Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Gym Rats

Editorial Note A: Due to technical difficulties, and because a week to God is however the f*#k long God wants it to be, The First-Ever BOTG Jesus Week has been extended to eight days. Unless He tells me to stretch it to nine or ten.

Editorial Note B: By God, we'll get at least the last week's worth of music up and running very soon. Probably by Wednesday (tomorrow) night.

(sponsored by Yeungling)

Post #5: Gym Rats

Always Running Home - Paloalto (mp3)
Washed by the Water - Will Hoge (mp3)

I got a mix CD in the mail today from my good buddy Mark. It was the final product of an experiment which went far better -- and cost far more -- than either of us ever would have imagined.

Basically, he sent an email to 19 people in his email circle asking for songs that would perhaps inspire a little more gusto in his exercise routine. The "carrot" he dangled -- probably absent-mindedly, thinking only a couple of us would respond -- was that he would provide all participants with a CD of all his favorites. Mark ended up receiving almost 200 recommended songs, not including entire albums that got plugged by one person or another. I won't go into my theories on why Mark got so many responses, 'cuz all of them involve making fun of him for one reason or another.

What was certain, however, to all who know him was that Mark would obsess over this. He's meta-obsessive. He's never going to stalk Jodie Foster or anything, but his bulldog nature is unwavering, and once he's focused on something -- a person, a competition, a professional goal, a color of M&M -- he's going to bleed that passion dry and then keep squeezing.

Everyone also knew he'd follow through, not just on sending every CDs, but on using the songs for their original purpose -- to boost his obsessive exercising. Although he occasionally falls off the wagon, most of Mark's life has involved a heavy dose of physical exercise. Preferably in a form where he can push himself to an unreasonable zenith. Also preferably in a form where he can burrow into the weak psychology of others.

He's not a Gym Rat, but he is an Exercise Freak.

Exercise Freaks enjoy their rush even alone on an open road, on a basement weight bench, on a solitary mountain trail. Gym Rats require a very specific environment in order to feed their needs. They savor particular machines or benches. They feast off the social aspect, of people constantly buzzing around them, all of their endorphins and hormones bouncing off one another like radio waves. Exercise Freaks need nothing, need no one. Gym Rats need other Gym Rats.

I worry sometimes that, if I was stranded alone on an island, I would lose my religion. I wouldn't lose it all at once. It might even hang out for a while and keep me company, like Wilson the Volleyball. It would help keep me sane at times and even sustain me in those darker moments. I would eat dinner with it and want it by my side even if I gave up all hope.

But eventually, I fear I'd fall asleep and wake up only to discover that my religion had floated away while I slumbered, drifting well beyond my grasp, never to be retrieved.

Some of us, even those whose faith is carefully considered and deeply heartfelt, still need other living creatures around us to help keep that faith strong and reliable.

I'm more of a Jesus Rat than a Jesus Freak.

Will Hoge is a struggling but stubborn musician headquartered in Nashville. He is a touring rock madman who puts on one helluva live show. "Bible vs. Gun" is from his EP America. "Washed by the Water" was first performed at a Nashville concert to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina and was later included in his most recent album, Draw the Curtains.


Hank said...

I get your point but disagree with your terminology. When I think of gym rats, I think of basketball players spending 18 hours a day in the gym, even by themselves. I think of a high school Jason Williams staying in the gym wearing a hole in the wall by practicing 1000 behind the back passes or Kyle Macy taping open the lock on the gym door to sneak back in and practice free throws. I think it also applies to boxers who, even if they are not alone in the gym, are not there for social reasons.

Billy said...

Your point is taken. And it's definitely worth noting that I have no direct life experience as a Gym Rat, an Exercise Freak, or having any practical understanding of what it means to be "fit."

That said, why you gotta bring Jason Williams in as your example? That's just hatin', yo.

Still, I think of the gym at UNC and of places like the Sports Barn, there are lots of folks there who are sincerely fixated on their own physique but also feed off having people around them. Preferably attractive ones.

Hank said...

I was talking about White Chocolate not Evil Knievel.

Bob said...

When Hank comments, the world is just a little better place.