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Idol Chatter

In this weekend’s New York Times Sunday Magazine, reporter Virginia Heffernan covers what she calls “God’s Workout” and its followers, otherwise known as CrossFit.
“The superfit walk among us,” Heffernan writes. “They saunter or strut, depending on whether they’re showcasing their magnificent agility or their oxlike strength. They ignore the chatter in the health media over treadmill technique and pedometer steps. They scoff even at seemingly rigorous practices like Mysore Ashtanga yoga and marathon training. They are America’s self-styled fitness elite, adherents of a punishing online exercise regime called CrossFit, which orders its followers to cultivate a distinctly martial–not to say paranoid –ideal of ‘physical preparedness.'”
Likening CrossFit to a “ministry,” Heffernan explains that adherents to this “workout” tradition follow the online instructions for daily workouts as if the Book of Common Prayer. CrossFit adherents are true believers, though well aware that the level of excercise required by the regimen can be deadly, at the very least injury-inducing. “The CrossFit crowd,” Heffernan writes, “see exercise-induced injury as martyrdom to the cause.”
Sounds a bit over the top to me. I’m happy with a nice walk or long run now and again, end of story.
Working out, staying fit, losing weight, and God have long been associated, especially among Christian women. For an amazing book and extended look at this topic, see Princeton University religion scholar R. Marie Griffith’s “Born Again Bodies: Flesh and Spirit in American Christianity.”

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