book about it, I have come to realize that there is a major sector within our Catholic Faith who still only view this as vanity and nothing less. Viewing the fitness culture from the outside I can rightly agree with said arguments, but knowing what I know and have discovered about the heart and beauty of what the lifestyle offers I must heartily disagree with anyone who claims that vanity is the only outcome. One odd irony is that if I were to ask most individuals if it is vanity for a professional (or high school for that matter) athlete to consistently work on their physiques and to properly order their diets most would answer: Of course not. Yet when a layperson (an athlete not in competition) works hard to bring their physique to its pinnacle it is viewed as either daft or a waste of time. Why is that? Is it because competing athletes have a more tangible purpose for their focus? Or is it because we live in such a competitive culture that we see the end goal of winning worth it all?
St. Ignatius of Loyola considered his fellow Jesuits as athletes for Christ. Striving for perfection in themselves in order to effectively spread the Word of God. As human beings we have one purpose in this world: to know, love and serve God. Is it vanity to want to serve him with a well-oiled machine? From the statements of many who believe the fitness and bodybuilding culture are purely vain trappings, it can be deduced that there is a misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the fitness culture. By using the judgments attached to 'muscelheads' one could even go so far as to say that reading a book would be vanity. Both reading and lifting are actions for the betterment of the individual, yet muscle growth is not seen in that light. In recognizing our physical weaknesses we also recognize our spiritual weaknesses. As long as the focus of the exercising individual is on the Light of Christ and not the limelight of admirers, bodybuilding can give that which the world hates, i.e. self-knowledge and self-control. Two virtues which surely do not bring about vanity but just the opposite, humility. Hard work and dedication to having a body fit for our purpose consistently creates an atmosphere of humility unlike much else.
article about the link between young men quitting the vice of smoking through the therapeutic nature of exercise. The boys who exercised surpassed all the other groups in improvement. The virtuous nature of lifting weights helped these young men move past their vice. So, is it still vain when the regular use of physical activity can help us grow past our struggles? I think not. Though vanity might be a struggle for many in the mainstream of bodybuilding, this stamp should not be connected with the sport or the culture, but the individuals representing it. What is in crucial need today is men and women of The Church stepping up and becoming that representing individual. This way when those who doubt the virtuous aspect of the fitness culture no longer see the egomaniac but instead the face of Christ Himself. What the fitness culture offers is vast new territories for The Church to evangelize. So, the incorrect notion that it is a lost cause of vanity should be repealed with divine, reckless abandon.