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Sweat inequity and the evolution of group fitness

As Co-Owner of City Fitness Gym, Cleveland Park’s neighborhood gym, I take issue with the statement “Gyms suggest a lack of structure, intensity and discipline” in the article Sweat Equity in the December 3, 2015 Style section.

Workouts should have structure – the right variety of fitness classes, personal trainers, and tailored workouts provide that in a gym setting. Workouts should provide intensity – and that means different things to different participants, some want to feel the burn and scream, others find pain to be long-lasting and negative. Workouts do need discipline to be effective – trainers provide that for some; group fitness classes bring a social accountability to others.

The Council of the District of Columbia gave us a Resolution as the Longest-Standing Woman owned Fitness business in the District.  We have been in the fitness business for 33 years. We have survived all the fitness trends and continue in our commitment to improve the health and fitness of the community. We did not accomplish this longevity by promoting an elitist attitude, unrealistic physical appearance or a cult like atmosphere with short-term “Killer Workouts” that promise quick results and end in long-term overuse injury from unbalanced programming. Maybe our unique position of being a neighborhood “boutique” gym allows us to offer more attention and promotes adherence.

The article suggests that the Type-A personality is new to DC and that what they seek more stress and pressure. Type-A’s have been here from the beginning. Some thrive off of more stress, but many crave a haven from the storm. When 9-11 occurred, when the Wall Street collapse occurred, when other large stressors have affected our community, our attendance has gone up. What activities were busier? Yoga, group strength, and other mind-body modalities. People did not seek torture, they wanted nurturing and peace. We have many members, Type-A’s and not, who have been exercising in our friendly community for 25-30 years who could not have made it to their Silver years healthy and strong if they focused only on High-Intensity Training Trends.

Don’t get me started on some of the statements or words in this article that I found offensive: HURTS LIKE HELL.  HURTS SO GOOD.  POUNDING.  BODY-NUMBING. HATE IT OR HATE IT YOGA.  MISERABLE.  INSTURMENTS OF TORTURE.   S & M.   FIRE. SCREAMING, FIENDS, BLACK OUT, OBSESSION. These words belong in the article below RUN, HIDE, FIGHT. AND GET USED TO IT, about 355 mass shootings this year in the United States. This is an interesting juxtaposing of articles to say the least. This attitude is not a recipe for longevity but a set up for exercise burnout.

There is nothing new under the sun. What many of these programs have done is to rename and amp up already existing exercise practices. You can take Pilates and yoga, combine them (which has been done for decades) and “Power” market them with a new name…and they are still Pilates and yoga, but not necessarily safer or better. Add a celebrity smile to your marketing and suddenly you have a sensation. Kudos to their marketing teams, but one wonders if their safety guidelines and teacher training can properly keep up with the demand.

An interesting article to write might be the evolution of group exercise and what it does for people. In my 52 years, I have been in a Sports Illustrated workout video, I brought Ashtanga Yoga into the DC gym market, I have taught step, strength, slide, hi/lo, circuit classes, interval training, Pilates and now pole dancing. I get the need for variety and challenge the mind and the body. Our gym offers a huge variety of classes and types of trainers to provide that variety and structure to our clientele. We encourage everyone to work on all fitness components – cardio-respiratory, body composition, muscular strength, endurance, and flexibility. We also encourage balance – physical and mental. I personally use the Medicine Wheel as a guide for wholeness and wellness and we use these same principles to guide our members.

I end this with words that I feel would benefit the Type-A, work-obsessed people of this city and world at large:











How we journey there may be the most interesting story of all.

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