Sunday, 6 December 2015

How hard is it to find a treadmill to use?!

Go to any council run Swimming pool in the country. You can pay a few quid, walk through the doors, jump in at the deep end and proceed to impress everyone with just how bad your swimming is.
No test, no showing you around the pool, no induction, no monthly fee. Just turn up and swim. Fantastic.

So why can’t we do that at gyms?
I am a runner and a few months ago had a set to do on a treadmill. (don't ask.... I know the response here is "just run outside you wuss".... but bear with me here). A treadmill isn’t the kind of thing you have lying around in your house, so I decided to go to my local council gym.

It was going so well until I walked in the door.
"Have you had an induction?"
"Well you need an induction before you can use the gym."
"I just want to use the treadmill. I have money here that I am willing to give you in exchange for 25 minutes of time on a treadmill."
"No - you need an induction, which will cost £20, and then you’ll need to pay for either a monthly membership, or a “casual users” membership."

What? Really? I mean…. Really?
Imagine if I went to a swimming pool and they told me that, I really wouldn't know what to think.

I eventually managed to get into a martial arts gym that has a treadmill, paid way over the odds to use it, but heck, it was a lot easier than going through the palaver of getting into the local council run gym.

Thankfully I found a way around it (and it did not involve an induction, but it did involve a lot of words and emails), and for the past few months I have been able to go in and use the treadmill. Everytime I have gone in there has been a bit of a hold up at the reception until they can find my name on the system, which obviously has a note next to is saying “don’t argue with this person, take his money and let him use the damn treadmill”.

All was well and good, until Lynne wanted to use a treadmill yesterday. She is a Level 3 Personal trainer, a runner and knows her way around a gym. She has not had the induction at the local gym either. She went down to do a treadmill set and was placed in exactly the same position I was in 6 months ago.

In this day and age of trying to encourage people to exercise, to get out there and do stuff, there are still so many barriers to actually being able to do it. Not everyone wants to join a gym for months,
Lynne proving she knows what to do on a treadmill
flexibility is a much more important thing. Swimming pools seem to understand it, and have done for years.

In fact the swimming pool that is run by the same council that wouldn’t let us in to use the treadmill let me in to swim the other day. Charged me £4, didn’t ask me if I could swim, and I merrily went off to use the pool, which I have never been in before, and I haven’t been swimming in, ooooh, about 7 years.  

No health screening, no medical form, no taking of name or address, no paperwork. 
Here is some money, let me go swim. Thanks. 

In exactly the same gym I can go and use the bouldering wall which is semi-famous for its tendon shredding holds - again, pay and play, no questions, no issues. 

Letting someone who doesn’t know how to swim into a pool, where they could quite happily drown, or letting someone who can run into a gym to use a treadmill.... which seems objectively more dangerous? 
Surely council run gyms should work to the same principles as the council run pools. We should be encouraging people to get out there and exercise, not putting barriers in the way.

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