For nearly two decades of my life, I would go to the gym two or three times a week. While I never had huge muscles, my body was athletic and toned. Women would compliment it. I want to claim that I went to the gym to be “healthy,” but my true intention was to be attractive to the opposite sex for the purpose of fornication. When I repented of my sins before God and no longer sought fornication, I decided not to go to the gym anymore. As an Orthodox Christian, working out in a gym today would be exceedingly dangerous to me for the following four reasons.
1. The music is filthy
The vehemently secular music that all gyms play is painful to my hymn-loving ears. I don’t want to hear songs about sex, seduction, getting rich, dancing all night in the club, driving expensive cars, and becoming a big boss. Thankfully, I can hardly understand the “English” being sung in most modern songs, especially hip hop, but even then, the Satanically-engineered melody will find a way to worm its way into my brain and remain there for at least a day, distracting my spiritual life with the potential to insert sinful and pornographic ideas.
I strive to listen to no secular music at all, whether modern or oldies, because of how it corrupts my nous (spiritual eyes of the soul). One of the reasons I like shopping at Walmart is because they are one of the only supermarkets I know that don’t usually play music.
2. The women are almost naked
There seems to be a competition among gym-going women to see who can display the most skin without technically being naked according to local ordinances. The arrival of “sports bras,” which are still bras (just because you put the word sports in front of them and remove the lace doesn’t mean they should be displayed publicly), confirmed to me that the gym has become like an antechamber to the brothel bedroom. It’s too natural a progression for people who are sweating in little clothing to become enraptured with carnal lust.
“Lust has no less power than anger. It’s cunning as a snake and able to hide and mask itself. Therefore, the Apostle Paul counsels us to flee from sexual immorality (cf. 1 Cor. 6:18). Do you hear? Don’t even fight with it—but flee from it! Flee temptation, from the source of allurement, from dirty thoughts and even the potential opportunity to be seduced; because the enemy is too dangerous, strong, and cunning.” —A Man Who Indulges His Passions Brings Ruin to Those Around Him
I like to think that I can maintain custody of my eye, but inside the gym, half-naked women cavort all around me, and then enter into compromising positions on their yoga mats which immediately sends my mind into the gutter without conscious effort. Yes, I am admitting that I’m too weak to not glance at these women in bras with gigantic bulbous rear-ends when they bend right in front of me. Before I turned to Christ, I actually saw this as a benefit of any gym, for why not be sexually entertained by women to lustfully prepare for an act of fornication? But now, I run away from it.
3. There are too many mirrors
I never got to the point where my muscles were impressive, but nonetheless I loved looking at my athletic body in the gym mirrors. I wouldn’t go so far as flex or take selfies of myself, but I would puff out my chest and check out a profile of my body that incorporated my long masculine beard. I’d wonder if I achieved a good-enough pump where the vein in my bicep would remain popped out so that I could later wear an extra-medium v-neck before going to the nightclub for my satanic liturgy.
Since all gyms coat the walls in mirrors, my time in them exercised my pride as much as my body. I came to believe that I have achieved a physical state that was admirable, and that I was better than all the fat people who didn’t go to the gym, including the puny men I would out-compete for sexual favors at the midnight hour. My bulging vein (only in my right arm, not my left) was proof to women that I was a superior male.
The mirrors were my teachers. Over many years, they taught me that my look is the most important part of me, that I had to cherish it if I wanted to continue receiving sexual benefits, and I could maybe consider getting botox injections when I became older to still be sexually attractive to young European women. It encouraged me to focus exclusively on the material. These days, I don’t look in mirrors much and don’t fuss over my appearance. Worldly women don’t look at me either, which I am grateful for, because I know I am only one temptation away from falling back into the mud.
4. Desire to get bigger and bigger muscles for no practical reason
You’re never the biggest guy at the gym. There’s always someone who lifts more than you, or who has a better steroid supplier than you, so you will constantly aim to compare yourself to other men to subliminally attract the half-naked women that aggregate around the butt machines. Your body is fine as it is, you’re healthy, but pride ignites within you to be even bigger and stronger, not to lift heavy things outside of the gym, but solely to lift heavier things within the construct of the gym itself to make you think that your body, given to you by God, is an achievement of your own. This temptation makes you a slave to the gym, and begins to cross over into real life as you develop a neurotic obsession with eating the right foods in the right amount. Instead of working out to be fit, you consider waking up in the middle of the night to gulp down a protein shake or eat a chicken breast just to look good in the gym mirror.
Does all this mean I’m anti-fitness? Certainly not. In the neighborhood playground I do callisthenic training a couple of times each week, where my body weight is used as resistance instead of metal plates. I haven’t been inside a gym in three years, and my muscles are certainly weaker, but I’m still alive and able to serve my daily duties before God, which mostly involve reading, writing, praying, and baking. I don’t need engorged muscles for those activities.
For me to go into a gym today, I would need to cover my eyes and ears to not fall back into the world of the material. Every man should ask himself why he wants to go to the gym and get big. Is it to achieve more from the world or to achieve a healthy physical state that optimizes his worship of God? For the role God has given me, where I use my mind more than my body, my modest workouts in the playground are good enough. For most men, push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, and bodyweight squats will be all they need to stay fit and slim into old age.