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Part II of a Renegade's Big Box Gym Lament

As some of you are aware, in my previous article, I outlined some of the major differences in philosophy between Hordon Health and the U.S. standard "big box" gyms. Now, I would like to recount the day that served as the straw  that broke the camel's back, to turn a phrase, in my experience with Joe Fit.

My relationship with Joe Fit came to an abrupt and unceremonious end shortly after I moved to Boston. At the time, I was an avid Crossfit athlete, and as such had a very intense and decidedly different workout from the standard Joe Fit hamster on an elliptical machine.

Don’t look negatively upon my past, my fellow Renegades. I know now that the Crossfit style of training was responsible, either indirectly from the lack of focus on correct form, or directly, through the brutal pace, heavy loads, and wild dynamics required, for several of my chronic injuries. I now am also aware that Crossfit totally ignores giant areas of my physique, any functional range of motion and hip mobility and hindered my development as an overall athlete almost as much as it expanded it, but I'll expunge on that in a later article.

I strolled into the Porter Square Joe Fit location down the street from my Cambridge, Massachussetts home on a weekday afternoon, purposely during a very low volume time in Joe Fit, between the midday exercisers and the after work crowd. I was greeted at the door by a staff member telling me my minimalist footwear was not considered appropriate workout attire at Joe Fit.

Annoyed, but far from outraged, I started my warmup with jump rope. Seconds into my routine, I was informed that jumping rope was not allowed at Joe Fit. Inconvenienced, but still composed, I stepped outside to turn rope in the parking lot. I came back in, and continued my warm up with headstands. As soon as I inverted, I could see the same staffer coming over to me. “Hey man, we don’t allow any inverted exercise here”.” What?” I was now angry, “I can’t stand on my hands or head?” The answer came back a definitive, “No”. I clarified that he did know he had already told me my shoes and jump rope were against the rules, and I wondered aloud whether he was trying to get me to quit working out altogether.

My warm up had no flow to it due to the constant interruptions to inform me of my latest infraction. Now fully incensed, I decided to take my aggression out on my workout, albeit very quietly, as I didn’t want to incite the dreaded “Lunk Alarm”.

I was a church mouse. I have never expended so much energy more quietly in my life. On the last rep of my last set, I blew air forcefully out on the pulling part of what was, by then, my 50th L-pull up.

As soon as I set my feet down, Mr. Staffer was on me, saying that "there's no grunting", "(I) should keep it down", and he "didn’t want to have to ask me again". “Please get your Manager, and the paperwork to terminate my membership” was my reply. I calmly explained to the Manager how ridiculous it all was, and wrote a series of letters to the franchisee, and Joe Fit’s corporate office, and never heard anything back.

In their zeal to make the least fit member more comfortable, they fully alienated at least one (surely, I'm not the only one) of the fit people. My letters contained so many questions that now hung unanswered. I pose these questions to you, Renegades and not; has America's comfort with obesity infiltrated the very places that are supposedly helping us control our bulging waists? Shouldn’t people be encouraged to break personal records, push themselves, and try new forms of exercise? What is the corporate goal of Joe Fit? Shouldn't they admit that they are choosing to keep their clients and their bottom line fat, rather than improving their members' lives? Is this discrimination against the physically fit a symptom of America’s obesity epidemic?

I encourage, and look forward to some brisk discussion. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to head in to Hordon Health for some fun, possibly noisy, probably inverted, functional exercise. Anyone care to join me?

1 Comment to Part II of a Renegade's Big Box Gym Lament :

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Coach Q on Wednesday, November 02, 2011 10:45 AM
Great article CASH and it serves as both and expose and warning to the general populus that most of the fitness industry in America really has no desire to make you truly healthy. Speaking for myself, although I believe it to be true for you as well, it is truly a blessing for me to have found Renegade and Hordon Health where a functional approach to fitness and health has not only revolutionized my athletic ability, but my general ability to live a long, healthy, and active life! Thanks for writing!
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