When Christianity was more socially prominent, going to church was seen as doing the “right thing”. A few decades ago society expected people to go to Church. It was the responsible thing to do.
Well, I wonder whether gymnasiums have taken over that role in today’s society. My wife got me into a gym, and as I sweat I sometimes wonder whether it’s not comparable to church.
There are the truly dedicated, who come to the gym frequently, and know all the exercises. The effects can be clearly seen in their bodies.
Then there are the ones who try, who really push themselves, but somehow the exercises don’t have the full effect; they never fully get into the fitness world, but know enough about it to get some benefit from it.
Then there are the casuals, who only come now and then when they feel like it or when pangs of conscience drive them to some exercise.
There are those who with enthusiasm join the gym, but who do not have the endurance to keep going.
There are some who have joined the gym and then decide to exercise at home or go running: sometimes they keep it up, sometimes they don’t.
And then there are a few who only join the gym to get access to the showers.
All these people are helped and encouraged by the fitness trainers, who do everything from administration to cleaning and guide people on their fitness journey, whether individually or as a group.
For many people the gym is their way of being respectable, for doing something for their health. Here at the gym they also find companionship and friendship. Alongside the dedicated fitness programmes, there are social occasions. Gyms branch out in offering more and more services, and being involved in more and more of people’s lives. I would guess that these days in NZ more people regularly go to a gym or group exercise than to a church, certainly in the age group 15 to 55 years. And gyms charge membership fees with different levels of benefits, which is possibly more acceptable in capitalist society.
Are gyms the socially accepted churches of the 21st century?