Reza Alipour – the only okay FitSpo

We are all but fish in a pond or in the sea.

We are the product of our circumstances, we might imagine ourselves independently thinking, autonomous, conscious beings, but we are really just animated sacks of pressed sausage meat being guided around by the remote controls of our pasts.

It is for this reason that I can’t really be that proud of me for hating banal motivational quotes and the cookie-cutter, you-can-do-it-ism of FitSpo – I was just born this way, or maybe raised this way. But man I love Reza Alipour, World’s Fastest Vertical Man, the Persian Cheetah.

Partly my disdain of run-of-the-mill IG-inspiration is derived from being an Australian. In conventional Australia one is not really supposed to be earnest (yes, I know national character is murky and hard to identify, fraught, contested and deployed by reactionaries to stymie dissent. It is also changing with the yoof, the entrenchment of ‘self’ as ‘brand‘ and the cultural flattening that comes from IG, YouTube, TikTok, FB, blah-blah, blue-blue, mean we as a group are likely getting more earnest.). Still motivational platitudes require an exquisitely un-self-aware earnestness that has up until now been anathema to Wide Brown Landers. Witness the difference between the Sepos of North America – ‘Land of the humourless and home of the self-absorbed’ – those arrogant, up-themselves pricks are encouraged from birth to be unshakeably earnest. They get a culture-wide absence of sarcasm, we get tall-poppy-syndrome.

Maybe Reza is enigmatically exotic enough to act as a prophylactic against my FitSpo allergy. Maybe his difference provides some cushioning when my eyes crash into his bulging Instagram posts. Maybe there is a shadow of neo-colonialism in it. Maybe he is just awesome.

I get some joy from his posts made in English but there is a particular gloriousness that comes from letting the algorithm churn his Persian sentences into English cryptic crossword clues. I like my inspirational quotes like haikus. Or they are like astrology or dream interpretation (full disclosure, one of my personas is the I Ching Lion: Dream Interpretation and Intuitive Consultant, which itself is an assault on my anti-earnestness). Fair due, I don’t always understand it, I admit I often have no idea what he really means but that just gives me the chance to fill the posts with my own meaning-making; building blocks for my own thoughts as if I were way brawnier, faster, more cheetah-like, far more handsome and unshackled so I could be more earnest.

Any scroll through his IG feed will provide you with hours of eye-candy and also shit loads of brain-vegetables. Dreams, god, lamps, physics, fish and mirrors all accompany immense biceps, intense stares, six-packs and moments of existence so exquisitely casual as to make you forget the phone into which you gawp.

My favourite ever though is not so much FitSpo as LifSpo, his lament for his country, Iran, and the facilities they have failed to offer to the Cheetah. Let down, disavowed, abandoned, he finishes the long post ‘Reza Alipour, my pain is not the wall of the pond. My pain is living with a fish that the thought of the sea did not happen in their minds.’

Do not be the fish who doesn’t know about the sea.

Reza Alipour, half-model, half-athlete, part-poet, all-superhuman.
Simon Madden

This piece originally appeared in VL#32, which is available now in schmick digital format, get the whole magazine for iPhone here and Android here.

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