Watched from my office window as someone in sweats walking towards a building that I know has a fitness center, was smoking a cigarette, which she finished and put out in an ash tray very close to the front of the building she was entering. I smoked two/three packs of cigarettes a day for twenty-two (plus) years and have my own definitions of insanity and dependence, as does each of us with a vice, but for Kafkaesque humor, you'd have to go some to top that. I'm thinking perhaps trying to wolf down a Haagen-Dazs giant ice cream cone before crossing the threshold into the fitness center, assuming the H-D guys are still in business and make such an item.
We like the routine, the assurance of the rote drill (I think) and maybe that's where we believe the benefit accrues. It's like small children learning the Pledge of Allegiance long before they have any idea what allegiance means (for some of us that's still true through old age). A whole generation now hits the fitness centers in the same way previous ones frequented the bars and clubs on Saturday nights or the churches on the Sunday mornings that followed.
But for what purpose, and to what end? Behaviorists refer to an Obesity epidemic in the United States and it surfaces for its fifteen minutes on the electronic vapor and vapid box in the corner of the living room and then we have another double colestro-and-bacon burger from the neighborhood drive in and don't forget to supersize the fries and, what?-oh yeah, the drink? Gimme a diet cola, no ice.
Instead of studying and attempting to learn the lessons behind research like this, we watch Oprah live her best life (or something close to it) and dream of the day we can be in the studio audience and under our theater seat is a ......pair of Nike Running shoes(?) I think not. There may not be a free lunch, like the teachers in school told us, but Oprah can give us healthy eating tips and the napkins are recyclable.
I'm wondering if we're not better off just eliminating the middle man and cutting out the white space. Put a cigar bar in the fitness center--or set up one of those luxurious dessert places in the lobby; call it "Cool Whip and Curls", no one will snicker. Those who wish to indulge can, and the rest of us can pretend to not see any of it as it'll all be out of sight. Look at how often we've used that trick to handle world events that should and could have numbed us. Besides, it keeps us from walking around with our eyes closed-people can get hurt going through life like that.