Exercising My First Amendment Rights

Caroline Broady

Lately I have been feeling that something has been missing in my life. With the new year just around the corner, now is as good a time as to commit myself to a spiritual awakening. So when a missionary from 121 Fitness asked me if I was ready to dedicate myself to a lifestyle devoted to self-betterment, I was quite intrigued. I had grown up going to the gym, but since coming to college I have not found the time. After the evangelist told me the good word from JC (John Cena) I was a convert.

I woke up early for the 9 a.m. yoga service, which was in one of the most modernized temples I have seen to date. Complete with steam altars, a holy water room, and a receptionist, I felt the need to put on my special workout garb since cotton-poly blend just wouldn’t do. For about an hour, I bowed down in a studio full of incense. After a dozen rounds of downward-facing dogma, I excused myself to the main floor to explore the other rituals. A squad of Apple Watch owners were congregated next to the selfie mirror. A “New year, New You” poster on the wall reminded me that many other resolutionists would embark on only a single annual pilgrimage to the gym. But I knew that I would need to visit my fitness center multiple times per week for personal growth. The bodybuilders set an example, since they observe their mass daily.

Of course, no creed is complete without sacrifices. After taking a tour of the facility, I met with my personal trainer. I confessed that I had consumed a bacon cheeseburger the previous today. As penance for this sin, I was instructed to either give up alcohol for 40 days or give 10 percent of my income to Charity, the expensive SoulCycle trainer. I was also prescribed a juice fast as a way to stop feeling so empty inside. On my way out of the gym, I was obliged to make a blood sacrifice to the Red Cross. Interpreting my lightheadedness as fulfillment, I went home to baptize myself in a cold shower.

The more I went to the gym, the more I became a believer in the supernatural—that even I could look like one of the models in fitness magazines. Realistically, though, years of gluttony and sloth had eroded that possibility to the point of no return. As I learned more about my new ideology, I realized that there is constant war between different branches. Pilate nailed Jesus to a cross 2,000 years ago, and today CrossFitters are still sparring with pilates moms over which regimen is best.

Ultimately, I decided to disaffiliate from my gym. I had just traded one kind of indulgences for another, and I felt no more fulfilled.

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