Editor’s Note: it’s strange how Angry Ed writes about gyms in this post and how he’s so in shape but didn’t provide a photo for this entry.
The human body is the only machine known to actually improve with use. I’ve heard a hundred excuses for not working out. My favorite, and the most commonly used is, "I just don’t have time." Sorry, but that’s an outright lie. If you have 1.5 hours, 2 nights a week to sink into the sofa and watch an effeminate Englishman berate and belittle bad karaoke singers on TV, you have more than enough time to move a little weight around, or jog a few miles.
Maybe one day, when you look in the mirror and think you’re in the funhouse, you’ll find the motivation to lift something heavier than the remote. If and when that day comes, you might decide to join a gym. But which gym is right for you? For your future research efforts, I offer you, "THE DIFF" between gyms.
There are three types of gyms I categorize as follows; The Meat Market, The Freak Show, and The Prison Yard. Examples of each and an explanation are below.
The Meat Market
In Los Angeles, Chicago and most other major cities, these are best exemplified by "Crunch Fitness." These gyms are clean; the equipment is well maintained; the temperature is comfortable; the staff is knowledgeable (somewhat), and most importantly, their members are predominantly beautiful people. Before you scoff at the idea of choosing a gym based on the physical beauty of its existing members, you should know, research suggests that working out with an attractive member of the opposite sex in clear view can actually produce enhanced results. In a double-blind study conducted by scientists using test tubes, models and equations, 9 out of 10 men ran 6 – 10% faster on treadmills located next to, or simply in clear view of a beautiful woman. During the run, testosterone levels were recorded 12% higher in these men when compared to levels recorded in the same situation, one day earlier, without the presence of the attractive woman. The raised level of testosterone fosters an enhanced performance and a more vigorous workout. Over time the higher energy training yields greater muscular and cardiovascular gains.
Because of the "eye-candy" at these gyms, members often meet, socialize and date, hence the category name. Beware; this added amenity comes at a high price. Meat Markets typically cost upwards of $200 just to join, and require a monthly fee of $50 to $80 to maintain membership. Other fringe benefits include free towels, complimentary daycare during your workout, free toiletries, Olympic-sized pools, racquet ball courts, and much more, but really, who cares — it’s all about the chicks and you know it. Incidentally, the "double-blind" study… I made it up. I don’t even know what "double-blind" means.
The Freak Show
These gyms, best exemplified by a certain company claiming to offer "Total Fitness," are everywhere, and the size or population of the town is immaterial. They’re fairly clean, the equipment is old and somewhat poorly maintained; the staff is uncertified, unhealthy and unenthusiastic; customer service is poor, and again, most importantly, the members are the oddest, oldest, fattest, unattractive people you’ve ever seen. Many of them stink and have no concept of gym etiquette; they slam weights, leave sweat puddles on the benches and walk slowly on the treadmills so that they can read vanity magazines. That last one may just be a personal pet-peeve, but for God’s sake, walk around your damn living room and read "US Weekly." Don’t come to the gym and occupy a machine that could otherwise be put to good use!
Because of the LACK of "eye-candy" at these gyms, members rarely meet, socialize or date, and for that, society should be thankful, as the gene pool would surely suffer were these facilities ever to become breeding grounds. On the plus side, these gyms are incredibly affordable, offering memberships for as little as $19 / month. As a result, any decently attractive members are usually broke, and/or exceptionally cheap. Incidentally, I am a member at the above mentioned example of a Freakshow. The membership was a gift from a former employer, and now my monthly cost is $4 for life. Even though the price of a membership with a Meat Market would pale in comparison to my average weekend bar tab, I can’t with good conscience, raise my monthly gym budget by over 1000%.
The Prison Yard
Here you’ll find contenders for the cover photo on Muscle magazine – giant men with bulging veins over biceps so large and overworked they’ve developed sharp edges. Like inmates, the members wander around the general population from bench to bench, stopping occasionally for intravenous drug use. They’re in the gym 2 hours a day, twice a day. The crashing of weights and grunting overpower the classic rock blaring from the circa 1990 Marrantz stereo system behind the unmanned front counter. There is no customer service, because if you need help with something, you probably shouldn’t be there. There’s no eye-candy, as it would only be a distraction and the complete lack of amenities allows for an exceptionally low monthly membership fee, set arbitrarily by the only employee, the owner.
So, no more excuses. Use it or lose it. Whether you’re a freak, an inmate, or, uh… meat, there’s a gym out there for you. Just be honest with yourself and choose wisely, for the wrong gym could yield very negative results. What do I mean by that? Allow me to illustrate without a lengthy explanation; As a new member, you probably wouldn’t want to be fresh "meat" in a prison yard.