how it’s done

Californian kid dreaming
Rick Owens discovered the joys of the gym relatively late in life. 
The desire to sort out his body had always been there, languishing in his heart, 
weak and neglected, since childhood. 
‘As an introverted sissy growing up in a small town in California,’ 
he remembers, ‘all I wanted was Joe Dallesandro hair and washboard abs. 
But I wore “husky”-sized poly pants,’ 
he says, referring to the American boys’ trousers made with added ease on the waist and hips, ‘and I had big, soft, 13-year-old-girl nipples. And buck teeth.’

He worked his way through five instructors over the next eight years. 
But when he relocated from Los Angeles to Paris seven years ago, 
he decided not to employ a trainer. 
It’s not as if he needed the encouragement: working out had long since become as integral a part of his day as brushing his teeth. 
‘And there’s only really about ten things you can do,’ 
he reasons, ‘so you just have to do them over and over. 
Like a Donald Judd installation: classic, simple, pure, repetitive.’

‘Working out has become a combo of discipline, 
joyous release, meditation and vanity. It gives me a break in the day 
to absorb and formulate ideas. I used to love dancing, 
but music never sounded as good as it does now through those earbud headphones, 
pounding bass into the pit of my stomach as I enjoy 
the simple pleasure of feeling physically alive.’

When asked the particulars of his workout, he declines to give a detailed answer 
(‘Oh God, that would put me in a coma!’). 
But briefly: ‘I do one leg part, two upper-body parts, stomach and stretching every time I go, which is five or six times a week. 
I take my time and don’t worry about the weights – I just do what feels good. 
I don’t feel the need to force my body the way I used to.’

He’s philosophical about his gym-going these days. 
‘Obviously, I’ve replaced the romanticised determination to self-destruct 
with the fantasy of control and immortality. 
And at this point in my life, it’s as lovely an indulgence as any.’

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