Oliver Bateman Does the Work
Oliver Bateman Does the Work
The Work of New Year's Resolutions

The Work of New Year's Resolutions

My can't-miss advice for making 2024 the year that you beat the odds, the evens, and the imaginary numbers
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Do the work

In the interest of keeping this Substack in full swing past 2024, I’m going to start pushing harder to secure paid subscriptions. I want this to be a daily publication, a publication that ceaselessly explores “the work” in its myriad forms. Click below to subscribe!

In this episode — the first of 2024! — I’m sharing the hottest tips for building the body and brain of your dreams. Listen to this free-to-all lecture to learn more.

Selected reading

Bateman, “New Year’s Irresolutions”

But it all starts in the gym. The iron, as singer-songwriter Henry Rollins told us in a Details essay that gym enthusiasts never tire of quoting, holds the key to our reinvention. If the love-handled slob staring back at you in the mirror stays the same, can you really believe you’re different? Without any superficial and highly visible changes in your physiognomy, how will others learn about the inner beauty you’ve begun cultivating? If you don’t look the part on your Instagram or TikTok feeds, how can you play the part on the flesh-and-blood side of the IRL/URL border?

So you make the trek to Planet Fitness or Anytime Fitness or 24 Hour Fitness or some other all-hours fitness facility. The gym… on your schedule! Want to run on the treadmill at two a.m.? You’ve never run on it at five p.m. or nine p.m. or any other hour fit for man or diurnal beast, but now’s the time. For under a hundred bucks a month, you can procure some hope and perhaps another case of COVID-19 (or would that be COVID-23?).

The statistics tell us that hope is all you’re going to get. Gyms profit by maintaining sizable rosters of inactive members who nonetheless continue to pay their monthly dues; chances are you’re unlikely to be the exception to that rule. But maybe that’s not the point. Maybe gyms, a friend of mine remarked, aren’t actually about fitness—maybe they’re just imagination stations where our superhero alter egos live in a faraway future that never is but just might… if only. If only.

For those seven or eight months you remain an entry on your gym’s balance sheet, you have a chance. For the first couple of times some fitness influencer scams you into buying cut-and-pasted training plans, you’re but a single step away from joining them in the influence pantheon. It’s like when I began writing this article: it could’ve been so good; it could’ve been anything! I might’ve written the best article you’d ever seen. But as soon as a single world was committed to the project, it was too late. This article won’t be the best, but just one more among millions, a concatenation of half-clever claims and spurious insights that you’ve assuredly seen—and skimmed—before, if you’re among those 2000-and-late sad sacks who skims anything at all (others just feel the takes and the vibes).

And the same goes for the gym. Those illustrations of faceless, genital-free naked people with highlighted muscle groups that are plastered on each Nautilus workout station represent an ideal that stays within your grasp until your first tug on the resistance cord. Once pulled, it’s done: you know that you’ll never be that Barbie doll-crotched bodybuilder. The game was over the minute it began, yet take heart: you can’t lose until you start playing. Before you swing the bat or start the Street Fighter match, you might be the best player in the world. Who could say for sure? And who’d know the difference?

Thank you for reading Oliver Bateman Does the Work. This episode is free, so I’m urging you to click the heart, leave a comment, hit the bell, restack the article, or otherwise engage in some fashion. I hate making so gauche a request — I’ve always been a “take it or leave it” sort of person who has asked for nothing — but we are now late in the evening of our dis-CONTENT, and only extremely uncouth marketing methods (i.e., outright pleas for assistance) can ensure the perpetuation of this work amidst an “always-already” overproduced marketplace of ideas.


Oliver Bateman Does the Work
Oliver Bateman Does the Work
The continuation (from "What's Left?") of Oliver's interviews with people about the interesting work they do + solo episodes covering assorted academic topics.