August 22, 2011

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Get Fit for the Pit #1


Hey, cats and kittens! I'm Erica Satifka, and this is my first post for Panel Patter. I normally blog over at Breakfast at Twilight, my bikes-and-other-things blog. I read a fairly broad selection of comics--although not as broad as Rob's--but for my reviews I'm mostly going to be focusing on zines and mini-comics.


Get Fit for the Pit #1
Written by Maranda Elizabeth, Korinna Irwin, CA Eaves, Ele, Ramsey Everydaypants, Nicole Harris, Russell James Pyle, and Chris Landry; Compiled by Nicole Harris
Click Clack Press

Get Fit for the Pit #1 is subtitled "a zine on taking back our health and fitness," and that's exactly what it's about: a compilation zine about punks and/or general outsiders reclaiming sports and exercise from jocks, bullies, and other people who made high school hell.

As anyone who has read my blog knows, I have recently developed an obsession love of cycling. And while my goal is not "fitness" but transportation, increased fitness is a great side effect, allowing me not to get so out of breath when I scale the steps up to our Baltimore row house. And I can definitely attest from experience that athletics (team sports, anyway) aren't always prized in the "outsider community," except perhaps as a form of irony. And this is really to our detriment, as exercise (which could be defined as "anything one does that is not sitting on one's couch watching Simpsons reruns") has numerous benefits including increased energy, better sleeping patterns, and less irritability, or at least that's been my experience. To deny yourself the pleasures of fitness because it's a "jock thing" is ludicrous, and yet, that's what a lot of "alternative" folks do, due to the popular image of an athlete as a rich, Spandex-clad warrior with three percent body fat, and you're a person who had to look up "body fat percentage" in Wikipedia to see if that's a low number or not.

The types of sports/fitness practiced by the contributors run the gamut from running to hooping (it's not just, you know, for kids) to roller derby to yoga. The submissions are mostly text-based with minimal illustrations, but there is a centerfold comic by Ramsey Everydaypants (List) about her experiences as a weightlifter. Running dominates, with essays on the activity from Nicole Harris (who also compiled and published the zine), Russell James Pyle, and Chris Landry (Striking Distance). I found Landry's essay especially inspiring, as he stresses the non-competitive nature of (non-race) running and the fact that it can be a great way to explore your city. It almost makes me want to try running! But only almost. I also really liked Korinna Irwin's (Roots of Hope) take on yoga not being a "hippie" thing, that it can be a life-changing practice for anyone who undertakes it, akin to "joining hands in a black bloc protest." I also get what she means about wanting to force everyone you know to take part in your chosen activity, since I am like that with cycling! (Much to the annoyance of the editor in chief, heh.)

My only real criticism is that the stories can be a little repetitive. Two pages isn't a lot of space to do more than give a basic outline of their history with fitness and discuss their chosen sport, which doesn't leave a lot of room for in-depth discussion. There's a lot of critique that can be made about the fitness industry as well as the infrastructure problems and sedentary work patterns that lead us to see fitness more as something separate from our everyday lives, and you don't get that critique here. But Nicole intends for this to be a series (the next one is about nutrition), so hopefully future issues will dig a little deeper.

Get Fit for the Pit #1 is available at Click Clack Distro.