According to sociologist Harold Y. Vanderpool’s “The Religious Features of Scientific Medicine” published in 2008, there are 10 religion-making criteria. Like these ones are comprehensive world view, ultimate sacred reality, moral values, protective screen, salvation/liberation, symbols, ritual, moods and emotions, community and lastly, uniquely realistic and true.
If these features are sufficiently achieved or presented, a religion is formed. The researchers from Linköping University in Sweden, led by Britta Pelters and Barbro Wijimi, were able to compare the focus of fitness and health training in society and conclude that fitness satisfies Vanderpool’s 10 religion-making criteria.
The Basis of Such Conclusion
How did a team of researchers lead to this conclusion? The researcher’s work aims to provide a more radical thinking about health and training towards a healthier and positive attitude about fitness. A fit body is everyone’s duty. The researchers viewed this argument as valid based on the first religion-making criteria, a comprehensive world view: that a healthy body leads to a longer and more positive outlook in life.
Health is defined as one’s complete state of the “physical, mental, and social well-being.” Taking that into account of Vanderpool’s second religion-making criteria, health is a sacred reality.
In Christianity, there are churches, rituals, and priests. Every aspect of Christianity is present in fitness. Gyms or fitness temples are considered churches where people religiously go to keep their bodies in shape using various gym equipment. Workout routines are synonymous with rituals. There is a workout program for a certain part of the body, just like the number of required repetitions of Hail Mary and Our Father based on the sin that you committed, or how often you should pray with the rosary.
And lastly, gym instructors, fitness bloggers, and celebrities serve as fitness’ priests. They are experts who give pieces of advice and offer their services to achieve your best form, just like how priests give homily to ensure you will not sin in every mass. How about symbols? These are the gym equipment. Same as the rosary, or the cross or any other religious sculptures, gym equipment, particularly barbell signifies strength, discipline, and power.
The community in Vanderpool’s 10-point criteria states that a religion must have a socialized group bonded together by a certain moral value. In fitness, the moral value is the importance of having a healthy and fit body. The fitness community refers to your gym buddies, yoga classmates, or dance partners.
Though these points are valid, some experts are skeptical about fitness being a religion. They say that religion has something to do about a higher being and afterlife experience. Besides, being obsessed about religion may lead to eating disorders, purchasing expensive and unnecessary gym equipment, and costly gym membership.
The Bottom Line
Religion or not, fitness play a huge role in society. Being fit requires dedication, patience, hard work, discipline, and most importantly, passion. Having a fit body does not only provide self-confidence and alluring appearance, but it also gives a sense of fulfillment and triumph.