THE WEEKLY HOWL is Accessible to the Masses

What tech bubble: So a couple of Silicon Valley types have created an app named Gixo that provides audio and video fitness classes. The idea is to “create a new way for people to exercise and is accessible to a larger demographic”. Okay, this is not a unique idea but how much does it cost? $24 a month. Newsflash: you can get a normal gym membership for that much! It won’t be at Equinox but it will be at a big-box gym that has everything from treadmills to weights to group exercise classes. For some reason, Gixo thinks that they are competing with high end gyms that “cost up to $250 per month excluding initiation fees” yet their mission is “to make exercise accessible and cost-friendly to the masses”.

                This is why tech people need to get out of Silicon Valley once in a while. A fitness app for $24 a month does nothing to make fitness more accessible because it is already accessible at that price point. Especially in the age of the low cost operator. But if you’re rich and all your friends are rich and you never leave the Bay Area, then you have no idea what the hell is going on in the rest of the country. I’m now waiting for Gixo to change their mission statement to making exercise more convenient to the masses. 

Also, there is way too much venture capital money out there right now. This company raised $3.7 million. This isn’t a Juicero-level blunder but investors need to do their due diligence before investing.

The Fitness District: A bunch of boutique gyms in Coral Gables have taken to calling their street Fitness Row. Why do I find this interesting? Because I could see this as the first step to boutique gyms collaborating and partnering together. People are already cobbling together multiple gym memberships in order to get everything they need. What if the gyms on Fitness Row figured out how to offer a comprehensive membership? That way, someone could get their weight-training and yoga and pilates at a discounted price in essentially the same location. And each gym could maintain its independence and focus while making Fitness Row the destination to get fit in Coral Gables.

                Who knows if this will ever materialize and if it does, what exactly it will look like? But I am going to keep my eye on Fitness Row. 

Celebrity Fitness: Alison Brie needed to get in shape for her new Netflix Show, GLOW, in which she plays a professional wrestler. So what exercises did she focus on? Heavy bag slams, deadlifts, farmer walks, L-sit pull-ups, and sessions on the VersaClimber while wearing a weight vest. Celebrity fitness is always of interest to me because these are very driven people whose careers depend on them looking a certain way and they are short on time but long on resources. Celebrities are not the innovators (like athletes are) when it comes to fitness but they are the early adopters. And I can’t remember the last time that I saw a celebrity fitness routine that wasn’t based on functional fitness.

PecGate: It looks like the final count of CrossFit competitors suffering an injury to their pectoral muscles in the Regional competitions is 36, 35 men and 1 woman. Ryan DeBell, “a Washington-based chiropractor, sports-injuries expert, and longtime CrossFit adherent”, believes that there is a 3 part equation for these injuries:

1)      The high volume of weighted butterfly pullups in the previous event

2)      Pushing very hard and fast out of the bottom of the dip

3)      The longer straps on the rings and the increased need for stabilization

I also wonder if there is a muscle imbalance issue at play here as well. There are so many movements in CrossFit that develop the back muscles but few that target the pectoral muscles. Perhaps these athletes need to incorporate some good old fashioned bench presses into their workouts.

Culture Matters: RadioWest had a great interview on the history of fitness with Daniel Kunitz, the author of Lift: Fitness Culture, from Naked Greeks and Acrobats to Jazzercise and Ninja Warrior. My favorite line is “Fitness has always been counter-cultural”. I will have to check out his book now.

Define gym: The Richmond Times-Dispatch had a good article on the growth of boutique fitness. It lead off with this staggering statistic:

Memberships in small, specialized boutique gyms and niche fitness studios grew 70 percent from 2012 to 2015, according to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association. Compare that to the 5 percent membership growth in traditional gyms over that same period.

            The rest of the article was a good roundup of that side of the industry.

-Group classes make members feel like they’re part of a community

-Overhead is low compared to big-box gyms

-Boutiques lack the amenities of larger gyms but offer greater focus and passion

-Franchise or independent?


-Face training is now a thing

-So is Goat Yoga

-Does Lebron James use a Smith Machine? Front squats or back squats?