GloboHomo™ and The Sixpack-Keg Polarity
Ours is an age of great excess. Recent surveys indicate that well over half (64%) of the Australian adult population is overweight or obese. Annual spending in the 'fitness' industry reached its peak of $10 billion in 2008. This does not include expected 'weight-loss' industry spending of approximately $640 million in 2018, nor the immense expense to the public purse caused by the overweight segment of the population. The possible causes and solutions are manifold, and a new and lucrative problem has emerged for our bureaucrats, marketing managers and thought leaders to 'tackle'.
Prior to the 1970's, gyms were rare, fast-food joints were rare, and yet the population was healthier and fitter. The sedentary and pleasure-seeking lifestyles of our people have made them sick and ugly and an entire apparatus of medical care and 'wellness' has sprung up in an attempt to fix it. According to GDP data, this has made us wealthier. The hefty, cough, spending on the obese augments the metric that measures prosperity. In a bizarre twist of fate, our collective sickness is the health of the economy.
Time and labour saving devices such as dishwashers, vacuums and washing machines have made domestic life a sedentary affair. The growth of car-reliant suburbia due to immigration and 'urban planning' replaced the suburban-village model of local shops and communities. Offshoring labour-intensive jobs such as manufacturing and agriculture, and even the pre-fabricated and machine-driven nature of construction, has removed much of the physical exertion that was once part of the job. The service sector warehouses close to 40% of the workforce in office cubicles, where it is easy to walk less than two-hundred metres in a day. Local amateur sport struggles to compete with its 4k HD televised professional equivalent, while 'fantasy football' virtual games and interactive gambling apps hit the dopamine receptors in all the right spots, even restoring a facsimile of competition to the transformation of physical excercise and community to informal gambling clubs.
In terms of nutrition, decades of low-fat, high carbohydrate pseudoscience peddled by corporate interests and government health authorities, in concert with the failure to regulate the availability of junk-food and fast-food, have created a fatal combination of high-volume, high-calorie, endocrine disrupting, nutritionally-empty and addictive dietary environments. The explosion of 'scientific knowledge' about nutrition has supplanted folk wisdom of modestly eating natural foods and there is simply too much conflicting information for an ordinary consumer to make any sense of it. Self-appointed 'experts' make millions by promising '30-day instant fat-blowtorch diets', whilst others preach their own particular lifestyle brand of 'healthy eating' to sell to a different segment of the population. It is truly a 'choose your own adventure' story, appealing to anxiety and insecurity of every kind for every demographic. It is a successful market enterprise precisely because it constantly fails to remedy the problem.
The disintegration of character and impulse control was the final nail in the coffin of the obesity crisis. Whilst many still experience intense shame for being overweight or obese, the rising tide of normality (everyone is fat) threatens even this basic disgust response to an unhealthy body. Marketers and liberal ideology work together to 'empower' (read: enslave) the individual, whether to shrug off the shame of being fat, or to embark on one's weight-loss journey. Just as a society collectively 'lets itself go' physically, the bronzed six-pack gay underwear model (and tattooed harlot equivalent) are worshipped and sold as the attainable and most desirable ideal. The mirage of this airbrushed, fake-tanned, steroid-enhanced, implanted and epilated Jersey-Shore body fuels the anxiety and spending by the rubes who maintain this edifice.
As someone who has been in and out of gyms for several years, I have come to observe what can be described as 'gym culture' and the foul mix of impulses that have given rise to 'gym-bros' and 'gym-thots', the contemporary symbols of youth, status and sterilised virility. It is worth noting that the majority of gym patrons may not directly derive any sense of pop-cultural identity from exercising at the gym once or several times per week. Moreover, physical exercise is a foundational component of health and discipline and physical prowess and the athletic warrior ideal should be central to our self-conception as a heroic people. This should not be confused with the narcissim of bodybuilding or pornography. Training for war and getting a "pump" in the mirror for a selfie are not one and the same.
Apart from being incubators of gay culture, male vanity and female-auto-pornography via snapchat and instagram (every-girl-a-camwhore), gyms have been subsumed into the reach of the tentacles of political correctness, and thought criminals such as Greg Johnson and Richard Spencer have been banned from gyms for holding views that are not tolerated by Globo-Homo™. Gyms, and no longer just the designated 'gay' gyms, uniformly celebrate 'pride months' and plaster rainbow banners and HIV 'awareness' propaganda on their noticeboards. Some gyms have implemented 'female friendly' policies that prohibit loud grunting and 'threatening' behaviour, and have desegregated the cardio machines from weights areas, eliminating whatever remnant of male culture that was previously allowed to exist.
As with any other culture of excess, there is no limit to how far one may go to satisfy the drive of the id. Body dimorphic disorder has spread across both female and male populations and the rampant use of steroids has been blamed for the rise in street violence in party hotspots in our capital cities. Supplement-stores have sprung up in every local shopping centre, hawking goods that promise 'rapid muscle repair' and 'fast gainz'. Self-help narratives of 'pushing-boundaries' and 'achieving goals' are sold in industry marketing pablum as paths to self-actualisation where there is no reference point of normality. Rather than play sport in a local team with a cross-section of other types of people, everyone exists in a continuum from obese slob to bodybuilder, and their own body is the only subject of concern. Anything is possible, and hence there is a new normal of polarity rather than normality.
The corporate world is highly-supportive of gym culture, in part because it does not contain any kind of fixed committment. Since one can attend at virtually any time of the day or night, (one can choose from a variety of fitness "classes" at all hours), work hours can be extended and the gym will always be there, waiting for when the bugman salaryman is ready to "work-out". After having created the conditions of a high-stress sedentary lifestyle, gyms provide the needed release to patch up the damage inflicted by the office cubicle.
The good news may be that the fitness industry may be facing an over-saturation and the market power of major players appears to be declining. Only by refusing to participate in this circus will these hucksters go broke and have to move to some other scam. Rather than having to choose between obesity and working-out alone with headphones, consider joining a club with a real physical culture, whether it is a sport, powerlifting, or martial arts discipline that can fulfil the real role of the physical in our lives and in our society.