Working Out

I've never liked gyms. I've never been perceptive to the idea that if I want to be healthy, the best place to accomplish that goal is in a room with a bunch of cardio and weight machines. After all, I've got a bike, and I've got sidewalks near my house. I could make up excuses for why these aren't good enough for a cardio workout, but it would be a pretty bad excuse. And I'll admit, gyms do typically have free weights that would be helpful in many regards, but for the price gyms charge per month, I might as well buy a set of my own.

(from GaryPaulson on Flickr)

I think Daniel Duane's piece in Men's Journal does a good job helping me understand why I have such lukewarm feelings toward gyms. Ultimately, the problem is that the incentives for gym owners and gym customers aren't aligned. Getting people into shape isn't the way for gym owners can maximize their profits. Duane writes...
Commercial health clubs need about 10 times as many members as their facilities can handle, so designing them for athletes, or even aspiring athletes, makes no sense. Fitness fanatics work out too much, making every potential new member think, Nah, this place looks too crowded for me. The winning marketing strategy, according to Recreation Management Magazine, a health club–industry trade rag, focuses strictly on luring in the “out-of-shape public,” meaning all of those people whose doctors have told them, “About 20 minutes three times a week,” who won’t come often if ever, and who definitely won’t join unless everything looks easy, available, and safe. The entire gym, from soup to nuts, has been designed around getting suckers to sign up, and then getting them mildly, vaguely exercised every once in a long while, and then getting them out the door.
Sadly, this all makes perfect sense. It also explains why so many people seem to sign up for gyms, only rarely, if ever, return. In any case, I'm still perfectly happy with the workouts that I get on my own.

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