Fitness provides a religious-type experience
Among the many areas that millennials are changing the world around them is religion. The 2012 Pew study found a third of all people under the age of 30 are non-religious, but it appears as though they are trading in their holy days and finding fulfillment elsewhere. A new trend in personal fulfillment abandons the spiritual development that has filled people’s lives for centuries and infused something else entirely.
According to some researchers, millennials are spending more time than ever seeking to improve their physical form. Thus, they are focusing more on developing the temple of their bodies rather than their spiritual minds. People who go to fitness classes such as CrossFit and Soulcycle are going for more than the ability to sweat it out with people. In some ways, these exercise places are similar to a religion in that the people have many ways to participate and each gets something personal from the experience. You can go there to bask in the warmth of the room, find people with similar experiences, or get guidance.
The fitness instructors take on a pastoral role, helping people develop their own personal plan for fitness. After all, every person is at a different stage of their journey and stage of their development. They need advice on personal and physical problems that will make them a more complete person. The phenomenon of trading in one’s religion for a physical health regimen has roots in being an escape from a person’s everyday life.
— Stefanie O'Connell (@stefanieoconnel) September 10, 2018
You do not get to use phones, and there is an element of personal sacrifice in the form of sweat and time. While these are not direct correlates to religion, there is still something special happening in the dim workout rooms across the world. It is ritualistic in a way, highly scheduled, and comes with the desire for constant improvement of one’s self and those around them.
The exercises that are performed even mimic the rituals that occur in a religious setting: they stand, push hard, shout, and listen to the instructions that are laid before them. Overall, it appears as though the secularization of the millennial generation is not as complete as the statistics suggest. That have merely shifted their focus towards something that is more tangible than parables and comes with a more direct and visible outcome. Still, millennials are improving their spiritual wellness, even if it is not in the way that we are used to hearing.