After recently moving to Brooklyn, I found myself researching different gyms across the city to see which one fit my needs best. The ideal facility would be close by (within respectable walking distance), open at the appropriate hours, reasonably priced, and maintain a general level of order and cleanliness required by my not-so-delicate sensibilities.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, I found one that fit all the bills—a Planet Fitness less than half a mile away from my new home, open 24 hours a day, that didn’t smell like the inside of one of my high school’s gym lockers. With membership costing just $10 per month, I left thinking one thing: this is awfully convenient.
Convenience is a word consistently thrown around these days when it comes to fitness. There are specific programs designed to help people get complete workouts in the blink of an eye. Scientific research behind high intensity interval training (HIIT) suggests terrific benefits in exercising in short bursts followed by speedy rests akin to those of regular aerobic exercise that could take twice or triple the time. Infomercials fill the late night airwaves with workout regimens and devices that promise sculpted abs and arms with just a few minutes of committed exercise per day.
The same can be said of technology—a new fitness tracker seems to appear every other day, and despite their now well-documented security flaws, the market is in a boon. These trackers and various other applications make it easier to track heart rates, miles covered, energy exerted, and much more information that makes working out wholly more convenient for the user.
Perhaps it’s the natural progression of a given industry—proponents of capitalism would be quick to remind that supply is determined by demand, and that the convenience demand of consumers is driving the streamlining of convenience related fitness technological advances and services.
There’s one thing convenience removes from the fitness equation, however—the human element. It’s pretty hard to knock a gym open 24 hours any day of the week, especially given the hectic schedules and different lives people lead. But promises of hard-bodied success with just minutes of exercise can be equally counterintuitive. It might lead people to believe that the same fitness results might come with less work than previously thought, and though any gym trainer would tell you that’s not how things work, it’s long been how things are advertised.
Suffice it to say there’s no magic bullet to remove the convenience element from fitness advertising and sale. It’s become a large part of the market, and as long as people remain pressed on time and patience, it will remain so. I’ll be the first to admit that I well might be underestimating the collective intelligence of gym-goers and fitness freaks everywhere where the fitness industry is appropriately (or over) estimating. But when it comes to fitness, it’s important to realize that while convenience is what’s being offered, it’s not all that’s required.