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An expression of gym nihilism

When it comes to gym etiquette, the absolute minimum is wiping your sweat off your bench and re-racking your weights. Most gyms have signs posted to this effect.

When I walked into my gym’s aerobics room this morning, the pigsty stopped me in my tracks:

This mess is well beyond some slob not following the rules. I’ve circled on the right side in green an empty Styrofoam cup and dirty paper towels that someone left behind. The red plyo box doesn’t belong in the aerobics room either. The floor is supposed to be clear—it’s a dance studio. What about the folks in the gym looking for these barbells and dumbbells? This level of sloppiness, almost certainly from multiple people, amounts to borderline vandalism.

What’s really going on here? I have some theories.

First, lockdowns broke people’s spirit. Everyone now lives with the knowledge that the government can at any moment take away what they value and what they are working towards. The consequence is widespread apathy. You see the impact of lockdowns in the record low levels of workforce participation, the shoddy quality of work that is still getting done, and the society-wide drop in civility.

Certainly gym closures were traumatic for members. The photo above is one expression of gym nihilism.

Second, my need to cut a path through other people’s junk makes my point about the gym environment itself creating anxiety and stress. Like I wrote, “Gym etiquette is so bad that performing the actual lift is the least of my problems.”

Third, regardless of the cause, my gym needs to start enforcing rules. My Broken Windows Theory of Health Clubs predicts that when a gym ignores small problems, they’re setting themselves up for bigger issues: theft of gym equipment, security issues for gym lockers, and a club environment that scares away members.

Clearly, the posted signs aren’t working anymore.

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