The Generation of #BeastMode

I recently read a statistic saying that within the next 10 years or so, 85 percent of the United States will be overweight. I’m leaving out the fact that I read this while eating a large bowl of pasta. I questioned this a little, because in the next 10 years my generation will be in their 30s and because our generation is obsessed with going to the gym. It’s not just our generation either. Even when I go to the school gym, there are professors and other adults running on the treadmills.

If we are all so into the gym craze now, will that die out as we get older, or will my generation and the other gym goers of today be able to lower the future obesity rate of the United States?

While I was in high school, I don’t recall too many people spending hours at the gym until about senior year. This could either be because a huge gym opened in my town and offered dirt-cheap prices in the beginning, or because people wanted to look good in their prom outfits. Regardless, the gym craze had started, and I was definitely a part of it. I would go from school to work to the gym without skipping a beat. Students and teachers alike flocked to this gym. But then, I started college. I realized the true beauty of fried Mac and Cheese at 2 am. I had three swipes a day at the dining hall. The gym slipped away from me and I happily waved goodbye.

I watched, via social media, as people at home keep on grinding at the gym, while I ate ice cream waffles for dinner. I couldn’t understand it. How could they pick the gym over fried food? Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels? What about bread and pasta and potatoes? Was I the only person in my graduating class that didn’t have a relationship with a local gym?  What was the sudden craze to no longer be skinny, but to be muscular and fit?

“Over the years, the media has portrayed woman to be pencil thin and men to have huge muscles. Because of this, everyone thinks they have to go to the gym for hours a day, and that will make them thinner/bigger. In reality, exercising should be done on a daily basis, but in smaller doses,” Keri Mullin, a senior accounting major, said. “There also seems to be a phase of cross fit and kickboxing classes. While the whole pencil thin thing for girls has gone on long enough, there has definitely been a switch from girls wanting to be thing to wanting to have muscle tone, which could be the result of more girls being obsessed with body building and lifting weights. But everything should still be done in moderation.”

“Going to the gym has become a lifestyle and our generation is the first to fully embrace that lifestyle. I think a lot of it has to do with what the media has fabricated what a man and woman should look like, and therefore you have all these people going to the gym so they could possibly look something like those people.”

Katie Dykstra, a senior communication major, said. “I also believe that a lot of people are obsessed with going to the gym because they love to talk about their “amazing yoga session” or their “11 mile run.” People should go to the gym to be healthy but our generation seems to go because it’s the popular thing to do.”

Jennifer Shamrock, lecturer of communication, said, “From a social perspective, people are engaging in social comparison and seeing everyone around them get fit. People use gyms like Starbucks; it’s a context to hang out with friends, romantically, etc. You also know people share your passion for fitness there.”

By no means am I bashing going to the gym. I think it is wonderful that people are changing up the future assumptions of the world, especially in the United States, and are choosing healthy foods over fatty ones. I know a lot of people that have recently gone vegetarian and even vegan to live a healthier lifestyle. I am all about eating fruits and veggies everyday too, especially after the last three years of fried and carb-loaded foods. But don’t think you’ll ever see me turning something down because “I can’t, I have to go to the gym.”

I also worry that, as my generation seems to do with everything, the gym craze is going too far and people are working out for all the wrong reasons. Going to the gym should be done because you want to be healthy, not because a magazine says “fit is the new sexy” and “skinny is out, this is what you have to look like right now or else you won’t fit in.” I hope I’m wrong. In the mean time, you can still catch me eating a cheeseburger…with a salad on the side.

PHOTO COURTESY of fitnessandhealth365.com