At a mall in Minnesota, they literally tore down the JC Penney anchor store to make room for a new fitness center. It is a sign of the times – not only that brick and mortar retailers are struggling – but that gyms are thriving. There seems to be one on every corner.
I don’t think that “back in the day” we had any gyms, save for a sweaty little place where weightlifters and aspiring boxers went to work out. They certainly were not for the average person.
As a kid, our exercise was sunlight-driven or when-mom-calls-you-home driven. We got our exercise through play. Now children seem to get the majority of their exercise through structured activities that are calendar-driven: when there are practices or games. Our exercise came through goofing around with kids in the neighborhood, pick-up games of basketball or kickball in the street; today it comes through sports.
I think that gyms provide that structure after high school or college when the organized athletic events end. Gyms allow exercise times to continue to be scheduled – through classes at the gym or appointments with a trainer — and keep “exercise” as a defined event rather than an outcome of other activity.
Think about how your calendar dependency has evolved. Are there things besides exercise that need to be scheduled on it – time for friends, time to be alone, time to read or meditate? Do you need to self-impose a membership plan (like at a gym) where you make that commitment to do an activity that you know is good for you? Very little “just happens” anymore; we don’t just go out and play. Reserve time on your calendar for the things that are important.