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Bodies at rest

By Chris Colcord

Fort Wayne Reader

2014-03-25


It's one of the perversities of life, that the very moment you decide you're going to stop being such a mean-spirited, misanthropic jerk that suddenly you're introduced to an absolutely perfect object of ridicule. What will you do? Will you give in to your usual, base desires and tee off on that lazy fastball, or will you stick to your new-found resolve and keep your mouth shut? For the hyper-cynical it's a real watershed moment a test, a chance to prove that you're capable of seeking out the finer things in life by showing a little decency and discipline.

But alas, sometimes that test is just a little too daunting. Example A: I'm at an informal gathering with strangers, several weeks ago. It's one of those business-related deals where you're required to show up, have a few drinks, make a little small talk, eat some canapes, and then exit after spending the appropriate amount of time with people who are doing the exact same. No big deal, just a benign night out, one that you've had dozens of times in the past and will have dozens of times in the future. A perfect chance, though, for me to prove that I can meet new folks and not be mean, that I can greet absolute strangers with bonhomie and magnanimousness.

Unfortunately, though, and right off the bat, I'm introduced to a personal trainer who's affiliated with the company that I've done business with. I've always had a negative opinion of personal trainers, they've always struck me as one-dimensional and boring and too damned motivated, but I try to forget all that, thinking, I need to be gracious, I need to give this guy a chance. And besides, he seems nice enough, he's about my age, so I extend my hand to him, smiling all the while, and I give him my name, and he smiles back and thankfully doesn't try to crush my hand like most fitness guys do. Which is a pleasant surprise. But then: "Hey, nice to meet you, Chris, he says. "I'm Motion."

Long pause. Um, what? For a second I'm not sure I've heard correctly. Did he say Motion? He sees it in my face. "Motion," he repeats. "It's what everybody calls me."

"Your name's Motion?"

"Yes."

Oh Good Mother of God. I've just been introduced to a guy who calls himself "Motion." Immediately I can feel all my decency and philanthropy leaking away. I know I should just accept what he said, or at least move on, but I'm afraid I'm poleaxed by this information and already I can feel he's becoming a cartoon to me. I don't have many iron-clad rules about being an adult but one of the big ones is, Adults don't call themselves "Motion."

I can't even imagine trying to engage in small-talk now: "So, Motion, what do you think about. . ." There's simply no way I can say that, but still, I want to make at least one last gasp of attempted civilized behavior with the guy, so I ask him what is his real name. And what do you know: he won't tell me. "Seriously, it's just Motion," he says. "That's what I go by." I try once again to get him to spill it, but he absolutely stonewalls. Apparently his carefully crafted, ultra-motivated and goal-oriented persona will shatter to bits if he lets out that his real name is John or Jack or Ed or Chip or Buddy or Biff or whatever. I want to ask him if he has a brother named Rest, or Inertia, or one of the other Newtonian concepts.

It's at this point, of course, that civility absolutely flies out the building. Motion starts talking about his "philosophy" of fitness training, and when he makes the surprising, bold statement that he likes to give "100%, all the time" I mention that I've never given 100% to anything; in fact, I say, if you were to add up all the percentages "I've given" to everything I've ever attempted in my life, the aggregate total still wouldn't reach 100%. To his credit, Motion parries this off with relative ease. He makes a show at laughing at my little dig. I'm sure he recognizes immediately that I'm one of those "down" people to his "up" world and that he would never allow himself to be burdened by all that negativity.

It's hard not to feel justified in ridiculing a guy who gives himself such a ridiculous moniker, still, my run-in with Motion left me a little disconcerted, and not just because I resorted to my usual childish pettiness. I've never had a problem with "workout" guys per se and I recognize that fitness is a laudable goal for everyone; still, I don't recall another time in my life where the numbers of the "maniacally" fit (and "Motion" certainly qualified as the "maniacally" fit) seemed quite so high. It's one thing to be fit, I guess, but when I see regular guys killing it 6 hours a day, pushing their bodies to triathlete levels, I have to wonder about obsession and body image issues. And frankly, workout nuts tend to only want to talk about workouts and diets, and it gets exhausting to hear such narcissistic talk all the time.

And I know I'm showing my age here, but it's a little bewildering how the millennial generation has taken so quickly to the practice of going to the gym for their exercise. And they started doing it as pre-teens and teenagers. A generation ago, that was unthinkable. Exercise was something you did, in your daily life, in your neighborhoods and after school, and not something you had to schedule. Nobody went to the gym.

But there's a new paradigm now. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released a report that showed going to the gym is something that a majority of millennials will continue to do, and that aging baby boomers will also constitute a huge and increasing number of regular attendees. They also report that personal trainers are going to be in huge demand in the next decade, that their numbers will grow by over 30% by the year 2020. It's going to be a fact of life, the new gym world, the world of committed personal, cross-fitting trainers, and there's simply no way to stop that motion.

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