We are not meant to be sedentary. The evidence lies in millions of years fighting for our lives, every evolutionary step lunging towards better agility, endurance, dexterity and strength. Our bodies — no matter the capacity and capability of our brains — need to do stuff. Real physical stuff.

[one_half]Knowledge of this confounds me while I’m at the gym: walking machines that simulate going up, bikes that go nowhere, the lifting and pulling and pushing of great weights that move nothing. Progress is hyper confined. Purpose fuzzy. The only gains trapped inside our flesh. In a certain light, it seems like a waste of energy.

I see improbably wide shoulders. But for what? To stretch out flattering shirts? Our bodies did not evolve to quench vanity. Sure, it’s good to be healthy and strong. But why? Just to be strong? Surely these muscles will go and do something outside of the gym, their synapses refined to move through the world at speed and pace: lift wood or animals or skis onto a pack. Or maybe they will push a cart, a plough or the pedals of a bicycle, this newly tuned engine taking it across great distance.[/one_half][one_half_last]Is the woman who walks five kilometres to work better off than the woman who walks five kilometres at the gym? Does mountain biking sweet singletrack deliver more nobility than a sweaty spin class? Are there not enough challenges out there? Isn’t the outside world one giant gym? Tell me the trails and roads and mountains and lakes and rivers and urban jungles and great tracts of wilderness that never end don’t need split jerks and dead lifts for a healthy, vibrant life. Please.

The gym is a striking social statement. There is no experience here. Ear buds and sports highlights, tight pants and shaved chests. The outside becomes cut off one sumo-deadlift-high pull at a time. And instead of rolling vistas and big adventure, camaraderie and story, there is just one view—that long gaze back onto the creatures we call “us”— through the mirror, the only window that looks backwards.[/one_half_last]

Rider: Ladislav Tomas. Photo: Justa Jeskova