“The main dangers in this life are people who want to change everything……..or nothing.”
– Nancy Astor
Someone came up to me the other day to tell me about a gym they went to recently when they were out of town. They went on to describe the cavernous room that was completely stocked with equipment. Rows and rows of “cardio” with enough weight machines to work every part of the body at every conceivable angle. I’m sure they were attempting to illustrate our gym’s glaring inadequacies but all I could think of to say was “That’s terrible!”. Judging from the shocked expression on their face I’m guessing that they were expecting a different reply. Many of you have expressed concerns to me that we appear to be getting rid of equipment so that we can have more room for personal training. I won’t deny that we want people in our training programs. Yes, it’s good for business, but more importantly we are the professionals. Unfortunately, until the last few years fitness has been largely a “do-it-yourself” industry. Not too many folks go to the auto shop and fix their own car or go to the salon and cut their own hair (and you know what they say about the man who is his own lawyer!). Yet people come to the gym all the time with absolutely no idea what they’re doing and start hopping from machine to machine. Thankfully, that mindset is beginning to evolve. We see that more and more people want training. How else do you account for the meteoric rise of training-centric gyms in this country (i.e. Crossfit, Soul Cycle, Hot Yoga, etc.) But personal training is not the primary reason you see more open space in our gym. We believe the main focus of training should be to move better – and that doesn’t happen when you sit on machines. We want you to move!!
These same people who complain that we don’t have enough machines never mention the fact that we have more kettlebells, dumbells, medicine balls, battling ropes, TRX’s etc. than ever before. These are functional strength tools. Tools that help you move better! And unlike many health clubs around we don’t keep these tools locked up in a special room called the “Functional Training Area”. Our entire gym is a “Functional Training Area”. You see, back in the 80’s two thing happened in the fitness industry that we are still trying to recover from – the introduction of Nautilus and the explosion of bodybuilding.
In the 80’s, this was considered the epitome of fitness. These chemically enhanced, pumped-up meatheads represented the aspirations of mainstream gym rats everywhere. If you went to the gym, the reason was to look like this. No one particularly cared if this guy was athletic or could move well. It was, and unfortunately sometimes still is, all about how you looked in the mirror. This, combined with Nautilus’ revolutionary line of variable resistance, selectorized machines, launched three decades of sitting to get fit.
Luckily, we are now getting back to the way things used to be. The new image of fitness is lean and athletic, not over-pumped and stiff. We train by focusing on functional strength that is based on human movement. That is the origin of fitness. One only has to look at the history of the Wareing family to see a parallel to the history of fitness. John Wareing wasn’t able to perform any of his incredible feats of strength by sitting on machines (or, for that matter, working on every muscle in isolation like a bodybuilder). He moved, he lifted, he ran – and inspired others to do the same.
Yes, the gym is changing. Everything changes. The car you drive, the phone you use, the television you watch – are all drastically different from what they were thirty to forty years ago. If your workout hasn’t changed in that same period then it’s time to ask for help. Kettlebells, ropes, dumbbells – these “modern” pieces of training equipment have been around for generations. The modern picture of fitness is now what it used to be before steroids, Nautilis and cable TV changed everything – lean, muscular, athletic, healthy and fit! We are attempting to rediscover not only our roots, but the roots of an industry. So if you see more space to move in the gym, remember, that’s a good thing! Fitness is movement, and movement is life.