Buyer Beware

When the mayor of Miami-Dade County closed gyms for COVID hysteria, I used a palm tree by my condo for punching bag workouts. The smooth bark of the palm tree protected my boxing gloves, I could box in 360 degrees around the trunk, and the circumference of the tree was similar to the gym heavy bag. Some passersby were supportive (‘what a creative solution!”) while others were just idiots (“be careful the tree doesn’t hit you back!).

Although we discovered in 2020 how to stay fit for free, some people continue to pay several thousand dollars a year for their gym memberships. One reader of this newsletter told me he pays $302 monthly for Equinox in New York City. He said the high price motivates him to get his money’s worth. I realized I do something similar with my wife and her boutique health club: I will pay, you will go.

I actually have a good view of what’s going on at my local Equinox. It’s in the high-rise across the street from my $50 gym, and it’s completely lit up in the darkness at 5:00 a.m. I’ve also been inside this Equinox for a tour. The ambiance is nicer, the people are prettier, the air is more fragrant, and the front desk staff is full of zest. But the equipment is the same. For someone like me who visits a gym *to exercise*, it’s crazy to pay 300% more in dues for the same routine. (I bet a working towel service is nice though.)   

Another scenario where you find price outrunning quality is at high-end restaurants. These establishments have menus touting “artisan chefs” who craft “fresh ingredients” into “seasonal classics.” And compared to more pedestrian locales, the ambiance is nicer, the people are prettier, the air is more fragrant, and the hostesses are full of zest. But the quality of the food is the same.

The reality of restaurants is that the Sysco tractor-trailer delivers identical industrialized food to each business along its route: the first stop is Chipotle; next is P.F. Chang’s; last stop of the day is your favorite for “fine” dining.

Even at pricey seafood restaurants, your shrimp and salmon are farm-raised. These creatures swim in densely populated pens where they consume feces, parasites, and the chemicals and pesticides that accumulate in the water; aquafarmers feed the fish antibiotics, anti-parasitics, and anti-fungals to keep them alive. Good luck with your $20 sushi salmon roll. Likewise, the industrial meat served at even the most expensive steakhouses suffer from similar health and humanitarian issues. Vegetarians fare no better. The produce in your Mediterranean salad comes from monocrop agriculture where everything must be hosed down with glyphosate to survive. This broad-spectrum herbicide blocks plants’ uptake of whatever nutrients are left in the soil while destroying your gut when you consume it.

When it comes to working out or eating out, maybe our COVID overlords had one thing right: Just stay home.

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