living falls vastly short of the life adventures God has planned for us.
Something about life seems just too static, controlled, plastic, predictable and unadventurous.
Cutting Down Trees
As I finished my work out today. I treated myself to one of the massage chairs; another weird luxury of our society. As I did, a friend from church who cuts wood for a living came around the corner with his girlfriend. Here is a guy who is outdoors climbing trees and cutting wood all day. His girlfriend was now considering joining the gym to stay in shape.
She says to me, “It does not match being outdoors, but it might be what I need.” I encouraged her to do whatever she thought best.
As they walked away, it was only a confirmation of my original thought. Maybe life has gotten too modern. Maybe I need to quit the gym, go run in the woods or cut down some trees. Maybe, just maybe, the goals we set, the life we live, the faith we exercise has become way too shallow, too predictable, too tame, too plastic. On a deeper note, quitting the gym may not be the true solution to my dilemma; it may be giving up a life that is not full of passion, risk, and purpose.