For the sake of context, I should probably begin by describing my experiences at the big gym that I joined. XSport fitness is a 24-hour one-stop fitness shop. Crossfitters call gyms “boxes” and the large gyms “big boxes”, or more disdainfully, “Globo-gym” (after the hilarious depiction of Ben Stiller’s gym in the movie Dodgeball).
As you walk into XSport, you realize that this gym has been designed to anticipate and meet your needs. Want to pump iron? We’ve got every kind of machine imaginable. Want to swim? We’ve got a salt-water pool. Want to ball? We’ve got a court with six hoops. Want to be outdoorsy? We’ve got a climbing wall where you can self-belay. Want to just hang out? We’ve got an Internet cafe that serves “healthy” recovery shakes. Got kids? We’ve got a daycare. Need to clean up? We’ve got showers, a sauna and as many towels as you could want. There’s not even a need to miss your favorite shows: we have 300 televisions, since every treadmill, elliptical, rowing machine and stair-master has a personal flatscreen.
Their marketing slogan: “We’re All About You.”
Upon further examination, however, you begin to wonder if this is actually the case.
The base price to join the gym is low ($35/month), but there are all kinds of extras to add on if you need them (and you need them). They work hard to get you involved in their programs that increase their sales: personal training, tanning, massage therapy. They give you a “free fitness evaluation” which is designed to show you how out of shape you are before recommending 20-150 sessions at $50-80 each. They push hard to get you to buy the PT sessions, buy supplements and an expensive heart rate monitor.
Ironically, they also have promotional days when they bring in a bunch of free junk food, as a gift to all their members. I asked Scott what this was about, and he said, “These are the days that we try to increase our sales by getting people to eat crap. If I see you go anywhere near it I will kill you.”
Not wanting to be killed any more than he was already killing me, I didn’t go anywhere near the food. But it made me think that maybe this gym didn’t care as much about my fitness as my money. They are less concerned with building my body and more concerned with building their brand.
XSport is like a mega-church for fitness. It is a gym built with the consumer in mind. It begins by asking, “what do the people want?” rather than “what do the people need?” There is a huge difference between the two.
In the world of fitness, people wants options: they wants to feel good about working out without paying too much of a physical price. But what most people need is a program that will actually challenge them and force them to get healthy and fit. We need truth, discipline, and purpose, not coddling and Krispy Kreme.
In the larger world the same is true. We want comfortable self-help with lots of options. We want results without paying the price.
But we need something far more painful. We actually need to change.
Monday: Church of Crossfit (3): Stop Doing Bicep Curls
Question: Any stories about joining a gym?