The pursuit of physical swoleness is virtuous and therefore worthy
October 29, 2018 4:45 PM   Subscribe

 
It is certainly a Ned Flandersesque moment when Chidi removes his shirt.
posted by NoMich at 5:17 PM on October 29, 2018 [20 favorites]


Yeah, no. I mean, it just doesn't make sense, ethics aside, that Chidi would be so buff. He wouldn't be able to pick a place to work out and how to work out would be too, too stressful. Which day is leg day, for example, and which is the best set of exercises to jack him up like that? He'd fall apart trying to decide.

When Daniel Craig, as James Bond, arose from the ocean in Casino Royale, showing that this Bond spends hours a day pumping iron, I was dismayed. Bond doesn't get strong by doing bench presses and lat pull-downs. He stays fit by chasing bad guys and having lots of fun in the sack (and, I suppose, hoisting giant martini glasses to his lips). Likewise, Chidi may be fit for general reasons, but not ripped. Not in the Good, Bad, or Medium place.

Loved the article, though!
posted by but no cigar at 5:33 PM on October 29, 2018 [9 favorites]


Stomach butterflies count as isometric exercise.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 5:35 PM on October 29, 2018 [68 favorites]


In grad school I'd go to the gym to work through problems in my head while my body went through repetitive motions--muscle memory, if you will. Eventually I'd have a solution and I'd go back to the lab.

I assume Chidi does this, but because he can't ever come to a decision he's there for hours.
posted by sgranade at 6:13 PM on October 29, 2018 [83 favorites]


Chidi can't decide which workout routine to follow, so he does them all.
posted by haileris23 at 6:45 PM on October 29, 2018 [52 favorites]


I just assume this is hollywood's idea of what a nerdy geek looks kind of like how they thought the actress who played Betty was ugly.
posted by srboisvert at 7:23 PM on October 29, 2018 [14 favorites]


WHO CARES JUST ENJOY IT.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:00 PM on October 29, 2018 [20 favorites]


He wouldn't be able to pick a place to work out and how to work out would be too, too stressful. Which day is leg day, for example, and which is the best set of exercises to jack him up like that? He'd fall apart trying to decide.

Oh wow, I utterly disagree. Chidi is clearly capable of making some decisions, or he wouldn't be able to function at all. You're talking about him like a dude who wouldn't be able to dress himself.

If anything, fitness makes perfect sense as a hobby because it's healthy and it doesn't hurt anyone. Dude can pump iron and do cardio and hide from his other more serious conflicts. And along the way, he'd never once worry if he's causing harm through the carbon footprint of his hobby (relative to other hobbies, certainly).
posted by scaryblackdeath at 8:04 PM on October 29, 2018 [7 favorites]


In the interest of gender equality I respectfully request an article about Janet’s abs in her Cowboy Skyscraper Buffet waitress outfit.
posted by ejs at 8:33 PM on October 29, 2018 [14 favorites]


It’s from all her hours at solstice
posted by LaunchBox at 8:47 PM on October 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


It makes zero sense in-character. There. Get over it.
posted by GuyZero at 8:55 PM on October 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


I hope this doesn't get anyone angry but here it goes.

I'm not sure where William Jackson Harper's ancestors are from, but his character name implies he's supposed to be Igbo so west African, Nigerian?

From the time I spent in the region, some West Africans are just jacked. No working out required. It was very common to see jacked guys sitting around during the day. Not from physical labor, not from working out or managing macro nutrients. Just being ripped. I was often mocked for working out about 10 hours a week and not looking like it while the average dude packed more muscle than I'd be able to even if I ran a cycle of testosterone/steroids while exercising obsessively.

Some people are tall, some people are short, some people are cuddly some people are swole. That's how the world is.

Exercise isn't required to build muscle. (Though it's very important.) We've done studies on various substances and it's possible to induce muscle growth from tweaking chemistry. Also certain phenotypes just maintain muscle naturally.
posted by Telf at 9:07 PM on October 29, 2018 [7 favorites]


From the photo (I haven't seen the show), Chidi isn't "swole" or "jacked", he's just fit and reasonably cut (ie lower body fat). A mesomorphic male in his 20s to 30s could maintain that physique with minimal effort. You don't see it as often anymore in our obesogenic environment, but beach photos from the 70s and 80s show it wasn't terribly rare in the past.
posted by Svejk at 12:31 AM on October 30, 2018 [3 favorites]


In the interest of gender equality I respectfully request an article about Janet’s abs in her Cowboy Skyscraper Buffet waitress outfit.

D'arcy Carden is gym buddies with William Jackson Harper, after all. :)
(As mentioned on the Good Place podcast.)
posted by bigendian at 2:22 AM on October 30, 2018 [4 favorites]


Thank you for this article. We here at the Galactic Outpost didn't really care why or how Chidi was so fit, we just enjoyed the good things that God has given us this day.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 5:15 AM on October 30, 2018 [5 favorites]


From the photo (I haven't seen the show), Chidi isn't "swole" or "jacked"

im sorry but this is nuts. Dude is jacked. He's not Jesse Ventura in Predator but those are large muscles that required lots of effort and that aren't hiding under the body fat of most people (minimal effort! hah)
posted by dis_integration at 6:10 AM on October 30, 2018 [13 favorites]


This is like how in the 80s when Stranger Things was set absolutely no teenager would have been as jacked as the actor who plays Billy. I think Hollywood actors can probably just chill and explore hobbies other than constant gym-going.
posted by Space Coyote at 6:51 AM on October 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


D'arcy Carden is gym buddies with William Jackson Harper, after all. :)
(As mentioned on the Good Place podcast.)


More precisely, William Jackson Harper drags D'arcy Carden to the gym, and then she retaliates by dragging him to brunch.
posted by Etrigan at 7:11 AM on October 30, 2018 [7 favorites]


I'm a sedentary 40+ woman. But I have sweet, defined abs. I have to assume it's from clenching my stomach with anxiety? So... I think it makes perfect sense for Chidi too.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 8:02 AM on October 30, 2018 [10 favorites]


I agree that he's not super jacked. He's got some impressively defined abs and is generally lean, but he doesn't look like a bodybuilder. Also, he's undoubtedly tensing those impressive abs and sucking in his tummy just as a physical response to being half-naked in front of a camera PLUS in service to his character's considerable anxiety.
posted by desuetude at 9:36 AM on October 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


Those are not I-eat-donuts-all-day pecs.

Who are you people?
posted by GuyZero at 9:55 AM on October 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm not saying that anyone in his 20s or 30s could maintain that physique easily, but I'm saying that there are a significant number who could, they're called mesomorphs, and this character could be one of them, thus obviating the need for his character to have an incongruous aspect.
posted by Svejk at 9:59 AM on October 30, 2018


(Chidi's from Senegal.)
posted by praemunire at 10:49 AM on October 30, 2018


...Also, let's just accept the goodness of life when it offers us bounty.
posted by praemunire at 10:50 AM on October 30, 2018 [3 favorites]


IIRC, Chidi says in the first episode that he was born in Nigeria but raised in Senegal.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:59 AM on October 30, 2018


You could be right. I remember the Senegal bit because Eleanor couldn't.
posted by praemunire at 11:00 AM on October 30, 2018


Casting William Jackson Harper as a neurotic professor really does give you some insight into Hollywood, though. I went to high school with a guy who was an absolute superstar in my town - tall, athletic, gorgeous. He never lost that physique - but when he moved to LA and got a job on a soap opera it was as the wimpy town geek. Onscreen, compared with his Sexy Soap Opera Guy costars, he looks small and not muscular at all. So, I think probably William Jackson Harper has the bare minimum muscles for what it takes to get on TV, and the people casting that show didn't think twice about whether he looks like an actual average non-actor human.
posted by something something at 11:05 AM on October 30, 2018 [9 favorites]


Casting William Jackson Harper as a neurotic professor really does give you some insight into Hollywood, though.

If you spend any time in Los Angeles, you quickly learn that any given impossibly beautiful person you see at the grocery store has played at least one "mildly attractive" person on TV. I once got to watch people arrive at the Oscars in-person, and the people who are thought of as beautiful in Hollywood literally look like a higher species ("This is how humanity invented elves", I said to a friend later, specifically of Julia Roberts).

Harper said that appearing shirtless was one of his top five fears (as I said over on FanFare, his self-esteem has to overcome working with Manny Jacinto and Jameela Jamil, so... fair).
posted by Etrigan at 11:31 AM on October 30, 2018 [8 favorites]


This is like how in the 80s when Stranger Things was set absolutely no teenager would have been as jacked as the actor who plays Billy.

This is just wrong. The lifeguard at my pool when I was 12 (1982) was seriously ripped. Most of the guys on the football team throughout high school were buff. Like, it was totally a thing then.
posted by cooker girl at 12:45 PM on October 30, 2018 [5 favorites]


Bodybuilding started going more mainstream in the late seventies and early eighties, between the documentary Pumping Iron, Lou Ferrigno in The Incredible Hulk, and Arnold in Conan the Barbarian. Arnold published bodybuilding manuals, and Ferrigno and others soon followed, Chuck Norris' book being more about bodyweight exercises. And even quote-endquote nerd actors got big; Yuji Okumoto played Fenton in Real Genius, and a year later was the main thug in The Karate Kid Part II, sporting an impressive pair of pecs.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:02 PM on October 30, 2018


but I'm saying that there are a significant number who could, they're called mesomorphs

Somatotypes are bro science lore in the bodybuilding world but they are pure quackery. Even the genetically gifted have to lift weights. If you want big pecs like Chidi you gotta put in the work.
posted by dis_integration at 3:40 PM on October 30, 2018 [5 favorites]


*hums* "got a real big heart but I'm lookin' at your *beep*/got real big brains but I'm lookin' at your *beep*"
posted by praemunire at 8:12 PM on October 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


Somatotypes are bro science lore in the bodybuilding world but they are pure quackery. Even the genetically gifted have to lift weights. If you want big pecs like Chidi you gotta put in the work.

Yes, somatotypes as archetypes are a bit silly and were equally silly when they were applied to personality types. They also don't add anything to the conversation. We've essentially just created fancy words for muscular builds, medium builds and heavier builds.

That being said, different people do have different set points for both adipose tissue and muscularity.

There's a reason that we use both gender and regional ancestry when performing skinfold measurements to estimate body fat %. (1,2) Different people/populations do store fat differently to a degree that is probably not just cultural or due toeating habits alone. (Also, I'm not comfortable with how some researchers lump all Africans together as if there weren't more genetic diversity in Africa than the rest of the world combined.)

Some people just carry more fat. A lot of that is idiosyncratic, but there are patterns amongst different genetic groups. There is also some truth to the personality typing implied in Somatotypes. IE very lean people do tend to have much higher levels of Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). Many lean people do tend to just move more. In the past people might have called it nervous energy. Some people's bodies are just more parsimonious with their energy. Adding additional activity through exercise might cause one's body to down regulate unconscious movement and calorie consumption in other areas. So that 400 calories you burned in your morning Zumba class might be cancelled out by your body's natural tendencies to reduce calorie consumption in other ways.


There is a lot of survivorship bias in bodybuilding. The classic example is of variation of body types at lower levels of any given sport that gradually normalize at higher levels with a few key outliers.

For example, at a local swim meet you might see all representations of body types competing in a 100 meter freestyle. As you observe higher and higher levels of competition, body types will tend to cluster around certain attributes: a certain level of fat free mass, lat development, hand size, length of trunk vs length of legs etc. Obviously swimming doesn't cause people to have bigger hands or relatively longer torsos. This is true of other sports, basketball doesn't make people taller. (Though here in SE Asia people believe that it does!)

To a certain degree, this is true of bodybuilding as well. Top level bodybuilders are people with a natural tendency to pack on muscle. Combine that with people who are also high responders to exercise and high responders to steroids and you have world class body builders. Many top level body builders were discovered because they already had impressive builds before working out. Kai Greene is a good example of that. It also happens that he responds well to various anabolic drugs and has the disposition to focus on the sport.

I have met many people who naturally maintain a physique with large pecs and deltoids who do not work out and who do not have overly physical jobs. Yes, exercise helps but there is an element of "talent" involved.

Before I switched to public health work, I worked as a CrossFit coach for many years. The difference in response to exercise is incredible. Some people made complete transformations in 2-3 months while other clients who worked harder and more consistently for years, never saw much of a change. This was especially tough in couples when one of the partners was a high responder and the other wasn't. Often diets and total volume of exercise were very similar.

Another example is top level MMA fighters. Some of those guys are absolutely shredded and some of them look like normal dudes. This is even true of fighter out of the same camps with similar training styles. I guarantee you that they all put in the work and have fantastic conditioning. Some fighters famous for their dad bods have tried to lose fat and have suffered greatly in performance. I'm thinking of a lot of Russian and Ukrainian fighters who just seem to perform better at about 18+% body fat.

Exercise is important, and it's a big part of my life, but people are different. It's possible that some people can maintain certain physiques with little conscious effort while other people struggle to make positive aesthetic changes. Generally all these things have advantages and disadvantages. I'm sure that if a nuclear winter came, people with a propensity to hold on to bodyfat might have an advantage etc.

Finally, and this isn't directed at anonye specifically, there is a certain amount of "fit shaming" implied in both the conversation around original article and some of the comments here. People imply that lean muscular people are somehow vain or more egotistical than people who aren't. That seems tremendously mean spirited and is the equivalent of blaming obesity on laziness or moral failings. Treating exercise as a self indulgent luxury of egotistical people isn't moving the ball forward. Again, I don't want anyone to think I'm pointing at them directly, it's just an implication in the background of certain statements.
posted by Telf at 9:01 PM on October 30, 2018 [10 favorites]


Somatotypes are bro science lore in the bodybuilding world but they are pure quackery.

The part of somatoyping that is considered quackery is the purported connection between physiology and temperament (shades of phrenology), not the idea of naturally-occurring variation in physique. Biological anthropologists will use terms like "skeletal muscle phenotypic variation" to give a more nuanced description of this variation; laymen use the outdated terms like "mesomorph". The underlying phenomenon informs part of the field of biomechanics, where it is subject to a not-greater-than average degree of scientific debate .
posted by Svejk at 12:19 AM on October 31, 2018 [3 favorites]


It has to be cannon that Chidi works out. I mean his go crazy freakout was to eat chili with candy in it, which if we are judging go crazy freakouts, it's pretty tame. I eat chili and then candy (not that different) on like a random cold Tuesday.

That being said, the Donkey Doug episode was one of the best of this show I've seen, making up for a mostly dull so far season. It was dumb-smart comedy the whole way through.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:33 AM on October 31, 2018 [1 favorite]


He also ran around a grocery store without a shirt. But people do that. That's why they had to put up the signs. (no shirt, no shoes, no service).
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:36 AM on October 31, 2018 [1 favorite]


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