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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Where have all the good gyms gone?

Have you ever heard something, and you know you heard it, but later on it comes back around and really slaps you in the face??

Yeah that's kind of what happened this weekend.

I mean, it isn't anything that I didn't already know, or something that I hadn't noticed before, but this time it really hit me.  And then it was almost as if a panic of sorts set in.

Training is disappearing.  Real, honest to goodness training..with real weights..not inflated balls, rubber bands, or hollow cheap metal equipment.

You may look at me and think: "oh come on, you have no idea what you are talking about" but you would be sorely mistaken.  My roots in the industry go way back, as does my love of the gym and training with real weight; iron as we like to call it.

It goes back to the good ol days when there was only bodybuilding in the bodybuilding world.  No, fitness, figure, bikini, physique...just the real beef- bodybuilding.  Guys like Quadzilla Paul DeMayo, Tom Platz, and the like were all over the magazines.

You could walk into almost any gym and find a squat rack and plenty of plates to load the bar with.

Fast forward to this weekend.

We walk in to a 24 Hour Fitness (yeah, ok I know..but that is part of the point) and have to search for anything resembling a squat rack.  Finally, after having walked up 4 flights of stairs, through a labyrinth of rooms chock full of machines did we find one lone squat rack.  It was aaaaaaaaaallllllll the way in the back.  Literally.

I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that we walked through at least 4 rooms chock full of suspension training equipment, inflated balls, rubber bands, cheap machines,  and virtually every other piece of equipment you can think of except olympic bars and plates (and squat rack).

I thought to myself: "damn, they really don't want anyone to even know they have a squat rack."  The image this gym (and most others these days) presents is one of cardio and toys; nothing serious or intimidating.  Well, at least nothing that could be interpreted as such by Joe (or Josephine) Q. Public...don't want to scare them away.

What on earth has happened???

When did it become so scary to see a squat rack, or to see someone squatting, or deadlifting?

Is everything going the way of Planet Fitness? I call it the "aim for mediocrity" mindset.

Hasn't anyone noticed that we, as a society, are moving further and further from a state of health?

Interesting that this shift away from health mirrors the shift away from real training with real weights in a real gym.

This is what hit me like a ton of bricks all over again.

I've been there before, having the thought that all of the real equipment in the gym has been moved to the back, out of the line of sight of anyone just walking in the door.  Keep that stuff in the back and no one gets scared.  Riiiiiiiiight.  Keep it in the back and no one gets leaner, healthier, or fitter either. Spending your time doing endless hours on the less intimidating cardio equipment will do little good.

So came back to me the words of a good friend, Shawn Phillips, in one of his recent musings on The Kryptonite Report in which he discussed the disappearance of real gyms.

What gives, where have they gone?

Is it coincidence that more people hit the gym today than ever before yet the number of overweight and obese continues to grow??  (pun intended)

Clearly something isn't working.

Maybe getting back to hitting the iron in a real gym would help....
Just a thought.

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