Lost in planet scroll

December 14, 2015 § 12 Comments

Cracked pelvis ehab and recovery have their benefits: Lower grocery bills. Less laundry (waaaaay less laundry). Zero monthly bike equipment expenses. And of course, fewer showers. Waaaaaay fewer showers.

But the downside is extra time. People evolved having to scrounge and scrape from dawn to dusk. They don’t do well at all with extra time. This is why they invented war and writing and art and television and Facebag and the Twitter, to kill all that extra time.

The excess hours have caused me to sink into the cesspool of planet scroll, where I scroll down the Twitter endlessly. That’s where I came across Planet Fitness and Shushanik Gabrielyan. Planet Fitness is a gym that caters to first-time and (very) occasional gym users.

It discourages gym rats, squat racks, grunting, and it only has up to 80 pounds of free weights. Everything is done in a nurturing “judgment free zone.” No one is made to feel inadequate or intimidated by some ripped fitness freak who is curling a Smart car.

In case the workout experience tires you out, once a month Planet Fitness offers free pizzas and bagels. And free Tootsie Rolls 24/7 at the counter. It’s hard to say whether they’re successful, but they have over 1,000 franchises and are publicly listed.

Shushanik Gabrielyan is a young woman who graduated from high school and is now suing the Glendale Unified School District. As a member of the school’s water polo squad, she was subjected to workouts in which her coach Casey Sripramong conducted drills that were “extremely intense and egregiously inappropriate,” and that even left her “pushed to the point of exhaustion.”

With regard to Planet Fitness, gym rats hate the place. “Worst gym ever.””It’s not a gym.” Etc.

With regard to Shushanik, comments generally hover in the region of disbelief. Suing a coach because her workouts hurt and made you sore? Really? I mean, really really?

And the answer is really, yes. But the bigger question is whether or not Shushanik and Planet Pizza herald the onslaught of the zombie apocalypse, and if they do, how in the world are we going to battle it with nothing but pizza-and-bagel gorging candy-asses armed with Tootsie Rolls, and the occasional whiny “athlete” who’s upset because she had to sweat?

Alas, if it were only limited to gyms and water polo squads! But it’s not. Competitive cycling is awash with Shushaniks–from thin-skinned juniors who can’t handle losing to glass-ego masters who foment a revolution because they’ll have to (Gasp!) compete against 35-year-olds instead of 40-year-olds.

This begs the question, “Is there anything wrong with being a cupcake?” Of course not, just as long as you understand that the purpose of cupcakes is to be eaten.

And then there’s the bigger picture. Planet Pizza claims that its business model ($10 monthly membership) accommodates people who need a gym to help them get ready to go to a gym, but that’s utter bullshit. Planet Pizza’s clientele are like every other gym’s clientele: They sign up and don’t go.

However, unlike CrossFit and SoulCycle and all the other ridiculously named, mirrored meat markets, at $10/month it’s easy to maintain your membership at Planet Pizza without actually going, almost like having a $2.99 blog subscription that you never actually read.

This is one reason Planet Pizza hasn’t raised its rates since 1999. The other reason is that when you discourage actual “gym rats,” i.e. “people who use what they’ve paid for,” you eliminate the gym members who wear shit out.

Running a gym requires continual equipment maintenance and replacement if you have a contingent of heavy users, and the stuff isn’t cheap. It’s much easier to stretch the life out of a treadmill that’s never used, cf. your Lemond indoor trainer gathering dust in the garage, and the lifespan of the equipment affects every gym’s bottom line. Problem is, excluding heavy users to focus on members who never come gives the lie to Planet Pizza’s marketing ploy. They don’t exist to help the uninitiated get fit, they exploit suckers. Which is kind of the same thing.

Worse, this type of behavior, once accepted and entrenched, makes it unexceptional when an athlete sues a school district for making them uncomfortable and sore. I shudder to think who Gabrielyan is going to sue the first time she has marathon sex. The promise of “all gain, no pain” and the cynical sale of gym memberships-cum-pizza ties in perfectly with people like Gabrielyan who are outraged that progress requires discomfort, discipline, and, yes, nut-crunching misery. Donut Ride, anyone?

Of course there’s an easy solution to all of this: Quit scrolling.

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