Another ‘What if?’ story . .
During a recent transoceanic conversation with Moussequetaire, esnl’s passionate and acutely intelligent muse, we discovered a mutual bemusement with the “gym” industry.
Back when esnl was a young sprite, gyms were dark, malodorous places, brimming with testosterone and devoid of estrogen, equipped with boxing rings, speed and heavy bags, and peopled with pugs and cigar-smoking would-be wiseguys reading the daily Racing Form between whispered calls to their bookies.
By the time esnl moved to the West Coast a few years later, gyms still exuded the scent of testosterone-tinged sweat, though the boxing rings had largely vanished, replaced by barbells, dumbbells, low-tech lifting machines and musclebound guys who all seemed a bit on the shy side.
Arriving in Santa Monica another few years later, he met a local developer, a
not-so-shy musclebound guy with a thick accent who would later become California’s governor, along with a local institution he’d made famous, Gold’s Gym in Venice, founded in 1965 by Joe Gold.
In 1977, the same year esnl arrived in Bay City, Arnold Schwarzenegger achieved movie stardom in the documentary Pumping Iron, filmed at the
gym, which Gold had sold seven years earlier.
Gold’s Gym became a star, too, achieving that status dreamt of by every aspiring entrepreneur.
Gold’s Gym had become a franchise brand, with outlets spring across first the nation, then the globe.
Even stranger, women began appearing in gyms, along with strange electronic hardware, some designed to simulate everyday activities we could do on our own, like walking, running, and riding a bike.
Gone with the scarred wood floors, replaced by carpets. Dingy, dim interiors had given way to brightly lighted, freshly painted rooms, adorned with flat-screen televisions tuned to Oprah for all those women sweating their ways to nowhere on treadmills and stationary bikes.
Moussequetaire made the critical observation: They’re doing all that, she said, to get rid of the weight they’ve gained from jobs where they sit around all day.
A Parisian, Moussequetaire travels the city by foot, bike, and Metro, and rather than devote her effort, time, and money to a franchise gym, she said, “I’d rather help an elderly neighbor carry her groceries up four flights of stairs to her apartment.”
Which brings us to the ‘What if?’
I’ll let Moussequetaire take it from here.
At least use these machines to produce energy. Why not capture that energy, all those calories being lost by people who want to look like they belong in Vogue. Let’s use these gyms to produce energy for the local community.
We’re using these calories from meat and agriculture, and the preposterousness is that we are paying money to work off those calories.
I have friends who are absolute friends about their gyms. I have a friend in London who feels lost if she can’t make it to the gym every day.
This whole thing’s nuts.
And there are people in our communities who may need help toting their luggage and doing their chores. I‘m so much happier using my calories helping than paying some fucking industry. When you think about it, it’s so obscene. The whole concept is obscene.
So. . .
What if we stopped “working out and started “working for”?
What if we stopped one corporation for treating the malaise inflicted by other corporations?
And what if just person in the neighborhood took it on themselves who needed work done and who needed to work?
Isn’t it worth a try?