Many tales have been told of the Grateful Dead: they’ve been examined from angles musical, financial, sociological, historical, chemical, metaphysical, biographical, academic, and there was a coloring book once. Never, though, has the Dead’s relationship with exercise been detailed, and certainly not with the scholastic rigor I intend to apply to the following bullshit I’m about to make up.
Bobby was the most physical-minded of the group; he cared about the parts of his body that were not his dick or stomach, and engaged in strenuous and joyful fits of exercise, plus many soothing and barefoot yoga sessions. Bobby enjoyed running almost as much as he enjoyed running shorts. In the 70’s, he took up mountain biking, and in the 80’s got into hill biking; the 90’s saw Bobby become interested in riding his bike on flat terrain, and in the 00’s, Ebay was founded, which is where Bobby sold his bike.
Mickey gave Bobby a run for his money, though, and sometimes literally: Mickey liked to combine his athletics with gambling and would often make more money off his impromptu wagering than from a tour. Like Bobby, Mickey took up bicycling for a while, but always preferred his horses, as it was impossible to dose a bicycle.
And here lies a sheer and fatal drop-off in both athletic ability and exercisial enthusiasm. Except for Bobby and Mickey, every Grateful Dead would be picked last and sent to right field. (There are pictures of Bobby playing softball; there are pictures of Garcia watching softball.) You might pick Billy a little higher up if you were playing hockey and wanted to start a fight.
Billy’s exercise came primarily from running amok. Smoothie in the morning, throw a mailbox at a cop around lunch, run through a hospital with a chainsaw before the show, and then finish up the day with cardio (Billy calls anal “cardio”).
The ocean also provides Billy with a chance to stretch, strengthen, and shape up; he has invented something he calls “sharkour,” but is actually just swimming slowly and looking at fish. (You cannot do parkour underwater as there are no benches to vault over, and even if there were, you can’t vault over anything underwater.)
Phil’s idea of exercise was standing up during a blowjob.
The keyboardists were all over the place, as should be expected: Pig did Tai Chi once, by accident; TC did some fancy bullshit, I’m sure; Keith, along with Mrs. Donna Jean, trained in mixed-martial arts and practiced on each other constantly; Brent was the Marin county free-diving champ three years in a row until he was beaten; Bruce beat him; Vince owed his taut tush to ballroom dance.
Garcia always carried his own briefcase, though sometimes it was heavy.