The Evolution Game

 

bent press austin 2bbw

The Evolution Game

Thanks to a faulty temperature gauge, Stanley Donald Stookey accidentally invented Fotoceram. Not only did this evolve into stuff that stops the Space Shuttle from melting, but we’ve cooked with it for years as well. The original Corningware can still be found in millions of homes around the world, but what you’ll find in the stores is no longer the mega-bitchin’ cookware that Mom used when we were chitlins. What you’ll buy today is an INFERIOR version of the original.

Why? Because what you might be able to still find in your parents cupboard will last 1000 years if they don’t break it. They don’t have to buy another set. It’s a super-glass, hence it’s very close blood ties to the panels that keep our astronauts from cooking during re-entry. Once everyone had their set by the early 70′s, no one had to buy them anymore, and sales plummeted so low that the line was eventually discontinued. Now the name has been given to some un-super cooking pots that wouldn’t do well in space at all. Corningware, as a tool, has since de-evolved to make a buck.

corningware.jpg

Just as a subject of discussion, take a look around you at this moment. Notice your clothing, your food, where you sit and the room you’re in. Without waxing pedantic, lets consider all of the life-enhancing, -affirming or -sustaining things around you as ‘tools.’ Now play the Evolution Game. Pick a tool and contemplate it’s evolution. Is the modern version that you’re holding, using or looking at right now better than it’s predecessors?

I wouldn’t use a laptop from 10 years ago, but there was a time not too long ago when I’d be damned if you were gonna get me to upgrade my Window’s to that Vista pile of crap. This is, of course, all moot now since I have a Mac.

I have a snare drum from 1964 or so. It’s steel, has these little screw things that hold the heads in place, and makes a sound not unlike a gunshot. I also have a snare drum from about 7 years ago, which is still being manufactured and sold here in 2009. It’s steel, has these little screw things that hold the heads in place, and makes a sound not unlike a gunshot. Would anyone on the planet be able to discern the sound of the two, especially if I tuned them similarly? Maybe some drum uber-nerd who also geeks out over the difference of 7-ply maple versus 9-ply mahogany shells.

In other words, no. No one would know the difference. Either drum will sound as good as my meager talent can make it, and putting extra energy or money into anything more seems to strike me as superfluous. Now walk into any corporate gym…

You can see where this is going, right?

singapore-personal-trainer5.jpg

apparently personal training means lots of touching while doing silly exercises

I triple dog dare anyone to find anything new in any gym that works better than the tools we’ve been using for over a century. The squat rack was a pleasant evolution of equipment, so we could actually squat more than we could clean. And hats off to whoever threw rubber around the plates so we could drop them after doing the fast lifts. But show me something that is ‘new’ or ‘revolutionary’ and I’ll show you the worst of our capitalistic system, sucking out ducats from the teat of low self esteem and our quest for the quick fix.

Our mighty Allyson said it best: Most of what is passing for ‘fitness’ today is simply someone profiting off you. An industry that keeps celebrating itself for its constant evolution has actually proven itself to be the Corningware of strength, health and wellness.

Evolution of tools: beneficial or for profit? For an artist, the evolution of equipment doesn’t directly correlate to the evolution of creativity. Recently Bodytriber Ryan Lindow, of the Sacramento music project known as CityState, interviewed recording legend Steve Albini. His ‘fuck digital’ approach is backed by a philosophy of using tools for creation’s sake, not using tools for the tool’s sake. Without getting too deep (I’ll let Ryan take care of that when he publishes the interview), it simply means that the billions of dollars of fancy new gear, programs and, well, more gear that the music industry keeps pumping out doesn’t really interest Albini, yet he’s one of the biggest producer/engineers of all time. In other words, HE is good. He is not a product of technology or ‘evolution.’

lolbini-protoolz-thumb.jpg

For the athlete, the ‘evolution’ of equipment or techniques does not directly correlate to an evolution in ability or performance. The concept of ‘evolving’ is popular in marketing, and the fitness industry suffers from overuse of this term more than any other industry, mostly because it’s bullshit. Computers evolve, technology evolves, but the fitness industry just keeps trying to doll up gadgets, toys and ideas that might be more colorful and pretty than real hard work, but don’t actually resemble true progress. Words like EXTREME!!! and INSANITY!!! are more common in infomercials now than the words ‘strength’ or ‘health.’ In fact, a recent infomercial for a glorified aerobics program (but it’s EXTREME and INSANE!!!) didn’t use the word ‘health’ once. NOT ONCE.

Other examples of ‘evolution’ in fitness:

From Fitness Evolution Gym in Virginia:

equipment01.jpg

From Evolution Fitness in Washington:

cardio_s.jpg

Apparently fluorescent lighting, televisions and hamster wheels are evolutionary, and there’s a whole montage of pictures of the supposed evolution of fitness on the homepage of, you guessed it, Fitness Evolution, in Laguna Hills California, whose slogan is “fitness evolved.” That’s right, Fitness Evolution’s slogan is Fitness Evolved. Maybe you need to see these words together…

Fitness Evolution.
Fitness Evolved.

programs_image.jpg

Can you make your name your slogan? 24-Hour Fitness. Fitness 24-hours.

Innovative Lighting Designs. Innovative designs for lighting.

Whirlpool Dishwashers. Dishwashers with a whirlpool.

*sigh*

Grab a chunk of iron, do something intense with it, sweat a lot, become strong, empower yourself, and evolve. It really is that simple. That’s what people are forgetting. It’s simple. Not easy. But simple.

bent press series

Be Sociable, Share!

10 Comments

Filed under philosophy, thoughts about stuff

10 Responses to The Evolution Game

  1. That makes me feel cool that the first slogan I came up with for Second Nature was “Fitness – de-evolved.”

  2. chip

    Well now you know it should be:
    Second Nature Fitness
    Where Fitness is Second Nature.

    and by the way, we do share a brain.

  3. Brent R

    I completely agree. As a purveyor of “hamster wheels” and the like (Yes, I feel shame, but have a family to feed), I enjoy the company of fitness professionals on a daily basis as we discuss our products. Most can quickly list off 80 exercises to be performed while perched on a ball like a circus seal, but walk up to a kettlebell and curl it with a puzzled look on their face. They ask inquisitively…Are these new?

    I’m not in the trenches anymore, but I at least in my current position I have the opportunity to pass on some knowledge of the old physical culture to those who are.

    One piece of culinary evolution that has enhanced society is the Balsamic Tofu Sandwich at Beans & Barley here in Milwaukee. Chip, thanks to your ringing endorsement (and slight addiction to during your visit) it is now a favorite at my wife’s office.

  4. By funny coincidence, I posted this today:
    Nautilus Machines and Other Mechanical Marvels

    In ancient times people exercised by picking up rocks and swinging on vines, and they were very fit. Then fancy scientific exercise machines were invented, with pulleys and gears and a padded seat on which to rest, and everyone got weak and flabby. Fortunately kettlebells and Olympic Rings(and TRX) have been invented, based on prehistoric cave drawings, and fitness is again possible.

  5. One of many things that has de-evolved is lifestyle: namely people spend most of their time indoors. Fluorescent lighting and recycled air. The fitness industry being what it is (and weather being unpredictable), this isn’t going to change. There’s an emerging class of devices that use near-infrared light in combination with exercise to improve the effectiveness of a workout There’s many independent studies proving that near-infrared has a beneficial effect on health. When Fotoceram was discovered/invented, it actually did result in a superior product (though I understand the point about how things got lame). Occasionally though, unexpected things actually do come along that are better than the status quo.

  6. I want one too! Blazing speed AND an Ultraman suit? I’m there….

  7. chip

    Steven: great minds think alike (but unfortunately so do stupid ones, so maybe I shouldn’t lump you into any category that I’m part of. Might ruin your reputation). Let’s mind meld on future topics as well.

    Craig: hey, we miss you down here. Let’s get ourselves some superhero wheel suits and have a party.

  8. chip

    Brent: I might ask you guys to start shipping me Beans and Barley meals. I’m not lying when I say that I had no desire for any Sacramento food when I returned.

    Alex: I do love some new technology, to be sure, but I still want flying cars and lazer knives.

  9. Chip, if we start sending them to you, we can’t lure you back.

    And what is a lazer knife? Why do I feel like you shouldn’t have one??

  10. Nice Blog entry! I completely agree, and I’ve been hitting on similar themes a lot lately at my place…

    http://thebodyweightfiles.blogspot.com/2009/10/gift-of-improvisation.html

    http://thebodyweightfiles.blogspot.com/2009/10/once-upon-time-at-hilton-hotel-gym.html

    Okay, time to train. Keep up the good work,
    Justin

Leave a Reply