Monday, November 16, 2009

Fear factor: The culture of gyms

It's time for another Rhode to Fitness poll because I'd like to hear what you think about gyms.

I have been a member of several different gyms for the better part of the last 20 years. For the most part, I have enjoyed my experiences at them. They have given me access to equipment that I don't have at home, their collective energy has been a great motivator, they have allowed me to learn from others, and I have met some truly nice and interesting people at them.

But there have also been times when I've found the whole gym culture a bit alienating. They can be cliquish places, and the rampant narcissism within them is maddening at times.

I started wondering about others' experiences in gyms a few days ago when I found myself lifting weights amid a group of bulky men who would finish their sets by dropping their 80- or 100-pound dumbbells to the floor with a loud grunt and a resounding thud. I wasn't the least bit intimidated to work out among them, but I wondered whether maybe other women, or even men, might have been.

Or what about someone who is trying to lose weight and has some body-image issues. How might he or she feel walking into a place where rippling muscles and low body fat are the predominant bodily features?

These questions were going through my mind as I contemplated the type of personal trainer I want to be, and the type of clients I think I can best serve.

So, my question is: In general, do you feel comfortable in a gym?


  1. I do find gyms somewhat intimidating. The after work crowd feels like a college gym. It's helpful to have an ipod like most of the people in there, that way you can be in your own world.

  2. After what I've been through, I'd better start getting comfortable at the gym -- tell the gang I may be getting out to the hospital today

  3. Paul, is that really you? THE Paul? I'm glad to hear you're doing better -- we miss you! And if you ever need a personal trainer, you know where to find one!