Are All Gyms Really Gyms?

But wait, that place with all the weight equipment and machines whose business title includes the words “Gym” or “Fitness” might not really be a gym?  I will go as far to say that for what I consider to be a gym, some so called gyms are merely well designed businesses with a clever business model.

Everyones definition of a gym varies.  There is my longtime favorite Globo Gym ad from Dodgeball.  If you haven’t seen that in a while, check it out.  It’s hilarious.  Maybe at the most basic of levels a gym is merely a space where a person goes to improve their physical fitness.  The means and methods vary from person to person, of course, as well as the location.  Some people work out at home, some in hotels on the road, some at “gyms” and if you’ve ever been to Santa Monica then your favorite gym is probably the beach.

I’m going to lay out 3 criterion for what in my opinion makes a “gym” a REAL gym.

  1. There is a well researched, regimented, planned, and scheduled curriculum which members follow.
  2. The employees of the gym care about the member’s safety, fitness, and aspirations.  They are there to offer suggestions, provide support, and dutifully caution someone when they test the extent of their limits.
  3. Members get results.  Not some members, not the majority of members, but every member that follows the plan, shows up diligently, and plays full out gets results.  This IS the biggest distinguishing factor between a GYM and a gym.

I know, you may read this and say things like:

Q: “But Stets, what about equipment and weights?  Doesn’t a gym have to have some dumbells, barbells, treadmills, cycles, etc…?

A: Arguably, I’d go as far as to say that bodyweight exercises (pushup, pullup, squat) are as effective if not more so than throwing a barbell around.  Let me propose a question, if someone can deadlift a couple hundred pounds or power clean their body weight but can’t do 1 strict pullup, have they truly achieved fitness?

Q: “By your logic, 1 person working out in their garage achieving results would classify as a “real gym.”

A: Absolutely.  And hats off to them!  I wish I had that kind of discipline.  More traditionally we associate “gym” as a place we physically go and exercise with other people.  There are benefits to this community type system and I am a huge proponent of the buddy system.  However, it is not necessary.  A solo individual who plans their exercise, acts as their own coach and moderator, and gets results from their personalized program has built their own REAL gym in my opinion.  Easier said than done.

I don’t have anything against the corporate gym giants.  As the matter of fact, I was a happy member of a $20 million dollar fitness club in Kansas City for quite a while.  This particular establishment boasted that it was capable of serving up to 10,000 members, and I believe it.  The club was HUGE.  I spent quite a bit of time there, because it was across the street from my apartment, and I became friends with some of the trainers.  I was curious, so I asked what their active member base was.  The trainers told me that less than 20% of the members visited the facility more than 1x per week.

This means that these gyms don’t make money off people that visit the gym 3 or more times per week.  Those are less than a quarter of their member base!  The other 3/4 of members that aren’t in the gym tying up resources and wearing out equipment more than pay for members who use the facility regularly.  It’s a genius business model, and I’d be lying if I said that I’m not impressed by it.

The 3 criterion I’ve presented are my idea of what a fitness facility should strive to be.  It goes without saying that there is no one perfect gym, but those that are chasing these three criterion are no doubt striving to be of the highest value to the customer.

The O-Board Says…

**Killer Kettlebells**
Complete for Time:
200 KB Swing
150 Goblet Squat
100 KB Russian Twist
50 KB Step Ups
Team of 2, 1 working at a time

Post by Stets.