Big gyms. What are you paying for really? Have you ever sat back and thought about it?
We have this impression that you are buying a new body, new lease on life, better health, and maybe the ability to wear smaller clothes. That is what we think. You hear a friend has joined a gym and you congratulate them, envy them a little, and maybe decide to emulate them and join yourself.
The traditional fitness facility model is nothing like what people expect. You aren’t signing up for what you think you are signing up for. You essentially are signing a residential lease. You aren’t paying for better health.
You pay your membership dues and then what? You head to the gym to….? Hit the treadmill? Jump on the elliptical? Navigate the maze of machines that are reminiscent of the last Saw movie? Maybe you will brave it and drop into a group class where you will have to first prove yourself to a room full of ‘regulars’ who are just waiting for you to be the next failure.
Yeah. What you’re paying for is to rent space, actually not even. You are paying to have intermittent access to someone else’s space. You are just a renter. Someone who will come then go. The gym doesn’t care, they have an entire sales team dedicated to filling your place once you leave (there is a 85% statistical probability you won’t renew your contract after the first year, hence, the new two year membership term!). Ever thought about that? Gyms have to have an entire TEAM of dedicated sales people just to keep the place full.
Imagine they had a dedicated team to train and teach you? To make sure that you get the results and guidance you want? No, the training staff doesn’t count. They aren’t part of your membership. They are an additional fee.
So the traditional fitness model is to rent you some space and then forget about you unless you become on of the few who sign up with the training team. Doesn’t quite seem like what you were looking for does it?
See the sales staff is sneaky. They showed you around, made you feel welcome. Maybe they showed you a few machines in between espousing the virtues of the plethora of programs and options available to you. Then you sign up and your relationship is over. Where is that staff a month later? Making sure you hit your goals? No, they are touring the next potential member to fill in the holes left by most recent member departures.
You’re on your own.
I like car analogies. Picture this.
You’re car is not in the condition you want it to be in. So you head over to the local book store and pic up a copy of automotive repair for dummies (not sure if it exists) or maybe you stop at your local supermarket and grab an automotive magazine, probably the one with the hottest body on it (car, not person).
Training guide in hand you head to your local auto body where you have recently signed an agreement to borrow the equipment. You wheel into a vacated stall you had to wait an extra 20 minutes for because its January and the busy season. And you get to work. You follow the guide; try to understand the tools as best you can.
You do a pretty good job. The squeak is somewhat gone and the clunking sound when you backup seems to have disappeared – mostly. But the paint touch ups don’t seem to look like what you imagined. It definitely doesn’t look like it did in the manual. And you were at the shop way longer than you anticipated. Turns out it was not quite what you expected.
A few months later your car won’t backup, the squeak is so loud you fear someone is going to hit you next time you stop at a light, and the paint you put on is actually a different colour than it was supposed to be. So you end up sucking it up and heading to an automotive shop where there are licensed mechanics who have your car fixed in a couple of hours and repainted the next day. You still have to pay at your monthly at the do-it-yourself place though.
Am I getting through? Do you see what I am frustrated about? Do I have to spell it out?
Your body is infinitely more complex than a car. Yet we grab a magazine with a hot body on it and head to your gym rental to attempt to follow the same program that the model says got her physique into mint condition.
And there you are. Aches and pains are worse, you now see a massage therapist in between bouts of Advil. Your body does NOT look like the fit model. You are bored to tears at the gym and if you have to sit through one more spin class that is exactly the same as the last 20 you are going to gouge out your own eyes with the microphone the uber preppy instructor can’t seem to help screeching into.
Why? Why do people do this to themselves?
Stop trying to fix your own car. Because unlike your car, you only get one body. No trade ins. No upgrades. No new models. You have what you have for the remainder of your life. You cannot risk hurting it or giving it substandard care.
Find help and support. Private gyms and studios, martial arts facilities, yoga facilities, and adult sports and rec leagues are abundant. Do some research (see last week’s Fitness Blog for a Kingston list) and find what works for you.
Just stop renting space you aren’t going to use and that you really have no idea how to use