Hello? Hello? We’re losing that mind-body connection

Yesterday’s New York Times had a mindboggling article about a New York area fitness club that revoked a man’s membership because he was making a grunting sound while lifting weights. He was bench pressing 500 pounds at the time, bless his soul.

If this were the independent action of a particularly fussy club manager, it would be one thing, but the “grunt-and-you’re-out” rule is a policy of the club’s parent chain, Planet Fitness — a company whose management would, indeed, seem to be from outer space.

This article caught my interest because I’m currently doing a “trailer park” yoga program four days a week. It mixes yoga with weightlifting, jumping rope, running stairs, working with wrist and ankle weights, and working with heavier weights, including 15-pound handweights and a weight bench. I haven’t heard anyone in our group of two dozen women grunt, per se, but I have heard plenty of moaning, shrieking, and screaming. And maybe a howl or two. The teacher, who is the most inspiring fitness instructor I’ve ever encountered, encourages the sound effects.

I tend to shriek, myself. Fifty leg lifts hurt.

According to the Times article, the club’s no-grunt rule (and a few other weird ones, as well) has nothing to do with cutting down on distracting noise in the gym. It’s based on the chain’s philosophy that most members are intimidated and discouraged by body builders and other serious fitness types. The club therefore has crafted rules that discourage those fitniks from patronizing the gym and disturbing the place with sounds of physical effort.

Oh, heaven forbid anyone should connect hard work, physical or mental, with achievement. Americans are fervent believers in overnight weight loss, cosmetic surgery, and unregulated herbal potions. Hard work and discipline? Argggh! Fortunately Planet Fitness is here to protect us from the sight — and sound — of it.

3 Comments

Filed under Fitness and health

3 responses to “Hello? Hello? We’re losing that mind-body connection

  1. Anonymous

    I strongly recommend that you read the Planet Fitness official response which is located here:
    http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/061122/law008.html?.v=101

    It was actually profanity and aggressive behavior that got his membership revoked.

    And, there is a difference between grunting and screaming. As a former professional athlete, I see the value of a powerful exhalation, but it does not need to be accompanied by a scream, the loud noise serves no purpose except to bring attention to the person doing it.

  2. Karen G. Anderson

    Unfortunately, we’re getting into “he said, she said” territory now. The club member says grunting, the fitness club says screaming, the New York Times says grunting…and neither you nor I were there. And, since you’ve commented anonymously, the discussion can’t go much further.

    I still view the incident (and the club’s policies) as yet more evidence of our disturbing cultural trend towards hypersensitivity and over protection.

  3. Excellent Article!

    If I could write like this I would be well chuffed ;-)

    The more I read articles of such quality as this (which is rare), the more I think there might be a future for the Web. Keep it up, as it were.

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