The Consumerist Church of Fitness Classes
Great piece over at The Atlantic that’s a must-read for sociologists of religion, yoga/fitness teachers, church leaders, and folks interested in how spirituality, capitalism, and embodiment work together. THIS SHIZ IS FO REAL. And it’s only going to become increasingly relevant in the future — note here that 23% of Americans now consider themselves religiously unaffiliated.
So where are those folks turning for a source of community, inspiration, and something approaching spiritual meaning? Yup, you guessed it: Gyms. CrossFit. SoulCycle. Yoga studios. Like whoa.
We used to laughingly call my Sunday morning class at Oakland’s Flying Studios “yoga church” — because in a lot of ways, it was. We chanted in gratitude to life and loss and destruction and rebirth, sweat the bejesus out of ourselves, wrung out the fear and tension, cracked our literal and figurative hearts open in deep backbends, and closed it all out with OMs, a song to the divinity in every moment, born anew, again and again. The same faces gathered every Sunday for years, celebrating, grieving, walking the path together.
Many of those folks didn’t necessarily feel welcome in the churches of their youth. They were told they loved the wrong people, were born broken and stained, irredeemable, had to repent of the things that made them feel most human and alive. I was grateful we could create a living community together based in love, not law.
I treasured being a preacher's kid and have so much gratitude for the way that progressive upbringing graced my life. But if the organized church as we know it is going to survive, and even maybe flourish, it needs to stop being the face of hate and fear and start being the refuge where folks can walk in the door and unroll their metaphorical mats and ground their bare feet and feel allowed to be and live and love and move and sing and thrive, exactly as they are. (Yoga teachers, that’s on us, too.)
Anyway. Enough preaching. Read the article. It portends the future.
The Consumerist Church of Fitness Classes (The Atlantic)