As coaches, fitness persecution is a real fear that we all have and it certainly limits our desire to spread the religion of fitness. Although we are passionate when we are among those who share our beliefs and feel safe when we get together and talk about how much we love what we do and the benefits of what we do, there is always that underlying fear that if we tell someone else outside of our religion, we will be persecuted.
Is that fear unfounded? Absolutely not. Religious persecution gives us the historical precedent for that fear. Moses brought forth Judaism out of Egypt and the Ten Commandments forbade the worship of all but one god. The spread of the pantheistic Roman Empire to that area brought with it religious conflicts. Out of Judaism came Christianity, and its strict adherence to monotheism and emphasis on conversion lead to greater persecution. Anti-monotheistic persecution of Christians began with Nero and reached its apex with the Inquisition. While Christianity’s empire stretched across Europe and neighboring regions, south and east of their empire a new monotheistic religion arose, Islam, and it spread across Africa, the Middle East and northern India.
Out of religious intolerance and religious persecutions arose religious wars which have occurred in much of the rest of the world. In this country, we have the freedom to attend churches and temples and mosques without fear. But there now exists a reluctance to openly speak about our religions to other people for fear of offending their religion or out of fear that the person will think that we are trying to convert them to our religion.
And so it is with fitness and health. Unlike our religious beliefs which can be easily concealed unless we speak about them, fit and healthy people are obvious to everyone around them. We have the glow of health from eating right, the lean fit bodies and energy that we get from exercising and smiles on our faces, in our case, because we are making money from promoting our lifestyles. That is fine when we are in the safety of our own homes, but what about when we have to venture out. Personally, I suggest wearing baggy, heavy clothing so that our low body fat and lean bodies are concealed and we blend in better with the rest of the population. You can also feel sad for all of the overweight and out of shape people that you see and that will mask the revealing smile that might otherwise give us away.
Finally, I would continue to not speak openly about what we do so that people won’t think that we are trying to convert them. Our fear of persecution for promoting fitness and health is real and the repercussions are obvious. God forbid that we would meet someone, begin telling them about what we do and get into a conflict in the grocery store, for instance. I don’t know about you, but I for one don’t have the physical stature to get into a conflict with someone as they counter what I have to say and begin to advocate the benefits of being obese, not exercising and eating poorly. I am cringing at the thought of the consequences of losing that conversation. It is far better for us to limit what we have to say about the benefits of being fit and healthy to strictly the people who share our beliefs and won’t persecute us for our beliefs. It is a far safer existence.