On Form, Looking, and Being: Some Muddled Morning Post-Gym Thoughts

Over the last month or so, I’ve been consistently going to the gym. It’s been tough work. I’m not the most fit person. According to the doctor’s handy guide to body size, I’m what the medical profession would term “overweight, almost obese.” I’m sure that brings up pictures of me as a rather large person, but I don’t think I’m that large. I am no Chris Pratt post-Parks&Rec/now-GuardiansoftheGalaxy (working on it, though. #Goalz). I mean, here’s a picture of me:

Whenever I tell people I’ve been going to the gym, I get the response of, “Oh, you’re not too fat” or “You’re beautiful just the way you are.” Thank you for the positivity. The truth of the matter is I don’t go to the gym just because I’m too fat or want to lose weight. I don’t go to the gym because I want to fulfil some cultural perspective of tons of abs and super huge muscles and beautiful masculinity.

I go to the gym because I want to be healthy.

I go to the gym because I want to be fit.

And, yes, I go to the gym because I want to look great according to our cultural standards of greatness.

The reasons behind that will be in a different post, but for this one I want to focus on why I want to be fit instead of simply looking fit. Hence, why I said I go to the gym to be, not to look in the first two lines above.

I noticed today that there are a lot of people who swing weights while at the gym. This is not good form because instead of using your muscles it utilizes physics to propel the weight up and down.

I tried to put myself into the head of these weight swingers. If I were swinging weights, I could look like I’m lifting a lot of weight and thereby feel like I’m lifting a lot of weight in order to perceive that I am strong and fit and muscular. That plays right into cultural views of beauty and how we must look. It helps you think you’re doing great, but it doesn’t help you actually do great. You leave the gym feeling pumped (“I just lifted 200 pounds, bro”), but you never make any true and serious gainz.

If you use proper form—control your weight movements—then you actually begin to grow muscle, tone your body, and use the gym properly.

That’s why I want to be fit instead of look fit. Yes, I should push myself and try to lift more weights each time I go to the gym. But I shouldn’t do that at the expense of form. The gym is not a race. It’s not about who can lift the most. It’s about consistency. It’s about persistence. It’s about making yourself do better, even if it’s just a little bit better form on the same amount of weight each time.