Building the Perfect Beast

It is three weeks into my concerted health kick, and actually, finally, I can see progress. My body shape is changing, back and legs beginning to look more as I remember them in the brief and glorious period during my mid 30’s where I had all this under control the last time. When Neo and Morpheus talk about ‘residual self image’ in The Matrix that is always the place I come back to: a green card from Imperial College, London, when I was weighed and measured for the Office of National Statistics Health Survey in 1995. Back then, I weighed in at 10 stone 6 pounds, which was my ideal weight for the height I was. Of course a lot has changed in 20 years, not least the notion of how we consider ‘healthy’ to begin with. That person however is where I exist when I want to be a body shape that makes me happy. That’s my destination. This isn’t about someone else’s idea of what works, the input is 100% all mine.


Some might argue that as I get older, I ought to be taking it easier, but I think that’s bollocks. Yes, I need to look after myself more, that I’ll grant you, but really there is nothing stopping me exercising regularly and eating sensibly regardless of where I exist in any given age bracket. Nothing at all. In fact, I really ought to be working out how I lose the weight I’ve gathered and making up for nearly a decade of sedentary activity. Playing games is all well and good, but its hardly healthy, and although I know those who have used treadmill desks to play and lose weight, its not for me. Then, there is the flip side of this, that never existed a decade ago. Sport is now using gaming as a way to expand its remit. I’m not talking about eSports tournaments either.

Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce you to the phenomena that is Zwift:

Probably the best way to tell you what Zwift is comes from their own press release:

Built on a long-standing passion for the sport of cycling, Zwift is a company of dedicated cyclists that also happen to be experienced software and video game developers. Combining that passion and deep understanding of the cycling world, Zwift is the first company to use massive multiplayer gaming technology to bring the outdoor cycling experience indoors. Athletes from around the globe can ride with each other in rich 3D generated worlds simply by connecting their existing devices (e.g. trainers, power meters, heart rate monitors, etc) wirelessly via open industry standard ANT+. From friendly competition to casual group rides, Zwift is building a community of like minded athletes united in the pursuit of a better indoor training experience.

Mr Alt is a convert to this new way of working and ‘playing.’ It is far easier than going out on cold, wet days or at night, it still allows him to get fit, and it has everything he needs in an MMO: achievements, outfits and people to compete against. It also shows that actually, gaming is no longer about dark rooms and jokes about nerds. It’s now Lycra, PB’s and people who look really attractive in my mind, because they’re combining two things I have a considerable interest in. More importantly, this so utterly has the potential to be an eSport. It’s the perfect combination of computers and fitness, requiring physical skill as well as mental toughness to complete. Honestly, if ESPN’s eSports people aren’t looking at this as an exploitable niche I will be utterly gobsmacked.

Because if you can combine both the electronic and and the physical to create a spectacle, this is the absolute best of both worlds.