Exercise Cults

I have a fully equipped home gym, so I don’t workout at the gym anymore. But I do miss the social aspect of a commercial gym. You really are more motivated to workout, when you’re in an environment with other people exercising. So once a week I do some outdoor workouts.

I used to workout at a mom and pop neighborhood gym, which you don’t find much anymore. The big chains like 24Hr, Bally’s, Crunch, Equinox, Gold’s Gym and Planet Fitness have crushed a lot of the small time neighborhood gyms. Things have gotten more commercialized and impersonal. They sell you memberships contracts and personal training contracts, betting that you won’t be going to the gym more than a few times within the first month and that you’ll stop completely thereafter.

There’s been a backlash against the big commercial gyms. People value the social aspect of exercise, so you see a lot of exercise cults, like Crossfit, kettlebell instructors, running groups and outdoor “bootcamps.” Part of what’s driven this backlash is the Internet, which allows people to form exercise cults. Go to Meetup.com or Craigslist and you can find a yoga group or bicycling group. No swimming pools or fancy machines. Just exercise and hanging out with other people.

The other thing driving the anti-gym mentality are personal trainers. PT’s don’t want to give up a chunk of their fees for overhead. So rather than pay off a gym for training there, many PT’s try to eliminate overhead altogether and train groups outdoors. Plus personal trainers are no longer as “personal” nowadays, because they know they can make a lot more money training groups as opposed to individuals. They know people love the social aspect of group training and training outdoors, so trainers exploit this.

People have far more choices for exercise nowadays, but they are less fit. They have too many choices and too many distractions. People get bored easily, so they don’t commit to doing one thing. They don’t commit to doing the hard tedious work that gets results.


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