Like clockwork, gyms across the country bombard us with ads promising a “new and better you” every January. And while most fitness clubs and studios see a spike in business that coincides with New Year’s resolutions, it’s not long before these newbies go AWOL and gym floors return to mediocre attendance levels. But not all health clubs are willing to throw in the sweaty towel so to speak. These days, more and more of them are coming up with creative ways to stave off the dwindling numbers, boredom and lack of motivation that many clients face.
Crunch, which has 31 locations across the country, offers a variety of classes to cater to their ever-changing audience. Antigravity Yoga Wings challenges you to stretch further and hold poses longer while suspended in a fabric trapeze. Broadway Dance Series: Sister Act is a sort of gospel aerobic class where you move to the movie’s original soundtrack, and Glee Club is similar, only using this show’s tunes for choreography. If you’re interested in something a little more worldly, you can try the Moroccan Roll belly-dancing class, the Afro-Brazilian dance or the Global Moves class. They have even had a yoga workout with dogs and a fire-fighter themed class.
Crunch also offers a class called Motivation that entices members to attend and possibly win a trip to New York to workout with singer Kelly Rowland, and like many other top facilities, they offer only the most sophisticated, technology-driven strength-training and cardio equipment.
Another high-end fitness facility, Equinox, also offers a continually changing list of classes based on the latest research and trends–like their ViPR class which is run entirely on a rubber cylindrical weight. They also rely on ambiance and amenities with special attention paid to music, decor, special events and even cold, eucalyptus-sprayed towels.
All of this is enough to get even the most reluctant exerciser off the couch initially, but does it go too far? Are gyms offering too much pampering, too many social activities and too much confusing technology that they are losing their identity as a place to simply get fit?
I used to belong to my local gym. But it wasn’t long before I became frustrated with trying to figure out how all the equipment worked and trying to stay focused amidst the blaring TV’s, slamming weights and grunts from the heavy lifter types. I also spent a good deal of time trying to avoid the chatty Cathy’s–you know, the people who are more interested in standing around socializing than sweating (Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t talk when I workout. Talking is done over coffee and wine, not the hum of a treadmill.) And call me a germaphobe, but I could never bring myself to sit down on a machine that had the remnants of the last guy’s sweaty bottom all over it.
So yes, I was one of the thousands of gym members who went AWOL. But that’s just me. I know plenty of people who love the gym and would not be motivated without it. I have just found that I respond better doing all of my workouts outdoors, where I find roads as my treadmill, park benches as my push-up station, pools as my resistance training and hills as my strength training with nary a Glee Club soundtrack or fabric trapeze in sight. Although a cold eucalyptus-sprayed towel sure would be nice.