Explanation of Global Gyms

Written by Nina

-She has worked at over 10 gyms (including ALL of the big global gyms) over the last 30 years.

The Global Gym Model

Is this Fitness?

The escalation of obesity in this country has occurred at the same time as the expansion of the global gym model. How could we traverse from 10% to 60% obese at the same time we are supporting hundreds and thousands of gym facilities nationally?

While the country was shifting to morbidly obese mode, I spent two decades attempting to convince people that staying in shape was worthwhile and fun. I originally joined a Nautilus Aerobics plus in 1981 near Barrington and San Vicente Boulevard on the Westside of Los Angeles. I later became a group exercise instructor after graduating college. I have been deeply immersed in the global gym model for over 20 years as an employee. The model perpetuates the treading of water at a very low level of fitness. It is geared to serve the largest number of the lowest common denominator in the population that can afford $30/month.

Every once in awhile I wondered if I could do 26 classes a week, how much benefit can someone get from 3 hours a week. When I hired at CrossFit, my boss flat out stated “You cannot do 15 hours of THIS a week.”

There is an unspoken message in the group exercise world that does a great disservice to the community at the same time it provides fun activity to many. The message is that the participant will never evolve, will never do more and we don’t wish to hurt your feelings by suggesting that you would be better of if you did.

The global gym model provides machines that are bordering on idiot proof, because the liability for silly uncoordinated people hurting themselves is massive. The problem with the machines is they literally prevent the development of coordination by protecting the user from needing any. The expense or man power to teach people proper body mechanics or skilled movement is not financially feasible for $30/month and minimized staff budget. Machines were originally designed for the injured, elderly and deconditioned. That is the only segment of the population that need be on them besides people who aspire to being IED (injured, elderly or deconditioned).

My name for the eliptical is “the placebo”. If your knees are blown or your so heavy your knees are seriously considering deconstructing just to get a break from the IMMENSE PRESSURE, the elliptical is for you. Otherwise, how does anyone really believe they can get in shape by avoiding weight bearing or by simply shuffling their weight from hip to hip? I constantly watch people on the incline treadmills hanging on their arms and leaning backwards. The concept of an incline is to increase your need to balance and bear more weight. I want to explain that the railings are for emergencies not for clinging, hanging and leaning.

As a trainer, I have attended countless “trainer meetings” where there is never a single mention of exercise, form or fitness. The meetings are completely based upon sales quotas and enticing your effort based on what you can earn if you bring more money into the gym. Sales people are taught a SINGLE WORKOUT. That is all they will need because they will never see a client more than one time. Hard close in one interaction and never look back after the 3 day recision window shuts. There is ZERO support for the training that is dispensed. All the energy and thought at a global gym is towards the EFT (electronic funds transfer). There are few enviably fit individuals at a global gym. There are usually a token few just to prove that exercise works. However they don’t really want to disclose how much and what kind is required because it might frighten most people.

I have been to group exercise staff training and listened to instructors ask what comes after this level one Pilates class format. The answer was nothing. This is what we teach and it will not change. We were told to rotate the music to keep it interesting. Once an exercise participant learns specific movements, they need to move onto the next level to continue reaping benefits. The muscle growth and tone from what they have learned will diminish if they simply repeat the same movements with no escalation of resistance, intensity or skill required. If you want more you have to go elsewhere; to evolve the member needs to leave the global gym. The global gym does not care that more is needed for further conditioning. They provide entry level only.

I taught the same classes for 5-10 year stretches in some instances. I witnessed the ebb and flow of attendance and I heard the anecdotal stories.

Frequently someone would be AWOL for 3 months to 2 years and show up again. They were surprised and dismayed to have to admit to gaining 10 or more pounds. So, then they would begin the process of struggling to return to where they once had been. It would usually require much more time and effort than it took to devolve.

The global gym model plans and expects for the members to fall away and repeat the first episode of “getting in shape”.

The culture in the country today is leaning more and more towards catering to easily hurt feelings. If your fat and misshapen, you come first. The thin and fit need to keep there eyes down and their mouths closed because they are the odd minority. My question is “How does this help?” The more and more acceptable it becomes to be large and unhealthy, the more money there is for lap bands, reinforced gurneys, double charged airline seats with extended safety straps, 3 – 12 medications per capita and high sales of corn based food products in bright colors and attractive packages. It helps someones bottom line.

CrossFit offers a path to fitness beyond what most people ever conceived could be obtainable by the common man. They dare to suggest that body fat percentages under 20% for women are not only obtainable but desirable. They straight out of the gate suggest that it may be slightly uncomfortable and mildly demoralizing to face your current fitness level, but with camaraderie and gumption something can be done efficiently to remedy the situation.

You will NEVER see an individual reading a book in front of a television on a recumbent bike at a CrossFit Gym. There is a loud spoken message that this type of behavior will NOT result in fitness of any kind. At the global gym, they cater to your desire to believe you are already doing enough by paying your monthly dues and dropping by a few times to run the hairdryers. There are global gym members that only use the sauna, and in their clothes! If there is carpeting under half the gym equipment, doesn’t this imply that they want the gym to look good so people will sign up as members and never drip a drop of sweat on the carpet? If they were expecting buckets of salt and oil ridden human sweat would they have even ordered carpet?

At one place the teachers were broken hearted as the number of classes were cancelled for lack of funds while we watched new flat screens mounted at every location. We needed to understand that servicing the minority of member that actually workout is a last concern. The primary concern is convincing the people who join and never return to train that the gym is pleasant, attractive and has television worth a three year commitment.


Why are there organizations of people claiming that fat is beautiful? Are their clubs of people insisting that Jaguars, Mercedes and Lexus look just as good with scratches, dents and dirty paint? How can people destroy the artwork that is the human form in its greatest condition and defend it as acceptable and desired? CrossFit invites you to strive towards virtuoso. Global Gym invites you to attempt to lose the same 10 pounds, give up and restart to try again.