Gym’ll fix it?

By: Ross Campbell

Date: 26 January 2010

Every business has its sales peaks and troughs. A gym in January is supposedly one of the classic peaks. “I’ve eaten too much turkey, I must go to the gym and punish myself”.

The small club I run in Bristol was founded on the concept of “ethical exercise”, because we are not dealing with inanimate objects, but real people. In practice, we pride ourselves in telling people what they need to do, which usually differs from what they wanted to hear. This concept is not unique to the fitness industry.

The big question for us is this: Should we take advantage of the public’s desire to abuse themselves with a gym machine on the assumption that if we don’t take their money someone else will? We could put the fund to good use. Or should we “maintain our professional integrity” and tell them the truth, that it’s better (for the body’s physical and psychological health) to bang your head against a brick wall for 30 minutes than attempt to purge excesses with exercise?

The question is further complicated by both our hot water and central heating boilers breaking down in December, requiring an outlay of just over £1,500. It would, of course, be tempting to try to recoup that from some January lemmings.

In one of my favourite training handbooks, Superslow by Ken Hutchins, there is a chapter about the “Real vs assumed objective”.

The Real objective is to deliberately stress the body to illicit a response for the better (faster, stronger, etc). The assumed objective is to set yourself a target (eg 12 reps/5km) and cheat just to get there.

As I often do, this was applied to the above “big question”, which leads to the following answer. My business is based upon ethical exercise and it must succeed or fail on this principle, otherwise the Real objective is compromised.

Please don’t think I’m preaching. I still haven’t got the heating fixed, but I’m sleeping well at night.

Ross Campbell, The Exercise Club


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