I think Gyms are dumb. I’ve written about this before. Everyone knows how they make money. People sign up for a membership with very good intentions of getting more healthy and improving the way they look and how they feel about themselves. Exercise is important. The evidence showing that exercise helps ward off morbid conditions like heart disease and diabetes is well documented and convincing.
Most of the people who sign up for gym memberships don’t go for very long. The gym collects the money, and have plenty of space at the facility for the few people who do actually show up and exercise regularly, and the gym keeps taking in new members, and the gym keeps making more money.
The World Health Organization recommends moderate aerobic activity to improve cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, bone health, reduce the risk of NCDs and depression. They also recommend muscle-strengthening activities should be done involving major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.
Below are the actual guidelines in full detail:
Recommendations: In adults aged 18-64, physical activity includes leisure time physical activity, transportation (e.g. walking or cycling), occupational (i.e. work), household chores, play, games, sports or planned exercise, in the context of daily, family, and community activities. The recommendations in order to improve cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, bone health, reduce the risk of NCDs and depression are:
1. Adults aged 18–64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or an equivalent combination of moderate – and vigorous-intensity activity.
2. Aerobic activity should be performed in bouts of at least 10 minutes duration.
3. For additional health benefits, adults should increase their moderate intensity aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes per week, or engage in 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, or an equivalent combination of moderate – and vigorous-intensity activity.
4. Muscle-strengthening activities should be done involving major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.
None of that seems to really necessitate joining a gym.
But, suppose you just had your annual check up, and the doctor says you really need to start exercising. Say you don’t have an exercise habit and you don’t know where to start. A gym membership may be the simple action to take to do the very important first step of beginning.
And, one of the toughest things about fitness is staying motivated. Fitness classes, personal trainers, and people watching can add some variety to ward off boredom and keep that motivation going. All of which can be found at the stinky gym.
As I described in my post, Gyms are Dumb, I do have many years experience with gym enrollment. Eventually I found that I like exercising outdoors more, and have been doing a combo of mountain biking and bodyweight exercises at home. Around November, as lack of daylight grim weather drove me indoors to exercise.Last year around this time I started doing Trainerroad’s structured cycling training. This year I want to do the same program, but I want to add in some strength training. Trainerroad provided detailed plans to help competitive cyclists get faster. The training can benefit all cycling disciplines, but since the trainer set up is stationary, it better simulates road biking.
Mountain bikers need the same kind of conditioning road bikers get from their training as far as cycling strength and endurance. Mountain biking is different though, in that rocks, roots, sharp turns, and punchy climbs that litter mountain bike trails challenge the body in different ways.
So what does that have to do with joining a gym? Well, as much as I think gyms are dumb, I joined one.
I was shopping on Amazon for some home exercise equipment so I could perform strength training exercises at home in addition to my indoor cycling. I had about about $200 or so worth of stuff in my shopping cart but I still didn’t really have a good system for squats which would be a key strength exercise needed for the home gym. I was on the fence about hitting the order button.
Should I do it?
Let me think about it.
Then the annual insurance enrollment package can in the mail from my company. I was reading about the benefits and noticed they offered $150 for a fitness benefit. With $200 in my Amazon cart, that sounded like a no brainer. Then I read the details. You don’t get reimbursement for equipment. You do get reimbursement for a gym membership. Or Yoga, or dance classes or Zumba or I forget what else. Crap.
So I looked online at gyms to see how far $150 would get me. And at “The Gym” in Bloomfield, CT, you get a 3 month prepaid membership for $105. That would take me into 2019 where I can use another $150 towards renewing at $20/month, which gets me to summer, when I don’t need a gym anymore.
So who’s dumb now? Me. I’m spending around 20 minutes driving back and forth to “The Gym”. As far as gyms go, there’s nothing wrong with it. I go there, I lift some weights, and I leave. It feels like an awful waste of time but I paid for it, sort of, so now I’m going. I really can’t say I know what I’m doing when I get there. I’ve spent a lot of time researching exercises and weight training plans on line. Probably hours. Maybe more. But when I show up at the gym, I’ve got no plan. I have an app. Sometimes I use it. Most times I don’t. Maybe I need a personal trainer. The money might be better spent on psychotherapy. Probably. I don’t think that gets reimbursed in the company fitness plan, though.