The first time I saw it, I thought to myself “that’s a cool name.” And I sort of wished that I had thought of it first. What I had just read was a gym describing itself as a fitness lab. Since that time about a year ago, I have seen this descriptor pop up a few more times, but always in the context of a new gym. Today, I heard an advertisement for a new condo development going up in the Denver area and it was being marketing as having a “fitness lab.”
So, I’m calling it. We are officially living in the era of the Fitness Lab :).
I have mixed feelings about this new descriptor.
On the one hand, calling a gymnasium a laboratory does indeed carry some merit. There is after all a degree of experimentation in what we do in there. Some of the biggest names in bodybuilding today are known for challenging us mere mortals to test everything ourselves to see if it works versus just assuming that it does. In other words, it’s all too easy to spend our time preaching the benefits of a 5×5 program or the latest Russian squat program that we found online, and that every other way of doing something is inherently wrong. We put too much faith in one sacred cow and have blinders on to any other alternative.
For instance, once upon a time I came across a proposed mass gaining program that assured me would help to put some weight on my ectomorph frame. It was such a counter intuitive program that I was intrigued. I was to lift less and get more rest. My intensity should still be high, but I needed to do less. Four days a week, for example, was one day too much. I gave it a shot for a solid 6 week cycle and found that it didn’t do a damn thing for me. However, I’m wise enough now to know that I shouldn’t be stepping up onto my soapbox and shouting to all that will listen that this program is a waste of time. It probably works for some people, it just didn’t for me.
In this way, I suppose every gym is a bit of a lab. Filled with test subjects each in the middle of running their own experiments.
But on the other hand, I think calling a gym a lab may inadvertently reinforce the notion that fitness is a mystery. What many of us in the fitness world forget is that for a large percentage of the population fitness is very much an obligation and an ongoing frustration that just never seems to work out for them.
I hope we can change this perception. At this point in human history, we do know a lot about fitness. We have a good idea of how to lose fat and build muscle. Even though the airwaves are filled with new fitness products and gimmicks, we know that the tried and true methods of “lifting heavy things” and getting sweaty a few times a week are pretty darn reliable techniques.
Of course, if the idea of a Lab over anything else helps to get these folks into the gym, then I think a good thing – even if I didn’t think of it first :).
By Ryan Wagner
The Fitness Lab: A new trend or fleeting buzzword? by Ryan Wagner