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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fitness Follow Up: Get in Which Shape Exactly?

As a follow up to one of our first posts of 2011, we take a closer look at America's obsession with health and fitness.   

Ask anyone what the first thing you can do live a healthier and longer life and they'll agree in unison: "Get in shape, bozo!"  They'll throw in the bozo part.  Trust me.  The problem is, many Americans neglect to ask the ever important follow-up question: "Which shape should I get in, exactly?"  It can be difficult to assess after all.  We humans aren't necessarily one shape, and if we were, the only way to describe us would be "human-shaped."  And even then it's a crude generalization.  We are all unique and differently shaped.  No two people on this planet look the same.  Not even twins.  Triplets maybe though.  I can't be sure as I've never met any before.  Or maybe I met one third of them and didn't meet the other two.  It's tough to tell.  One thing is certain however: we don't look like trapezoids.

But should we?  Have we been working against nature for millions of years when really we should be armless pyramidal blobs?  Or crazy cubes who can't reach the tops of our heads but its funny to watch us try?  The self-purported fitness experts have no answer.  Many of them can't even trace the origin of the statement.  Buff Muscly, of Equinox gym in Los Angeles (and several adult films), weighed in last week.  "Two fifty-six.  Up six pounds since last month.  All muscle too.  And in answer to your question, steroids make round lumps, so I guess a circle is the shape we're supposed to be.  It makes sense, too.  Circles roll pretty well.  S'why cars got 'em on 'em."

Doctor Barnaby Rubarb of the UCLA school of Anthropology saw things a bit differently when we consulted his office the following day.  "I'm familiar with Buff Muscly's theory, and I've seen many of his films, but I can't agree here," Rubarb said as he leaned back in his leather chair.  "If you look at the trend today, we're clearly supposed to be long skinny rectangles.  It's what society is evolving towards.  The giraffe almost got it right, but they've yet to ditch that cumbersome body below them.  I think we're next in line to give it a shot.  You can already see it happening as women get more waifishly skinny and taller.  Good example: The WNBA.  Would that have existed 10,000 years ago?  Doubtful.  Cavemen and women stood just under four feet on average, no chance of dunks.  Today though?  Women have their own league!  Think about that for a minute."  He closed his eyes and pondered.  We took the opportunity to get the hell out of there.

It's tough to determine exactly what we should be working towards shape-wise.  Everyone we seem to interview here at Great Scott! is so bat-shit crazy it's impossible to take them seriously.  We're really going to fire our researcher one of these days soon.  He has kids, but who cares.  If he didn't suck at his job, maybe they'd be eating dinner tonight, right?

Ultimately, the best explanation in our minds as to what shape we should be was illuminated many years ago by the geniuses behind a television program called The Simpsons.  If you're not familiar with the show, it's a live-action black comedy set in Croatia starring Cuba Gooding Jr.  In one of the many DVD extras you can watch, Groening reveals how the family came to be-- through simple shape assembly.  Drawing 101.  Or in this case, another reason to justify why you gave up on your fitness goal for another year before March first.  'Cause you realized you don't just have to get in shape, you have to get in several shapes.  Hundreds even.  Working in concert.  And like the proverbial game of Jenga we are as human beings, if just one piece slips, expect the rest to go with it.  You're at a crossroads right now: throw in the towel and wait for 2012 (and then subsequently tell people the world is going to end in December so why bother getting in shapes anyway), or give it your best shot and decide to quit in April instead.

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