Health. Yes. A long-term change in health.
Statistics consistently show that the world is getting fatter and fatter -- not just in America, but increasingly in developing countries, where the new affluence is causing waistlines to swell.
And then you go out to a gay dance club and marvel at the lean, shirtless bodies swaying to the beat and ask yourself, "Yo, dude, where that obesity crisis?" Even in a bear bar you'll find a higher concentration of muscle than in a football stadium. Hot bodies and big muscles are definitely a gay thing.
Gay men have always been body-conscious. We need to look good to attract each other. But it turns out we don't just do it to get laid: Muscles are actually good for you.
Serious resistance training will result in a change in the metabolic rate. According to personal trainer Bob Sondag, adding 5 pounds (2.3 kilograms) of additional muscle through resistance training will increase metabolism enough to burn an extra 15 to 25 pounds of fat a year. Muscle is metabolically active, and the body's process of rearing and adding muscle takes a lot of energy.
Experts and gay boys have known this for years. Eat the right food, and go to the gym.
And yet our schools are reluctant to embrace gym culture. Even those that have gyms do not actively encourage students to use them. All over America, P.E. teachers hardly promote the use of the largely abandoned school gyms. Teenagers may consider gyms to be lame, or a place of bullying. Team sports are preferred by educators because they help shape character. In Germany, the P.E. curriculum places enormous emphasis on the skill of football (soccer), and very few schools Europe-wide actually have gyms. In most of the developing world, schools don't have gyms, period.
Don't get me wrong: I am not a fan of the muscle fetish. You can overdo it. The presence of ripped dudes can drive five others off the self-esteem cliff. But there is a really positive message in gym culture, because gym training is the present-day activity most akin to what we used to do before we became sedentary computer users: physical work.
Maybe it's time to refocus our physical education efforts in schools and teach kids to build muscle early on so that they can stay leaner and healthier throughout their lives. Maybe the answer to the obesity crisis is more hot studs pumpin' iron. Hmm...
Sorry, can't write more. I'm off to my gym training...
Marten Weber's books often deal with gay body issues and questions of self-esteem, health, and lifestyle.