Introducing: The Gym Philosopher

They’re donned head-to-toe in the latest gear, posting a sweat-free selfie with the caption: "Work on yourself. Vibe alone. Act with intention."
A collage of a man in the gym taking a selfie with his phone.
Illustration: Rui Pu

The sun creeps into your room and strikes your sleepy eyes, thus beginning your daily tradition: Tossing and turning for ten minutes as you try and half-sleep more, before inevitably jumping straight into your please-god-wake-me-up Instagram and TikTok sesh. One ad and a viral AI-generated song later, you land on them. They’re in the gym, as per, donned head-to-toe in the latest gear, posting a suspiciously sweat-free selfie with the caption: “Work on yourself. Vibe alone. Act with intention. Pleasure is always derived from something outside you, whereas joy arises from within.” It’s your old pal, The Gym Philosopher. 


The selfie went live at 7:30AM, but their day started way earlier than that. The Gym Philosopher had things to do before hitting the gym, you see. Namely expressing their blessings in their gratitude diary and repeating their daily mantra in the mirror – but not before cramming in an Instagram Live meditation for their worldwide audience. Pre-gym came the pre-grind sunrise, which they observed in Battersea Park with a sustainable, vegan pre-workout. 

You’ll often find The Philosopher sauntering about the floor of Third Space as if it’s their First Space. They aren’t a personal trainer per se, but they really see themselves flourishing in that role. That’s why, as of a month ago, they’ve been manifesting it. They aren’t taking the necessary courses, obviously – just manifesting.

The Philosopher joins a big budget cast at The Gym: We have the illustrious, roided-up Chad, who aggressively paces up-and-down the floor between sets and spits in the water fountain. The well-intentioned old fella in smart gear with slick hair, a towel around his neck and undeniable (Paul) Hollywood energy. Then there’s the usual extras – the machine hoggers, the newbies, the wholesome gym besties and, of course, the gym-fluencers, which bear a faint resemblance to The Philosopher, but they actually do bone-crushing circuits. Our mildly confused Philosopher bounces from machine to machine without real intention, their focus primarily on their new iPhone 14 (the camera quality really is worth it, they say).


For Instagram is where The Philosopher really finds their niche. You’ll see the words of Ekhart Tolle paired with Sahara-level thirst traps; a highlight titled “inspiration” that’ll solely be early morning coffees; a monthly dump of yoga timelapses with incense in the foreground; green juices and veg galore; just endless gym fits. Each and every caption is drenched with joyless sanctimony. And if you ever momentarily stop disliking this person – because “content is content and good on them for securing the bag” – remember that this person only has 287 followers. Their entire content singularly exists to say: I am better than you. 

Introducing: The Gourmand

The crazy thing is, The Gym Philosopher was once just like you and I. They, too, fell asleep fully-clothed while waiting for their McDonald’s order. They, too, vaped so much they made themselves feel sick. They, too, lost several hours to TikTok when they really needed an early night. But they’ve recently undergone a harsh rebrand and are now revelling in a holier-than-thou nirvana. This person truly enjoys trying to make you feel inadequate for simply enjoying life – all because they think ditching their old mates and going to the gym makes them spiritually divine. 

Really, The Gym Philosopher is just like all the other dull people who found a hobby, enjoyed it, then decided to forgo any personality henceforth. The same as that friend of yours that went to a driving range once and now posts stories at 7AM every weekend on a golf course with the caption: “Early bird gets the worm.”

But the problem with The Gym Philosopher specifically, is they essentially misrepresent what the gym is and put off a whole bunch of people from joining. They see The Gym Philosopher’s endless barrage of gym-adjacent content and think: A) “See, the gym is for boring people.” Or, B) “This is what the gym does to people, it makes them lame as fuck.” So they don’t go, because they see it as the death of individuality. 

Anes, a 24-year-old personal trainer from London, believes people posting all their gym life on their social media usually comes from a place of insecurity. “When you start going to the gym, it’s important to work out why you want to do it and keep that in mind,” he says. “From there, it will all come naturally and feel good.”

The Gym Philosopher will never cease to exist. Wherever there is chakras to be aligned and a personal best to be manifested, they will be there. But here’s my mindful tip: Ignore them. Go to the gym and get those endorphins rushing, so you can enjoy your weekend. But for the sake of all of us, please don’t start posting it on your socials.