The rise of right-wing fitness culture

Interesting article Obsessive bodybuilding is a funhouse mirror image of obese trans Gatorade yoginis.

There is an instinctive repulsion to these anti-beauty trends on the political Right. I count myself among those who feel a wave of disgust at these advertisements, which somehow also signal a hatred for tradition, moderation, and human striving. Still, in what follows I wish to address a trend that some conservatives have embraced in response to the anti-beauty campaign. Specifically, I want to address the rise of the Right-Wing Body Builder (RWBB) imperative, a phenomenon that extends from certain reactionary impulses on the Right.

I observed this trend myself a few years ago. ‘The left’ and ‘the right’ have seemingly reversed on this issue, with the right suddenly championing health and fitness way more than a decade ago, before the issue had become politicized like almost everything else during the ‘orange man era’. Compare Rush Limbaugh, who was obese and indulged on cigars and seemed rather prideful of his flagrant disregard for his personal health as an affront to the environmentalism and health consciousness sensibilities of the ’90s left’, to the muscular physiques and salubrious lifestyles of Joe Rogan and Dan Bongino.

A response article credits Bronze Age Pervert (BAP), but I think the popularity of Rogan and MMA played a bigger role, as well as backlash to the execrable Health at Every Size (HAES) movement. BAP, who has been on Twitter for over a decade, has always been sorta a niche. His popularity does not explain why fitness culture surged in 2020-2022 especially. I think what happened is the decline and increasing irrelevance of the alt-right and the ‘Q people’, in 2021, made more mainstream but still avowedly anti-woke pundits who have large followings on Twitter, like Cernovich, higher status. Physical fitness and self-improvement became seen as superior and higher status to the keyboard warriors and out-of-shape LARPERs of the pre-2020 alt-right era. Also in 2021, especially with Covid and vaccines, saw right-wing fitness culture take off in response to the left’s denial or downplaying of obesity as a major risk favor for developing severe Covid. Being fit became seen as an alternative to being vaccinated.

The problem is the right risks alienating some of its supporters who fail to fit this exacting mold of health and beauty. It’s not like the people who show up to Trump rallies lift heavy or are lean, but most seem overweight or average. It’s like you have to occupy some equilibrium of lifting heavy, but you cannot weigh too much either or else you’re ‘celebrating obesity’ or are ‘promoting an unhealthy lifestyle’, which is hard to do unless you are genetically gifted to be both lean and strong or are on PEDs. Right-wing vanity is the predictable and perhaps unfortunate response to left-wing relativism.