With an almost Romanesque flourish our modern world seems content to teeter on the brink of yet-another global energy crisis.
Yet, like a man who gorges himself on his last scraps of food in fearful celebration of his imminent Old-Mother-Hubbard-status, the human race seems bent on self-destruction in the embrace of its energy addiction.
So consider the contemporary gym: row upon row of pale-and-sweating spandex-fashionistas toiling like trained hamsters on all form of modern torture instrument. Where the heck is all that energy going? And where did it come from?
Certainly, with oil prices rising and wars being fought to push them back down, we can’t afford to burn off those calories so frivolously? From a certain perspective, however, it would seem the very purpose of a fitness club is to waste energy.
While it could be argued that the gym is a suitable psychological fix for all form of contemporary mental malady, there certainly must be better ways to battle one’s physical battery of stored energy.
For example, avoid it in the first place.
Easier said than done, I guess. If controlling the egregious eating habits of the modern-day citizen were so simple, we wouldn’t have a health system crumbling under the weight of endless orders of burgers and fries.
If one cared, however, it may make it simpler to lay off that piece of cheesecake and the resulting assuagement of guilt at the gym were one to consider that a single kilojoule of foodstuff requires anywhere from four to one-thousand times itself to produce.
Super-size that fact with the knowledge that almost a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions come from the food production industry.
Then grab some Tums before you ingest this one: on average, each morsel of grub you consume travels over 2400 kilometres prior to landing on your plate.
Yeah, that means that to eat is to pollute. And I ain’t referring to that bad bout of gas you had after those nachos last night.
So what — we’re all just supposed to eat less and sit around burning the bare minimum 70-watts of resting-state energy?
Naw. There are tons of more practical alternatives to the gym that can often also be more beneficial.
Pretty much every driveway in North America has received too much snow this winter. Spend an hour clearing it and you’ve burned about 3000 kilojoules of energy.
Alternatively, of course, you could just plod through those same snow drifts to get to your car that you had to park on the curb and then drive to the gym. Unfortunately, you’d have to spend double that time in aerobics to burn that same energy.
After the snow’s gone, plant a garden. Tilling the soil and getting your fingers dirty with seeds and worms and all that yucky stuff will burn you about 3500 kilojoules of energy after a couple of hours of back-breaking labour.
Sounds better than time spent labouring pointlessly on the Nautilus equipment in a stuffy gym. You’ll even end up with a lovely tan and some fresh, tasty produce.
Don’t have the time to dig that shovel out of the shed? Just play with the kids. That’s a better form of exercise than the rowing machine, on so many levels.
Waitaminnit, what about bodybuilding, that stalwart lynchpin of the modern day gym?
To earn sand-kicking rights and an official pair of leopard-skin undies, the average Charles Atlas requires an extra 4000 or so kilojoules of food energy a day.
That’s about the rough effective energy equivalent of 2 gallons of diesel fuel. In terms of contemporary engine efficiencies, that converts to 4 kg of carbon dioxide emissions.
Over the course of a year each bodybuilder is personally responsible for the production of almost 13 thousand kilograms of pollution just to stay ripped and toned.
Considering this, in our age of environmentalism-as-politics, it’s somewhat surprising that an eco-warrior like California Governor Schwarzenneger hasn’t worked bodybuilding into the Kyoto Protocol.
Across America there are certainly millions of tons of supplement-induced greenhouse gas emissions that could be somehow turned into carbon tax credits, if only that energy could be harnessed.
C’mon, Conan the Egalitarian — get on that, wouldja?
Considering that gyms are really just businesses in disguise, its also surprising that their owners haven’t conceived of some way to capture all that energy being burned like so many old tires at the dump. At least they could use it to offset the monthly electrical bills.
In a way, the environmental and energy waste represented by the modern gym is emblematic of everything that’s led society to its imminent state of crisis. We over-produce food so that we can overeat so that we can overburn energy we didn’t even require in the first place.
Why don’t we just eat a bit less, stay home and take the kids tobogganing? I guess there just aren’t enough mirrors on the neighbourhood slopes to admire our well-toned buttocks in.