3.08.2007

Fitness Centres

I spent the better part of 3 years working in various fitness centres in Western Canada, and I must say that I would lump many fitness centres into the "Diet and Weight-Loss Industry". I have become rather cynical about this massive money-making scheme. I wrote an article about it a while ago on my other site.

If I ignore the whole bait and switch tactic of weight loss vs. fat loss that the typical fitness centre uses to take your money away, there are still some things that I really don't like about fitness centres.

The first thing I don't like is how often they don't provide what their clients need, or are looking for. I agree that there is a significant chunk of people who really like going to the gym and do so habitually, thats great. What I don't like is the oodles of people who show up at fitness centres all over the continent (I suppose they are fitness centers in the USA) during the first couple weeks of January, plunk down a whack of cash for a year or two's membership, go through the motions of 'working out' for two or three weeks, then disappear. Some even last a full six weeks before they drop out. Usually, they don't (or can't) get out of their contract with the fitness centre and end up paying the monthly dues for the full year or two of their contract. This is bad.

Another reason I don't like fitness centres is that they give the impression that somebody needs to spend a whack of cash to be active. This is not true! Many of these places have all the lastest and greatest new machines from Hammer Strength or LifeFitness or Nautilus or whatever. Guess what, your muscles can't tell the difference between brands of weight equipment. In fact, you can get the best workout from the cheapest of apparati...find a potato sack and fill it with sand, get creative.

Also, fitness centres contribute to a fractured lifestyle. 'Working out' becomes something that you do away from home and family. Maybe that can be a good thing, but the last thing many of us need is more committments away from our homes.

Those are just a few problems I see with fitness centres. What do I propose as a solution? I like to think of Authentic Exercise.

Authentic Exercise is exercise that you get while you are primarily doing something else. Do you need to get to work? Walk or ride your bike, that is exercise that has a specific purpose in itself, it doesn't require you to go somewhere to do something to get a workout, it is a workout.

Do you need to sit at a desk? Buy yourself a physio ball.
That way, you are in a dynamic situation where your core muscles are active when you are simply sitting. Another advantage is that when you sit on a ball, you move, you bounce around. That means that your spine moves around. That is a good thing.

4 comments:

Laurel-Anne said...

Nice post - can I borrow it?

sans auto said...

I couldn't agree more. In fact, comparing gym workouts with utalitarian exercise to find which people were more likely to comply with was one of my ideas for a dissertation. As I discussed it with my advisor, he took a realistic approach and said, "people won't walk places. They may say that they will, but they just won't do it". It's different, it's hard, it takes time. People don't like to make hard changes, and they don't think they have time. So there's the problem that I want to fix... any ideas?

Vertigo said...

LA-Go ahead, although you already told me you were going to use it anyways...

Sans...I have a few ideas. Not sure how they would fly. I think that the first thing that needs to change and therefore the place that we need to focus our efforts is on changing ideas. As long as people have the perception that it is too difficult or time consuming to make changes, they won't change.

There seems to be a growing concern among Canadians about climate change. The Kyoto protocol is a hot topic with a whole bunch of people ticked off that our Prime Minister has essentially turfed it, and a whole bunch of other people who agree that any climate change protocol that exempts China, India and Mexico is futile...I don't know the US position.

Our family is considering the things that we can do as a family to show that it can be done. We are also exploring options regarding how to share our experiences with a wider audience...any ideas?

sans auto said...

The US turfed the Kyoto protocol right along with Canada. We have our consititution to govern us and we think we're a world superpower, so we don't want any kind of international governing body to show us that we may have faults (like contributing more to global warming than any other country in the world).

This sounds bad, but it's true... The best way to bring about change in people is public humiliation. People want to fit in and if they don't they're humiliated and will strive to fit in. The Jones' need to go car free so that the rest of the world can try to keep up with them. So all you have to do is convince the Jones' to change...