Times Change, Members May Not

One last thought about change. They say that the more things change, the more they stay the same. That doesn't always hold true for business, especially in an industry like this where fitness trends come and go quicker than you can say “spandex leotard,” but it could be said for some of our members.

I was only a child during the 1980s' reign of aerobics, but I remember watching Denise Austin and other group exercise divas on TV strutting their stuff and getting people fit, all while donned in the hottest 1980s fashions: leg warmers, crimped hair and side ponytails. You remember, right? (Even though you may want to forget.) Fitness was hip then. It was popular, and health clubs were the place to see and be seen. It was common to see crowded facilities and packed group exercise rooms.

Since then, most clubs have drastically changed. There are a variety of facility types out there, offering different amenities, touches and features. For the consumer, never have more options been available. And while most of the industry has removed the neon greens, pinks and purples from their club's decor, some of our members still seem to be stuck in the past.

Take, for example, an older, larger gentleman who wears nothing but parachute pants and brightly colored baggy shirts at the health club where I work out. I've never seen the performance advantage to that much extra clothing, so I assume that he wears the ridiculous outfit in the hopes that MC Hammer's “U Can't Touch This” will play over the facility's entertainment system, and he can wow us with his awesome dance moves.

Another fellow who frequents the gym wears a pair of shorts that are about two inches too short for even the NBA's short-shorts circa 1975. Although he does have legs that are worth showing off (he does a lot of squats; I'll give him that), the spin bike doesn't seem the best venue to show them off.

It's not just men who are stuck in the past. Women can be reluctant to change, too. I recently chatted with a woman while stepping on the stair climber. She told me about her love affair with the stair climber that started almost 20 years ago and continues today. Although I admire her passion for climbing stairs, I think it's high time she tried something new. No wonder she hasn't seen results or positive changes in her body since Jimmy Carter was president.

Then there are the women, usually in step class, who still manage to squeeze into those aforementioned spandex leotards. These women may not look as they did when they first purchased the leotards as 20-year-olds, but they sure are getting full use of them. The green movement is really big right now, so maybe these women are just trying to physically break down the fabric. (Probably not, but that's what I've told myself.) Why else would anyone choose to wear a fabric that shows every bump and bulge?

However, I'm not too quick to judge. I, myself, am not always eager to embrace change. Like the obsessive stair stepper, I am inexplicably drawn to the treadmill and always favor free weights over circuit-training equipment, no matter how many times I've recommended to a client that they change their workout every few months.

Also, as a group exercise instructor, I have my favorite songs to play, clothes to wear and choreography to use. I try to switch it up as much as I can. I buy new music at least once a year, I invest in a few good apparel pieces and shoes a couple of times a year, and I try to show at least one or two new moves during each class that I teach. But it isn't easy. Some say change is hard. They're right.

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