By: Laura Williams
I managed gyms for seven years, followed by a four-year hiatus from gym membership of any kind. I just couldn't take it anymore -- the grossness, the smell, the weirdos who have seriously misguided views on fitness, everything. Yet gym membership persists as a seemingly necessary precursor to getting in shape.
While gyms are certainly an option for people looking to start a fitness regimen, they're far from the best option. Frankly, all you need to get fit is a body (hopefully you've got one), and a little internal motivation. So, before you sign away part of your paycheck each month, consider the case against gyms.
The dirt and germs
People are pretty gross, and gyms are one of the few places it's socially acceptable to let all the grossness flow. You've got sweaty people wearing dirty shoes as spittle flies from their mouths in every direction... and they're touching things. Lots of things. Everything. It's like one big germ-swapping orgy without any actual sex taking place (although... no promises there, either).
And if you think you're doing a good job of wiping equipment down and keeping yourself safe from Muscle Joe's flu or Cardio Candice's staph infection, think again. Unless wannabe Rambo wiped off the plate weights after unracking the bench press (he didn't), the next time you grab those plates, you're touching all of his lovely bacteria.
It's enough to turn anyone into a germaphobe, even at a well-maintained gym. Working out at home won't necessarily be any less gross, but at least it's your own grossness.
Gyms stink. Like, for real. You've got the stench of "sweaty bro" mixed with the overwhelming smell of slowly rusting iron, degrading rubber, and that guy who has officially entered ketosis. Ugh.
And that's all before you hit the locker rooms. (Don't get me started on the perils of too much Axe body spray.) Look, I'm not claiming I smell like a daisy all the time, but who wants to go hang out in other people's stink? Unless your gym has a serious cleaning program, your nose is gonna be a lot happier if you get your pump on at home.
The creepers, meatheads, and socializers
Just like the stereotypical cliques at every high school, there are certain kinds of people you can expect at every gym. You've got the creepers there to gawk at the opposite sex while pretending to work out; the meatheads grunting it out at the squat rack while they talk about protein powder; the cardio queens monopolizing the ellipticals while talking on their cellphones; and the socializers who sit on the equipment to laugh about the weekend's escapades without ever touching a weight.
These are all terrible human beings, and you're voluntarily paying to spend your time with them. Why? Just why? Don't you have enough annoyances in your everyday life?
Sure, most gyms are relatively quiet and calm at 3pm on Saturday -- you know, when you did your tour -- but come Monday at 6pm? Not a chance. Trying to get a turn on the treadmill is like battling your way through Walmart on Black Friday: everyone's fighting for access to something that's actually not that great.
And January. January at the gym is a veritable horror show of crowds. Sweaty, sweaty crowds, most of whom don't know what they're doing and will abandon ship within a month.
To find out the other reasons why joining a gym might be a bad idea, get the full story at Thrillist.com!
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