The recent post on Five Things Every Gym Should be Doing reminded of me of why I abandoned the last traditional fitness centre of which I was a member. I blogged about it then, in 2006. I decided to re-post it here, since the reasons still largely apply:
This week I said goodbye to my health club membership. In part, it’s for the usual reason. I am not there enough to justify the cost. I have a Y membership and like lifting weights at the Y better–more free weights and less attitude. I also prefer my cardio outdoors–biking, cross country skiing, running along the river. And I’ve fallen in love with the Velodrome and track biking. Pure speed and pleasure. Yum.
But I did love the Bodyflow classes at Goodlife–nice mix of tai chai, yoga, and pilates. Fast paced for attention deficit disorder exercisers like me. If I could have tele-transported into the classes, avoiding the ads and the locker room, I’d have done it. But I really couldn’t take the emphasis on weight loss and physical beauty, where that means skinny and 20. It wasn’t even presented as one of the many goals one might have.
I’m okay with some people wanting to lose weight and that being their reason for going to the gym. It’s one goal among many: get faster, lift your kids without pain, staying flexible and keeping your balance in your 80s…. But the quest for the perfect body and weight loss was the only thing promoted in the women’s change room.
I love the Y locker room for its range of body shapes and sizes, tattoos and wrinkles, all ages, physical and mental abilities. In Goodlife the mostly pretty, mostly 20-35 year old, women hid behind towels. Too modest for me. I made a point of stripping naked there, walking across the room, and talking to friends naked, any excuse to change the norm.
Anyway, I complained about the weight loss posters. Emailed head office. No reply. Talked lots to my friends and to the instructors and got sympathy but no progress.
A staff member at work tried their weight loss program which consisted of a 1400 calorie a day starvation diet. She was told she’d be too weak some days to do much exercise.
Final straw? A spin class instructor-skinny minnie–talking to a class about how fat she was and how many calories we’d burn in an hour. Did I care? No. I was there as a cyclist to maintain speed, fitness over the winter. She was the thinnest person there! Did she think the women in that class would find that motivational?
ARGH. I quit. Having discovered what I love about being fit and about exercise–speed,the outdoors, being strong, going fast and hard for as long as I can–I thought I could reenter a traditional gym and keep my healthy body image intact. I was wrong.
Bye bye Goodlife.