A while ago, I saw this article asserting that most gyms are designed to make you not go there.
It’s a clickbaity article, and therefore its facts are inherently suspect, but it seems to gibe with my experience at my gym.
Or, more accurately, my emergency backup gym. My actual gym (the Enrgi Fitness of the sidebar) is great for several reasons that I should go into at some point. But it is a bit of a haul for me to get there, and there are days when it’s tough to justify the time investment. During the months when the weather isn’t really fricking cold, I’ll plan runs for those days, but in the winter, I got a cheapo membership at a terrible chain, just to have a place to go.
Now, I should make it clear: I really don’t have any complaints about what happened here—I went in with my eyes open, and got what I wanted out of the deal. But the place really does suck, and it’s nice that I’m able to distinguish between a good gym and a crappy one.
Why do I hate it? Let me count the reasons.
- So much crappy stuff I don’t want. The gym floor is at least 1/3 weight machines, which seem to suck. At least another 1/3 is cardio machines, which are okay, as far as they go. There’s a tiny little bit of open space which is nowhere near the free weights. Meanwhile, the free weights don’t have any space where you can use them if you’re not inside one of the racks. I’m not opposed to those, but I’m also not terribly familiar with them. The free weights are, as the article suggests, located at the far end. It’s not inviting, and I don’t care much about being not invited.
- Kettlebells. The gym used to have kettlebells in the open space—four of them. (One 30 pound, two 20 pound, and one 10 pound.) It recently got rid of even those, though.
- The steroids. I’ve never seen steroids used there, or anyone who appeared to be within 12 miles of having a steroid-built body. If you’re taking steroids and going to this gym, then something has gone deeply wrong. But the locker room has several prominent, permanent signs, warning everyone that steroids are strictly prohibited on the premises and detailing their potential side effects. Obviously there’s a reason, and that confuses and disturbs me.
- Suspicious behavior. Unlike the highly professional steroid signs, there are plenty of inkjet-printed signs warning you to watch out for and report any suspicious behavior. I’ve never seen any suspicious behavior there, but these signs sure make me expect some.
- The smell. It’s not sweaty gym smell, more like poo. But not like you’re in the toilet after Rush Limbaugh’s morning dump, more like you’re three doors down from an apartment that’s shared by a Polyphonic Spree-sized band that hasn’t had working plumbing for three weeks. That’s what the locker rooms are like.
- The classes. Or at least, the class. I only took one, and it was terrible. Over-choreographed bullshit, with lousy generic “fitness” music rather than anything that had actually been released. (Classic rock or punk is my preferred accompaniment, although pop crap is acceptable for workout purposes. This music didn’t rise to the level of pop crap, though.) In addition to the class being crap, the people taking it were dumbasses. Many would stop during the class, which I can accept, but some of them for some reason crossed into or just stood in my personal space. It wasn’t malicious; they were just oblivious to the idea that for other people, working out might involve movement. I just don’t get it.
Anyhow, I’m happy to report that this will soon be my ex-emergency backup gym. I’ve given the necessary notice, so shortly after the official beginning of spring my membership shall be terminated. As I said, I got what I needed, but I don’t think I’ll miss it.