- Concerning its end and object, both tend supposedly towards wellness and beauty. A gym workout definitely aims towards increasing the strength of the body’s muscles and there’s no doubt that well-toned musculature contributes much to physical beauty. The spiritual ascesis is ordered towards the person’s union with God, whom
would identify as Beauty itself. No one would negate the fact that the effort towards spiritual perfection would always lead to beauty. St. Augustine
- A gym workout and the dynamism present in the life of the spirit always mean effort. Ascesis somehow acts as a bridge between the two. Any dedicated gym buff knows that he would have to go through a lot of fuss and hardwork (and even pain) in order to get built up. One would need time besides. The spiritual life isn’t any different. On both sides we could talk about sacrifice and dedication, as well as….
- Discipline. This is an indispensable element in any ascetic endeavor. Just include order as an afterthought. They’re sisters anyway.
- Any disciplined gym program is composed of trifling things such as sets, reps (repetitions) etc…in the plan of life (older traditions call the rule of life) which any disciple should have, you have a moments of prayer, devotions, short visits to the Blessed Sacrament, the Mass, meditation. In short, the whole routine is made up of little things which contribute to the organic whole which is either the spiritual life or the fitness program that you’re in. One could might as well come up with a talk on the importance of little things and details. They sure are very important.
- You could go on the gym on your own, and move about with your own plan, but there’s nothing compared to going about with your fitness program under the watchful guidance of an experienced and certified trainer (include the muscles and all. As the saying goes, never trust a skinny chef). He or she would know better how to let those muscle groups grow to their maximum advantage. In the gym it may be a choice, but this is clearly not the case in the ascetic life. One simply needs to be directed, or in the parlance which some employ nowadays, accompanied. The maxim that guides this simply goes this way: Nobody can guide himself.
Comparing between the two and proposing their similarities doesn’t necessarily imply that both reside on equal domains. Of course, what is physical has a very short and ephemeral lease…its date of expiration would come sooner or later (usually it comes sooner), that which is spiritual remains and goes on. For us who go to the gym, the time will come when these muscles would slowly cease to support us, and the heart wouldn’t always be as strong for us as we would wish it. But the spirit lives on, and hopefully would grow stronger and more beautiful, even as the body begins its inexorable decline. The bottom line is simply this one: more advantageous it is to take care of the soul, for the time will come that we would have to consign the body to its own time.