I caved. I decided that the heat is oppressing, that running outside can get boring, and that sometimes I just need to get on a stationary machine that goes nowhere and lift heavy objects. I am looking to sign my soul to a gym.
I hate gyms, not because of the equiptment and the grunting weight lifters, but because I hate upselling and the selling of ideas.
I am not a stranger to the gym. I know how to use most machines and if I don’t, I’m not afraid to figure it out or ask for help. I realize for some people, they need assistance and that’s great. But if I take a tour of a gym, I don’t need the play-by-play and when being guided, I’d like to be heard when I say, “no thanks” “got it” “let’s move on.”
With memberships in the DC metro region averaging $70+ a month, I’m not going to get the added on features, like pool access for $119 – $159 a month. I am an avid and talented doggy paddler, but I’d rather jump through a sprinkler on the way to work than pay that kind of mula to get in a pool that I’m sure everyone pees in (come on, this isn’t just a kiddie pool problem).
In addition, on top of my $70+ membership, I don’t want to pay somebody to tell me to workout and how to workout. I don’t even want a free personal training session. I’m not going to sign-up or be pressured to sign-up. If I decide that I want to, you, Mr. or Mrs. Trainer, you will be the first to know and to take my money. But as long as I’m in the world of nonprofits and more keen to pay for rent than sore muscels, a super cut bicep will be the last of a long string of indulgences.
By far, the most irritating aspects of gym culture is the dumbass marketing campaigns. Recently, an Equinox gym in Maryland posted this advertisement:
Look, this ad would be perfect if it was advertising a pool table, a dress, a bar, or even alcohol, but no where does it scream “I’m a gym! Sweat now!” This ad says sex and billiards. I guess the inference the audience is to make is that you can look hot by going to any Equinox gym and you will get these results and totally get banged by any guy/girl especially when dolled up and playing pool incorrectly. Oh yeah. I feel so good about myself and so do the novice exercisers and the grandma’s who go to their 10am senior aerobic’s class. Way to isolate your clientele, Equinox (even if you had the best equipment and cheapest rates, I would never become a member because I think this kind of shit makes you suck).
Gym messaging is super irritating for both men and women. Men are supposed to get jacked until their necks disappear because they’ve been swallowed by their shoulder muscles. Women are supposed to be 19 year-old runway models whether they are 12 or 50.
I recently read a blog post about how “Strong is the New Thin.” How about we stop marketing about an ideal body and work to get to one we can live with happily. One where we don’t demonize food and drink or a lazy day. One where we don’t have to be 110 pounds of solid muscles and 5 pounds underboob. One where guys don’t have to bench press four times their weight. Let’s focus on a reasonable, healthy lifestyle where, yes, we can look good, but one where we are happy.
So, Washington Sports Club, your ad about, “We guarantee you aren’t just grilling veggies” is unacceptable. Stop demonizing food and developing unhealthy, uninformed relationships with food, creating guilt and an inner sense of failure even before we step foot in your establishment. Be better than that.
Anyway, it may seem silly that I want to join a gym when I do run outside and I do dance during the week and I do loathe the gym culture, but I also like the variety and the choice when I go and even enjoy the “me-time” I get there. I want to be healthy and happy without the pressure of an upsell or demoralizing ad campaign.
With that, let the search begin!