Tuesday 29 March 2011

On spiritual and physical exercise

I don't know whether it's because I mentioned my call-up to the England team, but there's been a minor flurry of excitement in the Beaker Community to do with exercise. And that's more than just Hnaef running around at this evening's 5-a-side, maiming people due to playing in hiking boots. Although he has done that. Again.

No, Marston Moretaine's the main culprit. He's decided that his body is a temple. Although what sort of temple you could compare to Marston's body is baffling me. Possibly one that is now under the care of the Society for Unloved Churches, whose slates are falling off, the lead's been nicked, the font's sprung a leak and the church mouse has invited his mates round for a mousey Rave in the Nave with his mates the bats. One where the (mad) former vicar still hangs around the graveyard, screaming at anyone that passes that he is actually the 3rd horseman of the apocalypse, before trying to saddle up on Barney, the village donkey and getting an unexpected kick. That kind of a temple.

So he's received his Induction today down in Milton Keynes - there's more leisure centres and gyms in Milton Keynes than Bedford, and they tend to be newer. Especially now they've knocked down the one at Bletchley, where the particularly cunning squash  shots used to land in the small piles of sick in the corners of the court. I kid you not.

And after the induction, Marston got so enthused that he spent three hours down there, "pumping iron", doing crunches, lifting weights, pedalling on the exercise bikes and walking on the walking machine. I mean - what's going on there? You spend £364 per year (cleverly the £1 off makes it less than £1 per day) to do exercises, the majority of which you could actually do for free or at least near to it. I mean, for £364 you could buy a decent bike and a year's supply of puncture repair kits. For free, you could walk along a real footpath and see real countryside, without the unpleasant distraction of VH1. And if you want to lug heavy weights consisting of packs of doilies or tree trunks around, and chop wood - developing those crucial abs, pecs, biceps and abdominal muscles - well, I don't say I actually pay anyone for that, but their treasure is guaranteed 100% stored up in heaven. And what are crunches all about? I call £364 a year an expensive way to roll around on a luxuriously-carpeted floor screaming that you've got a muscle spasm in your stomach.

So anyway, after all that time Marston could honestly be said to be considerably closer to God than he was. And as a bonus his face is in Lenten colours. He tells me that he feels fantastic, but I put that down to the endorphins. Again, if you want to get a feeling of pain that resolves itself into a strangely pleasant mental sensation, I'd recommend a bottle of chilli sauce. Or a three-hour talk from Drayton Parslow on "Why Rob Bell's view of Hell is heretical, and I'm not going to waste the money buying the book, or the time reading it, to prove that I'm right". Although admittedly the only pleasant mental sensation you get in those circumstances is when you finally slam the door behind his back as he leaves.

So in summary, I reckon spiritual and physical exercises are pretty similar. They both involve changing colours, they both affect the heart rate and they bring you fairly rapidly closer to an experience of Heaven, one way or the other. People like to attend gyms, like churches, in groups. And although they often start off with good intentions, attendance tends to drop off after a while, as they discover it's hard work and requires discipline, commitment and dedication after the initial quick wins.  And it turns out they both hit you fairly hard in the pocket. In fact, I'm so inspired by the idea, I'm thinking of adding the Beaker Exercise Suite - just as soon as I've worked out what passes for ancient British exercise. Apart from running away from Celts, of course.


  1. How very nice to read about exercise while sitting on the couch :-) A bit like making Songs of Praise do duty as church attendence...

  2. I'm pleased to hear it, Perpetua. Don't forget to keep breathing both in and out. It all helps.


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