As the New Year hurtles toward us here in the States, gyms are beginning to (even more than usual) write checks that their actual results can’t cash. But don’t worry, when their promises turn out to be not worth the annoying postcards they’re printed on, they’ll blame you for failing, and try to sell you the same thing again next year.
Gyms will promise almost anything to get you in the door – weight loss, a certain look (“long, lean muscles”, “sculpted muscles” etc.) But they can’t provide a single study that shows that more than a tiny fraction of people achieve these results, let alone maintain them long-term.
If gyms were honest, I think they would say something like this:
Thanks for considering joining our gym. We want to tell you up front that we can’t guarantee anything, and any gym that says they can is trying to take advantage of you. Our bodies – including their size, shape, the type of muscle we build, health, abilities and athletic potential – are complex and influenced by a number of factors, many of which are out of our control.
The evidence suggests that exercise is a good way to help increase our odds for health (which is not an obligation, a barometer of worthiness, or guaranteed under any circumstances.) If you’re just starting out, or starting over, that’s great. No need to go too hard too fast – you don’t want to be the most fit person in traction. Besides, the research shows that even a little bit of movement can be beneficial and most of the benefits of movement can be gained from about 30 minutes of movement about 5 times a week. And it can be any movement, it can even be broken up into smaller bits.
We know that the research shows that internal motivation works better than external motivation, and that the first step to deciding how you want to take care of your body is realizing that your body is worthy of care, so you won’t find any body shaming trainers or messages here. We recommend that you find some movement that you really enjoy at a time that is as easy as possible for you to make.
You’ll notice that our gym has instructors, trainers, and pictures with positive images of people of all sizes, because of course “fitness” and “health” are not a body size. You are not a “before” picture and there is no “after” picture, there’s just “during” and we’re glad that you are here.
That’s what I think gyms would say if they were telling the truth.
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