The Existentialist Gym

They call this the existentialist gym for a reason: every single person who ever became a member here sooner or later converted to existentialism.

I should know. I’ve been manning the registration area for several years now. Upon signing the membership form, the clients always wondered out loud, “What the hell’s a ‘worldview’?” And I had to explain the term in great detail.

“What’s that got to do with going to the gym?” they would ask.

And I would almost always answer, “Absolutely nothing.”

Most of them indicated that they were either Catholics or Protestants; I classified them all under “theism”. A few considered themselves “materialists” or “naturalists” but I am pretty sure they had no idea what they were talking about.

Just like any other gym, this one’s covered with walls of mirrors, but unlike all gyms, it pays homage to the existentialist philosophers. So behind one dumbbell rack, for example, you’ll find a portrait of Sartre. Beside one of the water fountains, you’ll see an image of Nietzsche. And on the wall opposite the treadmills, you’ll see an oil painting of Kierkegaard.

And whatever it is that you’re doing at any given moment — whether you’re dead lifting, bench pressing, or curling your legs — you’re always likely to see one or two of the hundreds of existentialist quotes manually inscribed on the mirrors. They’re impossible to miss, really.

In short, each gym session is in reality an immersion into the world of Kafka, Camus, and de Beauvoir.

Is it any wonder then that you’ll often hear the clients here exclaiming, in between sets and in bated breath, things like, “What the hell is the meaning of life?” or “Has life any objective meaning at all?” or “Hell is definitely other people. This place reeks of sweat.”

Every single gym-goer sooner or later and without exception comes to the conclusion that they are free to create their own subjective meanings as indicated by the quality of locker room conversations:

“So have you decided on the meaning of life?”

“Yes. I’ve decided that the meaning of life is to get so buffed up and attract as many girls as possible. You?”

“Same here.” *Fist bump*

You might want to become a member? Let me know. Were offering discounts. Limited slots available.


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