The gym is changing. The fitness industry has seen growth and evolution the past two decades. It is radically different than it was 20 years ago.
I remember starting my fitness journey 21 years ago at the YMCA on Cypresswood and 249 in Houston. Then coming to Texas A&M and working out at the Rec Center during college. Later on in college I joined the Aggieland Fitness Dome where I later started my business.
Anytime I would travel I would look forward to finding a gym to workout at. I visited countless Golds Gyms, 24 Hour Fitness locations, Lifetime Fitness, Anytime Fitness and many more.
For old time sake I wanted to checkout a 24 Hour Fitness in Austin last week. It had been years since I stepped into a gym like this. Most of the time if I visit a gym these days it’s a crossfit gym.
I was shocked at what I saw. Although there were over 40 people in the gym no one said a word to one another. Nearly everyone had headphones in their ears and not one person even had a workout partner. The community aspect of the gym was missing entirely. I realize this was one gym and one moment in the day but I feel it is very reflective as to the direction this type of gym is going.
I believe there are two types of gyms these days. Big gyms like the one I am describing and small gyms like the one I own. Twenty years ago I remember the big gyms providing a social atmosphere that was welcoming and interactive. This was one of my favorite parts of going to the gym and still is.
Some will argue that the gym is not the place to be social and I believe the opposite. You can still get in great workouts and interact with friends. And I have seen people more likely to commit long term to the gym because there is a social component.
The new gym which I am calling GYM 2.0 recognizes the need for social interaction and encourages it. People who make friends at the gym and workout with others are more likely to continue attending which ultimately keeps them healthy long term.
The original gym would say the same. I would bet that if you told someone 20 years ago that one day you will go to the gym put your headphones in and not talk to anyone they would call you crazy.
As the new year approaches and you are looking for a gym my recommendation would be to find a gym that has a community aspect to it. Go make some new friends and get to know the people at the gym. This is just as beneficial to your health as the exercise component. We need community in our lives.