Focus Friday Fitness

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I am so sick of what has become of the modern gym.

Flat screen TVs everywhere and not just in front of the treadmills, but everywhere, including the free weight room. The TVs show sports news, regular news, and tabloid news. Meanwhile the gym blasts high energy dance music at 7:30 AM, when everyone in the gym has at least one gray hair on their head. Why? Most the members have headphones on and are oblivious to their fellow patrons.

Personal trainers have never been more inconsiderate. Monopolizing several pieces of equipment while their clipboard rests on a bench that no one can use now.

Every year the gym becomes more and more distracting. It gets harder to focus. But this is what the people want. Many years I coined the term Glitter Gym. Everything is shiny, bright and loud. Gyms have become raves with much better lighting.

I can’t stand it anymore. I returned to my Glitter Gym to do knee rehab, which appears not to be working. Before I leave my gym in a few weeks to return to an outdoor Hillfit program, I would like to propose a compromise to the fitness community. I call it Focus Friday Fitness.

Glitter Gym

Photo by Sport UNE gym

Focus Friday Fitness

Give us patrons that want to engage in a serious focused workout just one day a week without distractions. I chose Friday for alliteration, but anyday is fine. On FFF, every TV in the gym will be turned off. The music played will be non distracting and at a lower volume. Maybe experiment with binaural beats? Or just turn off music completely! 

And of course, I must once again air my #1 grievance, which is the gym temperature is always too hot. On FFF, drop the temperature to 60F. Having a lower temperature will force members to focus on generating intensity to stay comfortable. Higher temperatures are distracting for those of us engaging in SuperSlow, static holds or other forms of HIT.

Remember the concept of working up a sweat? Modern Glitter Gyms are so warm, I work up a sweat signing in at the front door.

My dream will likely never become a reality. People crave distraction all the time now.

12 thoughts on “Focus Friday Fitness

  1. A gym rant! Yay!

    The televisions at the gym were a big reason why I quit going there. Someone would turn the sound on, someone else would have to interrupt their workout to turn it off again, someone would turn it on again, etc. Three cycles of this in one workout, once. Then one of the people who worked there might say something conciliatory like “turn it down,” when any volume at all can be incredibly distracting for some of us. No, turn it OFF. And then there was the TV in the corner where the sound increased on its own. I suggested to management they disable the sound, but they weren’t interested. They seemed to think that gym rules asking people to ask others first before turning the sound up would be sufficient. Nope.

    I realize some people need more noise in the background, but that’s what headphones are for.

    Temperature wasn’t an issue for me back then (it might be now). The other issue was when people sprayed the cleaner onto paper towel by holding the paper towel at a distance and spraying in its general direction. When the sun was at a particular angle I could see the droplets of cleaner fluid going everywhere in the air. Into the air we were breathing as we worked out. Clean the equipment you sweat on, yes. Fill the air with cleaner, not so much.

    Gyms would be so much better if it weren’t for all the people. Or if management were more on top of things.

  2. Hey Michael, I rarely comment anywhere but I’d been meaning to let you know that I get a ton of value from your website and it amazes me that we’re all so lazy around commenting. I’ve got my own site so I know how it feels and ‘still’ don’t comment.

    Anyway, I agree. Gyms have become hateful, isolated places. I hung out in them for many years and ended up working as a trainer. We used to be in the room to help everyone but now companies have their trainers focussed on landing personal training clients for commission. Back then it wasn’t always the best job, it would be intolerable now as there is just so little social contact to be had as we all hide behind our headphones. I think this is a symptom of something bigger around our unwillingness/ inability to engage with strangers but it’s a total pain. And what is with the stupidly loud music competing with our headphones? Someone really isn’t thinking this stuff through.

    I haven’t worked out in a gym for over two years as we’re currently nomadic so do a lot of bodyweight stuff aiming to never break a sweat 😉 Thanks for everything, your site is one of about 5 I follow.

    Michael.

  3. @Anemone – Thank you for reminding me about scent. Not only the cleaners, but those that arrive wearing more cologne and perfume that you would wear in a smoke filled nightclub pre-smoking ban.

    It is a weird business model in that those that pay the bills are the same ones that make it intolerable.

    @Michael – Thanks for the comment, especially about the headphones. I never wear headphones in the gym. Besides the anti-social aspect, I believe it is safety issue. One needs to be aware of what is happening around them, because unfortunately so many gym members are tuned out themselves.

    A few years ago I posted how a trainer was having his client run sprints inside the gym. At the time it was the most unbelievable thing I had witnessed. Now I see once a month.

    https://criticalmas.com/2008/12/tales-from-the-glitter-gym-unsafe-at-any-speed/

  4. I couldn’t agree more! This is why I haven’t had a gym membership for the past couple years. Nature is the more affordable, less distracting, more challenging workout environment!

  5. rob

    My complaint about the gym is people who want to talk, there is a middle-aged guy in one gym who at first I thought was hitting on me until he mentioned his daughter, turns out he is just desperately lonely. He parks himself near a water fountain so he can ambush people as they go to get a drink, and he will talk at you for a good 15 minutes, show you photos on his iphone, it’s ridiculous.

    So now I have to go way to the other side of the gym to get water.

  6. Tina

    Wow. This makes me realize how WONDERFUL my gym is. It’s OLD… and a bit musty at times… but quiet.
    NO TV’s – anywhere. No juice/smoothie bar, either. No social/gathering spots other than the 2 chairs in the lobby next to a coffee/tea/water pot.

    They do play music in the classroom – i.e. some Ooommmm music for yoga class.
    I might have heard music in the weight room once or twice – but most of the time it’s quiet except for the clunking of the machines.

    There are signs posted about taking phone calls outside. Don’t recall anything about music…

    Most people read magazines and/or listen to headphones while on the cardio equipment – looking out the big windows on the golf driving range outside.

    Hmmm… I think I’m inspired to head to the gym today!!
    Thanks for the post!!

  7. SimonM

    In my local (very much non-glitter) gym in east London there are only four TVs and no satellite channels so one of them is tuned to the free-to-air BBC Parliament channel. It makes for a rather surreal treadmill experience.

    Still too blinking hot in there as well.

    Or is there an as-yet-unidentified link between Critical MAS readers and heavy sweating?

  8. I use the gym at one of the Parks & Rec centers in Boulder – it has none of the problems you’ve highlighted. I’m surprised there isn’t something similar in Seattle… How about a YMCA?

  9. @Tina – Glad to hear the Glitter Gyms haven’t taken over completely.

    @SimonM – Yes, Critical MAS readers have higher metabolisms. We avoid PUFA and we periodically take cold showers. So we run hotter than the average person. 🙂

    @Glenn – I haven’t looked into an alternate gym. Need to get away. Go outdoors like @Becca.

  10. Geoff

    You know those distractions aren’t confined to just the gym. Almost every restaurant, cafe, bar, doctor’s office or other public gathering place has flat screens and music playing these days. Heck, even my local DMV branch has them. Since when did people need to hear music everywhere all the time 24-7. The DMV doesn’t even play calming music, which might help keep customer frustration down. It’s aggressive high energy pop and hip hop there.

    At least with a Glitter Gym I can understand making the environment unpleasant – they don’t want people lingering there. In fact the members they like best are the ones who pay their dues but never attend. It’s more profitable for them to have lots of members who don’t go. So making things slightly less pleasant is in their interest.

    Fortunately my gym probably qualifies as a “rust” gym – in the loading dock of a former warehouse. We occasionally listen to music while we lift, but there are no TVs and certainly no mirrors. It’s not well heated or cooled so it tends to run hot or cold. In the winter it would be just the right temperature for you MAS, but in the summer, not so much.

  11. @Geoff – Oddly, I don’t mind warmer temperatures when I am outside and the air is flowing. It is inside where it feel stifling.

    Gyms today are in a competition on which one has the most features and is the shiniest. Patrons imagine themselves using the pool, taking yoga classes and taking advantage of EVERYTHING. But they don’t.

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